The chilly, jade waters of the Pacific Northwest are a true gem for SCUBA divers. All along the Oregon and Washington coast, divers are treated with a wide variety of sea life, an abundance of unique dive locations, and exciting diving opportunities, such as drift dives, bull kelp forests, walls, and alluring caves. Dive sites in this corner of the country are often overlooked, but the three sites below are definitely worthy of exploration.
The Hood Canal’s interesting array of wildlife and mild currents attract divers interested in easily accessible dive sites that offer one-of-a-kind diving experiences. Wolf eels and giant octopus are common in the canal’s relatively shallow water, and rockfish, lingcod, crab, nudibranchs, and many more marine species seem ever present. Although visibility in the Hood Canal can be a challenge in the summer months or during the algae blooms in spring time, this stretch of sea from the tip of Belfair to Hoodsport definitely deserves a spot amongst the best dive sites of the Pacific Northwest.
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are a popular dive destination for nearly every diver in the Pacific Northwest. The islands are easily accessible by boat, but many divers choose to take advantage of the many local dive charters that frequently visit the site. Once there, divers can experience the diverse array of Pacific Northwest marine life that call the thick kelp forests, channels, and rocky reefs home. Numerous varieties of urchins, sponges, corals, and colorful crabs cover the underwater rock formations, while schools of perch and rockfish swim freely in abundance throughout the area. Along the bottom, divers will find greenling, a variety of shellfish, swimming scallops, wolf eels, octopus, and an endless array of nudibranchs.
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a breathtaking dive adventure for divers in the Pacific Northwest. Crumbling cliffs, rugged shores, and dense bull kelp forests all merge to create remarkable natural reefs, providing a home for a wide variety of marine life driven in from the heavy open ocean current. Soft corals, sponges, rockfish, several greenling varieties, sculpin, vast beds of sea urchins, and numerous types of anemones can be seen year round, while seal, sea lion, and whale sightings are also a frequent occurrence.