South Jetty on Tillamook Bay

The south jetty of Tillamook Bay does not see very many SCUBA divers because of the difficulty of access.  The road out to the jetty is almost always gated and locked.  With a boat launched from one of the marinas in Tillamook Bay, you can easily reach the site.  We have heard of a few people surface swimming from the north shore at the Inner North Jetty dive site but that is an epic surface swim where you have to fight the current and dodge boat traffic.  With a hand cart and patience, you can lug all of your dive gear from the parking area along the gravel road to the jetty a few miles away.

The main reason people go dive the south jetty is to spearfish.  Because so few people dive along the jetty, the fish tend to be bigger and more plentiful than on the north jetty (at least in our experience).  You also get to put the feather in your SCUBA cap of diving a site that not many people ever get to dive.

USACE Tillamook Bay Oregon
By Bill Johnson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The south jetty (on the right) doesn’t get many SCUBA visitors but it is worth the difficulty of accessing the dive site if you want do some good spearfishing.
The old abandoned town of Bayocean is what drove the construction of the jetties on the mouth of Tillamook Bay.  Depending on what path or road you take through the Tillamook County Bayocean Peninsula Park, you might catch a glimpse of a few foundations and the memorial sign at the old town square.  Most of the town fell into the ocean due to coastal erosion.

Bayodancenata
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The old natatorium and dance hall at Bayocean before they fell into the sea.

Site Highlights:

The reason anyone dives here is for the spearfishing.  Otherwise this is a pretty typical Oregon jetty dive that has really difficult access.

Nearest Town:

The little unincorporated town of Barview is across the channel.  The town of Garibaldi is just up the bay and on the other side.  Tillamook is further south.

GPS Coordinates:

45.565360, -123.948930

Special Directions to Site:

If you’re going to access this site via boat, go to Garibaldi and put your boat in at the marina there.

If you’re going to do the long hike to the dive site, in Tillamook take the Netarts Highway to the west from downtown and then turn onto Bayocean Road just after you cross over the bridge.  Follow Bayocean Road all the way to the parking area at the Tillamook County Bayocean Peninsula Park.

If you’re going to do the surface swim because you’re practicing for an Iron Man or because you like punishing yourself, the parking area for the Inner North Jetty dive site is the best place to park.

Parking:

In Garibaldi at the boat launch, there is plenty of parking.  At the Bayocean Peninsula Park parking lot, there usually is plenty of parking.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
It is a challenge to get to the south jetty on the Tillamook Bay but the spear fishing is good.

Site Orientation:

The site hugs the jetty wall from southeast to northwest on the inner part and then after a bend in the jetty, from east to west.  The western area is deeper than the eastern area.  You could theoretically dive the jetty tip if you wanted but the conditions out there are almost always very rough and not something that would be all that fun to do.

close up of barview jetty south site
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The south jetty on the Tillamook Bay is a good place to spearfish. There is one area on the jetty wall that is easier to climb over than others but most of the jetty is pretty accessible.

Entrances and Exits:

There is one area on the jetty wall near where the jetty hooks to the west that is a little lower and easier to scramble over.  However, you can enter or exit just about anywhere along the wall.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

The south jetty can be done either as a shore dive or a boat dive.  A boat dive is significantly less physically demanding although a competent captain is needed to navigate dropping off SCUBA divers along the jetty wall.

If you do this as a shore dive, prepare for a several mile long hike towing a cart with all of your gear in it.

Normal Conditions:

This site almost always has a wicked ripping current along the south jetty.  The tidal exchange into and out of Tillamook Bay is pretty huge and there is very little slack tide.  Stay close to the jetty rocks and plan your dive to stay safe.  You don’t want to get sucked out to sea or pushed way up into the bay.

There can be surf and surge, especially the farther out you go on the jetty toward the ocean.  We strongly suggest you assess the conditions and only dive where you feel comfortable diving.

Normal Visibility:

Viz here is usually around 15 feet although it can be better in fair weather.  The bottom is mostly sand so you don’t need to worry too much about stirring up mud.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature usually is around 42-55F.

Best Time of Year:

The best time of the year to dive here depends on if you are doing the long walk from the parking area or if you are taking a boat.  If you’re taking a boat, just about any time is decent to dive here as long as conditions aren’t too rough.  If you’re hiking, we suggest doing it in the fall or spring when it isn’t too sunny or warm so that you don’t roast on the long slog to the dive site.

Max Depth:

On the westerly part of the jetty, you can find 40 feet sometimes.  On the inside eastern part of the south jetty, the depth is more like 15-20 feet.

Suggested Special Training:

We suggest having advanced open water training and experience diving other jetties in Oregon, such as the Florence north jetty SCUBA park and “crab hole” where there is an easy entrance and exit and more forgiving conditions.

If you are doing this as a boat dive, you need experience on how to safely enter and exit a boat.

If you’re planning to go more toward the jetty tip, rescue diver training, drift diver training, and a lot of experience in very rough conditions is necessary.

Difficulty of Dive:

The dive itself is an intermediate difficulty site because of the jetty entrance and exit, and the current.  However, the huge hike from the parking area makes this a shore dive for only the most fit of people.  If you’re doing this from a boat, weekend warriors shouldn’t have much issue.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you do the long walk from the parking area, you have several miles to lug all your gear.  A wheeled cart will make your life much easier.

Surface Swim Length:

There isn’t any need to surface swim unless you are accessing this site from the inner north jetty dive site.  If that’s the case, then you are looking at a 1000 foot surface swim with current and shipping traffic to dodge.

Special Site Notes:

We suggest you contact the Tillamook County Parks Department to see if you can arrange to have the gate opened to drive out to the jetty rather than having to walk.  We have not been successful with this approach yet but if enough people start asking, perhaps the parks department will start opening up the gate more often for SCUBA divers.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There used to be a shop in Tillamook that did air fills although we can’t confirm if it is still open.  Please let us know if you know of a local shop!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Tillamook has a lot of good food.  Oceanside and Netarts just down the road have good food as well.  If you’re coming in from Garibaldi on a boat, there are also some restaurants there.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There aren’t any close campgrounds although Tillamook County Parks operate several in the area as does Oregon State Parks.

We have not tried any of the local hotels.  Please let us know if you have tried one and found it to be diver friendly!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Outer North Jetty at Barview Jetty County Park

The outer north jetty at the Tillamook County Barview Jetty Park is a good SCUBA site to visit if you want to go crabbing or spearfishing.  Big lingcod lurk on the outer reaches of the jetty where the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean mixes with the freshwater from Tillamook Bay.

USACE Tillamook Bay Oregon
By Bill Johnson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The north Barview jetty is a great place to dive if you want to go spearfishing or crabbing. The middle north jetty dive site has a shorter walk than the inner north jetty dive site but is a little more exposed to ocean conditions.

Site Highlights

The reason we dive this site and put up with the strong current and difficult entrance is to go hunting.  Spearfishing for monster lingcod, rockfish, and other fish is really fun on the outer north jetty.  Aside from a few minutes of slack tide, the current is always roaring here and will easily suck you out to see if you aren’t careful.  It is still a fun site to dive in spite of the current for the thrill of finding those big fish that everyone desires.

Nearest Town:

The little unincorporated community of Barview, Oregon further inland along the jetty.  The towns of Garibaldi and Tillamook are a bit further south.

GPS Coordinates:

45.569981, -123.957693

Special Directions to Site:

Follow signs for the Tillamook  County Barview Jetty Campground and keep going along Jetty Road until you come to the parking lot at the beach.  Park over toward the jetty to minimize your surface walk.

Parking:

There is usually plenty of parking here.  The last time we went to this site, parking was free but this could change.

barview outer north jetty site plan
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The outer north jetty at Barview is a great place to go spearfishing but the current can be wicked.

Site Orientation:

The dive site runs roughly east-west along the north jetty for Tillamook Bay.  The farther out you get on the jetty, the rougher the conditions will get.  We don’t recommend going all that far out toward the jetty tip because there are almost always big waves, surf, and surge on the jetty tip.  The current can also easily pull you out to sea which would be no fun.

Entrances and Exits:

Right by the parking area there are a few places that are more easy to scramble over the jetty rocks.  If you get in a pinch, you can climb up on the jetty further out toward the ocean or treat this as a drift dive and exit either at the middle or inner dive sites on the north jetty.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

This site almost always has a wicked current that will try to suck you out to see or in toward Tillamook.  When the waves are lined up just right, big breakers can wash over the jetty and the surge can be huge.  The further west on the jetty you go, the more the conditions deteriorate.

Normal Visibility:

You usually have 10-15 feet of visibility at the outer north jetty dive site.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature usually runs between 48 and 57F at this site.

Best Time of Year:

The only time you want to go diving here is when the ocean is relatively calm.  With the wild Pacific Ocean just a few hundred feet away, you need to watch the surf, marine, and weather forecasts.  Luckily there are plenty of other dive sites around Tillamook Bay for you to check out if this site is no good to dive.

Max Depth:

Out toward the tip of the jetty you will see a depth of around 45 feet.  further east, you will see more like 35 feet of water.

Suggested Special Training:

Advanced open water training is a good idea here.  Rescue diver training is also a good idea.  You need to have a safety sausage (we have one we highly recommend on our Gear We Use page) in case you get into trouble and get sucked out to sea.  Remember don’t try to fight the current if you get sucked out.  Go parallel to shore and look for somewhere that the current is carrying you back toward land to make your exit.

If you do have to do a beach exit after getting sucked out to sea, don’t forget your training.  Getting through breakers can be very challenging for even the most experienced divers.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive as long as you dive this site in good conditions and are mindful of how far out along the jetty you go.  If you decide to head for the tip, this becomes an advanced dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If the parking close to the jetty is full, then you might have to walk a hundred feet or so.  Usually you can park right next to the jetty, scramble over the rocks, and you’re in the water.

Surface Swim Length:

There is no surface swim here unless you for some reason want a surface swim.

Special Site Notes:

There is boat traffic that comes in and out of the Tillamook Bay.  Don’t stray into the channel.  As we’ve said elsewhere on this page, be very mindful of the current and don’t go too far out on the jetty unless you really know what you’re doing.  While this is the outer north jetty dive site, we specifically don’t include the tip of the jetty in this site because of the difficulty of that area.

[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 Tillamook.  We aren’t sure if it is still there or not.  If you know of a nearby SCUBA shop, please let us know!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are quite a few restaurants up and down US101.  If you have a favorite, please drop us a line and we’ll add it here.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The Tillamook County Barview Jetty Campground is a good place to camp.  They have RV sites, tent sites, and cabins for rent.

We haven’t tried any of the nearby hotels.  If you know of a good one that is SCUBA friendly, let us know!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Middle North Jetty at Barview Jetty County Park

While the parking can be tight, the middle north jetty dive site on the Barview north jetty is a good place to go diving if you want to spearfish or go crabbing.  The current is usually too strong to stop and look around for very long but the hunting is good.  The Tillamook County Barview Jetty Park and Campground is very close and could serve as a nice home base for a few days of diving around Tillamook Bay.

USACE Tillamook Bay Oregon
By Bill Johnson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The north Barview jetty is a great place to dive if you want to go spearfishing or crabbing. The middle north jetty dive site has a shorter walk than the inner north jetty dive site but is a little more exposed to ocean conditions.

Site Highlights

The main highlight at this site is spearfishing and crabbing.  The tidal exchange produces too much current here to go slow and look at all of the micro marine life.

Nearest Town:

Barview, Oregon is the closest unincorporated town.  Garibaldi is the closest larger town and Tillamook is a bit further south.

GPS Coordinates:

45.569570, -123.953319

Special Directions to Site:

Follow signs from US101 for the Tillamook County Barview Jetty Park.  Follow Jetty Road west and look for the left-hand (southerly) turn.  If you go too far, you’ll end up at the end of the road and the outer north jetty dive site.

Parking:

There is limited parking at this dive site.  We have seen this site’s parking full on busy weekends.  The last time we went here, we did not pay to park although that may change.

barview middle north jetty
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The middle north jetty dive site at Barview is a good place to go spearfishing and crabbing.

Site Orientation:

The site runs generally east-west along the north jetty.  Keep close to the jetty and don’t stray into the shipping channel.

Entrances and Exits:

This is a difficult jetty entrance.  We highly recommend that you walk the entrance before you don your SCUBA gear to make sure you have a solid plan for where you want to crawl over the jetty.  It’s a good idea to take something to mark your exit point so that you can find it easily when you surface.  A dive flag, like the one we recommend on our Gear We Use page, works as a good marker and lets nearby boats know that you’re along the jetty.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

You WILL find current at this site.  Depending on how the waves are coming into the coast, you may encounter surge and surf as well although it is rare to get much surge here and rarer to have surf.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility is normally 15 feet on a good day.  The best visibility is at high tide.  If a big storm has been dumping rain above Tillamook Bay, visibility will be reduced.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen water temperatures here between 48 and 57F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

The middle north jetty dive site can be dived at any time throughout the year.  We usually like going here during crabbing season though.

Max Depth:

At high tide, you can find 40 feet of water along the middle north jetty.

Suggested Special Training:

We suggest having advanced open water training and be comfortable with climbing over jetties.  This site always has a good current so be prepared to dive in strong current.  Some people will do this as a drift dive and come out either at the inner north jetty dive site or the outer north jetty dive site.

Difficulty of Dive:

We think this is an intermediate dive due to the current and the jetty entrance.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

It’s about 75 feet from the parking lot to the jetty.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed as long as you’re decent with navigation.

Special Site Notes:

The current here can really rip.  We usually prefer to dive this site when the tide is still coming in and exit just after slack tide.

[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 Tillamook although we aren’t sure if it is still in business.  Please let us know if you have up to date information!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are restaurants up and down US101 near this dive site.  If you have any favorites, please let us know!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The Tillamook County Barview Jetty Park has a good campground with RV sites, tent sites, and cabins for rent.

We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area so please let us know if you know of one 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!

Inner North Jetty at Barview Jetty County Park

The inner north jetty at Barview Jetty County Park is a great place to go spear fishing and crabbing.  We have caught many lingcod and dungeness crabs here.  The current along the inner north jetty can be a little tricky and the entrance and exit is grueling at high tide but the hunting here is good.  Be sure to have your fishing license in order and be extra sure that you are only catching things that are legal to catch and the correct size.  We have had the state police called on us more than once by angry fishermen who didn’t want us spearfishing in their favorite fishing spot.  Each time though, we were in the clear and the fishermen ended up getting tickets for not having their fishing licenses!

Site Highlights

The main highlight of the Barview County Park dive site is spearfishing and crabbing.  The current usually moves along here too fast to go slow and check out the micro marine life.  There are other sites in Tillamook Bay such as The Three Graces (also known as Crab Rocks) and the Lumber Dock that are better for checking out tiny sea creatures and going slow.

Nearest Town:

Barview, Oregon (the zip code is 97136.  Don’t accidentally go to the Barview on the Central/Southern Oregon coast.  Sometimes Google Maps will try to navigate you to the wrong Barview!) is the closest small town.  Garibaldi is just down the road a mile or two and has more services.  Tillamook is the closest large town.

GPS Coordinates:

45.568501, -123.945484

Special Directions to Site:

Look for Barview Jetty County Park signs along US101.  Cedar Street takes you right down to the parking area.  The Barview Jetty Store and Deli (it was called this the last time we were here but the name could change) is at the southwest corner of the intersection that you take to get onto Cedar Street.

Parking:

At the end of Cedar Street there is a large gravel parking lot that overlooks a tidal area full of rocks.  Beyond the tidal area is the inner north jetty.  This is just outside of the pay station for the campground and the rest of the park.  There are two other dive sites further west along the jetty that you have to pass through the pay station to reach.  This dive site doesn’t require you to pay as of the last time that we visited.

barview jetty site plan
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Barview inner north jetty dive site is a great place to spearfish and go crabbing.

Site Orientation:

The site runs roughly east-west along the jetty.  Keep the jetty to your north and don’t let yourself get sucked into or out of Tillamook Bay by the current.  Depending on what side of high tide you dive this site on, the current will try its hardest to pull you away from where you want to be.  If you find yourself heading west, you could exit at the middle north jetty dive site or the outer north jetty dive site and have a long walk back to your car.

Entrances and Exits:

There are two entrances/exits that we have used near the parking area.  These are low spots in the jetty.  Getting to the entrances is difficult at high tide because the tidal flats between the parking area and the dive site are full of rocks and knee-to-waist-deep water.  You can’t swim in this water so you have to slog through it.  Wading through water wearing 100 lbs of SCUBA gear and trying to avoid tripping on unseen rocks really saps your energy.

At the jetty, you have to do the typical Oregon jetty scramble to get to the inner north jetty dive site.

Jetty and Tillamook Bay - Barview, Tillamook County, Oregon
The Barview inner north jetty with the tide mostly out. The entrance is a long slog from the parking area through knee-to-waist deep water and with a bunch of rocks to trip over. By M.O. Stevens (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

There is always current here.  Slack tide lasts only a few minutes.  The rest of the time, you’ll be getting pushed or pulled by the current.  Sometimes the wave sets coming in from the ocean line up just right to put some waves on the inner north jetty but usually you only are dealing with current here.

This is a favorite spot for fishermen.  Be mindful of fishing lines and bring a safety shears in case you get tangled in line.  We have a safety shears we highly recommend on our Gear We Use page.

Normal Visibility:

Usually visibility is around 10-15 feet here although the rivers coming into Tillamook Bay can produce a lot of sediment after a big winter storm that can significantly reduce visibility.

Normal Temperature:

Usually we have seen between 48 and 55F at this dive site although if there has been a lot of cold rain upstream of Tillamook Bay, it can be colder.

Best Time of Year:

This site can be SCUBA dived any time during the year.

Max Depth:

Max depth at the inner north jetty is around 40 feet.

Suggested Special Training:

We suggest having advanced open water training for this site.  This is a typical Oregon jetty entrance with an extra long slog through annoyingly placed rocks and knee-to-waist deep water.  This would not be a good place to have your first jetty entrance experience.  The inner fingers at Newport (first or second) would be a better place to try jetty entrances for the first time.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the annoying entrance and the climb over the jetty rocks.  The current also factors into our consideration here.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on which entrance you use, you’re looking at a 150-300 foot walk through water and rocks before you get to the jetty.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim needed here.

Special Site Notes:

Be mindful of sport fishermen and hobby crabbers.  We must share our spaces to continue being invited back as SCUBA divers.

Watch the current.  We suggest going against the current at the start of your dive if you have already passed slack tide.  If you are straddling over either side of high tide, then you can drift in with the current and back out after the tidal exchange has switched.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There may still be a local dive shop in Tillamook but we haven’t checked in with this shop in a while.  If you know of any shops in the Tillamook Bay area, please let us know!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

We haven’t tried out any of the restaurants around the inner north jetty but in Tillamook there are several decent places.  Let us know if you have a favorite place to eat here!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The Tillamook County Barview Jetty Park has a campground with a bunch of spaces for RVs, tents, and anything in between.  They also have some cabins for rent.

We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area yet.  If you know of a good hotel that is SCUBA diver friendly, please let us know!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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