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Back  |  USA: Pacific Northwest   |  San Juan Islands

San Juan County Park  |  USA: Pacific Northwest

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Smallpox Bay
San Juan Island, WA

Type: Saltwater
Intermediate, Advanced
Access: Easy Shore Entry
Parking: Good
Amenities: Restrooms, Showers

Ratings (1-5):
Reviews: 1
Enjoyment: 3
Visibility: 4
Current: 3
Aquatic Life: 5

Photo Gallery:

Giant Barnacle
Clown Nudibranch


Wall, Boulder Pile / Shelves, Kelp Forest


San Juan County Park is the leading campground in the San Juans available to divers. With easy shore access and onsite amenities, this is a must do shore dive in San Juan Island. Beautiful array or sealife with bull kelp, walls and ledges. There are multiple water access points in the park.

  • Smallpox Bay is the most popular dive site of San Juan County Park. Enter near the boat launch and swim across the silty bay to the rocky structures on the other side and out around the point. The rocky structure continues underwater and the depth increases the further you go around the point. As you first reach the point, depths are about 10’ – 20’ and drops steeply in ledges to about 50’. Below this are large boulders, undercuts and a steeply dropping bottom. Beware of strong currents as you explore around the point, dive at slack and/or on small exchanges.
  • North Bay has a couple access points and allows divers the opportunity to explore the rocky coastline northward. The bottom is relatively flat and sandy here. May provide some protection during a flood exchange when Smallpox bay is inaccessible.
  • Low Island is within swimming distance for many. The swim to the island is 30’-60’ deep between it and the shore but drops off steeply on the outside (north). The island is surrounded by a steep rocky bottom with stepping shelves. On the north side there is a vertical drop from 70-110’. Beware of very stiff currents around this little island and dive at slack during a low exchange. Please verify with park staff that it is allowable to dive around the island because it is a protected area for young birds and seals.
You need to make reservations to assure your campsite if you plan to stay at the campgrounds. Day use is available.

Special Restrictions:

Beware of small boat traffic. Current can be quite strong. Use admiralty Inlet current predictions with the following corrections:
Ebb times are 30 minutes later
Flood is only 1 minute later

How to get there:

San Juan County Park is located on the west side of San Juan Island along the Haro Straight, The Island can be reached via a two hour ferry ride from Anacortes. On the island, the park is about 14 miles from Friday Harbor. Follow the main road out of town for about 7 miles then left on Mitchell Bay Rd which will take you to the park entrance.

Thanks to ChevaYEA for submitting this site!
  Comments Leave Review  
Nino4/18/2009Rating: 3
This was a decent dive but I was hoping for more. We entered at Small Pox Bay and swam out before descending. There's some nice rocky structure and kelp close to the island but it flattens out to a mostly sandy bottom between 50-60 ft. We did see some cool critters and got some good pics but it wasn't what I'd expect from a dive in the San Juans. I imagine making the long swim out to Low Island would be a lot more interesting yet more hazardous.


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