Washington State known for its picturesque landscapes and captivating underwater world, offers a multitude of scuba diving adventures for divers of all experience levels. In this guide, we explore the best dive sites, essential gear, and valuable tips for scuba diving in Washington State. Dive in and prepare to be amazed!
The Allure of Washington State Dive Sites
Washington State's unique coastal and freshwater dive sites showcase a thriving marine ecosystem, including the famous Puget Sound, brimming with an array of sea creatures such as octopuses, wolf eels, and colorful anemones. Divers can also explore underwater attractions such as shipwrecks, artificial reefs, and captivating kelp forests. These diverse environments offer an unforgettable scuba diving experience that caters to all skill levels.
Top 5 Washington State Dive Sites
1. Edmonds Underwater Park
Located just north of Seattle, Edmonds Underwater Park is an accessible dive site ideal for divers of all experience levels. This artificial reef spans over 27 acres and boasts sunken boats, platforms, and even a submerged Volkswagen Beetle. Expect to encounter marine life such as lingcod, rockfish, and the iconic giant Pacific octopus.
2. Alki Beach Park/Cove 2
Situated in West Seattle, Alki Beach Park, also known as Cove 2, is a popular shore dive spot with ample parking and easy entry. The underwater landscape features rocky reefs, kelp forests, and a wealth of marine life, including seals, sea stars, and vibrant nudibranchs.
3. Keystone Jetty
Keystone Jetty, located on Whidbey Island, offers a prime drift diving experience for advanced divers. The strong currents bring nutrient-rich waters that attract an abundance of marine life, such as cabezon, greenling, and the occasional harbor seal. Remember to plan your dive according to the tide schedule for optimal safety and visibility.
4. Deception Pass
A thrilling dive site for experienced divers, Deception Pass boasts dramatic underwater topography and swift currents. Divers can expect to see unique rock formations, colorful marine life, and even the chance to spot the elusive sixgill shark. Be sure to dive at slack tide to minimize risks associated with strong currents.
5. Lake Crescent
For freshwater enthusiasts, Lake Crescent, situated in the Olympic National Park, offers crystal-clear waters and visibility reaching up to 60 feet. Divers can explore submerged trees, freshwater species, and a mysterious underwater railroad track.
Essential Gear for Scuba Diving in Washington State
To ensure a comfortable and safe diving experience, consider the following gear recommendations:
- 7mm wetsuit or drysuit: Washington State's cold water temperatures require adequate thermal protection.
- Hood and gloves: To further protect against the cold, a hood and gloves are essential.
- Weight system: A well-balanced weight system ensures proper buoyancy and ease of maneuvering.
- Regulator with a first and second stage: A high-quality regulator ensures reliable air supply and optimal performance in cold water conditions.
- Buoyancy Control Device (BCD): Choose a BCD with integrated weights and multiple attachment points for accessories.
- Mask, fins, and snorkel: Opt for a low-volume mask for better field of view, and choose fins suitable for cold water diving.
- Dive computer: A reliable dive computer helps monitor depth, time, and decompression stops.
- Underwater flashlight: A powerful flashlight enhances visibility and reveals the true colors of marine life.
- Surface marker buoy (SMB) and reel: These safety devices facilitate communication with surface support and enable accurate positioning.
Dive Safety Tips and Considerations
To ensure a safe and enjoyable diving experience in Washington State, consider the following guidelines:
- Dive within your certification level: Choose dive sites that match your experience and training.
- Plan your dive: Review dive site maps, entry and exit points, and any potential hazards.
- Monitor weather and water conditions: Check the local weather forecast and tide tables to plan your dive accordingly.
- Buddy up: Always dive with a buddy and maintain good communication throughout the dive.
- Perform safety checks: Regularly inspect and maintain your gear, and perform a pre-dive safety check before every dive.
- Respect marine life: Observe marine creatures from a safe distance and avoid touching, harassing, or feeding them.
- Know your limits: If you're not feeling well, don't hesitate to call off the dive. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Washington State Dive Centers and Operators
To facilitate your diving experience in Washington State, consider partnering with a local dive center or operator. These establishments offer a range of services, such as equipment rental, air fills, guided dives, and certification courses. Some reputable dive centers and operators in Washington State include:
- Underwater Sports: Located in Seattle, this full-service dive center offers equipment sales, rentals, and repair, as well as a variety of courses and guided dives.
- Anacortes Diving & Supply: A trusted dive center in the Anacortes area, offering gear rental, dive charters, and instruction for divers of all levels.
- Tacoma Scuba: Serving the Tacoma area, this dive center provides equipment rental, air fills, and a range of courses, including technical diving instruction.
Conservation and Marine Life Protection
As responsible divers, it's crucial to support marine conservation efforts and adhere to guidelines that protect Washington State's delicate marine ecosystem. Keep the following conservation practices in mind:
- Practice good buoyancy control: Minimize contact with the seafloor and avoid damaging marine habitats.
- Don't touch marine life: Observe creatures from a safe distance and refrain from touching, chasing, or handling them.
- Use reef-safe sunscreen: Opt for mineral-based sunscreens that won't harm marine life.
- Participate in clean-up dives: Join local organizations in their efforts to remove debris and maintain the health of Washington's underwater environment.
By following these guidelines and embracing a responsible approach to diving, you'll contribute to the long-term health of Washington State's precious marine ecosystem and enjoy an unforgettable underwater adventure. Dive in and experience the extraordinary world that awaits you beneath the waves!
Wreck Diving in Washington State: Shipwrecks and History
Washington State's rich maritime history has left behind numerous shipwrecks, offering divers the opportunity to explore these underwater treasures. Wreck diving is both thrilling and educational, as it provides a glimpse into the past and the chance to encounter unique marine life that inhabits these artificial reefs. Some notable shipwrecks in Washington State include:
1. The Diamond Knot
The Diamond Knot, a cargo ship that sank in 1947 after a collision with another vessel, rests 125 feet beneath the surface in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This well-preserved wreck attracts advanced divers who can appreciate its historical significance and observe marine life such as rockfish, lingcod, and plumose anemones.
2. The Al-Ind-Esk-A Sea
Sunk intentionally in 1988 to create an artificial reef, the Al-Ind-Esk-A Sea sits at a depth of 60 feet near Port Townsend. This popular wreck is accessible to divers of all skill levels and is home to various marine species, including nudibranchs, sea stars, and perch.
3. The G.B. Church
The G.B. Church, a former Canadian minesweeper, was intentionally sunk in 1989 in Port Orchard. Resting at a depth of 45 feet, this wreck serves as a thriving artificial reef and a haven for marine life such as cabezon, sculpin, and giant Pacific octopus.
Underwater Photography in Washington State: Tips and Techniques
Underwater photography is a popular pursuit among divers in Washington State, as the region's abundant marine life and unique underwater landscapes offer countless photographic opportunities. To capture stunning images during your dives, consider the following tips and techniques:
- Adjust your camera settings: In low-light conditions, increase your camera's ISO setting to improve sensitivity and brightness. Adjust white balance to accurately reproduce colors underwater.
- Use a strobe or external strobe: An external strobe will help illuminate subjects and bring out their natural colors.
- Get close to your subject: To minimize the amount of water between your camera and the subject, get as close as possible without disturbing the marine life.
- Shoot from a low angle: Positioning your camera slightly below the subject and shooting upward can create a more dynamic and engaging composition.
- Be patient: Some marine creatures can be skittish or shy. Wait patiently for the right moment to capture a compelling shot.
By incorporating these tips into your underwater photography, you can document the stunning beauty of Washington State's aquatic environment and share your experiences with friends and fellow divers.
Washington State offers a diverse and captivating underwater world for scuba divers of all experience levels. With an array of dive sites, from kelp forests and shipwrecks to freshwater lakes, there is no shortage of adventure and exploration opportunities. Remember to follow safety guidelines, respect the marine environment, and partner with local dive centers and operators to ensure a memorable and rewarding diving experience. Embrace the thrill of scuba diving in Washington State and uncover the mysteries that lie beneath the surface!