The Crab Dock at Garibaldi

The Crab Dock at Garibaldi

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

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

 

Site Highlights:

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

Nearest Town:

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

GPS Coordinates:

45.554202, -123.913896

 

Special Directions to Site:

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

Parking:

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

[Aerial View of dive site]

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

Site Orientation:

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

Entrances and Exits:

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

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

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

Normal Visibility:

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

Normal Temperature:

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

Best Time of Year:

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

Max Depth:

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

Suggested Special Training:

This site is accessible to freshly certified open water divers.

Difficulty of Dive:

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

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

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

Surface Swim Length:

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

Special Site Notes:

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

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

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

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

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

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

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

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

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