Deception Pass State Park
North Beach, Oak Harbor, WA
Access: Difficult Shore Entry
Aquatic Life: 5
Extreme current drift dive , Wall, Boulder Pile / Shelves, Kelp Forest
Deception Pass is truly one of the truly great drift dives of the northwest. Beautiful scenery, above and below the water mixed with legendary currents, and the relatively few times of each year that the tides cooperate to make the dive possible cause this to be a highly sought after and unique experience.
Dives here need to be thoughtfully planned for a lengthy slack before ebb. As a shore dive, the goal is to hit the pass right as the flood ends, swim with the tail end of the current past the bridge while exploring the crevices, current carved caverns and undercuts and colorfully overgrown walls then swim or drift back to the safety of the cove as the current changes directions. Depths measure up to 130ft here but those depths are not necessary to fully enjoy this site. Typical dive profiles range from 40-80ft.
The current never “stops” moving here but will slow down then change directions. Wait in this cove for the water to go slack. Plan to be in the water waiting in the cove 30 minutes prior to a long predicted slack before a very mild ebb.
The same precautions should be made for a boat dive without the concern of a return trip. Ideally you would want to drift from the east side of the bridge to the west so that you can be picked up in the safety of the cove.
Although Deception Pass can be a very rewarding shore dive, it is much safer and more forgiving to use a live boat. It should be noted that this is an exceptionally specialized advanced dive site. Divers are strongly encouraged to utilize a local dive charter, use a guide that has sufficient experience diving Deception Pass, or check with a local dive shop before making an attempt to explore this site.
Hazards include EXTREME, unpredictable and waterfalling current-the fastest in the Puget Sound, questionable visibility, limited exit points, boat traffic, depths, entanglement from derelict nets and bull kelp, collision with boulders, weather, etc. Whirlpools may form and send you to the bottom, immediately. North Beach is typically closed during the winter months so check with a local diving organization to be sure it is accessible.
How to get there:
From I-5 take SR-20 to Whidbey Island. Pass over the Deception Pass bridge onto Whidbey Island and take an immediate Right into Deception Pass State Park and park in the upper parking lot of North Beach. Suit up and pack your gear down the hill to the small cove near the water.
Thanks to ChevaYEA for submitting this site!