Newport South Jetty – Fourth Finger

The fourth finger on the south jetty in Newport, Oregon is a great saltwater dive.  We have spent many great days diving on the Oregon coast at the fourth finger.  For SCUBA divers who enjoy a bit of a challenging entry and sometimes difficult underwater conditions, this is a good place to check out.  For divers who love searching for tiny life, you will be richly rewarded with many tiny nudibranchs, a bunch of different species of small crabs (and big ones, too!), and many different fish species.

Conditions can be rough at this dive site although conditions here are often better than at the fifth finger further down the jetty toward the ocean.  Keep an eye on the weather and marine forecasts to make sure this site is where you want to dive when you visit Newport.  In spite of some of the challenges of this site, we always love diving here and so will you!

Looking toward the Yaquina Bay Bridge and the waterfront in Newport. The fourth finger dive site is in the middle of the picture.

Site Highlights:

We love diving this site to look at all of the life that lives on the jetty rocks.  If you are patient, have a good dive light (we have several that we recommend), and look closely, you will find whole worlds of tiny ocean life going about their lives between the rocks.  Sea anemones grab microscopic fish and shrimp out of the water in front of your eyes.  Little hermit crabs scurry around looking for food and new homes.  Perch dart in and out of rocks, playing hide and seek with SCUBA divers.  Dungeness and red rock crabs skitter across the bottom.  This is an amazing site to dive if you’re willing to go slow and look around.

For the spearfisher or the underwater crabber, this site offers lingcod, perch, rockfish, dungeness crab, and rock crab.  We have gone spearfishing and crabbing here before with good success.

Nearest Town:

Newport is just down the jetty from the fourth finger dive site.

GPS Coordinates:

44.615504 N, -124.064237 W

Special Directions to Site:

Follow signs to the aquarium and then head west toward the ocean along Southwest Jetty Way.

Parking:

There is plenty of parking at this dive site close to the entrance.  We like parking right by the jetty but if parking is tight, the south side of the road has more parking.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017.
The fourth finger has ample parking. The entrance and exit are challenging but the life underwater is worth it.

Site Orientation:

The jetty runs toward the west-southwest and the ocean.  If you get separated from the jetty, head south and you’ll find it again.  If you go north, you’ll end up in the shipping channel and you will not have a good day.

The fourth finger runs roughly north-south.  The fourth finger is about 150 feet long and can provide a whole dive of fun.  At the northern tip of the fourth finger, you will most likely run into current either moving water out of the bay or water into the bay depending on which way the tide is swinging.  On the east and west sides of the fourth finger along the jetty, the jetty rocks shelter yet more life to check out.

Entrances and Exits:

While you can climb over the jetty rocks anywhere along this dive site, the easiest entrances and exits are right at the base of the fourth finger.  Don’t get us wrong though.  This is a challenging entrance and exit because of the huge jetty rocks, the surge (and sometimes the surf), and did we mention the big jetty rocks you need to climb over?

You need to be fit, have good balance, and be nimble on your feet to do this entrance.  We have seen a SCUBA diver fall on his face here trying to cross over the jetty rocks.  Be careful, go slow, scout the entrance before you don your gear, and you should be okay.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a saltwater dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

SCUBA divers can encounter a wide range of conditions here.  We once saw the water glass-smooth and we have seen breakers crash over the north jetty and make it all the way to the south jetty.  Usually divers will find some surf and surge at the entrance, and some current at the tip of the jetty.  Pay attention to the marine forecast and the weather forecast.  Only go diving here if you feel comfortable and the conditions are favorable.

Fishermen and crabbers use the fourth finger.  Be sure to watch for fishing line and crab pots.  Occasionally we have seen fishermen casting their lines directly onto SCUBA diver bubbles.  It’s a good idea to carry a good dive knife and some safety shears.  Check out our Gear We Use page for the equipment we rely on every time we go diving.

Normal Visibility:

At high tide, we routinely see 15 feet of visibility at the fourth finger.  At low tide, you will be lucky to get 5 feet of visibility.  Big storms can reduce visibility.

The bottom is sand and settles quickly if stirred up.

Normal Temperature:

The temperature in the winter at this dive site can get down to about 42F.  In the summer, we have seen it up to about 50F although it varies based on ocean conditions and the tide.

Best Time of Year:

Any time of the year is good to dive here although storms in the winter reduce the number of days that you can dive the fourth finger.

Max Depth:

We have logged a maximum depth of 33 feet at this dive site at high tide.  Changing bottom conditions can make this a deeper or more shallow dive but over the years, the depth has stayed fairly constant.

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.

Suggested Special Training:

We have seen just-certified open water SCUBA divers be successful at the fourth finger.  However, the entrance and exit, the surge, and the current make this a challenging site regardless of your skill level.  Be confident with your skills and be careful with your entrance and exit.

Difficulty of Dive:

The dive itself isn’t too difficult but the entrance and exit are physically strenuous.  The current at the tip of the finger can be a challenge but if you dive at slack tide, this won’t be too much of a problem.  Because of the entrance, we think this is an intermediate skill level dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on how close you can park, the walk will be 50 to 100 feet.  Climbing over the jetty rocks is difficult when carrying all of your SCUBA gear.  Go slow!

Surface Swim Length:

There is no need for a surface swim here.  Get in the water, descend, and away you go!

Special Site Notes:

We strongly recommend that you dive this site at or very close to high tide.  At low tide, the visibility is not good.  While the tide is moving, the current makes it very difficult to dive this site.

In foul weather, this site can be unsafe to dive due to surf and surge.  Watch the weather and marine forecasts and only dive if you are confident that it is safe to do so.

We suggest taking a good dive knife and safety shears with you in case you get tangled in fishing line.  On our Gear We Use page, we have several knives and a shears that we use and love.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a dive shop in the South Beach part of Newport that can provide air fills and SCUBA gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Newport has lots of restaurants.  Tell us which ones are your favorites!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South Beach State Park has good campgrounds.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels in town yet but there are many.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport South Jetty – Fifth Finger

The fifth finger of the south jetty at Newport is a great saltwater Oregon dive site for people who want a more challenging dive.  SCUBA divers are rewarded with excellent micro life all over the jetty rocks and often are treated to seeing perch, lingcod, and crabs.  Once we had a seal playfully nip at our fins here.  This dive site is physically demanding due to the entrance and divers must dive this site at slack tide (we prefer high tide for better visibility) unless they are willing to put up with a fierce current at the end of the finger.

Looking out to sea and at the north jetty from the fifth finger on a stormy day. We chose not to dive the fifth finger this day because the surge and surf were more than we wanted to deal with at the entrance.

Site Highlights:

For us, the highlight of this site is the abundant life both big and small.  We have found several species of nudibranchs, many different species of crabs including the species that you can harvest and eat for dinner, lots of different types of muscles and barnacles, many perch, rockfish, and lingcod.  People will often spear fish this dive site and will also hunt for crabs here.  We have had good luck catching red rock crabs when SCUBA diving here.  Some of our SCUBA friends like this site for the challenge of the surf and surge, and the ease of hopping between dive sites to the other four fingers along the south jetty at Newport.

If you have gone diving at this site many times, we highly recommend doing a night dive here.  The site is completely different under a full moon at high tide than what you experience during the day.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon is just a few hundred feet down the jetty.

GPS Coordinates:

44.615093 N, -124.065257 W

Special Directions to Site:

Head to Newport and follow signs for the aquarium.  Take Southwest Jetty Way toward the ocean.  It can be a bit difficult if this is your first time diving on the fifth finger to figure out which of the fingers you are at.  The GPS coordinates (above) can help with making sure you’re at the right dive site.

Parking:

There are pull-outs to the north of the road.  Be sure not to block other SCUBA divers or anglers in when you park.  If you don’t mind the walk, parking across the south side of the road is also available.  Parking here was free the last time we went diving at fifth finger.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The entrance and exit at this site is challenging but all of the underwater life is worth the effort.

Site Orientation:

The jetty runs west-southwest out to sea.  If you get lost, head south and you’ll find the jetty again.  If you head north, you might make it to the other jetty before your tank runs out of air but there is a good chance the current will take you up into Yaquina Bay or out into the ocean.

The fifth finger is a pile of jetty rocks that many SCUBA divers enjoy.  It only takes a few kicks to go from the jetty out to the tip of the fifth finger but there is a lot of life to see packed into the small area.  The site extends to the west along the main jetty.  We have gone along the jetty about 750 feet toward the ocean before and have found more great life but the conditions get dicey out there when the tide swings.  If you get stuck beyond the protective cover of the fifth finger, you can climb over the jetty at any point to reach dry land again.

To the east of the fifth finger is the fourth finger.  Some people like to dive the fifth and fourth fingers together.  We have done this before but we prefer diving each as a separate site so that we can take our time and enjoy looking for tiny nudibranchs smaller than a pencil eraser and scouting out the hiding holes of lingcod and crabs.

Entrances and Exits:

We won’t sugar coat the entrances and exits at the fifth finger.  They are difficult and require good physical stamina, strength, flexibility, and balance.  We have seen a few SCUBA divers fall navigating the jetty rocks trying to get into or out of the water.  Go slow and pick your route carefully.  We scout the route that we plan to take before we gear up to make sure there aren’t any surprises.

The two best places to enter and exit are on either side of the fifth finger where it meets the jetty.  You can make your entrance or exit anywhere along the jetty although other areas are more difficult.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a saltwater dive although freshwater from the Yaquina River pumps out through the estuary upstream and heads out to the ocean.  Unless you’re diving at low tide, you will have 100% saltwater.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

We have seen all sorts of conditions at the fifth finger from completely calm and placid days that make you think you’re diving in a swimming pool to days where the breakers are crashing over the north jetty and pounding the south jetty, too.  Pay close attention to the surf forecast and the weather report.  This is the most exposed of the five fingers.  The only more exposed you can be is if you dive the tip of the south jetty or go offshore with a boat.

When the fifth finger is good to dive, you may encounter surf, surge, and strong currents.  Anglers and crabbers use the fifth finger as well.  Be mindful of their lines and pots.  We once got tangled in a fisherman’s line when he hooked one of our fins.  Sometimes fishermen intentionally cast their hooks on top of SCUBA diver bubbles either not realizing or not caring that divers are below.  It’s a good idea to have a dive flag in the water with you.  We have one that we like and use listed on our Gear We Use page.

A big wave breaks over the north jetty. On really rough days, the waves can roll right over the north jetty and make diving the fifth finger on the south jetty all but impossible. There are plenty of other dive sites in and around Newport to dive when the fifth finger is not viable.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility is usually 10-15 feet at high tide.  At low tide, visibility can be as low as 3 feet depending on how much silt and sediment the Yaquina River is pumping out.  Recent rains and upstream logging activity can make visibility worse.

The bottom is sand and settles very quickly.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen water temperatures here between 42F and 50F depending on the time of year and ocean conditions.

Best Time of Year:

This site is fine to dive all year long although winter storms make it more challenging to find a day with good conditions.

Max Depth:

We have hit 40 feet at this dive site at high tide although most people will stay in the 30-35 foot range.

Suggested Special Training:

We know freshly certified open water divers who have successfully gone diving at this site.  However, you need to be confident in your skills, be physically fit, and dive with the conditions.

Difficulty of Dive:

The dive itself is not that difficult but the entrance and exit are hard, and the current, surf, and surge can be a challenge.  We consider this to be an intermediate dive although our SCUBA friends rate this from easy to difficult.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, you might have to walk 200 feet.  Usually you will only need to do a 100 foot walk although the last part is over the jetty rocks.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Special Site Notes:

We highly recommend diving this site at high tide.  We usually can get two dives in at this site back to back by diving on either shoulder of high tide.

It is a good idea to have a dive flag at this site if there are any fishermen around.  We have our trusty workhorse SCUBA flag listed on the Gear We Use page.  A dive light is also handy to look into all the hiding places on the fifth finger.

Remember to pay attention to the weather and marine forecasts.  Only dive this site if you are comfortable and know what you are doing.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a dive shop in Newport that does air fills and has a selection of SCUBA gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Newport has a whole host of great restaurants on both sides of the bay.  Let us know if you have suggestions on where to eat.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South Beach State Park Campground is a good place to camp if you’re diving in Newport.

We haven’t tried any of the hotels or private campgrounds in the area.  Let us know if you have suggestions on where to stay.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Florence – Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp

The Woahink Lake east boat ramp near Florence, Oregon is a great place to go if you want to use up some air in your tanks after diving the north jetty on the Siulsaw River (either the SCUBA park or further out on the jetty), you want to rinse your gear off in fresh water, you need to test some new equipment out in a forgiving environment, or you want to work on some skills.  The site is used often by local dive shops for open water and rescue diver courses although the site is big enough to accommodate several large groups diving at the same time.  Visibility is usually 20 feet before the water gets stirred up.  The bottom has a lot of silt that is easy to stir up and reduce visibility down to 5-10 feet.  The silt settles quickly though.  The main attractions at this site are a jumble of logs off to the right of the boat ramp and a sunken kayak a few hundred feet in front of the boat ramp.

Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp Area.
There are several conveniently located picnic tables next to the parking lot where you can assemble your equipment and gear up. If you have a larger group, part of the group can stay on shore here cooking lunch or heating up water for hot chocolate while the rest of your group is diving.

Site Highlights:

The main highlights of this site are the pickup sticks pile of sunken logs on the south side of the dive site and the intentionally sunken kayak out at the eastern edge of the dive site.  There is a variety of life that you might see such as crayfish, trout, the occasional freshwater shrimp, and loads of newts and salamanders.  If you dive around the boat ramp, you might find some gear dropped overboard from boaters.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

43.927329 N, -124.097511 W

 

Special Directions to Site:

The road to the dive site is clearly signed from US101.  If you are driving south on US101 from Florence, there is a center turn lane that makes turning left across traffic easier.  If you’re driving south on US101 and you see a lake off to your left, you’ve gone too far.  If you’re driving north on US101 and you see a light commercial/industrial park on your right, you’ve gone too far.

Look for signs for the Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and Canary Road.  Once you’re heading east on Canary Road, you will cross two small bridges.  After the second small bridge, take the first right.  If you cross a third larger bridge, you’ve gone too far.  You will drive down into a parking area.  Stay to the left where the road forks.  There is car parking along the eastern side of the lot (closest to the boat ramp).  We usually park under the trees next to the picnic tables.

Parking:

In the fall, winter, and spring we have never had trouble finding ample parking on the weekends.  We have not gone diving in the summer at this site so we can’t report on how packed it gets on hot summer days.  Day use parking is $5/vehicle.

Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp Site Overview.
Imagery © 2017 Google, Map data © 2017 Google.

Site Orientation:

The dive site is roughly oriented on N-S-E-W compass bearings.  When in doubt, head west and you will find the shore.  The jumble of sunken logs is due west of the big tree circled in orange in the image above.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrances and exits that we normally use require some careful foot placement to step up and down from the bank to the small beaches at each entrance point.  For those who have trouble with the big steps, you can enter and exit at the boat ramp assuming that there is no boater traffic.  It would be worthwhile to talk with a State Parks employee to ask for permission if you are using the boat ramp as an entrance and exit.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive and is perfect for rinsing your gear after diving at the jetty in Florence.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although you could practice your boat diving skills here if you wanted.

Normal Conditions:

The lake is usually calm and quiet.  Boaters can add a level of complexity and you should post a dive flag .

Normal Visibility:

Usually you get 10-20 feet of visibility, depending on if it’s been raining lately and if sediment has washed in from the surrounding streams.  If you stir up the silt on the bottom, things can go down to 1-3 feet pretty quickly.  However, all you need to do is swim a little bit in any direction and you’ll be back in clearer water.  The silt settles back down to 5-10 feet of visibility after a few minutes and the visibility goes back to normal after a half hour or so.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen water temperatures here as low as 43F and as high as 52F.  Very occasionally you might experience a thermocline in the top foot or two of the water column if it has been heavily raining.  Diving in a dry suit with proper thermals or a 7mm farmer john-style wet suit is appropriate at this site.  We know a guy who used to dive here without a hood but we’d recommend full neoprene protection from the cold.

Best Time of Year:

Fall, winter, and spring are all great times of year to dive this site.  The park is quiet and you often will have the place to yourself.  If a SCUBA class is at this site, try the Woahink Lake west boat ramp or the Woahink sunken train wreck.

Max Depth:

If you really search for it, you can hit 40 feet by burying your gauge in the muck in a couple places at this dive site.  Normally you will hit between 25 and 35 feet depending on what part of the site you visit.

Suggested Special Training:

This site is appropriate for open water divers after they have completed their checkout dives and have been certified.

Difficulty of Dive:

This dive site is easy to dive.  Woahink Lake provides an excellent place for SCUBA divers of any physical ability.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

From the parking lot to the entrance, you have about 150 to 200 feet to walk.  You descend down a gentle hill.  There is a big step down from the bank to the beach although you can use the boat ramp to enter if the step is too much for you.

Surface Swim Length:

You can wade out about 20 feet from shore to start your dive or kick out another 50 feet to descend down to about 15-20 feet deep.

Special Site Notes:

Watch for boat traffic especially in the summer.  A dive flashlight could be useful to look under logs for newts and salamanders.

[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 Florence although we can’t confirm at this point if it is still open for business.  Please contact us if you know of any local shops for air fills and SCUBA gear!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The old town area of Florence has several good seafood restaurants.  Along the riverfront you can sometimes spot a group of river otters playing on the banks.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several state park campgrounds near the dive site.  We have not tried any of the hotels in Florence yet.  If you know of a good place to stay, please contact us.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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