Newport – OSU Research Pyramids

The OSU Research Pyramids are a series of six underwater cinder block structures at three different sites in Yaquina Bay.  While you could technically dive these from shore, the surface swim would be very long and annoying.  This is a great boat dive in the bay.  The pyramids were once used for juvenile rockfish studies around 2008-2010.  We don’t know if they are still being used  for research but the buoys still appear to be maintained.  Not many people dive these structures aside from research scientists attached to Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.  There isn’t any good spearfishing or crabbing on the pyramids but the pyramids are covered in tiny marine life which makes them an interesting dive for people who like looking at tiny creatures underwater.

Photo from the second finger on the south newport jetty
The first and second pyramids are between the first finger and second finger of the south jetty in Newport.  Look for the orange marker buoys.

Site Highlights:

We love going to dive the OSU Research Pyramids sites to look for juvenile rockfish like the OSU researchers used to do.  Back when the pyramids were actively being used for research, buddy pairs of divers would visit the pyramids regularly to do juvenile rockfish counts.  They would use toilet bowl cleaners or dryer vent cleaners on long wooden poles to push juvenile rockfish out of the cinder blocks and into a big net.  Then they would count how many rockfish and other species they captured.  Genetic samples would be taken from some of the fish and some fish had a small snip taken out of one of their fins so that they could be identified in the future.

Another highlight is the mystery surrounding Pyramid 5.  One day when the OSU research SCUBA divers went out to do their rockfish study, Pyramid 5 had disappeared!  Over the next several months, they searched the entire area in a grid pattern, with ropes, and using several other search techniques but they never could find it.  Even using the GPS coordinates that they had recorded for the pyramid’s location turned up nothing.  You might think that this wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  After all, these aren’t that big of structures, right?  Wrong!  These pyramids are about the size of a love seat and are held to the bottom with about 10,000lbs of lead weights!

The prevailing theories over the disappearance of the fifth OSU Research Pyramid are 1) it sunk into the mud suddenly, 2) someone managed to steal the pyramid which would require a massive crane to get it to break free of the bottom, 3) aliens.  Pyramid 5’s disappearance is still talked about to this day among our group of SCUBA friends who went diving on it before the disappearance.  Maybe you will be the person to find the missing Pyramid 5!

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.622885, -124.049954

Special Directions to Site:

Take the aquarium exit from US101 and then follow signs to the marina and boat ramp.

Parking:

There is plenty of trailer parking by the boat ramp for your truck and trailer after you’ve put your boat in the water.

OSU research pyramid site plan
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The three sets of OSU Research Pyramids are interesting dives if you can find them.

Site Orientation:

This site is spread across three different areas all accessible by boat.  All of the pyramids (except for that tricky Pyramid 5!) are supposed to be marked with orange buoys that at very high tides will be 1-2 feet below water.  The buoy markers are supposed to be maintained forever until the research pyramids are removed from the bottom.  Based on how hard it will be to ever get those pyramids up off the bottom, we expect the buoys will remain for many years to come.

Each research pyramid is around the size of a love seat.  There are several rows of cinder blocks that form a sort of pyramid and are held together with metal plates.  The last time we went diving on the pyramids, the lowest set of cinder blocks was already underneath the sand and mud.  By now, the next row up has probably submerged beneath the muck.

Each grouping of research pyramids has the pyramids generally within 100 feet of one another.  We tried navigating between the pyramids a few times but it is difficult hit one pyramid underwater when starting at the other.  We suggest you surface and move with your boat over to the other pyramid rather than try to find it underwater.

Entrances and Exits:

While you could do some epic surface swims to the different OSU Research Pyramid sites, we suggest that you use a boat.  The marina on the south side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge is the best place to put your boat in the water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a boat dive unless you love swimming very long distances in SCUBA gear.

Normal Conditions:

Usually the conditions are pretty decent.  The pyramid sites are all outside of the shipping channels but you may still get some wake occasionally from passing boats.  The pyramids do get some current from the Yaquina River although they are far enough outside of the channel that it isn’t as bad as what you experience out on the third finger on the south jetty.

Normal Visibility:

The first and second pyramids usually have 10-15 feet of visibility.  The bottom here is mostly sand.

The third and fourth pyramids usually have about 10 feet of visibility.  The bottom is mixed sand and mud and can be stirred up.

The fifth and sixth pyramids are in the 5-10 foot range of visibility.  The bottom is mud and will get stirred up easily.

Normal Temperature:

Temperature varies based on where you are in the Yaquina Bay and river conditions.  We have seen 42-55F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

Summer is a good time to dive these sites.  The water is a little warmer and it’s fun cruising around on a boat in Yaquina Bay when the sun is out.

Max Depth:

At an extremely high tide, you might get 25 feet at the first and second pyramids.  Normally you’ll be between 15 and 20 feet though.

Suggested Special Training:

You will want to know how to dive from the type of boat you are using.  Open water divers can do these dives but we still rate this on the low end of an intermediate dive because of the potential for having zero visibility if the bottom is stirred up and for the current that can sometimes impact these sites.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an intermediate dive although open water divers can do these dives if they have experience diving from a boat.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you are smart with prepping your gear and loading it onto your boat before you go out into the water, you won’t have to walk anywhere.  Motoring along with your boat can take 20-30 minutes to reach the 5th and 6th research pyramids though.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim unless you really want to do this as a shore dive.

Special Site Notes:

We suggest you ask for permission from the Heppell Lab at Oregon State University before you dive the OSU Research Pyramids.  The lab owns the pyramids and they may not want divers playing around on their research experiments.

Looking inside of the cinder blocks is fun.  We suggest taking a dive light along to check out what’s inside.  We have the dive lights we use every time we got SCUBA diving in Oregon listed on our Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport.  They have gear rental, gear repair, air fills, and some gear for sale.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a lot of good restaurants on both sides of the Yaquina Bay.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South Beach State Park is a good place to go camp or rent a yurt at when you’re diving in Newport.  We have stayed here many times and enjoy the campground and the easy access to the beach.  We have not tried out any of the hotels in town.  Please let us know if you have found a SCUBA diver friendly hotel in Newport!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – OSU Research Dock

The OSU Research Dock is a fun place to dive if you like looking at the bottoms of ships or if you want to check out some of the marine life on the piers.  You absolutely MUST have permission from the correct authorities (we highly recommend having it in writing and carrying it with you) before you dive.  Due to the recent relocation of the NOAA fleet, the police are very sensitive to people diving here without permission.  Underwater you will find some interesting anemones, sometimes some lost research hardware, and we once found some bones we thought might have been human in closer to shore.

The R/V Oceanus
The R/V Oceanus at dock at night. Only people with special permission can dive on this site. The OSU Research Dock is a fun dive though so if it interests you, you might as well ask for permission.

Site Highlights:

The big highlight for us at the OSU Research Dock is diving underneath the R/V Oceanus, the R/V Elakha, and the R/V Pacific Storm when they are in port.  We have spent time looking over the boat hulls, inspecting the zincs, and seeing what interesting marine life grows on these ocean-going research labs.

There is also quite a bit of life that lives on the piers that hold up the dock.  We have seen quite a few anemones on the pilings.  If you head toward shore, things get shallow fast.  We found some bones out there once that kind of looked human but probably were from a deer.

Any Oregon State University (Go Beavs!) fans or students will want to dive this site to have bragging rights with their friends.  There aren’t that many universities with their own research dock!

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.624454, -124.045659

Special Directions to Site:

Take the aquarium exit from US101 and then follow the signs to the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.  When you get permission from the Center, they will tell you where you can park.

Parking:

There is parking along the shore where you most likely will get permission to park your car and assemble your gear.  If you know the right people, you might be able to park in the maintenance yard at the edge of the pier.  If you’re really lucky, you might get to park out on the dock itself although don’t count on that!

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The OSU Research Dock is a fun site to dive but you absolutely MUST ASK AND RECEIVE PERMISSION from the correct authorities. We strongly recommend you have it in writing and carry it with you. You don’t want to surface to a state cop waiting for you!

 

Site Orientation:

The dock runs roughly east-west.  To the south of the dock, there are some mud flats and the water intake structure for the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s many salt water tanks.  You’ll want to stick around the dock.

Entrances and Exits:

You probably will be entering and exiting along the south shore and then swimming out until the water is deep enough to start diving.  If you’re lucky and have permission, you might get to dive from the dock itself but don’t count on this.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although if you are attached to the Hatfield Marine Science Center, you might get to dive this from one of the research ships.

Normal Conditions:

Usually this site is pretty calm although as you head north from the dock, the current through the Yaquina River can really rip.

Normal Visibility:

At high tide, expect to have 10-15 feet of visibility.

Normal Temperature:

Depending on what the river is doing, you will see 45-55F in the water at the OSU Research Dock.

Best Time of Year:

Any time of year this dive site can be fun.

Max Depth:

If you go out into the channel to the north, you can sometimes find 30 feet although normally you’ll be around 20 feet near the docks.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can successfully dive this site although you need to watch above you for the hulls of ships.  You don’t want to smack your head into one!

Difficulty of Dive:

This is a pretty easy and straightforward dive.  The hard part is getting permission to dive this site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you are allowed to park, you may have to walk over 1000 feet to get to an entrance.

Surface Swim Length:

Depending on where you’re allowed to enter, you may have to do a surface swim of over 1000 feet.

Special Site Notes:

You absolutely MUST 100% have written permission to dive this site!  If you don’t you may find yourself being questioned by state police when you surface.  It’s not a bad idea to fly a dive flag here to make sure anyone working on the research vessels at the OSU Research Dock are aware of your presence.  We have our tried and true dive flag listed on our Gear We Use page.

We suggest you try getting in touch with some of the ship operations people to see if you can get permission to dive this site.  If you’re a current or former Beaver, you have a better chance than if you’re a Duck.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

In the South Beach area of Newport there is a good local dive shop that offers air fills, can repair gear, has gear for sale, and rents gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

On both sides of the bay there are good restaurants and brewpubs.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We recommend South Beach State Park’s campground.  We particularly like the yurts on cold winter days.  If you know of a good SCUBA diver friendly hotel in Newport, please let us know!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – Public Crab Dock

The public crab dock on the south side of the bay in Newport, Oregon can be a fun, shallow dive at high tide.  We have found sunglasses, lost crab pots, beer bottles, golf balls, wallets, keys, and the occasional fishing pole in the water under and around the crab dock.  It is a good idea to have a friend stay on the surface and stand near your bubbles to help calm the nerves of any recreational crabbers who might think that you’re trying to steal their crabs.  It should also be pretty clear that it is a Bad Idea to steal crabs out of someone’s crab pot or for that matter to even try crabbing here while on SCUBA.

A photo of the crab dock in Newport
The public crab dock on the south bayfront in Newport, Oregon is a fun place to dive although you need to watch out for people throwing stuff on you if they suspect you’re stealing their crabs!

Site Highlights

The main highlight of this dive site is exploring under and around the dock for lost sunglasses, hats, wallets, keys, crab pots, fishing poles, and whatever else people have lost over the side.  Visibility is always low and sometimes you can’t see anything at all.  It is a shallow dive meaning that you can stay underwater poking around for a very long time if you want to.  For people who want a little navigational challenge, you can head out to the Yaquina Bay Bridge footings to see what there is to see.  However, we can’t advise you do this because we are pretty sure that somehow you could be charged with terrorism for getting too close to the bridge without permission!

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.620918, -124.053921

Special Directions to Site:

Take the aquarium exit from US101 and follow the signs to Rogue Brewing and Brewers on the Bay.

Parking:

There is a big public parking lot right by the crab dock.  There are bathrooms and there is a fish cleaning station at the west end of the parking lot.

Newport crab dock site plan.
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Newport crab dock is a fun little dive but be mindful of people above and watch out for fishing line.

Site Orientation:

The crab dock runs roughly north-south.  Stick close to the piers and you can’t lose your way too badly.  If you want to venture out to the Yaquina Bay Bridge footings, it can be a fun navigation challenge.  However, we recommend against it because you could be charged with a terrorism-related crime!

Entrances and Exits:

The entrance and exit is right by the car park.  You will have to climb over some jetty rocks but there is almost never any surf or surge here.  Wakes from passing boats can make it a little challenging but otherwise this is a much better entrance than what you usually find at places like the fifth finger on the South Jetty.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Usually the water is fairly calm here.  Wakes from passing ships can stir things up.  Note that you can really only dive this site at high tide.  Otherwise you’ll be walking around on mud flats rather than diving.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility is usually poor with a good day giving you 10 feet and a bad day giving you 0 feet.  The bottom can be stirred up and cause a black-out situation.  In that case, it’s probably best to surface, swim a ways, and then descend again.  Excellent neutral buoyancy skills are a must here.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature varies by the season and by how much water is coming out of the Yaquina River and by the crab dock.  We usually see between 45 and 55F at this site.

Best Time of Year:

There isn’t really a best time of year here.  Instead, there are better high tides than others.  Find a high tide that is very high so that you have some more water to dive in.

Max Depth:

At the very end of the crab dock on a very high tide, you can hit 25 feet.  Most of the dive site is more in the 10-15 foot range.  Most dive computers won’t even start logging a dive at that depth!

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive this site if you are okay with the entrance and you know what to do if you get tangled in fishing line.  We strongly recommend carrying a dive knife and a safety shearer.  We have our favorites that we carry on every dive over on our Gear We Use page.

Difficulty of Dive:

The dive itself is pretty easy.  The entrance is a little tricky with having to climb over some jetty rocks and the risk of entanglement in fishing line is big enough that we rate this as an intermediate dive.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

About a 100 foot walk is needed to get to the entrance.

Surface Swim Length:

Technically you can start diving right away but we recommend surface swimming at least to the start of the crab dock before you descent.  Figure on a 250 foot surface swim at a minimum.

Special Site Notes:

If you dive this site at anything other than a high tide, you will be swimming in mud flats rather than actually diving.

We highly recommend having a friend stay on the surface and monitor your progress from the crab dock.  Recreational crabbers and fishermen may have a few nasty things to say and a few objects to throw at your bubbles.  It’s a good idea to have a friend along to smooth over any frayed nerves and reassure them that you aren’t stealing their crabs!  Also you might make a friend if someone has lost something over the railing and you can find and retrieve it.

We highly recommend taking along a mono-filament (fishing line) cutter.  You are almost guaranteed to run into some underwater.  We have our favorite knives and safety shearers over on our Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

In the South Beach area of Newport there is a local dive shop that does air fills, repairs gear, rents and sells gear, and can give additional info on local dive sites.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Right next to this dive site there is a great brewery and restaurant.  Otherwise on the other side of the bay there is a whole street of good food.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

South Beach State Park has good camping and some great yurts for rent.  We stay here frequently when we visit Newport.  We haven’t stayed in any hotels in Newport yet but if you know of a good one that is SCUBA diver friendly, let us know!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – South Jetty – Jetty Tip

For very experienced divers who want a challenge and are willing to accept the risks involved, diving out toward the tip of the Newport South Jetty can be a rewarding experience.  However, diving the jetty tip is not to be taken lightly or tried in anything other than ideal conditions.  There are very real dangers present that even the most experienced diver can be caught by surprise in very unsafe situations.  Those who do attempt this dive will be rewarded with more macro marine life (lingcod, rock fish, crabs, etc.) than on the five fingers further in the Yaquina Bay.  We know some SCUBA divers who like diving the jetty tip to spearfish and crab.

 

The jetty tip of the South Jetty in Newport juts out into the Pacific Ocean to allow ships to pass in and out of Yaquina Bay over the bar. Only the most experienced divers should try diving the jetty tip in ideal conditions.

 

Site Highlights:

The main highlight of this site, in our opinion, is that not very many people dive it.  Not very many people dive it for a reason though.  You need to be very confident in your skills and dive this site in ideal conditions.  We have never made it all the way to the tip of the jetty but we know people who have.  Someday when conditions are right, we will go for the jetty tip.  Until then, we can report to you what we have seen and what our SCUBA friends have told us about conditions on the jetty tip.

We have seen plentiful lingcod, perch, rockfish, and crab along the outer part of the jetty on the way to the jetty tip.  It is a good place to spearfish or crab because not many go this far out to do those activities.  However, fishermen and hobby crabbers do go out in the jetty so be mindful of lines.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.612068, -124.073000

Special Directions to Site:

Take the aquarium exit from US101 and then follow Southwest Jetty Way toward the ocean.  Go to the very end of the road and find a parking spot.

Parking:

There is a lot of parking at the end of the road although sometimes it fills up with fishermen, surfers, and people enjoying the beach.  There is some parking a little further back toward Newport although you’ll have to walk a ways depending on which entrance you want to use.

jetty tip site map
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. Diving the south jetty tip in Newport is a challenging experience that must be done in the right conditions.

Site Orientation:

This site runs roughly west from the entrances.  The further out you get, the rougher the conditions you will encounter.  We have only one about halfway out to the end of the jetty tip ourselves because conditions have been too rough for us otherwise.

Boat traffic goes up and down the channel regularly.  It might be wise to fly a dive flag.  We have one that we love and use when we go SCUBA diving in Oregon.

Maybe 100 feet off the tip of the jetty there is a deep hole where water currents swirl around.  Unless you really know what you’re doing, we don’t suggest checking it out.

Entrances and Exits:

Most people climb over the jetty rocks into the channel at the parking lot.  Some people enter further up toward Newport by the fifth finger.  You can also do a surf entrance on the south side of the jetty along the beach.  The south side of the jetty is usually pretty shallow but if your goal is to reach the tip, the walk down to the water’s edge will save you a surface swim or bottom time.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive

Shore/Boat:

This is usually done as a shore dive although a boat could drop you off at the jetty tip.  Boaters need to follow the rules with respect to the channel.  A good captain is highly recommended.

Normal Conditions:

Normally the jetty tip cannot be dived safely.  It is usually much too rough and with much too strong of a current to go out to the very end.  The inner part of the dive site that is more protected from the open ocean is more diveable when the ocean is acting up.  However, we strongly recommend you dive this site in advance of high tide so that you are pushed back into the bay rather than sucked out into the ocean.  You could also time your dive to start with the very tail end of the tide going out so that you will be pushed back in with the start of the high tide although visibility won’t be very good.

Surf, surge, breakers, boats, fishing lines, crab pots, and general rotten conditions are often found at the jetty tip.  Look at conditions at the end of the jetty before you make the choice to go out there.  Walk out to the end and look with your own eyes to see if you like what you see.  Be prepared to abort the dive and turn around if conditions deteriorate.  There is no glory in being a dead SCUBA diver.

Normal Visibility:

On the inner part of this dive site, we have experienced up to 30 feet of visibility depending on ocean conditions.  Usually you’ll find the visibility around 15-20 feet.  The bottom is all sand so there are no worries about stirring anything up.  If you start to get sucked out to sea, you may need to crawl along the bottom so the bottom being sand is a good thing.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature is exactly the same as the ocean.  Expect between 45F and 55F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

There is no best time of year on this site.  You can only dive this site when the sea is calm.  Any other conditions will result in a very bad day for you.  Turn around if conditions deteriorate and live to dive another day.

Max Depth:

If you look off the very tip of the jetty, you can find about 60 feet of depth.  However, most of the site is around 20-30 feet.

Suggested Special Training:

This site requires advanced training and a very seasoned buddy pair of SCUBA divers.  At the minimum you need advanced open water training.  We recommend drift diver training.  We also recommend extensive experience with surf, surge, and strong, unpredictable currents.

Taking along a safety sausage or other distressed diver indicator is highly recommended.  We carry safety sausages with us no matter where we dive and we suggest you do, too.  Our favorite is listed on the Gear We Use page.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an advanced dive.  You should not attempt this dive unless you really know what you are doing and conditions are right.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

There is an entrance right by the parking lot where you climb over and down the jetty rocks.  The entrance is hard.

A 1000 foot walk down the jetty and onto the beach leads to a surf entrance.  Depending on which way the waves are coming in, this might be a calmer entrance.

Back toward Newport, some people prefer to enter near the fifth finger by climbing over the jetty rocks.

Surface Swim Length:

You can start diving immediately on the north side of the jetty.  On the south side, a 300 foot surface swim will get you to deeper water where you will experience slightly less surge.  If you want to reach the tip from the north side, we suggest a lengthy surface swim (1000+ feet) to get out a ways before you go down in order to conserve air.

Special Site Notes:

This is a no screwing around kind of dive site.  ONLY dive here if you really know what you’re doing, you are willing to assume the risks, and the conditions are right.  You can easily get sucked out to sea, bashed up on the rocks, or run over by a boat.  DO NOT TAKE THIS DIVE SITE LIGHTLY.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport that has an air fill station, gear rental and repair, and a limited selection of SCUBA gear for sale.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Both the north and south bayfronts have a wealth of good restaurants and brewpubs.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The South Beach State Park campground is a good place to camp.  The yurts are a great idea in cold winter months.  We have not tried any of the hotels in town.  If you have and know of one that is diver friendly, please let us know!

 

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – South Jetty – First Finger

The first finger of the Newport South Jetty does not see very many SCUBA divers but if you are in for a fun and challenging test of your buoyancy skills, the shallow dive site is a great place to look for crabs at the right time of year.  Sometimes seals or sea lions will come and visit you while you’re diving here, too.  This dive site is so big that it is a good thing it’s such a shallow dive because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to dive it on one tank.

The first finger is close to the Yaquina Bay Bridge on US101 in Newport, Oregon.  The channel marker in the center of this photo is next to the end of the first finger.

Site Highlights:

The highlight of this SCUBA site for us is searching for crabs in low visibility conditions common on the first finger.  While many divers love the 100-200 foot visibility of Clear Lake, we enjoy low viz from time to time.  Anyone who dives in Oregon and calls themselves a Pacific Northwest diver will know that we can have all sorts of visibility conditions, especially on the Oregon coast.

This dive site is much quieter than the other fingers along the South Jetty but curious harbor seals and very occasionally a sea lion will come up to divers here to investigate what you are doing on the first finger.  We have had our fins nipped once or twice by playful harbor seals.  We have not met up with a sea lion underwater yet but maybe someday soon we’ll see one under the waves.

For those with good navigation skills, a visit to the channel marker to the west of the first finger can be a fun challenge.  There is some sea life on the base of the marker tower.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.617422, -124.057731

Special Directions to Site:

Take the US101 exit toward the aquarium and then turn west onto Southwest Jetty Way.

Parking:

The first finger has limited parking on the north side of the road.  Only a few cars can fit here.  Luckily we have usually found the dive site to be quiet and with only one or two vehicles parked there.  Otherwise, you will have to walk quite a distance along the jetty road from other parking.

First finger dive site overview
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The first finger is a very large dive site compared to most of the dive sites in Newport. The channel marker to the west of the finger can make a fun navigation challenge.

Site Orientation:

The site runs generally north-south with the channel marker being west of the end of the first finger.  The entire site is very shallow and requires excellent neutral buoyancy skills to stay underwater.  For this reason, we recommend this site for anyone who wants to really hone their neutral buoyancy skills.

At the tip of the first finger, you can encounter some current although only when the tide is really running into or out of the bay.  Because of how shallow the site is, it is really only good for SCUBA divers at high tide.

Seals sometimes haul themselves out on the rocks at the tip of the first finger.  We have also seen the odd sea lion on the end of the rocks.

The South Jetty at the base of the first finger is also a good spot to check out if you have more air to burn and the tide hasn’t gone out too much yet.

Entrances and Exits:

There are two primary entrances and exits, and one secondary entrance and exit.  The two primary sites are at the base of the first finger.  The secondary site is right off the western parking area.  All of the entrances and exits are difficult due to having to climb over the jetty rocks.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.  While you can maneuver a boat into this area, the water is pretty shallow and when the tide goes out, this area can become an exposed mud flat.

Normal Conditions:

Usually the first finger is a calm dive site.  When all of the other fingers on the South Jetty are blown out due to surf and surge, the first finger is still diveable.  However, in those conditions visibility can be almost zero.

There is boat traffic in this area occasionally from shallow draft little boats putting crab pots out.  It’s wise to fly a dive flag and move it with you as you swim along underwater.  We have our favorite dive flag that we use listed on our Gear We Use page.

Normal Visibility:

At this dive site, we occasionally get 15 feet of visibility but usually more like 5-10 feet.  When water is pumping out of the Yaquina River or during a storm, visibility can be zero.

In certain areas of this dive site, we have encountered blackout conditions from stirring up the bottom.  In other areas, the bottom is sandy and will not stir up.

Normal Temperature:

This dive site fluctuates between 42F and 50F throughout the year.

Best Time of Year:

We prefer diving this site in Fall, Winter, and Spring although a SCUBA diver can enjoy the site year round.  The absolute best time to dive the site is at a very high tide.

Max Depth:

If you take a shovel with you and go to the end of the first finger, you can hit 20 to 25 feet at a very high tide but most of the site is more like 15 feet deep.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive this site.  However, the shallow depth makes this a challenging site if you don’t have your neutral buoyancy skills on point.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the difficult entry and exit over the jetty rocks and the challenge neutral buoyancy control.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you can get close parking, you only have to climb over about 25-50 feet of jetty rocks.  If you have to park far away, you’re in for a bit of a hike.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Special Site Notes:

This site absolutely must be dived at high tide.  Anything less than high tide and you won’t have enough water to go diving in.

We suggest bringing along a flashlight to look in all of the little nooks and crannies along the jetty rocks on the first finger.  We have our tried and trusted dive lights that we recommend on our Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport where you can get air fills, dive gear, rental gear, and some repair services.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Both north and south bayfronts in Newport have good food and good brew pubs.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We have camped at the South Beach State Park several times while diving.  It is a good place for SCUBA divers to base themselves while they are diving up and down the central Oregon coast.  The campground also has great yurts for rent.

We have not tried any of the hotels in Newport.  If you have and you know of one that is friendly to divers, please let us know!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – South Jetty – Second Finger

The second finger on Newport’s South Jetty is a great site is a little bit deeper than the first finger and is smaller than the third finger.  There is plenty of  life on the jetty rocks that stick out into the Yaquina River’s exit to the sea.  SCUBA divers are rewarded diving this site by abundant marine life.  We have found many nudibranchs here over the years.  Good crabbing and spearfishing are also to be had on the second finger in the right conditions.

Photo from the second finger on the south newport jetty
The view from the second finger on the South Jetty at Newport is spectacular on a clear day.

Site Highlights:

The main highlight on the second finger is the swarm of micro life.  We have found many nudibranchs here.  If you are patient and go slow, you will be richly rewarded with all sorts of interesting creatures revealing themselves.  If you’re more into crabbing or spear fishing, at the right time of year this SCUBA diving site can be very productive.  This is also a good place to go if the fingers closer to the ocean (fifth, fourth, and third) are too rough due to ocean conditions or are too busy with fishermen and crabbers or other SCUBA divers.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

44.616403 N, -124.060984 W

Special Directions to Site:

From US101, take the aquarium exit and follow signs to South Jetty and Southwest Jetty Road.

Parking:

Parking right next to the second finger dive site is a little limited but we have never had trouble finding a place to squeeze in.  Park on the north side of the road in the sand.

Second finger dive site map
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The second finger on the south Newport jetty is a fun little place to play around and hunt for fish.

Site Orientation:

The second finger, while short and stubby, is still aligned roughly north-south like all of the other fingers on the Newport South Jetty.  Only a few kick cycles are needed to reach the end of the second finger.  We prefer to dive this site very slowly to look at all of the tiny marine organisms that call the second finger jetty rocks home.  If you want to go faster, combining this dive with the third finger can make for a longer underwater swim.

Entrances and Exits:

While you can climb over the jetty rocks almost anywhere, we find it is easiest to enter and exit right at the base of the second finger where it joins the jetty.  Be sure to scope out the way to the entrance before you don your gear to make sure you know where you will go once you have 100 lbs of SCUBA gear on.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.  We don’t recommend trying to dive this site with a boat because the site is shallow and really isn’t worth the trouble of putting a boat in at the marina in Newport.

Normal Conditions:

This site will often have a little surge but nothing nearly as bad as out on the fifth finger.  We have encountered a little current at the tip of the second finger when we are diving way off tide but the third and first fingers protect the second finger from the majority of the tidal currents in Yaquina Bay.

Normal Visibility:

This site usually maxes out in the best conditions at 15 feet of visibility.  If you try diving it at low tide, aside from being in only a few feet of water, you will also find there to be almost no visibility due to the water being pumped out of the Yaquina River on the way to the ocean.  On stormy days in the ocean, this site sometimes has about five feet of visibility but most SCUBA divers going to the second finger will find around 10 feet of visibility.  Remember to keep your buddy close!

Normal Temperature:

We have gone diving here when the water was 42F and when the water was 50F.  Seasonal temperature variation in the ocean and the amount of water flowing out of the Yaquina River change the water temperature you are likely to see at this site.

Best Time of Year:

We prefer diving this site in the spring and fall although the winter is also good at this site.  In the summer, we usually don’t dive the second finger because we generally focus our attention further out toward the ocean where conditions are usually favorable for SCUBA divers in the summer months.

Max Depth:

We once found 30 feet of water here at an extremely high tide but usually you will find a depth of about 20-25 feet at high tide at the tip of the stubby little second finger dive site.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers successfully dive this site although the entrance and exit are a challenge due to having to crawl over the jetty rocks.  For this reason, taking an advanced open water course or doing a discover local diving trip with experienced divemasters or instructors may help you dive this site more comfortably.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the entrance and exit.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you get good parking, you will only have to climb over 50 feet of jetty rocks.

Surface Swim Length:

There is no surface swim necessary at this dive site.

Special Site Notes:

If you try diving this site at anything other than high tide, you won’t find enough water to have much of a dive.  We like taking a good dive light with us to look in all of the cracks and crevices of the jetty rocks that make up the second finger dive site.  There is a lot of great micro marine life that has wonderful colors with good illumination from a dive light.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport that does air fills, services gear, and has a limited selection of new and rental equipment.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Both the north and south bayfronts of Newport offer a lot of great dining and some good breweries and pubs, too.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We have camped several times in the South Beach State Park campground.  The yurts at the campground are great to rent in the winter when the air is cold and damp.  We haven’t stayed in any of the hotels in Newport but if you have and can recommend a diver-friendly hotel, let us know!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – South Jetty – Third Finger

The third finger SCUBA diving site on the south jetty of Yaquina Bay at Newport, Oregon is a great place to go spearfishing for perch, lingcod, and rockfish.  We also love going crabbing here.  Red rock crabs are always plentiful and at certain times of the year, dungeness are in abundance.  For nature lovers who prefer to hunt for photos of micro life, we have seen many nudibranchs, hermit crabs, and other small creatures crawling along on the rocks.  There is something for everyone at this site if you are willing to climb over the jetty rocks and put up with some surge at the entrance and current at the tip of the finger.  When the fifth and fourth fingers are too rough to dive, sometimes the third finger is still an acceptable dive site.

Looking toward the Yaquina Bay Bridge at the South Jetty in Newport next to the third finger.  This is a great site to do crabbing and is less rough than the fifth and fourth fingers in stormy conditions.  Being further in the bay means that visibility is not as good as the dive sites further toward the ocean.

Site Highlights:

The main highlight of the third finger dive site is the marine life.  The third finger is the second longest finger out of the five (the first finger is the longest).  We have found many different species of rockfish here.  There are several species of nudibranchs present.  Both red rock and dungeness crabs are plentiful (be sure to check current crabbing regulations).  We have gone spearfishing for lingcod and perch here, and have found both in abundance.

This site is a good longer dive in Newport that always has something new to see or experience.  We have never been disappointed diving the third finger although visibility on days with small tide swings aren’t as good as out on the fourth and fifth fingers.

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.616076, -124.062052

 

Special Directions to Site:

Take the exit for the aquarium off of US 101.  Turn onto Southwest Jetty Way and head toward the ocean.  The dive site is on the north side of the road right when the trees give way to an open brush-filled field on the left.

Parking:

Ample parking is available around this site.  Park anywhere off the road where others have parked before.  On the south side of the road, a fence prevents parking near this site but we have never had trouble finding parking on the north side of the road around the jetty.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
Ample parking and a great site for underwater hunting or observing life on the rocks makes this a popular dive site.

Site Orientation:

The third finger roughly runs north-south from the roughly east-west jetty.  You know that you have reached the end of the third finger when the jetty rocks give way to open water and a sandy bottom.  You will also most likely encounter the current at the tip of the third finger running into or out of the bay.  The jetty north and south of the third finger often has crabs on it and can be a useful hunting ground.  Note that the third finger has significant kelp and seaweed on the top of the rocks.  An entanglement hazard exists because of this.  Taking a good dive knife along is recommended.  We have several dive knives that we prefer and use when diving in Oregon.

Entrances and Exits:

While the south jetty can be crossed anywhere along the jetty structure, we have found that the best places to enter and exit for SCUBA divers on the third finger is on either side of the base of the third finger.  Crossing over jetty rocks is difficult and physically strenuous.  Before you gear up, we suggest walking the entrance to find the route that you want to use.

We have encountered both surf and surge at the entrances on the third finger.  The conditions usually aren’t as rough as on the fourth and fifth fingers but both surf and surge may be present.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a saltwater dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although a competent boat captain could bring divers to the tip of the third finger.  Due to the current and shipping channel traffic, it is difficult for a boat captain to maintain position and pick divers up on the third finger.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions at the third finger are usually favorable for Oregon SCUBA divers.  There usually is a little surge at the entrance/exit and occasionally there is some surf if there is a big storm rolling in off the ocean.  We have often encountered recreational anglers and crabbers both fishing from shore and from small boats on the third finger.  Be sure to carry line cutters in case you get tangled in fishing line.  It is also useful to carry a flashlight to peer into the many cervices and caves in the jetty rocks.  We have several SCUBA dive lights that we recommend on our Gear We use page.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility on the third finger can vary between 15-20 feet and 3-5 feet depending on the size of the tidal exchange, time of year, and if a storm is brewing in the ocean.  The best time to dive this site is at high tide when visibility is the best.

The bottom is sandy.  Bashing into the bottom, as we have done when wrestling with a red rock crab, does not screw up the viz.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature can vary based on the time of year and water flow out of the Yaquina River between 42F and 52F.  Usually we have found the water temperature to be about 45-46F.

Best Time of Year:

This site can be dived year round but we prefer diving here in the fall or spring.  Check local fishing and crabbing regulations to determine the best time of year to go spearfishing or crabbing here.

Max Depth:

We have hit 38 feet at high tide at the end of the third finger.  Most of the site is shallower than this with the bottom along the jetty being at around 15-20 feet.  Good control of neutral buoyancy is key in shallow water.

Suggested Special Training:

While we know open water divers who have gone diving here successfully after receiving their certification cards.  However, the additional skills and confidence gained in an advanced open water course will give new SCUBA divers more confidence in diving this site.  As always, only dive this site if you are confident in your skills and the conditions are acceptable to you.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this dive as an intermediate dive because of the difficulty of the entrance and exit.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you can get the closest parking (usually you can), you have to climb over about 50 feet of jetty rocks to reach the dive site.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is necessary here.

Special Site Notes:

We highly recommend diving this site at high tide for the best visibility.  In stormy conditions, this site may not be diveable.  At low tide, visibility is greatly decreased and the dive becomes very shallow.  The current at the tip of the third finger can really rip on either side of slack tide.  Be aware and be prepared to deal with the current as you round the tip.  If you get carried away from the third finger, you may end up out in the ocean.  Swim due south when in doubt!

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a local dive shop in the South Beach area of Newport that provides air fills, can service gear, and carries a limited selection of gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Both the south and north bayfronts in Newport have many great restaurants.  Any of them make a good place to stop into after diving the third finger.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The South Beach State Park campground is a good place to camp.  Yurts are also available for rent.  We have stayed in the yurts before and can recommend them.  We have not tried any of the hotels in Newport but please let us know if you have and can recommend one for fellow Oregon divers.

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport South Jetty – Fourth Finger

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

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

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

Site Highlights:

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

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

Nearest Town:

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

GPS Coordinates:

44.615504 N, -124.064237 W

Special Directions to Site:

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

Parking:

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

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

Site Orientation:

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

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

Entrances and Exits:

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

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

Salt/Fresh:

This is a saltwater dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

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

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

Normal Visibility:

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

The bottom is sand and settles quickly if stirred up.

Normal Temperature:

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

Best Time of Year:

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

Max Depth:

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

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

Suggested Special Training:

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

Difficulty of Dive:

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

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

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

Surface Swim Length:

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

Special Site Notes:

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

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

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

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

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

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

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

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

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

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport South Jetty – Fifth Finger

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

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

Site Highlights:

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

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

Nearest Town:

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

GPS Coordinates:

44.615093 N, -124.065257 W

Special Directions to Site:

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

Parking:

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

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

Site Orientation:

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

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

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

Entrances and Exits:

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

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

Salt/Fresh:

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

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

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

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

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

Normal Visibility:

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

The bottom is sand and settles very quickly.

Normal Temperature:

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

Best Time of Year:

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

Max Depth:

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

Suggested Special Training:

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

Difficulty of Dive:

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

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

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

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Special Site Notes:

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

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

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

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

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

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

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

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

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

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

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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