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!

 

 

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!

Coos Bay North Jetty

The Coos Bay north jetty is a bit difficult to access but is worth the drive.  There are places for freshly certified open water divers to dive and for battle hardened veteran divers to have a challenging day.  The inside eastern side of the dive site curls around along a partially-submerged jetty structure and provides generally tranquil waters for diving in almost any weather conditions.  The outer western part of the dive site is fully exposed to the wrath of the Pacific Ocean and is only diveable in favorable sea conditions.  Off the tip of the above-water part of the jetty, a long submerged part of the jetty keeps heading west.  Sometimes you can find interesting debris among those western rocks.  If you have the training, doing a drift dive here can be pretty fun.

coos bay north jetty
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The Coos Bay north jetty is a fun place to do a dive if you’re willing to drive across the sand to access the site. The further west you go, the more challenging the dive becomes. If you stay on the inner eastern part of the jetty, conditions are usually much better.

 

Site Highlights:

This site has a little of everything.  You can do an awesome drift dive here, riding the current in from the western part of the jetty to the northeastern part.  You can do some great spearfishing and crabbing anywhere along the jetty.  You can explore the sunken part of the western jetty looking for forgotten relics of wrecked ships.  You can practice your SCUBA skills in the protected waters on the north side of the inner part of the jetty.  You can hone your navigational skills in the triangle-shaped area of the inner jetty to see if you can successfully traverse between the two tips of the inner jetty.  There is a lot going for this dive site and it really warrants multiple dives to explore each part of the site.  The site is too big to fully cover except if you’re doing a drift dive.  And even then, it’s still pretty big.

Nearest Town:

If you were to swim due south from this dive site, you would run into Charleston, Oregon.  However, you’ll be coming from the north along the sand spit to get here.  In that case, the towns of Glasgow, North Bend, Empire, and Coos Bay are what you’ll come across first.

GPS Coordinates:

43.356317, -124.333814

Special Directions to Site:

Access to this area is via some sand roads across the sand spit.  From US101 just north of the Coos Bay Bridge, turn onto Trans Pacific Lane.  Follow the road until you get to the Southport Lumber Mill.  Just before the mill, turn right onto the sand road (it is called South Dike Road but sometimes the sign is missing).  Keep going until you’re almost on the beach and then turn left (sometimes this is signed as Foredune Road).  Follow along this road south past the FAA tower and the former home of the wreck of the New Carissa.  As you get toward the bottom of the sand spit, there is a road that cuts back into the dunes.  This goes to the northeast side of the dive site.  The road that keeps heading south ends up on the western part of the dive site.

Since this is all sand, you need to be prepared to drive in the sand.  If you get stuck, the tow bill will be very large.

Parking:

This is a BLM site.  Check with the BLM to see what permits you need.  We think that you need to have an Oregon OHV permit for your street legal vehicle these days.  Note that the whole area is closed to vehicles from mid-March to mid-September.  Be sure to check locally before driving onto the sand.

 

Site Orientation:

The outer (western) part of the dive site along the Coos Bay north jetty heads mostly west.  The jetty dives under the waves as it heads further west.  The rubble on the bottom sometimes holds little secrets to be found.

As you move into Coos Bay, the jetty curls up to the north.  On the western side of the curved part of the jetty there is a fairly calm pool that is a good bet to go diving in rough sea conditions.  It’s shallower here but you might find some crabs along this part of the jetty.

On the south side of the jetty between the middle of the site and the north prat of the dive site, the site slowly gets shallower.  Around the area where the jetty splits into two, there are a few scattered underwater ruins to discover.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrances on the north east side of the Coos Bay north jetty are much easier to get in and out of the water.  Toward the west side of the dive site, you will be scrambling over jetty rocks.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

In the protected area to the west of the Coos Bay north jetty where it curls to the north, you will usually have fairly calm water.  Out in the river channel, you will almost certainly encounter current.  As you head further west along the jetty, conditions will get progressively rougher with surf, surge, waves, and current almost certainly waiting for you.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on ocean and river conditions, you may encounter 5 feet of viz or up to 25 feet of visibility.

Normal Temperature:

Except in the shallow protected area behind the Coos Bay north jetty where water can get up into the low 60s in the summer, the rest of the site ranges from 45 to 55F.

Best Time of Year:

Most of the dunes and sand roads are closed between mid March and mid September.  Unless you walk in on foot or take a boat in, it’s best to wait to dive this site when there aren’t seasonal closures due to nesting seabirds.

Max Depth:

Depth varies widely at this site.  At the far western tip of the Coos Bay north jetty, you’ll hit 50 feet.  Heading inland, the bottom rises up to be about 20 feet deep where the rocks come out of the water.  Near where the jetty and sand meet, you will find the bottom at around 40 feet.  Further up into Coos Bay, the water gets shallower.  On the northwest side of the Coos Bay north jetty in the protected area, water can be very shallow.

Suggested Special Training:

If you stay in the protected area, a freshly certified open water diver is capable of diving this site.  If you head out toward the tip jetty, you need to be an experienced diver.  For drift diving, you should have experience with it already and the proper training.  Conditions out on the jetty tip are almost always lousy so be prepared.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive although the western tip of the Coos Bay north jetty is usually an extremely advanced dive due to rough ocean conditions (if it’s diveable at all).  The protected area is a beginner dive.  The parts in between are more in the intermediate range.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you drive and park, you might have a 50 foot walk or a multi mile walk.  Just be careful with driving in the sand.  Make sure you know how to drive in it and be ready to self-recover.

Surface Swim Length:

There isn’t any need for a surface swim here.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that road access is closed mid-March through mid-September.  When the weather is rough, we don’t recommend going out on the western tip of the jetty.

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

There used to be a dive shop in Coos Bay but it appears to have closed recently.  Down in Port Orford there is an air fill station at the harbor.  Up in Depoe Bay there might still be an air fill station available by appointment.  Otherwise you need to head inland toward Eugene or Grants Pass where there are full service SCUBA shops.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is a lot of good food around Coos Bay.  You have to drive a ways from the dive site to get it but it’s worth it.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We’ve never stayed overnight in Coos Bay so we can’t give any recommendations.  If you have some, please let us know!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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