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!

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

Sunset Bay

Sunset Bay and the associated beach is a great place to dive just south of Coos Bay on the southern Oregon coast.  The bay provides good protection from rough Pacific Ocean conditions that are prevalent along the Oregon coast.  The sandy beach is a good place to practice mellow surf entrances and associated skills.  Parking and access can be a challenge on popular weekends when the beach is covered with families and the parking lot is completely full.

 

Sunset Bay
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
Sunset Bay is a good place to practice surf exits and entries in a relatively mellow environment.

In spite of the summer crowds, this site can be a lot of fun to dive.  Along the outer rims of the bay, rocks provide ample cover for marine life.  For those with a boat or who are okay with a lengthy surface swim, you can reach the outer reaches of the bay.  To the north there are several good dive sites and to the south the area along the shore can be dived in good ocean conditions.  A kayak dive platform is handy to explore the further reaches of this dive site.

 

Nearest Town:

Charleston, Oregon is just up the road from Sunset Beach.  Further up the highway is Coos Bay.

GPS Coordinates:

43.334069, -124.373365

Special Directions to Site:

Follow the Cape Arago Highway south from Charleston.  You can’t miss Sunset Bay.  In the summer, traffic backups will let you know far in advance of reaching the bay.

Parking:

There are large lots maintained by the State parks department.  The last time we were here, we think we remember paying to park although the situation might be different now.  Double check that you are in a designated parking spot and make sure you have paid to park if it is required.  The parking lots are heavily patrolled on the weekends.

Site Orientation:

The site is laid out in a convenient north-south-east-west configuration.  The ocean is roughly west from the beach.  The interesting rock formations and marine life are on the north and south sides of the bay.  To return to the beach, head east.

Entrances and Exits:

This is a surf entrance/exit across a beach.  Be sure to have appropriate training for the conditions you may encounter here.  We haven’t seen a washtub effect at this beach but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.  At the popular Monastery Beach down in Monterey, California, people routinely die within 20 feet of shore because they don’t know what they’re doing.

It is a good idea to decide which side of they bay you want to focus on.  Park closest to that side and then enter from the beach in that general area.  Pay attention to where the waves are breaking.  The entrance/exit will be much easier if you can do so where there aren’t big waves breaking on the beach.  Luckily it is rare for the entire beach to have breakers.  It is rare for there to be much in the way of waves in general at this dive site but Sunset Bay can still produce them.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although for the outer reaches, you may want a boat or kayak dive platform.

Normal Conditions:

Usually conditions are pretty good here.  You may encounter some waves and surf.  Tidal exchange isn’t too strong usually.  If you go outside of Sunset Bay, conditions get much rougher and many of the areas outside of the mouth of the bay are inaccessible to divers during rough sea states.

Normal Visibility:

The bottom is mostly sand and rocks.  Depending on if the upwelling is occurring in the ocean and what the ocean is doing, you can have anywhere between 5 feet and 35 feet of viz here.

Normal Temperature:

Temperatures at depth are usually in the 45-55F range depending on time of year.  On the surface near the beach, it can get up into the 60s in the summer.

Best Time of Year:

We like diving here in the fall, winter and spring.  Sunset Bay during the summer is crammed with beachgoers which makes access difficult.

Max Depth:

We understand that at the mouth of the bay you can find up to 50 feet of water at high tide.  We haven’t found it that deep but there’s a good chance that if you look around, you’ll find some deeper areas.  Most of the site is in the 15-35 foot range.

Suggested Special Training:

You should have good surf entry/exit skills.  While Sunset Bay is usually mellow, conditions can rapidly change.  You don’t want to become a statistic.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the surf entry/exit.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, you could walk between 150 and 1000 feet.  Park as close as you can to where you want to enter.

Surface Swim Length:

Kick out from the beach at least 500 feet to get into deeper water.  Sunset Bay gets deeper the farther west you go.

Special Site Notes:

Surf entrances/exits are no joke.  We know that many divers who were trained in the Willamette Valley didn’t receive hands-on surf entrance/exit training.  It’s worthwhile having an instructor teach you how.

A lot of people frequent Sunset Bay.  It’s a good idea to have a dive flag (we have one we use and love) and pay attention to what you’re doing.

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

Check our local dive shop page to find the most up to date information.  As of the last time we edited this page, Port Orford and North Bend both have places you can get an air fill.  North Bend’s shop should be full service.  Otherwise you’re looking at heading inland to get gear serviced or a tank filled.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is a fun place to eat right on the dock in Charleston.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are many state and federal campgrounds in the general vicinity.  Some even have yurts.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels around the Coos Bay vicinity so please let us know if you have a favorite 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!

 

 

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!

Gold Beach North Jetty

The Gold Beach north jetty is a shallow dive site that often has some surf and surge especially on the outer part of the dive site.  SCUBA divers can expect to find good crabbing and spearfishing here.  Another potentially interesting thing to do at this dive site is to search for gold nuggets.  There is a reason that Gold Beach has its name.  Back when white settlers first came to the area, gold was found in the black sand beaches around the mouth of the Rogue River.  Most of it was long ago mined and carted off but there still is a little color now and then in the sand.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Gold Beach north jetty at the mouth of the Rogue River is a shallow dive site that often has surf and surge but there is good crabbing and spearfishing here.

 

Nearest Town:

This Oregon SCUBA diving site is in the middle of Gold Beach, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

42.423749, -124.428970

Special Directions to Site:

Turn onto Wedderburn Loop from US101.  You’ll see the jetty just to the south of the road.  Follow the gravel road west along the jetty.

Parking:

There are many places to park along the Gold Beach north jetty.  Choose your entrance and park near it.  Be sure to not block the jetty road.  The last time we checked, the parking was free.  Verify though when you visit this dive site.

 

Site Orientation:

The jetty runs southwest away from land.  The inside of the jetty is usually much calmer than the outside but both the inside and outside can get rough sea conditions.  You will see a big sand bar in the middle of the river mouth.  This bar really makes conditions shallow at Gold Beach.  Stick in the river channel along the north jetty for the deepest water you can find at this site.  Don’t expect to be amazed with a really deep dive site.  This is a very shallow place to go diving.

Entrances and Exits:

You can clamber over the jetty wall anywhere along its length.  In the map above, we marked a few good entrances and exits on the Gold Beach north jetty.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

You will almost certainly encounter current on the Gold Beach north jetty.  SCUBA divers can expect to find some surf and surge as well, especially further west along the jetty.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on ocean and river conditions, you might get 5 feet of viz or up to 20 feet of viz.  Plan on lower visibility and maybe you’ll get surprised with good viz.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature is usually between 45 and 57F here.

Best Time of Year:

This site is diveable any time of the year assuming there isn’t a big storm in the ocean.

Max Depth:

You will be hard pressed to find more than 30 feet of water at high tide at the jetty tip at this site.  If the US Army Corps of Engineers starts more aggressively dredging the Rogue River bar and channel, this site might get deeper but we wouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers with a few jetty dives under their belt can dive this site.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate site because of the current and the surf and surge conditions.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, you might have a 50 foot or a 500 foot walk.  Park closer for less walking.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed at the Gold Beach north jetty.

Special Site Notes:

We’re not kidding when we say that the water isn’t very deep here and that there can be a lot of current.  While the Rogue River bar might have been dredged to be deep and wide many years ago, nowadays the channel is narrow and shallow.

You’re going to want a dive flag here because of the pleasure boat traffic.  And be very careful as you surface that you don’t end up with a propeller blade through the top of your skull.

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

Go south to Crescent City or go inland to Grants Pass or Medford for full service dive shops.  Port Orford has an air fill station.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a few decent restaurants in Gold Beach.  Let us know if there is one you particularly love.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We haven’t stayed in any of the hotels around Gold Beach but we can report that there are many campgrounds and primitive camping opportunities in the area.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Port Orford Jetty and Graveyard Point

Anyone who has been to the Oregon Coast Aquarium knows that there is something special about Port Orford and the Orford Reef.  They have an entire exhibit named after it, after all (and it’s diveable!).  While most of the best diving around Port Orford is offshore and requires a boat to access, the Port Orford jetty and Graveyard Point is diveable from shore.  Recreational SCUBA divers who don’t mind making the drive to Port Orford are rewarded with excellent diving and marine life all within steps of an air fill station at the port office (as of the last time we checked), good food right in the harbor, and a good story to tell.  Port Orford is one of the few ports in the USA where ships are raised out of the water when they come into port.

Depending on the weather, the inside part of the dive site might be the better bet.  The western outside area is more exposed to the Pacific Ocean.  The area along the dock should only be entered after obtaining permission from the port authorities.  If a vessel is being raised out of or lowered into the water, or a boat is being unloaded of her catch, you shouldn’t try diving the dock.

 

port orford jetty and graveyard point
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Port Orford jetty and Graveyard Point is a good place to go diving from the shore right in the middle of some of the best diving in Oregon.

Nearest Town:

You’re right in the middle of Port Orford, Oregon when you’re diving on the jetty and Graveyard Point.

GPS Coordinates:

42.738692, -124.498685

 

Special Directions to Site:

From US101, head south on Harbor Drive.  Harbor Drive turns into Dock Road.  Head down the hill.  Drive out through the marina until you see the parking area on the west side.

Parking:

 

The last time we were here, parking was free and plentiful.  Double-check when you arrive to make sure this is still the case and that you’re parking in the correct area.

Site Orientation:

This site wraps around Graveyard Point and the port jetty.  The western side of the site is more exposed to the ocean so conditions can be rougher.  Only attempt the western side in favorable conditions so that you don’t get dashed on the rocks.  The eastern side of the site is more protected and usually has calmer water.  Only enter the dock area if you have pre-arranged permission from the port authority and no ships are present.

Entrances and Exits:

There are several places to enter and exit depending on what part of the site you’re diving.

Along the dock wall there are several ladders that go down to the water.  Ask for permission from the port authority before using them to make your entrance/exit.

At the southern end of the parking lot, you can scramble down on the east side of the jetty to make an entrance.  This is a fairly lengthy scramble.  Make sure to scout out your route before you slog down to the water.  You can also enter on the west side of the jetty.  Watch conditions before you try to make your entrance here.

Further up along the parking area, there is a cement culvert that runs down to the water.  Follow the culvert down over the rocks and you will find a halfway decent entrance/exit although the drop to the water can sometimes be a little much if the tide isn’t very high.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

It is common to have surf, surge, and current especially on the west side of this dive site.  The east side is usually calmer and often can be dived when the west side is too rough.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on what the ocean is doing, visibility will be between 5 and 30 feet.  Usually you’ll have a solid 15-20 feet of viz on the west side of Graveyard Point.  On the east side of Graveyard Point, you often get more like 10-15 feet.

Normal Temperature:

This is all ocean water with no fresh water runoff to modify temperatures.  Expect between 48F and 58F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

There is no best time of year here.  The biggest thing is to watch ocean conditions and plan your dive around calmer weather.

Max Depth:

You’ll find about 35 feet of water at the deepest point along the west side of Graveyard Point.  The tip of the jetty is about 25 feet deep.

Suggested Special Training:

Divers with a few jetty entries under their belts should be okay here.  However, conditions can rapidly deteriorate especially on the west side of the dive site.  Advanced training and a solid backup plan are good ideas here.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive although conditions can rapidly deteriorate, especially on the west side, and make this an advanced or even an impossible dive.  Don’t end up dashed upon the rocks like so many ships have done over the decades!

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park and where you enter, you will walk as little as 100 feet or as much as 1000 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

The only reason for a surface swim here is if you get caught on the outside of Graveyard Point and need to make a swim inside the jetty to exit.  It would be better to be underwater for that swim but realistically you’ll probably be coming up after a fun dive and realize that you don’t have enough air to make the trek to the other side.

Special Site Notes:

The port authorities are all nice people and it’s worth it to chat them up.  One of them has a wealth of knowledge about other SCUBA sites in the area.

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

As of the last time we checked, there is an air fill station at the port.  You might need to call ahead to make sure someone is there to fill your tanks.  Full service SCUBA shops are located inland (Grants Pass, Roseburg, Eugene) or down south (Crescent City).

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The restaurant on the dock is a good place to eat and a lot of fun.  Otherwise, there are many other good places to eat up in town.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We haven’t stayed overnight at Port Orford but there are a number of campgrounds in the area.  Let us know if you have a favorite campground or 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!

Zwag Island and Diver Rock / Mill Beach

Mill Beach, located between Zwagg Island and Diver Rock on one side and Chetco Point on the other, is a good place to do a surf entry dive in Brookings, Oregon.  The scattered kelp makes for a fun area to play and explore, and the rocky cliffs and underwater mounts are a good place to go spearfishing.  If you have a boat, the outer kelp forest is easily accessible.  Otherwise, a surf-launched kayak SCUBA diving platform would be pretty useful to get further out on this dive site.

 

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
After a surf entry from Mill Beach, the small cove between Zwag Island and Chetco Point is a good place to play in some kelp. If you have a boat or a shore-launched kaya dive platform, some of the farther out rocks are worth the trip for spearfishing or crabbing.

 

Nearest Town:

The road down to the parking area for Mill Beach goes right through Brookings, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

42.048907, -124.292677

 

Special Directions to Site:

Accessing the site is a little challenging.  The way we know to get to the little hidden parking lot is as follows: From US101 turn onto Mill Beach Road.  You’ll go behind Fred Meyer, past the old mill site, and then it gets a little tricky.  Look for Macklyn Cove Drive taking off to the left and turn onto it.  You’ve gone too far on Mill Beach Road if you end up in a cul de sac.  On Macklyn Cove Drive, look for a left turn driveway.  If you end up in front of an apartment complex, you went too far.  At the end of the driveway there is a very small parking lot.

Parking:

The last time we were here, parking was free but very limited.  Be sure to check the signs and be sure to not block anyone in.  If it’s a popular weekend for SCUBA diving, it’s a good idea to show up a few hours before the tide to snag a parking space.

 

Site Orientation:

The site is centered around Macklyn Cove and anchored between Zwagg Island and Diver Rock on one side, and Chetco Point on the other.  Table Rock is in the middle of the beach.  navigation here is a little more complex than diving on jetties in Oregon.  You need to pay attention to where you are in the site.  The beach spans the north and north-northeast portions of the site.  This is where you do your surf entrance/exit.  If you’re on a boat, then be sure to know where you are in relation to your boat.

If you’re shore diving this site, generally we’d suggest you stick between Diver Rock and Chetco Point, and not go outside of the cove.  The swim is lengthy otherwise and there is plenty to see inside the cove.

The site is big enough that it takes 2-4 dives to cover the whole place unless you’re going on a speed tour.  There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities and we’ve seen people spearfishing here.

Entrances and Exits:

If you’re shore diving, you have a surf entrance to deal with.  Be sure you have surf entrance/exit training and it’s not a bad idea to practice the drills before you head out.  Down in California at Monastery Beach near Monterey, SCUBA divers die every few years because they panic during rough surf exits and drown within 20 feet of dry land.

If you’re boat diving, you will probably be anchoring at the southern or western edge of this dive site.  In that case, you’ll be dealing with a boat entry and exit.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

You can dive this site either from shore or from a boat.

Normal Conditions:

While the cove is fairly protected, you need to be ready to deal with surf, surge, and a little current.  If a storm is coming in, don’t bother with this site.  Be prepared to do an army crawl out of the surf if conditions deteriorate while you’re diving.  It’s not a bad idea to survey the whole beach when you surface to see if there is one area that is less rough than the rest of the beach.  We generally try to surface with plenty of reserve air in our tanks in case we have to army crawl on our bellies through the surf zone to safely exit.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on ocean conditions, you’ll have anywhere from almost no visibility up to 25+ feet of viz.  The further away from shore you go, generally the clearer it gets.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature here can vary from 45F at the extreme cold end to 57 or 58F on the extreme hot end.

Best Time of Year:

You can dive Mill Beach almost any time of the year although storms and ocean conditions really dictate when you can dive here.

Max Depth:

At the deepest part of the site in the middle of the cove, you could find about 60 feet of water.  Along the edges, expect more in the 25-30 foot range.

Suggested Special Training:

Be sure you have surf entry and exit training.  Be sure you’re confident in your navigational skills.  Advanced open water training is a good idea here.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive as far as shore dives go but if conditions are bad, this can be a very advanced dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Assuming you can find parking in the parking lot, you’re looking at between 200 and 1000 feet of walking to get to a good place on the beach to enter.

Surface Swim Length:

You will want to kick out 200-300 feet to get beyond the surf zone and into deeper water before you descend.

Special Site Notes:

This site is exposed to the Pacific Ocean.  Especially as you get to the tips of the points of land jutting into the ocean, you will be exposed to whatever the ocean is doing that day.  Be sure you know how to dive in these conditions.

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

We aren’t aware of any reasonably close dive shops to this site.  There is an air fill station up in Depoe Bay and the Medford area has a dive shop but otherwise we haven’t found any nearby shops in Brookings or further south in California.  Let us know if you know of one.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

We have never eaten in Brookings so we can’t comment on the restaurants.  Please let us know if you know of somewhere good to eat.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We haven’t stayed in Brookings before.  Let us know if you know of a good campground or a SCUBA diver friendly hotel near Mill Beach.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Bandon South Jetty

The Bandon south jetty is a good place to go crabbing or spearfishing on the southern Oregon coast.  SCUBA divers will find an abundance of marine life and a few other surprises, too.  However, the outer part of the jetty gets pounded by winter storms and when the wave sets line up right, you can get breakers all the way into the bay.  It’s a good idea to have a backup plan like one of the dive sites further up the bay or into the Coquille river.

 

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
As long as conditions are decent, the Bandon south jetty is a good place to go crabbing or spearfishing. In stormy weather though, it’s a good idea to stick inside the jetty where it is usually calmer.

 

Nearest Town:

The Bandon south jetty is just west of downtown Bandon.

GPS Coordinates:

43.122508, -124.428339

Special Directions to Site:

From downtown Bandon, head west.  The road curves to the left.  Turn right onto Jetty Road.  Jetty Road curves around to the north and becomes Lincoln Avenue.  Follow the road to the parking lot at the jetty.

Parking:

The last time we were here, parking was free and plentiful.  However, you may need to pay to park in the future so be sure to read the signs when you arrive.

Site Orientation:

The jetty structure runs roughly east-southeast to west-northwest.  The outer part of the jetty often has much rougher conditions than the inner part.  If you venture out to the jetty tip and around to the south side of the jetty, you will be full exposed to the Pacific Ocean.  On the inner part of the jetty, the jetty is often just below the surface of the water at high tide.  This area is often a little calmer and more protected.  The dive site ends by the restaurant.

There are some interesting underwater rocks just to the north of the jetty between the parking lot and about halfway to the restaurant.  They’re worth exploring.

Entrances and Exits:

The main entrance/exit is over the jetty wall at the parking lot.  If you head in toward Bandon, you can hop out at the restaurant on the far west end of downtown Bandon.  Although if you do that, you’ll have a long walk back to your car.  It’s much better to plan to exit where you entered.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.  There isn’t any room to have a boat wait for you while you dive.  Otherwise you’d block the shipping channel.

Normal Conditions:

You’ll almost certainly encounter current.  You’ll most likely encounter some surf, surge, and a few other nasty things that the ocean can throw at you if you venture out toward the Bandon south jetty tip.  Be cognizant of the weather and plan your dive accordingly.

Normal Visibility:

Usually the viz is around 15 feet although with big storms, the viz can go to practically zero.

Normal Temperature:

Water temp is usually in the 45-55F range although SCUBA divers can encounter colder water on the east end of the dive site when a big snow melt is happening in the coast range mountains.

Best Time of Year:

The site can be dived any time of the year.

Max Depth:

This is a shallower dive site.  You’ll max out at 25 feet deep if you bring a shovel and are on a very high tide.

Suggested Special Training:

Due to the rough conditions on the western part of the Bandon south jetty, it’s a good idea to have advanced open water training and experience with rougher water.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive due to the jetty scramble and the rough conditions on the western part of the Bandon south jetty.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on the parking situation, you might have to walk 200 feet from your car.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed.

Special Site Notes:

This is an active fishing port so watch out for boat traffic.  The tide can be really powerful, racing water into and out of the river.  It’s a good idea to start your dive before high tide so that you will get sucked up into the Coquille River rather than pushed out to sea.

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

Down in Port Orford there is an air fill station at the harbor.  Otherwise, you’ll need to head inland to find a full service SCUBA shop.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is some really good food in downtown Bandon.  It’s worth the stop after your dive to get a bite to eat.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We haven’t stayed in or around Bandon overnight.  Please let us know if you know of good campgrounds or hotels that are SCUBA diver friendly.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Fossil Point Sunken Jetty

The sunken jetty off of Fossil Point in Coos Bay is a good place to go hunt for crabs or go spearfishing.  Access is a little tricky here.  While it looks like you could shore dive this site, we haven’t found anywhere with public access nearby to get into the water.  Instead, you need to use a boat to access the Fossil Point sunken jetty.  Current can really move along at this site from all of the water draining out of the bay so be prepared.  When you anchor your boat before your dive, be sure to do it out of the channel.  This is an active shipping area for the various industries in Coos Bay and a small fishing fleet regularly comes through.

The jetty itself is rather small but it’s there underwater.  This is not a big site by any means but very few people dive here so you will have plenty of opportunities to go hunt crabs or spearfish.

fossil point sunken jetty
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The Fossil Point sunken jetty is a good place to hunt for crabs and spearfish. We haven’t found any reasonable shore access here so plan to access the site using a boat.

 

Nearest Town:

The little towns of Barview and Charleston are very close to the Fossil Point sunken jetty.  Just up the road/bay are Empire, North Bend, and Coos Bay.

GPS Coordinates:

43.355437, -124.317040

Special Directions to Site:

The only access to this site is via boat.  Charleston has a good place to put boats in.  Otherwise, there are many other boat launches in the area.

Parking:

 

See above.  This site is only accessible via boat.

Site Orientation:

The Fossil Point sunken jetty runs more or less east-west with a little bit of a southerly bend.  As you go farther west, you’ll find somewhat deeper water.

Entrances and Exits:

This is a boat dive so be ready to do your proper boat entries and exits.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a boat dive.

Normal Conditions:

There usually is a current around here.  It can really rip if you don’t dive at high tide.  Rarely surf, surge, and waves can make their way in from the ocean.  Usually though it’s fairly calm aside from the current.

Normal Visibility:

Viz is usually around 15 feet although it can get worse during storms or when there is a lot of water pumping through Coos Bay.

Normal Temperature:

Water temp is usually in the 45-55F range here.

Best Time of Year:

You can go diving on the Fossil Point sunken jetty any time of the year although you should line up your dive with crabbing season if you’re crabbing.

Max Depth:

At the shallowest point, you’ll find only 10-15 feet of water at high tide.  However, at the deepest point you can find up to 45 feet of water where the jetty ends and the shipping channel begins.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers with a few boat dives under their belts can dive this site.  The two tricky things are entering/exiting from a boat and the current.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

No walk since you’re diving from a boat.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim unless you surface far away from your boat.  Be sure your navigation skills are up to snuff!

Special Site Notes:

Please be mindful of anchoring anywhere close to the shipping channel.  Big ocean-going freighters routinely come in and out of the bay.

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

There used to be a shop in Coos Bay but it appears to have closed.  The next closest places for air fills are down in Port Orford at the harbor or up in Depoe Bay (if it’s still open).  Otherwise you need to go inland to Grants Pass or Eugene for air and a full service SCUBA shop.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is pretty good food all around the bay.  Check out the Fishermen’s Wharf Seafood Market on the dock in Charleston for some really fresh seafood.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We haven’t stayed in Coos Bay overnight so please let us know of your hotel and campground recommendations!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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