The lumber dock at Garibaldi is a favorite of many Oregon divers. It is a mellow, easy dive that is almost always a good bet at high tide even if a storm is raging out on the jetty at Barview. The water is shallow and there isn’t much current here. The piers have lots of marine life on them to explore. Sometimes you can find a crab or two that are of legal size and occasionally a perch will swim by that’s worth spearing although hunting isn’t the main reason to come dive this site.
A quick note on which dock we’re talking about… There is some confusion online and among our SCUBA friends over exactly which dock at the Port of Girabaldi is the “Lumber Dock” that everyone talks about. We believe it is the dock farthest to the west along the south riprap wall that is publicly accessible. Further to the west is the Coast Guard Station and further to the east is what we believe is the “crab dock.” Even further east is a commercial dock.
The main highlight of this and the other sites at the port is that the conditions here are almost always good. When the sites further down the bay, such as the Three Graces, or the South Tillamook Bay Jetty, are blown out due to storms, the docks in Garibaldi allow you to still get in the water and have a good dive. Underwater you’ll find some good marine life on some of the piers and pilings. There isn’t much else to see at this site so don’t get too excited for great hunting or good marine life viewing. For what it is though, the lumber dock is a fun little dive.
The lumber dock is in the middle of Garibaldi.
Special Directions to Site:
This dive site is at the south end of the Port of Garibaldi. Head south on 7th Street past the small RV park. The dive site is just south of the coast guard station helipad.
The last time we were here, we could park in the gravel area right in front of the dock. However, we think that this might be closed off now. If it is closed off, there is free parking a block north. Double-check that it’s still free though. You could try asking at the Port of Garibaldi office just to the east of the dive site about if you can get access to and park right next to the dock with your car.
The dock runs south from the riprap wall and then runs east toward several pilings that are used to tie up ships. We have never seen a ship unloading here but it is possible that one might be on this dock. If that’s the case, one of the other docks in Garibaldi is a better choice.
Navigating out to the pilings away from the dock is a fun challenge. If you keep going south, west, or east beyond the pilings, there isn’t much other than a sand and mud bottom.
Entrances and Exits:
You have to climb over the riprap wall at the base of the dock. It’s a bit scrambly but not as bad as some of the jetty entrances in Oregon. It’s a good idea to look at what the better side is when you arrive so you know which way you’re going before you gear up.
This is a salt water dive.
This is a shore dive.
Conditions here are normally pretty good. It’s rare to have a big wake from a boat in the area. It’s rarer still to have much wave action. There can be a little current during the tidal exchange but it’s nothing compared to out on the jetties. There is boat traffic in the area so it’s a good idea to fly a dive flag. You also might want to take some dive lights with you to check out the little sea creatures on the pilings.
Depending on what the rivers upstream of Garibaldi are doing, you may have 20+ feet of viz or 5 or less feet of viz. Usually it seems to be around 10-15 feet.
The water temperature is usually around 50-55F although it can be cooler in the winter with snow melt and cold rain runoff from the Oregon coast range. In the summer, it can be a bit warmer as well.
Best Time of Year:
You can dive at any time here although you need to dive with the high tide. At low tide, it’s more of a mud flat than a dive site.
At a very high tide you might find 25 feet of water at the deepest part of the dive site (south of the dock out in the shipping channel). You’re more likely to be around 15 feet deep under the dock.
Suggested Special Training:
This is a good site for open water divers to dive right after they’ve been certified. Aside from the typical Oregon coast jetty scramble, it’s a very easy site to dive.
Difficulty of Dive:
We think this is an easy dive site that anyone can enjoy. The only real difficulty is getting down to the water.
Distance of Walk to Entrance:
Depending on where you can park, you might have to walk 50 feet or maybe up to 1000 feet.
Surface Swim Length:
It’s a good idea to kick out 50 feet along the lumber dock before going down. That gets you to some deeper water.
Special Site Notes:
This is an active port area. It’s a good idea to go talk with the port office before hopping in the water. If there is a ship tied up at the lumber dock, you shouldn’t dive this dock.
Fly a dive flag and bring a light along so you’re safe while you’re exploring and you can check out all the little life on the piers.
Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:
There used to be a place in Garibaldi where you could get an air fill. We think it closed a few years back. There also used to be a place in Tillamook but it appears to have closed, too. The closest reliable sources for air fills and gear servicing are in Astoria and Portland. It’s a good idea to be self-sufficient in the Tillamook Bay so you aren’t spending hours driving back and forth to Portland.
Nearby Restaurants We Like:
There are plenty of good restaurants all around the bay.
Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:
We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area but there is plenty of camping (including RV sites right by the dive site!) around the area. If you go back into the forest in the right places, you can primitive camp, too.
What Other People Have to Say About This Site:
Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!