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Guide To Oregon's Scuba Diving


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Oregon Scuba Diving Information:

While Oregon is not noted for its great visibility, warm water, or abundance of tropical fish to look at, scuba diving is very much alive in Oregon. The following are sites where scuba divers go in Oregon. At the bottom you will see links to dive clubs and other diving websites.

Tillamook Bay:

Port of Garibaldi Commercial Dock (Lumber Dock) has a depth of 15-30 feet at high tide and offers an opportunity to harvest steamer and butter clams. (Be cautious of boaters)

Three Graces Intertidal Area has a depth of 6-60 feet and an opportunity to harvest many different types of clams and crabs as well as lingcod, black sea bass, and perch. There is also excellent tide pooling and underwater photography opportunities.

Entrance to Barview County Park has a depth of 60 feet at high tide and offers an opportunity to harvest crab, fish, and clams. Visibility can range from 0 - 60 feet depending on weather and recent rainfall.

Jetty 2: Middle area of south side of the North Jetty has a depth of 60 feet at high tide and offers an opportunity to harvest crab, fish and clams. While you are able to drive right up to the jetty, you will find a strenuous climb over slippery rocks and visibility can range from 0 - 60 feet depending on weather and recent rainfall.

Jetty 1: South side of the North Jetty offers a depth of 60 feet at high tide and an opportunity to harvest crab, fish, and clams. This site for advanced divers only and dive only in calm conditions. Park at Barview Jetty County Park. Visibility can range from 0 - 60 feet depending on weather and recent rainfall.

South Side of South Jetty has a depth of up to 50 feet and an opportunity to harvest fish. It is accessible by boat only.

Crab Harbor offers a depth of 10-30 feet and an opportunity to harvest several types of crabs. It is accessible by boat and you will have lots of eelgrass.

Hobsonville Point offers a depth of 10-25 feet with harvesting opportunities for lots of clams. There is easy access on a dirt road off of Highway 101. Look for historical marker, access is on south side of the hill. This area is also frequented by boaters.

Three Arch Rocks is a National Wildlife Refuge and you are only allowed to dive in certain areas during the fall or spring. It is a boat dive with launch access from Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, or Pacific City but Tillamook is the safest route due to the secure ocean channel produced by the jetties. Exploring Three Arch Rocks you will find scallops, anemones, and crustaceans on the northwest side as well as sea bass, lingcod, and kelp.

Cape Lookout is a boat dive with launch access from Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, or Pacific City. Launching from Tillamook is usually the safest because of the jetties. Because of calm waters the south side is preferred for diving. Visibility can vary from 10-30 feet. It offers an opportunity for hunting, sightseeing, photography, and gaining dive experience.

Pacific City has two reefs which provide some great diving for new and experienced divers. The inner reef is shallow, about 40 ft, and you can find rock scallops, sea bass, and lingcod as well as starfish and sea urchins which cling to the rocks. To find the outer reef travel due west past Haystack Rock. The outer reef is incredible with kelp, rock scallops, and small green anemones on top with small schools of sea bass floating close by. Deeper you will find the big fish. Boats entering the ocean from Pacific City launch off the sandy beaches and must be designed and equipped for such procedures. The safest place to launch if your boat cannot make a sand launch would be Tillamook.

Depoe Bay is another site where you will need to access by boat to get just outside the bay entrance. To the Northwest, lies a ridge of rock that runs NE to SW. The top portion lies is 15-20 feet deep and supports a kelp habitat. The eastside is a wall that reaches 60-70 feet below the surface. The area with low swell offers divers perch, greenling, lingcod, and Cabazon. From the north go South on Hwy 101, cross the bay bridge and drive a short distance until you see the Marina turn off on the left (there will be signs). Take the turn off and then follow Shell Ave. to the Marina. If you're coming North on Hwy 101 look for the Marina turn off signs as you enter Depoe Bay.

The North Pinnacle lies about 40 feet below the surface and drops off rapidly to the sea floor at 100 feet. It is the largest standing reef structure for diving between Newport and Seal Rock. This location offers an opportunity to see sea bass, lingcod, wolf eels, octopus, and much more. This spot offers some of the best reef diving off the Oregon coast.

Waldport bay can be accessed on the beach but you will need to pack your gear ¼ mile. This bay offers a large supply of crab of nice size. Since Waldport is small and the channel narrow tidal exchange can produce fast currents.

Southern Oregon:

Lake of the Woods is located just 37 miles east of Ashland in Southern Oregon. It does not offer much site seeing but it is a good place for beginners to learn. The temperature ranges from 70 degrees in mid-summer, to ice diving conditions in the winter.

Lost Creek Lake is an artificial lake created in the early 1980's. It's located on Hwy. 62 about 30 minutes East of Medford. It is calm for beginners and advanced divers can do deeper dives for training. The visibility is not good but the lake is available for diving year round as it does not freeze up.

Applegate Lake is located about 25 miles west of Medford, through Jacksonville, near the town of Applegate. While it is not a great place for diving, people do it. It is a nice place for fishing and camping.

Squaw Lake is a small, spring-fed lake located just above Applegate lake west of Medford. Because there is a gate blocking the road about 1/4 mile from the water, you'll have to hike your gear in but you can use carts available for free at the gate to do so. The water is clear but very cold.

Illinois River is located West of Grants Pass. There are numerous places to dive but one of the most popular spots is at Swinging Bridge. It is located at the end of the paved road, then about 1/2 mile down a dirt & gravel road. You'll drive across a wooden bridge to the main parking area, and dive under the 65 foot suspended foot bridge. Take Hwy. 199 West of Grants Pass until you come to the town of Selma. There is a single yellow blinking traffic light over the highway here at the gas station, where you'll turn right (heading North) up the access road. It can be a scary drive with 1 lane at times and steep cliffs.
The Smith River is a popular diving location as the water is very clear especially in the summer months. It's located on Hwy. 199, and dive sites are generally found within 30 miles or so of Hwy. 1 on the coast. Slant Bridge and Wagon Wheel are popular sites on this river for diving.
Lone Ranch is a state beach located just North of Brookings on Highway 101 and is a popular place for divers. Water temperature is 46-54 degrees year round and visibility is 5-15 feet but can be reduced to nothing in the summer when plankton blooms.

Mill Beach is located in Brookings. Take the road behind the A & W and head towards the beach. Visibility is not good and the temperature is 48-52 degrees all year.

Whales Head is North of Brookings. The best diving is about 100 yards off the shore and not bad for Oregon. Visibility can vary a lot.

Crater Lake National Park is the deepest lake in the United States at nearly 2,000 feet deep. To dive here you'll need to get a permit (free) from the Parks Department. The lake is nearly 7,000 in elevation at the water level, so altitude restrictions apply. From the lodge area, it’s a 1-mile hike down the crater to the water which you will have to climb up at the end of your dive. Visibility limited only by how far the sunlight can go in perfectly clear water.

Coos Bay does not have good visibility, only up to 10 feet in the bay. Visibility is better if you do out further outside the Jetty to local rocks and reefs. Temperature is in the upper 40's to low 50's all year round.
The Newport area offers one of the most popular ocean diving areas in the state. They have dive charters to offshore sites. One of the most popular off the South Jetty. The "Fingers" are located along the South Jetty at the entrance to Yaquina Bay at Newport. The dive shop at the base of the jetty, can give you information on conditions.

Central Oregon Diving Connection
Oregon Scuba Club
Oregon Scuba Diving Information
Rogue Scuba Diving
Pacific NW Scuba
Oregon Underwater