Waldport – Yaquina John Point

The Yaquina John Point dive site at Waldport is a good place to go if you want to do some crabbing while on SCUBA.  It is not a good place to go if you are looking for decent visibility and benign conditions.  This dive site is best tackled at low tide so that you will be sucked up into the bay rather than pushed out to sea.  Be mindful to not bother the seals that sometimes haul out on the tidal flats.

Imagery ©2018 Google, Map data ©2018 Google.
The Yaquina John Point dive site at Waldport is a good place to go crabbing but the viz is never good. Only dive this site at low tide.

Nearest Town:

Waldport, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

44.427569N, -124.077189W

Special Directions to Site:

There are four places that you can access the Yaquina John Point dive site in Waldport.

To get to the parking area near Alsi Resort, go west on Bayshore Drive north of the US 101 bridge.  Bayshore Drive curves to the south.  Follow it all the way until it dead ends next to the Alsi Resort and the gravel parking area by the water.

To get to the parking area in downtown Waldport, turn west on Spring Street just south of the US 101 bridge.  The parking area is along Maple Street.

To get to the parking area south of Waldport, look for the small pull-out just as US101 heads south and leaves the bay.

To get to the drop off point at the southwest side of the dive site, go west on Bayshore Drive north of the US 101 bridge.  Bayshore Drive curves to the south.  Follow Bayshore Drive to turn west on Westward Ho Drive.  Then turn south on Oceania Drive.  Follow Oceania Drive all the way south until it curves around and starts heading north.  The road becomes Alsea Bay Drive as it turns north.  The drop off point is between the two houses on the east side of the road where you can see the bay and there are some small paths to the water.

Parking:

The three parking areas to access the Yaquina John Point dive site in Waldport surround the site.  On the north side, there’s a gravel lot that, when we last checked, is free to park in next to the Alsi Resort.  On the east side, there is parking in downtown Waldport.  Be sure to check the signs — the last time we parked here, it was three hour parking.  The south side has a small pull-out on US101 where one or two cars can fit.  There is no parking at the southwest entrance/exit but this is a good place for a friend to drop you and your gear off.

Site Orientation:

The dive site is always changing because the Alsea River is not managed by the Army Corps of Engineers like the improved ports in Oregon.  You want to dive in the channel where the water is deepest to hunt for crabs.  A few years ago, there was a small channel near the south side of the bay but lately the main and deep channel hugs the north side of the bay.  Between the main channel and downtown Waldport is a big tidal mud flat.  You will have to slog across the expanse of mud to get to the water.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrances and exits on the south and east side of this dive site require long slogs across tidal mud flats.  It’s not enjoyable but it is one way to get into the water.  The entrance/exit for the pull-out area at the southeast side of the dive site is back up US101 where there is a small path down to the tidal mud flats.

On the north and west side, the entrances and exits are somewhat easier.  You can walk down to the water along some small paths.  Then it is a short trip across the tidal area to get into the channel.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.  The water is usually too shallow to take a boat out to use as a dive platform.

Normal Conditions:

When diving at low tide, the dive will quickly become a drift dive as you get pushed up into the bay.  It is a bad idea to dive this site at high tide because it is quite easy to get sucked out to sea if you aren’t paying close attention to your location.  Unless you go out over the bar, waves and surf usually don’t penetrate into the bay.  There can be some boat traffic going through the bay to do some crabbing or fishing.  It’s a good idea to have a dive float that you tow behind you.

Normal Visibility:

Expect three to five feet on a very good day.  You may find there to be zero viz on bad days.  It’s par for the course at Waldport.

Normal Temperature:

48-52F is the typical temperature here.

Best Time of Year:

Winter and spring are good times to dive this site although any time of the year it’s possible to get in the water.

Max Depth:

Depending on what the channel is doing and recent storm activity, you might find water no deeper than 10 feet or water as deep as 35 feet where potholes form.  The potholes are often where the crabs hang out.

Suggested Special Training:

It’s a good idea to have rescue diver training.  This can be a difficult dive.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this an advanced dive because of the low viz and the likely drift nature of the dive.  You don’t necessarily have to dive it as a drift dive but it’s easier.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

The entrances on the south and east side can be up to 2000 feet from the water across the tidal mud flats.  It’s not a very fun walk.  On the north and west sides, the entrances are only about 50-100 feet from where your car will be.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is necessary once you get into the channel.

Special Site Notes:

We highly recommend that you only dive this site at low tide.  There is a significant risk of being sucked out to sea if you dive at high tide due to the tidal exchange.  This is an exposed dive site at high tide because there is no jetty structure for you to grab onto or take refuge behind.

The slog across the tidal mud flats is a real challenge.  Watch for holes in the sand where it is easy to fall.

This is a good site to do a drift dive where you ride the incoming tide up the bay.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a number of good restaurants both in Waldport and Bayshore.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The Waldport KOA campground near the northwest entrance is a good place to base from if you plan to do multiple dives at this site.  Otherwise, there are Siuslaw National Forest campgrounds up the Alsea River.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

 

 

Umpqua River South Jetty and Triangle Jetty

The Umpqua River South Jetty and the area known as the Triangle Jetty just outside the town of Winchester Bay on the (unsurprisingly named) Winchester Bay is a great place to explore a unique jetty structure.  Nowhere else that we know of along the coast in Oregon can you find a triangle jetty with water that is almost always calm even when the see is violently rough.  It is important to note that the shellfish being commercially grown are strictly off-limits to recreational divers.  It is a crime to attempt to harvest any of the shellfish.  Don’t give other recreational SCUBA divers a bad name!

umpqua south jetty and triangle jetty
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Umpqua South Jetty and the area known as Triangle Jetty where commercial shellfish are grown is a good place to go dive in most ocean conditions. When the weather is rough, you can dive inside the triangle jetty. When it is good weather, you can dive on the outside of the jetty.

 

We can’t confirm it with our own eyes but based on videos we’ve found on YouTube, such as this one, it appears there is some sort of wreckage to discover along the jetty.  We suspect this could be a small boat or maybe a rail car that fell off the tracks when the jetties were originally constructed.  One way or another, we now have the triangle jetty and the whole south jetty complex on the Umpqua River on our short list of places to revisit in the very near future.  If you have more information on this wreck, including location and what it might be, please comment below!

Nearest Town:

The nearest town is Winchester Bay.  A little further inland is Reedsport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

43.665295, -124.211310

 

Special Directions to Site:

From the town of Winchester Bay, take Salmon Harbor Drive south and west.

Parking:

There are several locations that you can park at depending on how crowded it is and where you want to enter/exit.  On the south jetty (north side of the dive site), you can drive right out along the jetty.  We think that you can also drive along the beach here to access the triangle jetty area where the commercial shellfish are grown.  There even appears to be access down to the south side of the triangle jetty.  However, before you drive out onto the sand, double-check the local OHV laws and make sure you have an OHV sticker on your vehicle.

If you don’t want to get into the sand, there are day use parking areas along Salmon Harbor Drive.

Site Orientation:

There are three distinct areas on this dive site.  The first that most people are the most interested in is the inside of the triangle jetty.  This is an active commercial shellfish business area.  Stay well clear of the shellfish platforms and hanging shellfish lines.  There is risk of entanglement in all of the equipment used by the commercial operation.  There may also be discarded shellfish lines underwater that you could become tangled in.

The second area is along the south side of the triangle jetty all the way out to the jetty tip where the south jetty reaches the sea and then partway along the inside of the south jetty.  This area is often rough.  Sea conditions usually preclude people from SCUBA diving here.  However, there is generally good spearfishing and crabbing in this area.

The third area is along the eastern part of the south jetty in the Umpqua River channel.  This area is usually pretty decent to dive and has decent spearfishing and crabbbing.

Entrances and Exits:

There are a multitude of entrance and exit options at this site.  You can crawl over jetty rocks on the south jetty to gain entrance to the Umpqua River channel.  You can practice your surf entrances/exits along the outer south side of the triangle jetty.  You can do an easy beach entrance into the interior of the triangle jetty.  This site has it all.

Please note that the surf entrance/exit can be dangerous and should only be attempted by divers who have sufficient training and experience.  Conditions can rapidly change and make this an untenable entrance/exit.  Have a backup plan!

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

If you are inside the triangle jetty area, there is almost never any bad condition to find.  The area isn’t even really impacted by tidal changes.  No real current, almost never any surf or surge, and extremely rarely are there any waves in here.  People can dive this area just about any time of the day or night and any day of the year.

Along the southern outside area of the triangle jetty, past the tip of the south jetty, and into the mouth of the Umpqua River, you will likely encounter surf, surge, current, and waves.  Watch conditions closely if you are going to dive this area.  There are only a few days a year that parts of this area is accessible.

On the inside of the south jetty in the Umpqua River channel, conditions are often better than on the outside of the jetties.  However, you need to be cognizant of the current.  Dive with the tide.  In really bad weather, you can have surf, surge, waves, and related nastiness.  In a worst case scenario, scratch a dive here and instead go dive the inside of the triangle jetty.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on the time of year and recent storms, you can range from 40 feet of viz off the tip of the south jetty on down to less than 5 feet of visibility along the outer south side of the triangle jetty.  Usually though you’ll find 20-25 feet of vis.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature varies between 48 and 60F depending on the time of year.  If there has been recent snow that is melting in the mountains that feeds the Umpqua River, the river channel can be a bit colder.

Best Time of Year:

The inside of the triangle jetty can be dived any time of the year even in bad sea conditions (use common sense though!).  The south jetty along the Umpqua River is good most of the year although when the upwelling happens over the summer, visibility isn’t amazing.  The southern outside part of the triangle jetty is a very finicky place to dive and usually only will be accessible a few days a year in the summer.

Max Depth:

Off the tip of the south jetty, you can find up to 50 feet of water at high tide and with optimal bottom conditions.  When sand moves around, you won’t find it that deep.  In the triangle jetty, you’ll find maybe 25 feet of water but usually shallower unless there has been dredging recently.  On the south side of the triangle jetty, you might find 30 feet of water.

Suggested Special Training:

Inside the triangle jetty, open water divers with some experience at other dive sites should have a good time.  In some of the rougher areas outside of the triangle jetty and on the south jetty, the diving can become very advanced and challenging.  Specific training in surf entry/exit is needed if you plan to do that.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive although if you try to dive the jetty tip or the exposed portions of the triangle jetty, you can find yourself in extreme or impossible conditions.  Inside the triangle jetty there are entanglement hazards and machinery hazards so pay attention!

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park and where you’re walking to, you will either walk 50 feet or up to 1000 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed at any of the areas in this site.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that it is illegal to interfere with the commercial shellfish operation.  We know those oysters look tempting but DON’T DO IT!  You will give SCUBA divers a bad name!

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

As of the time of writing this, there are no dive shops or air fill stations along the Umpqua River near Winchester Bay.  There is (or at least was the last time we checked) a shop in North Bend to the south.  Otherwise you’re looking at heading inland to Eugene.  Check out the updated list of local dive shops in Oregon to see where the closest shop is to your dive.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a couple good restaurants in Winchester Bay and further inland at Reedsport.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There is a campground right next to this dive site and several others in the immediate vicinity.  In Reedsport there are the normal hotels although we haven’t tried any of them so we can’t comment on if they are friendly to SCUBA divers or not.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

 

 

Florence South Jetty Middle Area

Along the Siuslaw River in Florence the south jetty middle area is a good place to check out for some drift diving.  You can also do out-and-back dives but the current that often rips along the jetty wall is more appropriate for drift dives.  If you bring your mesh bag and a crab gauge, you probably can limit out on crabs here if you’re doing a longer drift dive.  This is a pretty good place to spend a lazy afternoon underwater on the Oregon coast.

 

Site Highlights:

This is a great drift dive.  Hopping in the water when you’re a little ahead of high tide is like riding a freight train.  You’ll zip right along the jetty heading up into Siuslaw Bay.  If you try to do this dive with the tide racing out to sea, you need to be very experienced and ready to exit over any part of the jetty so that you don’t end up outside the jetty out in the ocean.

There are a lot of crabs and fish along the jetty wall.  Bring your crab collection equipment and spear gun, and you’ll probably catch something good.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon is just over the bridge on the north side of the Siuslaw River.

GPS Coordinates:

44.013354, -124.133215

Special Directions to Site:

Turn onto South Jetty Road from US101.  Bear right onto Sand Dunes Road by the Odd Fellows Hall.  Be sure to pick up a parking pass for the day by the entrance to the county park.  Drive all the way down Sand Dunes Road to the end.  You are now in the middle of the south jetty middle area dive site.

Parking:

This is a county park so be sure to get a day parking permit.  There usually is plenty of parking in several different areas.  Parking out along the jetty in the sand might be allowed with an OHV pass.  In the past we saw people do this.  However, inquire locally before you drive into the sand to make sure you won’t come back to a ticket on your car.

 

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The south jetty middle area at Florence can be done as a drift dive. The southernmost entrance is the easiest with a sandy cove where you can walk into the water. The other entrances are classic Oregon jetty scrambles.

Site Orientation:

You want to stick close to the jetty at this dive site.  From the base to the half-way point, the dive site runs more or less to the north.  Then the jetty hooks toward the west.  If you want a navigational challenge and you have someone on the other side to meet you, you could navigate underwater across the channel and come up at the SCUBA Park.  We know someone who did this a few years ago.

The south end of the site has a protected area where you can make an easy entrance/exit.  We suggest exiting here.  Get in at the top of the dive site and ride the current into the bay before high tide.

Entrances and Exits:

The easiest entrance/exit is at the very southern end of the dive site.  The south jetty middle area is accessible anywhere along Sand Dunes Road.  The jetty entrances are a scramble (are there any that aren’t in Oregon?!).  The sandy beach entrance at the southern end of the site is nice enough that you might want to only explore around this area rather than try the drift dive and have to scramble over jetty rocks.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

The further out toward the ocean you go on this site, the more surf, surge, and general nastiness you might encounter.  There is almost always current on this site.  Right at high tide, everything slacks off for a few minutes and the water is calm.  The rest of the time, the water is really ripping and you’ll be taken where the tide is headed.

Normal Visibility:

Except during storms, viz here should be around 15-20 feet.

Normal Temperature:

Temperature can vary between 45 and 55F depending on the time of the year.

Best Time of Year:

We like diving this site in the spring and fall although it is accessible at any time.

Max Depth:

At the southern end of the site, you’ll probably find 30 feet of water where the channel swings close into the jetty.  At the northern end, you’re more likely to find around 20 feet although these numbers are dependent on when the shipping channel was last dredged and if there have been any big storms recently.  We’ve heard that sometimes you can find potholes along the jetty that get to be 45 feet deep although we can’t confirm that.

Suggested Special Training:

It’s a good idea to have advanced open water training and drift diver specialty training before attempting to do a drift dive here.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive as long as you’re heading into Siuslaw Bay rather than out to sea.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

It all depends on where you park.  If you’re lucky, you’ll walk 50 feet.  If not, you will walk 1000+ feet.  If you have two cars, then you can shuttle gear and people.  Otherwise, you’ll have to walk back to your car after a drift dive (2000+ feet is possible).

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is necessary here.

Special Site Notes:

This is a drift dive so plan accordingly.  It’s a good idea to carry a good dive knife to cut yourself out of any monofilament you might encounter and a dive flag so that boats know where you are at.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There used to be a shop with an air fill station in Florence but it closed a long time ago.  Now you have to go down to Port Orford or up to Depoe Bay for an air fill station (both by appointment only) or inland to Eugene for a full service SCUBA shop.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The waterfront in old town Florence has a lot of good places to eat.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a pile of county, state, and federal campgrounds in the area plus a few private ones.  We haven’t tried any of the local hotels so please get in touch with us if you know of a good one where divers are welcome.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Florence South Jetty Inner Fingers

The south jetty inner fingers at Florence are seldom visited by SCUBA divers but may be worth the effort if you are looking to do something a little different on the mouth of the Siuslaw River.  This salt water dive site is really four sites that are next to one another.  At the tips of the jetty fingers, currents dig holes in the sand where crabs often congregate.  This isn’t an amazing series of dives but they are interesting dives.  If you have a boat and want to check it out, put your boat in upriver and come down to the inner fingers.

Site Highlights:

The two highlights of this site are 1) the relative inaccessibility of the dive site compared to other sites around Florence and 2) crabs.  As far as jetty dives go, the dive sites along the north jetty in Florence have more micro life and often have more fish.  However, because so few people visit the inner fingers along the south jetty, crabs can sometimes be found here in abundance.  At the least, it’s worth a look if you’re bored with the other sites around Florence or if your attempt at going offshore to one of the reefs is canceled due to rough seas.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon is just on the other side of the Siuslaw River.

GPS Coordinates:

44.001565, -124.127885

Special Directions to Site:

You’ll need a boat to access this site.  There are put-ins further up the Siuslaw River.  Pick your favorite boat launch and motor down river until you come alongside the US Coast Guard pier and boat house.  The four inner fingers are on the other bank of the Siuslaw.

Parking:

The boat launches all have decent parking for your truck and boat trailer.  Unless you fancy a long surface hike from one of the county beach access parking lots across sand and brush, there is no shore access.

south jetty fingers at florence
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The inner fingers on the south jetty of the Siuslaw River have some interesting holes in the sand where crabs sometimes congregate.

 

Site Orientation:

The four fingers are spread out roughly north to south with the northern-most finger usually having the shallowest hole.  The other three fingers usually have deeper holes but it is very dependent on the season and how the river has been flowing.  If the US Army Corps of Engineers has recently done dredging in the Siuslaw River Channel, conditions will be unpredictable but the holes might get deeper and better for catching crabs.

The fingers themselves are generally pretty shallow heading to the west.  You can check out along the base of the fingers but there isn’t much reason to go beyond the holes at the finger tips.

Entrances and Exits:

This is pretty much strictly a boat dive.  Plan accordingly.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a boat dive unless you love a very long hike across soft sand in SCUBA gear.

Normal Conditions:

There is usually current due to the tidal exchange and river conditions.  In the excavated out holes at the end of the fingers, water can swirl around and make a diver confused.  Good compass skills are a must so you don’t end up going the wrong way.  Generally there aren’t waves unless a ship is passing.  We have never seen surge or surf here but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Normal Visibility:

Vis at the inner fingers on the south jetty usually is around 10-15 feet.  Sometimes it gets a little better and sometimes it’s much worse.  We suggest only diving these sites at high tide so you have the best chance of good viz.

Normal Temperature:

Being so far up into Siuslaw Bay, water temperature is largely driven by river conditions.  If a big slug of cold water from snow melt in the coast range is making its way down the river, you might see temps in the 40s.  Otherwise usually you’ll see the low to mid 50s at this site.

Best Time of Year:

This site can be dived at any time of year.  Do it during crabbing season if you want to catch crabs.

Max Depth:

It’s hard to say what depth you are going to find at the inner finger tips.  It’s not unheard of to find 25 feet of water in the holes.  However, you might only find 10 feet of water at high tide if sand from a recent storm has filled the holes in.  If you have a depth sounder on your boat, you can drive over the area to locate the deepest place to jump in at.

Suggested Special Training:

Advanced open water training is a good idea here.  You also should be skilled at boat diving and be prepared in case you get separated from your boat.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an intermediate skill dive because of diving from a boat.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

No walk is needed unless you’re braving the loooooong hike from a parking area.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed unless you anchor your boat far away from the holes at the jetty tips or if you get separated from your boat.

Special Site Notes:

You’ll have more fun if you dive this site at high tide.  At low tide, there is very little water around the fingers.  It’s a good idea to run a dive flag here because of boat traffic.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

Gone are the days of easy air fills on the central Oregon coast.  The shop in Florence is long gone.  The shop in Newport moved.  The air fill station in Depoe Bay is by appointment only.  Same goes for the one in Port Orford.  You’ll need to head over the coast mountains to Eugene for the closest local dive shop with air fills and full service.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The old town waterfront in Florence has lots of good restaurants.  Head there and pick one that looks tasty!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a plethora of campgrounds that the county, state, and feds run around Florence.  We’ve stayed at a few and had pleasant experiences.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels so please let us know if you find a hotel that is SCUBA diver friendly!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

The South Jetty Crab Dock at Florence

The south jetty crab dock at Florence is a good place to go diving if you’re bored of the north jetty dive sites along the Siuslaw, don’t want to go play in the mud at Woahink Lake, and aren’t feeling like doing the outer parts of the south jetty.  Crabs are usually pretty plentiful here although crabbers and fishermen up on the dock don’t usually enjoy divers underneath them when they’re trying to get some fish or crabs. You can link this dive site up with the other dive sites along the south jetty if you want to do some drift diving and this site is very protected from storms out in the ocean meaning that, as long as you’re okay with bad viz, this site is accessible most of the time.


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Site Highlights:

This is a great site for SCUBA divers when the conditions are lousy on the north jetty or further out on the south jetty.  Being so far into the Siuslaw Bay, it makes for a well-protected dive site from the worst of the winter storms that often blow out the other dive sites along the Siuslaw.  The south jetty crab dock is also a good place to go crabbing and fishing although you should steer clear of fishermen and crabbers on the surface.  It’s not a bad idea to have a friend stay on the surface to help smooth over any tensions with top-side anglers and crabbers.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon is just over the bridge.

GPS Coordinates:

44.007688, -124.131897

Special Directions to Site:

Heading south from Florence, after you cross the bridge over the Siuslaw River, turn right (west) onto South Jetty Road.  There should be signs for the south jetty county park and day use areas.  Bear to the right onto Sand Dunes Road and follow it until you see signs for the crab dock and south jetty beach 6 day use area.

Parking:

There is some parking right by the dock.  If this is full, just up the road there is a much larger parking area.  There is a day use fee here so be sure to pay it or get the appropriate yearly pass before parking.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The south jetty crab dock along the Siuslaw River is a great site to go dive when conditions are rough further out on the jetty or if you’re looking for a very easy jetty to dive.

Site Orientation:

The jetty runs roughly north-south with a very calm inner bay area to the west of the jetty and a mostly calm southern area south of the jetty.  To the east and north, the jetty is exposed to the Siuslaw River so current becomes much more of a factor.  If you hit this site at the wrong time, you can get sucked out along the jetty or pushed up into the bay.  However, if you’re smart about it, you can turn this into an awesome drift dive.

Be mindful of other users of the site.  Recreational crabbers and anglers can get pretty mad if they think you’re stealing their catch underwater.

Entrances and Exits:

There are a lot of really good entrances and exits at this site.  On the map above, we starred the absolute easiest entrances and exits.  However, you can hop into the water just about anywhere you want.  If you really want a jetty scramble, you can do that.  Otherwise, there are plenty of easy entrances on sandy beaches.  If you enter from the northern parking lot, you’ll be in very shallow water for a while but otherwise all of these entrances and exits are in deeper water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Except at high and low tide, the current can really rip along the eastern side of the jetty where the deepest part of the Siuslaw River channel is located.  If you’re doing a drift dive, this is great.  If not, it’s a good idea to stay on the west side of the jetty so you’re not getting pushed around by the water.

There never is much surf or surge here.  We haven’t seen any big waves except when a boat passes by.  In general, this is a pretty benign dive site, and especially when considering that this is on an Oregon coast jetty!

Normal Visibility:

In good conditions at high tide, you can hit 20 feet of viz on the south jetty crab dock.  However, if there is a bunch of silt coming down the Siuslaw River or if there’s a big storm out in the ocean, viz can go down to 5 feet at times.  Usually it’s around 15 feet here.

Normal Temperature:

The south jetty crab dock is impacted by both the water pumping out of the Siuslaw River and by the water out in the Pacific Ocean.  If there is a big spring runoff event with a bunch of snow melt, then you might see 40 degrees.  It can get up to about 60 F on the western little bay area in the summer when the weather is warm and the sun has been out for a few days.  Normally you’ll probably find around 50-55F water temps here.

Best Time of Year:

Any time of year is a good time to check out the south jetty crab dock.

Max Depth:

On the east side of the jetty and near the northern tip of the jetty you’ll sometimes find 25-30 feet of water.  On the west side of the jetty, you’ll be in around 15 feet of water at high tide.

Suggested Special Training:

Recently certified open water divers can successfully dive this site.  If you’re going to do a drift dive, you should have drift diver specialty training.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an easy dive unless you’re doing drift diving or if you hit the site when the tide is ripping.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park and where you enter, you might have between a 5 foot and a 500 foot walk to your entrance.

Surface Swim Length:

If you enter up by the north parking lot, you’ll end up with a 200 foot surface swim to get to deeper water.  Otherwise, the other entrances don’t really need any surface swims to get to the good diving.

Special Site Notes:

Dive this site at high tide for the deepest water you can get at this site.  Especially on the west and south sides, it gets rather shallow.  Be careful of the current in the river channel.  It can go from zero to ripping in just a few seconds.

Be courteous to other users of this site.  There are a lot of people who go crabbing and fishing here.  It’s not a bad idea to have a friend stay on the surface and smooth over any tensions with above-water site users.

It’s a good idea to carry a good dive knife or line cutter.  There can be quite a bit of lost monofilament at this site.  Getting tangled in fishing line sucks but if you have a good knife, you can get yourself free.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

You have a long way to go for a dive shop or air fill.  There is a by-appointment-only air fill station up in Depoe Bay and another down in Port Orford.  Otherwise, head over the coast range mountains to Eugene where there’s a full service dive shop.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is a lot of good food in old town Florence along the waterfront.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a lot of county, state, and federal campgrounds in the area that are great for tent camping or for an RV.  We’ve based out of a few of the campgrounds around here to go diving and haven’t been disappointed.

We haven’t tried out any of the hotels in the area so please let us know if there’s a SCUBA diver friendly hotel nearby that you like.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Florence – North Jetty End of the Road Parking Lot

The north jetty on the Siuslaw River at Florence is a great place to do some diving on the Oregon Coast.  At the west parking lot near the observation tower, a short jetty scramble leads to good spearfishing and crabbing.  If you plan your dive with the tide, you can drift dive this site riding the tide out from the SCUBA Park to the east or head that direction if you ride the tide in.

North Jetty in Florence, Oregon
The western parking lot along the north jetty at Florence is a more difficult entrance and exit than the SCUBA park to the east but is a quieter dive site and often has good spearfishing. “North Jetty in Florence, Oregon” by Rick Obst is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Site Highlights:

The main reason we dive this site is to go spearfishing and crabbing.  While Crab Hole further east on the north jetty gets fished all the time, the further west part of the north jetty gets less hunting.  We have done some drift dives here as well where we follow the tide back toward Florence.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon is just up the north jetty.

GPS Coordinates:

44.018318, -124.137102

Special Directions to Site:

From US101, head west on 35th Street.  Take a right on Rhododendron Drive then take a left on North Jetty Drive.  Follow North Jetty Drive all the way to the end.

Parking:

There is usually plenty of free parking right by the jetty.  Check the signs to make sure the situation hasn’t changed, but we’ve never paid for parking here.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
There are a lot of options to dive this site. You can hop in at the SCUBA Park entrance and ride the tide as a drift dive to an exit at the west parking lot on the Florence north jetty. Or you can stick close to the west parking lot. Or you can head for the ocean and hop out along the jetty and walk back across the sand.

Site Orientation:

The site runs east-west.  Stick close to the jetty rocks.  We haven’t found much of interest out in the channel other than a bunch of sand.

As you get further west, conditions deteriorate.  The dive becomes more advanced the closer to the tip of the jetty you get.

If you run this as a drift dive, you can drift all the way back to Crab Hole.  Watch for the big underwater pipe that marks the exit through the fish ladder.

Entrances and Exits:

The main entrance/exit here is over the jetty at the parking lot.  If you end up out toward the end of the jetty, you can hop out and walk back on the beach.  If you head in toward Crab Hole, you can get out at the fish ladder.  Just watch for the pipe underwater that leads to the exit.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

The further to the west you go, the rougher the conditions will get.  At the entrance, you’ll probably find surf and some surge.  Further to the west, you’ll run into much rougher conditions unless the sea is calm.  Breakers routinely crash over the north jetty at the Y-shaped tip.

The current can really rip going into or out of the Siuslaw River.  If you plan your dive right, you can do a great drift dive from the parking lot in toward Crab Hole and then back out again to the parking lot.  If you’re diving around low tide, you could head out on the last ebb of the low tide and then get pushed back into the river by the inrushing tide.  However, this is a more advanced dive.

Normal Visibility:

We usually get 15-20 feet of visibility here.  The bottom is heavy sand and doesn’t easily get stirred up.

Normal Temperature:

We’ve seen anywhere between 45F and 55F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

The water is usually calmer in the summer and fall here but the site is diveable any time of the year assuming that water conditions aren’t too rough.  If they are too rough, try Crab Hole, or the Woahink west or east boat ramps.

Max Depth:

It’s usually around 35 feet deep at the bottom of the jetty although depending on what the Army Corps of Engineers is doing with dredging the center channel, the depth can vary.

Suggested Special Training:

It would be a good idea to have advanced open water training for this site.  The eastern part of the site is diveable by less experienced divers but the western part of the site requires a lot of experience diving on Oregon jetties.

Difficulty of Dive:

We consider this an intermediate dive as long as you stay far enough inside the jetty.  If you head west toward the tip, this becomes a very advanced and difficult dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

You can usually find parking right next to the jetty but sometimes you might have to walk 200 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Special Site Notes:

Conditions can deteriorate rapidly at this dive site.  The further west you go, the worse it can get.  Be sure you know what you’re doing here.  Don’t get sucked out to sea or pushed way up in the bay.

We suggest flying a dive flag while you’re diving case anyone with a small boat ventures over toward the jetty to check out your bubbles.  We have a dive flag we love and use all the time around Oregon over on our Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There used to be an air fill station in Florence but we heard that it is now closed.  The closest place to get a full service on SCUBA gear and air fills is now Eugene.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Florence’s old town on the waterfront has a lot of great restaurants.  River otters along the Siuslaw River provide some great entertainment, too.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several state campgrounds in the area that we have stayed at.  We haven’t tried any of the local hotels so please let us know if you know of a good place for divers to stay the night.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Woahink Lake West Boat Ramp and Bridge

The west boat ramp by the bridge on Woahink Lake is a dive that just about every one of our SCUBA friends in Oregon has done at least once.  It is a popular place for training dives and a fun place to rinse gear in fresh water after diving at the SCUBA park on the Florence jetty.  While the site is relatively small and visibility can be poor, people keep coming back here because of the quirky things left underwater by other divers.  Everyone always seems to mention the KISS concert whenever they talk about this site.

Site Highlights:

The reason that we come to this site is to see what new things have been added to the treasure trove of random stuff that divers have left underwater.  Someone posed figurines of the band KISS into a mini concert on the north side of the dive site.  There’s a toilet or two with funny things in the bowls.  On the south end, we heard there might be a sunken model submarine.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon is just up the road from the dive site.

GPS Coordinates:

43.929335, -124.102980

Special Directions to Site:

Look for the signs for Jessie M. Honeyman State Park.  Turn east onto Canary Road.  Immediately after the first small bridge, park on the right.

Parking:

There is minimal parking at this site.  One big dive group will take up all the space.  The site is often popular with SCUBA classes for Open Water courses so it’s a good idea to have some backup sites in mind like the East Boat Ramp at Woahink or the SCUBA Park on the North Jetty.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The little SCUBA park that has been made at the old west boat ramp at Woahink Lake is a fun spot to spend a dive or two looking at all of the odd things people have left underwater.

Site Orientation:

The site runs more or less north-south.  There are a few things just north of the bridge but heading further up this finger of Woahink Lake won’t lead to anything interesting other than a few fallen trees.  To the south past the submarine, you will find deeper water but not much else.

Entrances and Exits:

The old boat ramp at the southeast corner of the bridge is an easy entrance.  The last time we were here, there was a bit of a step down from the asphalt to the water but it wasn’t too bad.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions here are usually very benign.  If an open water SCUBA class just got out of the water, visibility will be lousy though.

Normal Visibility:

If no one has gone diving at the site in the last day, we usually get 10-15 feet of viz at the west boat ramp in Woahink Lake.  However, the bottom stirs up very easily and can reduce visibility to less than 5 feet.  This is a good place to practice neutral buoyancy.

Normal Temperature:

Usually it’s between 48 and 56F here although we have seen it a little colder and a little warmer depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

Any time of the year is a good time to go diving at Woahink Lake.

Max Depth:

We’ve hit 30 feet on the south side of this dive site but most of the site is a bit shallower.

Suggested Special Training:

You can dive this site as soon as you have your open water diving certification.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is a pretty easy dive.  There are a few submerged trees that you could get tangled in at the edges of the dive site but otherwise there aren’t any significant hazards that we’re aware of.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you have to park at the farthest parking spot, you might have to walk 200 feet.  At the closest spot, you’ll need to walk about 50 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed at this Woahink Lake dive site.

Special Site Notes:

This site gets a LOT of use from regional SCUBA shops.  If a class is using the west boat ramp on Woahink Lake, go try the east boat ramp or the SCUBA park on the north jetty.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There used to be a fill station in Florence but we recently heard (February 2017) that it is no longer operating.  The closest place to get an air fill or gear service is in Eugene.  Port Orford to the south or Depoe Bay to the north also may still have air fill stations.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a lot of good places to eat along the old waterfront in Florence.  We usually see river otters playing on the riverbank there, too!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several state campgrounds in the area that are a good place to base yourself for a few days of diving in Florence.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels so please let us know if you have a favorite that is good for divers.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Depoe Bay Boat Ramp

The boat ramp at Depoe Bay is a good place to check gear out before diving offshore.  If conditions are lousy, you can spend an enjoyable hour searching around underwater for cast off junk from the industries that have occupied the world’s smallest harbor.

depoe bay
The boat ramp in Depoe Bay is a good place to check your gear out before going for a dive offshore.

Site Highlights:

Even though the site is shallow, you can enjoy some time underwater here testing out gear.  There is a fair amount of junk underwater left from the old businesses that used to be around the harbor.

Nearest Town:

The boat ramp is right in the middle of Depoe Bay.

GPS Coordinates:

44.808141, -124.060102

Special Directions to Site:

From US101, take  Schoolhouse Street east and then then turn left onto Shell Avenue.  The boat ramp and parking are right at the end of the road.

Parking:

There usually is plenty of parking here.  Just make sure not to occupy boat trailer parking.  We haven’t had to pay here before but double check the signs to make sure something hasn’t changed.

depoe bay boat ramp
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The boat ramp is a bit cramped and shallow. You could explore more to the north although there is a lot of junk underwater and some old line.

Site Orientation:

Head south to get out of the water.  Head north in search of deeper water.  We suggest you stay out from underneath the boats.  Along the western edge of the harbor there is a lot of junk underwater.  Don’t get entangled in anything!

Entrances and Exits:

You can get in right at the boat ramp or over the little jetty to the right of the boat ramp.  It’s an easy entrance/exit.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Depoe Bay is very protected once you’re inside the channel.  Watch out for boat traffic.  It isn’t a bad idea to have someone on the shore to let boaters know you’re underwater.  This harbor is pretty tight to fly a dive flag but it isn’t a bad idea.  We have a favorite flag we use all over Oregon on our Gear We Use page.

Normal Visibility:

Usually you’ll get 5-10 feet of viz here.  The bottom can get stirred up especially on the right side of the dive site where the little creek comes into the harbor.

Normal Temperature:

It can be between 45 and 65F depending on the time of year and how shallow you go.

Best Time of Year:

Water conditions are usually better in the winter than summer but you can dive this site at any time of year.

Max Depth:

If you go north far enough, you might find 20 feet of water but usually you’re going to be in about 10 feet of water.  Buoyancy control is critical here.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive here but be careful with underwater entanglement hazards and sunken machinery.  It’s a good idea to carry a good dive knife and line cutter.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is a pretty easy dive but be careful of entanglement hazards.  Boat traffic can also be an issue.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

50 feet is usual but 150 feet could happen if you have to park a ways away.

Surface Swim Length:

No real surface swim is necessary here.

Special Site Notes:

Be careful of underwater entanglement hazards.  Also watch for boat traffic.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There used to be a dive shop in Depoe Bay but it was in the process of closing when we were last at this site (February 2017).  However, they may still be giving air fills.

Otherwise, you need to head up to Astoria, down to Port Orford, or inland to Portland, Salem, or Eugene to get an air fill and have gear serviced.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Tidal Raves has absolutely outstanding food and a great ocean view. Gracie’s Sea Hag has the best clam chowder on the entire Oregon coast.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South of Depoe Bay is Beverly Beach State Park where there is good camping.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area so please let us know if you have stayed at one that is SCUBA friendly!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Oregon Coast Aquarium – Orford Reef

If you get the opportunity, definitely go dive the Orford Reef tank at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  Aside from being a unique SCUBA diving experience in Oregon, it is a lot of fun to wave at people who are inside the underwater tube.  Some divers have friends visit the aquarium when they’re diving so they have someone to wave at in the tube and the person in the tube can take photos of them diving.  This is an outstanding way to share your passion for and love of SCUBA diving with friends who don’t dive.

orford reef tank
The Orford Reef tank is the most challenging of the tanks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium to dive. Only very skilled divers are allowed to go in this tank. The tank is tight compared to the others.

Site Highlights

The biggest highlight for us is to wave at people on the other side of the glass.  This tank used to be where Keiko the killer whale from Free Willie fame lived for several years before heading to Iceland.  Now Keiko’s big tank has been broken up into several smaller tanks that each represent an ecosystem found off the Oregon coast.

There are a lot of interesting fish in this tank.  The water is so clear that it is very easy to watch the fish lazily go by.  These tanks have divers in them at least once a week for cleaning so the marine life is used to seeing people on SCUBA.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon is right outside the door.

GPS Coordinates:

44.616561, -124.045709

Special Directions to Site:

When you schedule your diving experience at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, they will give you details on where to go and who to talk with so that you can get in the tank.

Parking:

The aquarium will tell you where to park.  When we went, we parked in the normal parking lot although our friends who regularly dive the tanks as volunteer cleaners park elsewhere.

Site Orientation:

The tank is divided into two parts by the big clear tube that runs across the middle.  This is a tiny tank compared to what we are used to out in the open water.  You can see the whole tank in a couple minutes but playing around waving at people in the tube can occupy at least a half hour.

Entrances and Exits:

We used a ladder to get into the tank.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

There are never really waves or surge in this tank.  It’s very benign.

Normal Visibility:

You can see all the way from one side of the tank to the other side of the tank.  That’s about 30-40 feet.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature is usually close to the temperature in Yaquina Bay.  When we went diving, it was about 45F.

Best Time of Year:

It used to be that you could only dive the Orford Reef tank when a DUI Drysuit Days event was going on as a private individual.  That usually happens once per year although we haven’t seen an announcement for an upcoming DUI event at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in a couple years.

A Eugene-based shop now works with the aquarium to arrange private diving events in the tanks.  We have not gone on one of these events but we did dive through one of the regional shops that used to participate in the DUI Drysuit Days events in the past.  Note that they currently do not advertise being able to dive in the Orford Reef tank.  When we went with the DUI Drysuit Days program a few years ago, due to our extensive diving experience in Oregon and around the world, the aquarium staff and volunteers put us in the Orford Reef tank because the other tanks were full of people.  Perhaps if you ask nicely, you can pay to dive Orford Reef.

Otherwise, you can volunteer as a tank cleaning and maintenance diver.  We know a couple people who do this and head out to Newport about once a month for a weekend of cleaning tanks.  They both have been doing it for years so it must be fun!

Max Depth:

Our gauges read 25 feet at one point.  Most of the time you’ll be between 10 and 20 feet.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can do this dive.  However, we only got the chance to do this dive because we have extensive training in both recreational and scientific diving, and have thousands of dives under our weight belts in a wide range of conditions all around the world.

We suggest that if you wish to pay for the opportunity to dive Orford Reef, you contact the aquarium or the dive shop running the program and see what training and experience you need to be permitted into Orford Reef.  We think it’s worth the extra effort to dive this tank.

Difficulty of Dive:

The dive itself is straight forward and not that difficult if you are aware of your surroundings.  However, we only had the opportunity to hop into this tank because of our extensive training and experience.

There are overhead hazards associated with the clear tube that aquarium visitors walk through.  The tank is also tight and requires finesse in navigating the close-together walls.  If you are claustrophobic, you probably don’t want to hop in this tank.  With three of us in the tank, there wasn’t much room.  The aquarium was very serious about our neutral buoyancy skills and had us demonstrate them in the medical tank behind the Halibut Flats tank before letting us into Orford Reef.

For these reasons, we rate this as an advanced skill level dive.

orford reef tank
The Orford Reef tank is a tight place to dive but it’s quite the fun experience.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

We had to walk about 100 feet from where we geared up, climbed some stairs to the top of the tank, and then descended a ladder into the tank.  You need to be somewhat nimble to get into the tank and out again safely.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swims here!

Special Site Notes:

Contact the aquarium and the dive shop that supports the aquarium to talk about diving Orford Reef.  It is not normally a tank that divers who are not volunteers at the aquarium get to use.

Be sure to have some friends at the aquarium to take photos of you from outside the tank.  We took a small action video camera in the tank with us to take some videos which was fun to have.  There isn’t much room to maneuver a big camera rig in here so we suggest not bringing anything bigger than a small action cam.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport. When we went diving here, the aquarium supplied us with tanks and weights.  We had to wash all of our gear before we could use it in the tank to make sure we didn’t transport any nasty creatures into the tanks.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Both sides of the Yaquina Bay in Newport sport a variety of great restaurants.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South Beach State Park has good camping and yurts for rent.  We stay here when we’re in Newport.  We have not tried any of the local hotels.  Please let us know if you have and you can recommend one that is SCUBA diver friendly!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Florence – North Jetty SCUBA Park and Crab Hole

Crab Hole at the Florence north jetty SCUBA park is one of those dives that just about every SCUBA diver in Oregon has done at least once.  Many people do their last one or two open water certification dives at the SCUBA park.  Lots of people come over for an afternoon of diving from Eugene or a weekend of fun in Florence from Portland.  The very easy diver-friendly entrance, the relatively protected inner area of the dive site, and the plentiful crabs out in Crab Hole make it an excellent place to have some fun.  Even when the parking lot is full of divers, the site is big enough to accommodate everyone.

florence entrance
The entrance at the Florence Dive Park and Crab Hole is custom-made for SCUBA divers. Sometimes a little debris gets washed up into the top of the old fish ladder but it usually isn’t too bad.

Site Highlights:

This site has something for everyone.  Most people will first mention Crab Hole, a feature of the jetty construction where there is a small semi-circular hole in the bottom that crabs congregate in by the mesh bag full.  Many people will mention how easy the entrance and exit is.  An old fish ladder was installed at the site specifically to make it easier for SCUBA divers to get into and out of the water.  There isn’t an easier place to reach the water on any of the jetties in Oregon that we know of.  We also love looking at all of the micro marine life at this site.  There are a few protected spots that you can mostly get out of the current to go slow and check out nudibranchs, hermit crabs, barnacles, and other tiny things.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

44.016220, -124.131106

Special Directions to Site:

It’s a little tricky finding this site without a GPS or navigation map on your phone.  If you plug in the GPS coordinates listed above, your smart device will take you right to the site.

Otherwise, take 35th Street west from US101 in Florence.  Turn right onto Rhododendron Drive.  Turn left onto North Jetty Road.

Take the first left off of North Jetty Road into the large parking area.

Parking:

Parking has always been free and plentiful here.  It is not uncommon to see several of the dive shops from the Willamette Valley have their trailers parked here while they run classes at the dive site.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. An easy entrance, a bounty of crabs, and lots of parking — this dive site has it all! Crab Hole and the Florence SCUBA Park is a great place to go diving and get experience on the jetties of Oregon.

 

Site Orientation:

The site runs from southeast to northwest.  The entrance is roughly in the middle of the dive site.  There is a big old pipe underwater that is a good marker for knowing where to surface to take your exit.  Crab hole is roughly south from the entrance.

If you get too far out into the shipping channel not only will you find nothing but sand but you will also potentially find strong current and shipping traffic.

Entrances and Exits:

This is one of the easiest entrance/exit setups on the whole Oregon Coast.  No other jetty has it this easy.  You walk down some stairs into the old fish ladder where there are some benches you can sit on while you do final gear checks.  Then step out of the end of the old fish ladder into the water, put your fins and mask on, and away you go!  Just about anyone can do this dive site.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions here are usually good.  Occasionally there is some surge but it is rare.  Very occasionally a big storm can push wood and other debris up into the entrance area.  We once did not dive here because some big logs were rolling around right where we wanted to dive.

Nine times out of ten, this site is just fine to go diving.

logs in the water
In really bad storms, logs and other debris can find their way into the entrance area at the Florence SCUBA Park and Crab Hole. On days like these, we usually go to a different site in Florence rather than deal with the hassle of logs.

There is some current that you need to deal with especially on the western side of this dive site.  This is a good place to practice dealing with current on a jetty.

In crab hole itself, the current can swirl around in an unexpected way that can be disorienting to some people.  Be sure to watch your compass so that you can stay oriented with the jetty.

Normal Visibility:

Usually we get about 15 feet of visibility when we go diving here.  The bottom is sandy and can’t really be stirred up.  On a rare day with a very big high tide, you might push 20 feet of visibility.

Normal Temperature:

It’s usually between 45 and 55F here.

Best Time of Year:

This site can be dived all year long.  Crab Hole always has crab in it but check local crabbing regulations and make sure you have your permits in order.

Max Depth:

We have hit 55 feet in Crab Hole before.  Most of the site is around 40 feet though.

Suggested Special Training:

We have watched many open water divers finish their training dives here.  This site is accessible to anyone who is certified to go SCUBA diving in open water.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an easy dive suitable for beginners who are freshly certified and for people who don’t like the physically demanding entries at other jetties on the Oregon Coast.  The only difficult part is the current can kick up and make your dive a little more strenuous.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

20 feet if you get the best parking spot.

Surface Swim Length:

None unless you want to for some reason.

Special Site Notes:

It’s a good idea to fly a dive flag here to let boaters in the area know that you’re underwater.  A flashlight is a good idea when you’re in Crab Hole hunting for crabs and to peer in between the jetty boulders.  A good mesh bag is what you need to put crabs in.  We have our favorites for all of these gear items listed on our Gear We Use page.

The site can get very busy with divers.  Be sure you know what your buddy looks like underwater and stick close together.  We have seen it happen more than once where a buddy pair will surface with different buddies than when they started the dive!

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There used to be a local dive shop in Florence although we haven’t been by in a couple years to confirm if it is still in operation.  The last time we were in, you could get air fills and very limited SCUBA gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The old waterfront in Florence has some great seafood restaurants that we like.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several camping areas around Florence that the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Bureau runs.

We haven’t tried any of the local hotels yet.  Please let us know if there is a good hotel in town that is SCUBA friendly that you have tried!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!