Divemaster – Mike Waymire
**Advanced Open Water minimum 6 AOW dives with 30+ dives total
Large Rock Formation / Pinnacle, Boulder Pile / Shelves, Kelp Forest
This may be Washington’s best shore dive site for beauty and sea life. It is comprised of a rugged rocky reef and the thick bull kelp forest that grows from summer to early fall. This is no ordinary kelp bed, it is thick, dynamic and exciting to navigate through and houses lots of rockfish. The bottom contour mimics the rocky shore, and comprises shelves, channels, overhangs and large boulders all covered in colorful invertebrates such as huge beds of sea urchins, sponges, starfish, chitons, hydrocoral, etc. Even though this is a marine sanctuary, the sea life here usually isn’t huge but it is colorfully arrayed and very diverse. Expect to see great quantities of black rockfish, kelp greenling, lingcod, all varieties of sculpin, etc. If you are brave enough to get really close to the rocky shore ledges where the surge washes over the surf grass covered rocks you might see a Rock Greenling which is a rare but beautiful find.
With its close proximity to the open ocean, this site is subject to surge. Though the waves seldom break, they can get quite large and wash the shore violently. Pick your entrance and exit points carefully before you enter since from the water its hard to find a spot to get out. There are three main access points available to divers. The most accessible point is the stair case next to campsite 63. At the bottom of the stairs hang a right around the protruding rock cliff and you will come to a channel that cuts out through the rocky shelf that makes the shore. Watch the waves for a while to get an idea of the action and plan accordingly. You can surface swim it, but its usually easier to descend right at the start and swim/crawl your way out. Meet back up with your buddies at the big boulder at the end of the channel. From here right or left doesn’t matter, it’s all pretty similar. Most of the rock structure ends at 35-45 feet, but there are some cool random boulders to check out as deep as 65 feet. Once you get out past the kelp and reef you are subject to some pretty stiff currents if not at slack. If you find yourself in them simply re-enter the reef and work your way back into shallower water.
If you are an experienced diver, don’t miss this site!
No dive gear allowed in the coin operated hot showers. Beware of Surge and Surf and Bull Kelp entanglements.
Check the NOAA marine forecast for the central waters of the Straights of San Juan de Fuca and pick a day with minimal wind waves, and check the outer coast for the swell size.
How to get there:
Salt Creek is 13 miles west of Port Angeles, WA. Head West on HWY 101 (yes it does run East/West up there) and Take HWY 112 towards Neah Bay. Watch for Camp Hayden RD. There are large signs telling you to turn for Salt Creek.