Hammond Boat Basin South Jetty

The south jetty at the Hammond Boat Basin is a good place to go diving if you’re in the general Astoria area and are interested in doing a little underwater hunting.  There is decent crabbing and spear fishing here.  The north and east sides of the jetty are exposed to the full force of the Columbia River where the current can really rip.  While the water is shallow near the base of the jetty, head north and things suddenly get deeper as you approach the main shipping channel.

Hammond Boat Basin South Jetty SCUBA Map.
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The south jetty at Hammond Boat Basin is a good place to go crabbing and spearfishing.

 

 

Nearest Town:

Hammond, Oregon is just south of the Hammond Boat Basin South Jetty.

GPS Coordinates:

46.201513, -123.947773

Special Directions to Site:

Head north on Iredale Street from downtown Hammond.  Just past 5th Avenue there are some dirt tracks taking off to the right (east).  These go down to the beach.  Where Iredale Street turns west there is a pull-out.

Parking:

Most divers will probably park at the pull-out where Iredale Street turns west.  Some people also park down on the beach by the entrance/exit.

 

Site Orientation:

The dive site at Hammond Boat Basin south jetty runs north-south along the jetty.  If you stray too far north or east from the jetty, you’ll end up in the shipping lanes and in an area with a LOT of current.

Entrances and Exits:

The easiest entrance/exit is at the beach on the east side of the base of the Hammond Boat Basin south jetty.  It’s a nice walk in and out.  On the west side of the jetty, there aren’t many good places to get in and out but you can do it in a pinch.

Salt/Fresh:

Depending on the tidal flows, this is either a salt or a brackish dive.

Shore/Boat:

Hammond Boat Basin south jetty is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

You will likely encounter current on the east side of the jetty.  The full force of the Columbia River roars through here.  Occasional big waves come through the area that could cause some surge and surf as big ships pass.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on ocean conditions, river conditions, and the tide, you might get up to 10 feet of viz but usually it’s less.

Normal Temperature:

Expect between 45 and 55F water.

Best Time of Year:

Fall is a good time to check this dive site out although it’s accessible any time of the year.

Max Depth:

Along the jetty at high tide you will find 10-15 feet of water.  If you head north or east away from the jetty, the shipping channel drops to 50 feet or more.

Suggested Special Training:

Advanced open water training is a good idea to dive the Hammond Boat Basin south jetty.  Experience with diving in a high current area is also a good idea.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the current and potential for low viz.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, 20 to 300 feet of walking is in your future.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that the Columbia River has a roaring current during tide changes.  Be prepared for that.  Also viz can be very low here.  Be mindful of fishermen on the jetty and stay out of their fishing lines.

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

Astoria has a full service SCUBA shop.  We keep an updated list of dive shops and air fill stations at our Local Dive Shops page.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are some good places to eat in Astoria.  We like the fish and chips place that operates out of an old boat in downtown.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are many campgrounds in the general area that have yurts, tent sites, and RV sites.  All are SCUBA diver friendly.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels around here so please let us know if there is one in particular that you know 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!

 

 

Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty

The Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is exposed to the ripping current of the Columbia River main channel but if you dive at slack tide, you can get halfway decent water conditions and a unique experience.  Old ruins on the north end of the dive site usually have good marine life although there is the potential for entanglement hazards.  Head away from land a few feet and you will find the water gets rapidly deeper as you approach the shipping channel.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is exposed to the ripping current through the main channel of the Columbia River as it rushes the last few miles to the ocean. Old ruins are interesting to check out although there are entanglement hazards.

Nearest Town:

The dive site at the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is just north of downtown Hammond, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

46.206129, -123.951349

Special Directions to Site:

Head north from downtown Hammond toward the boat basin.  Follow signs for Seafarer’s Park.

Parking:

There is parking at the north end of Seafarer’s Park.  The last time we checked, parking was free although this could change.  Be sure to verify with the signs in the park.

 

Site Orientation:

The dive site sticks along the jetty from the entrance to Hammond Boat Basin at the south and east end of the dive site up to the ruins at the north and west side of the dive site.  If you head north and east, you will eventually run into the Columbia River shipping channel.  It’s a good idea to stick closer to land where you have at least a little protection from the current.

Entrances and Exits:

There are several decent entrances and exits along the jetty near the parking area.  We marked several on the map above but if you look around a little at the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty, you will find a few other decent places to climb over the jetty rocks and enter the water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

There can be a lot of current at this site.  Be sure to dive at slack tide.  SCUBA diving here during the tidal exchange could cause you to have a rather unpleasant drift dive.  There is regular boat traffic in the area both in the main shipping channel and coming into and out of the Hammond Boat Basin.  It’s a good idea to fly a dive flag.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on river conditions, you might get only 3 feet of viz or up to 15 feet of viz.  Be prepared for low visibility conditions.

Normal Temperature:

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

Best Time of Year:

There doesn’t seem to be one best time of year here.  In the summer the parking lot can be full on the weekends.

Max Depth:

You can find 50+ feet of water if you head toward the main shipping channel.  Right along the jetty, the water is shallow (max 15 feet).

Suggested Special Training:

Advanced open water training is a good idea to dive the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty.  Experience with diving in a high current area is also a good idea.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the current and the risk of entanglement in the old ruins on the north end of the dive site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you enter, you might need to walk up to 200 feet.  At the entrances near the parking lot, you may need to wade through water before it gets deep enough to swim in.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

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

The dive shop in Astoria is full service and has an air fill station.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is decent food in Hammond and great food over in Astoria.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a lot of public campgrounds in the area with good camping.  We haven’t tried any of the local hotels so please let us know if you’ve found 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!

The South Jetty at Nehalem

The south jetty at the mouth of the Nehalem river is a fun place to dive that is a little off the beaten track for many divers.  The walk to the entrance dissuades many people from attempting this dive but it is well worth the hike if you want to try out a new site.  Crabbing and spearfishing are both usually pretty good along the outer part of the jetty.  On the inner part of the jetty, it is possible to drift dive way up into the Nehalem river system.

The south jetty as seen from Nedonna Beach.

 

Site Highlights:

The things people come here for are spearfishing and crabbing, and drift diving.  During crabbing season, the deep water along the south jetty is packed with boats that people rent from the marinas up the Nehalem River.  Sport fishing is a little less common than crabbing but is just as good for those in boats or sitting on the jetty.  Underwater there are ample opportunities to catch your limit of just about everything that the law allows you to take while diving.

For the more adventurous, you can drift dive from the entrance on the jetty all the way back up into the Nehalem River.  The first marina up the river is where you want to shoot to exit unless you want to spend several hours lazily drifting along upstream with the incoming tide.

Nearest Town:

The little town of Nedonna Beach is the closest to the dive site.  Further north is the town of Nehalem and several other small settlements.  To the south, the bigger towns of Garibaldi and Tillamook await.  Smaller villages and towns are also just south of the dive site.

GPS Coordinates:

45.655438, -123.939354

Special Directions to Site:

From US101 turn onto Beach Street (follow signs for Nedonna Beach).  Beach Street will turn to the right (north).  Follow it all the way to the end of the road were Section Line Street intersects.  There is a public parking area here.

The first marina upriver from the south jetty on the Nehalem River is just off US101 and is well-signed.

Parking:

The last time we were here, the parking was free and public at Nedonna Beach.  On busy beach days, you might have trouble finding a place to park.  Be sure to check the signs when you get to the parking area to make sure it’s still free.

The parking at the marina upriver from the jetty may be free but you need to talk with the marina before you park.  You also need to talk with the marina to make sure they’re okay with you using it as an exit point.

nehalem jetty south
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The south jetty at Nehalem is a good place to dive a little off the beaten path and there are some great drift diving opportunities if you are here off-tide.

Site Orientation:

The primary dive site runs east-west along the jetty structure.  Toward the jetty tip, conditions get rougher.  If the weather is bad, stay on the inner part of the primary dive site.  If conditions are good, you can dive around the tip of the jetty and a little inward toward the beach.  You could even do a surf exit if you really wanted to.  However, water gets shallow fast on the south side of the jetty.

The drift dive part of the site follows the Nehalem River up into the Nehalem Bay.  We start our dives a few hours before high tide so there is sufficient water still to come into the bay to propel us upstream.  You will still have to do some swimming.  It’s the best to do this when there is a large exchange between low and high tides to increase the speed at which you go upriver and decrease the need for swimming.

Entrances and Exits:

The primary site entrance/exit and the drift dive entrance are along the jetty.  Be sure to scout out where you want to enter based on local conditions.  Where the beach grass and jetty intersect is a good place to start looking.

If you’re drift diving, the exit is up at the first marina as you go up the Nehalem River.  Be sure to plan your dive well before you try a drift dive here because it is easy to either under or over shoot your exit.  You don’t want to be floating along the surface for an hour waiting to exit or end up in the town of Nehalem and have to hitch hike back.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is usually done as a shore dive although if you have a boat to put in at one of the many private marinas or public boat ramps, you can do this site from a boat.  If you are doing a drift dive, a support boat can be pretty useful in case you want to exit the water earlier than the first marina.

Normal Conditions:

Out on the jetty tip, conditions are often rough.  Surf, surge, current, waves, and other nastiness can be expected most of the time.  As you go further in the Nehalem River, conditions steadily improve until all you are really concerned about is boat wakes and fishing line.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility can vary wildly at this site.  If you do this site on a calm day in good conditions, you can get 20 feet of viz on the jetty.  If a bunch of silt and sediment has been pumping down the river lately, you can end up with very low visibility.

Normal Temperature:

Out on the end of the jetty, expect Pacific Ocean temperatures (45-55F depending on the time of year).  Inland, the river starts to influence conditions more.  In the summer you might see 60F and in the winter maybe 40F depending on upriver snow melt.

Best Time of Year:

This site is accessible any time of the year due to how large it is.  Plan what part of the site you dive based on local conditions.

Max Depth:

Along the outer jetty, you will find 30 feet of water.  As you go upriver on the Nehalem, expect 20-25 feet of water depending on how high of a tide you’re riding.

Suggested Special Training:

If you are staying in the primary dive site, open water divers with experience diving Oregon jetties can do the dive.  As you go toward the jetty tip in rougher conditions, you will want advanced training and experience in those conditions.  If you are doing a drift dive, you should have a drift diver specialty and experience with drift diving on a river system.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive although the drift dive can get a little more tricky and the jetty tip can be very challenging.  If you stay in the primary dive site though, we think this is an intermediate-level dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

You’re in for a 1000+ foot walk to the jetty from the parking area in Nedonna Beach.  A cart capable of travel over the sand and some friends who will watch your stuff while you’re diving are both a good idea.

If you do the drift dive, you will either need two cars, a friend to shuttle your car, or be willing to hitch hike to get back to your car.  There may be limited taxi service in the area but we suspect they won’t take kindly to wet SCUBA gear in their van.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed on the primary dive site.  The drift dive could end up with a very lengthy surface swim if conditions are not good for doing a drift dive.  There aren’t really any exits between Nedonna Beach and the marina.  The distance between the drift dive entrance and drift dive exit is about 3500 feet.  Be sure to plan accordingly.

Special Site Notes:

If you’re diving the primary site, do it at high tide.  If you’re doing the drift dive, do it only when conditions are right (big tidal exchange) and start your dive an hour or two before high tide so that you’re riding the tide up the river.  We don’t recommend trying to do the drift dive in reverse because you could easily overshoot your exit on the jetty and end up getting sucked out to sea which would be unpleasant indeed.

Be sure to talk to the people at the marina before doing a drift dive both about the parking situation and to double-check that they will allow SCUBA divers to exit there.  You might be able to talk them into transporting you and your gear back to Nedonna Beach in one of their pickups if it’s a slow day.

It’s a VERY good idea to fly a dive flag both at the primary and the drift dive portions of this site.  There is a surprising amount of small boat traffic along the Nehalem River and jetty.  A good dive knife is also a good idea in case you encounter fishing line and get tangled.

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

There used to be a place you could get air fills at the Port of Garibaldi although we can’t confirm if it is still in operation.  Otherwise, Astoria has a full service SCUBA shop.  In Depoe Bay there is an air fill station that is by appointment only.  After that, you’re looking at going inland to Portland or Salem for an air fill or gear service.  It’s a good idea to be self-sufficient if you’re diving out on this section of the Oregon coast.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is a lot of good food up and down the coast in this area.  You are spoiled for choices here.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a lot of local campgrounds, vacation house rentals, and hotels in the area.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels or vacation house rentals so please let us know if you have a favorite 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!

The Crab Dock at Garibaldi

When the weather is too rough to dive the jetties on the mouth of Tillamook Bay and when there are too many people diving The Three Graces, the crab dock at the Port of Girabaldi is a good backup plan.  The conditions are almost always favorable here and there usually aren’t many other divers at this site.  You do need to plan around the tides though because at low tide, most of this site is a mud flat.

NWP Photo Contest entry, Scenic/Seasonal, Chris Rauch; Engineering and Construction Division
The commercial dock, crab dock, and lumber dock are all along the south riprap at the Port of Girabaldi. There is some confusion in the SCUBA community over which dock is which. We think that the middle dock is the crab dock.

 

Site Highlights:

This is a good site to go diving if the conditions further toward the mouth of Tillamook Bay are too rough or too crowded.  People come to the crab dock in Garibaldi to work on their diving skills in salt water but in relatively benign conditions.  While there still is a jetty-style entry to contend with, there is almost never surf, surge, or current here.  The nearby lumber dock can sometimes get crowded or have a ship occupying the dock.  In that case, the crab dock is a good place to check out for a dive.

Nearest Town:

This dive site is in the middle of Garibaldi, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

45.554202, -123.913896

 

Special Directions to Site:

In Garibaldi, turn south on 7th street near the lumber mill.  Go all the way to the end of the road.

Parking:

There is ample public parking about a block away from the dive site.  The last time we were here, parking was free but the Port of Garibaldi might start charging for parking so be sure to check signs.

[Aerial View of dive site]

garibaldi crab dock
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Garibaldi crab dock is a good place to dive if conditions are not favorable further out on Tillamook Bay.

Site Orientation:

The public crab dock runs roughly north-south from the riprap wall out into the shipping channel.  The commercial dock just to the east of the public crab dock can be dived at the same time as the public crab dock but you should not dive the commercial dock if a boat is tied up or if there are workers on the dock.  Ask for permission from the charter company at the foot of the commercial dock before diving it.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrance/exit is over the riprap at the base of the crab dock.  The Port of Garibaldi office to the west might let you enter over the riprap near their building but you need to ask permission before you enter over there.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

At high tide, this site is usually pretty calm and straight forward to dive.  We haven’t seen surf, surge, or much current here.  When the tidal exchange starts, the current can pick up.  Be sure to dive at high tide both so that you aren’t swimming in a mud flat and so that you aren’t getting pushed around by the current.

Normal Visibility:

Unless the bottom is stirred up, you can usually get 10-15 feet of viz here.  Storm conditions can cause more sediment to come down the creeks and rivers in Tillamook Bay and shipping traffic to the Port of Garibaldi can stir things up.  Be sure to stay off the bottom because some of the bottom is mud.  Other parts of the bottom are sand though.

Normal Temperature:

It’s usually 50-55F here although cold water can invade this area from the streams and rivers up-bay.  In the summer it can be warmer on average and in the winter it’s usually a bit colder.

Best Time of Year:

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

Max Depth:

If you bring a shovel and start digging, you might hit 25 feet at high tide.

Suggested Special Training:

This site is accessible to freshly certified open water divers.

Difficulty of Dive:

Aside from climbing over the riprap wall, this is an easy dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If parking is bad, you may have to walk up to 1000 feet.  Usually though you only need to walk a short city block to get to the water.

Surface Swim Length:

You will want to kick out 50 feet from the riprap so the water is a bit deeper before starting your dive.

Special Site Notes:

This site MUST be dived at high tide.  The whole area turns into a mud flat at low tide which is no fun to dive in.  The Port of Garibaldi is an active port so watch out for boat traffic and fly a dive flag.  You should ask permission before diving the commercial dock to the east of the crab dock.

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

There used to be an air fill station in Garibaldi on Commercial Street near the cannery but we haven’t been able to confirm if it still exists.  Please let us know if you find it still open!  Otherwise,  your closest air fills are available at the full service SCUBA shop in Astoria or one of the shops in Portland or Salem.  There is also an air fill station at the time of this writing in Depoe Bay that is open by appointment only.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are some good restaurants in Garibaldi and everyone’s favorite cheese factory is just up the road in Tillamook.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are plenty of public and private campgrounds and RV parks in the immediate vicinity.  We haven’t stayed in any of the hotels in the area so please let us know if you find one that accepts SCUBA divers.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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