Near Fort Ward
In Rich Passage, Bainbridge Island, WA
Snorkling, Intermediate, Advanced
Aquatic Life: 5
Marine Sanctuary , Large Rock Formation / Pinnacle, Boulder Pile / Shelves
Orchard Rocks are a collection of rock pinnacles accessible by boat off southern Bainbridge Island by Fort Ward State Park. It is an interesting dive site with rock ledges and moderately shallow depths.
As you approach the site you'll see a Triangular navigational maker on the southern rock. Larger formations lie north of this marker. Depths range from intertidal to just over 40 ft deep and drop from the exposed rocks in a series of ledges and crevices ranging from a couple feet tall to about 10 ft in height, broken up by boulders, interesting bedrock and cobble substrate. On the channel side of the marker the bottom continues to drop to about 70 ft before giving way to the strongly current swept channel. There are ledges inside of the channel marker as well but are less dramatic, although somewhat more protected from the current.
Bull kelp and red kelp are prolific here as well is a variety of sea life. The normal varieties of rockfish are present along with perch, geenling, and sculpin. In addition to fish, there are plenty of invertebrates, especially orange sea cucumbers, crab, and nudibranchs, diving sea birds and seals which often haul out on the rocks during low tide. Stellar sea lions are also commonly seen resting on the navigational markers.
Beware that this channel is used by the Seattle-Bremerton ferry as well as significant other boat traffic. This area is subject to strong currents. Orchard Rocks and the surrounding area is closed to commercial fishing and is a WDFW marine preserve, so no fishing or crabbing is allowed (except for tribal fishermen – ugh!). Visibility is typically lower here than other areas of the sound probably due to the shallow depths, heavy current and proximity of the nearby fish pens. Watch for sea lions and seals, although they are not typically aggressive divers should be aware of their presence and not disturb them.
How to get there:
Orchard Rocks are located in the Rich Passage off the southwest end of Bainbridge Island near Fort Ward State Park, across from the point at Manchester State Park on the Kitsap Peninsula.
The pinnacles are visible on low tides and the southern most pinnacle is marked with a triangular navigational marker. The rocks are located about 1500ft west (and slightly north) from the end of the pier at Fort Ward. There is a large set of “fish pens” south of the rocks which house commercial fishery Atlantic Salmon.
Thanks to ChevaYEA for submitting this site!