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Salt Creek | USA: Pacific Northwest
Salt Creek County Park
Tongue Point Rd , Port Angeles, WA
Snorkling, Intermediate, Advanced
Access: Difficult Shore Entry
Amenities: Restrooms, Showers
Aquatic Life: 3.75
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 isnít 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 doesnít 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, donít miss this site!
No dive gear allowed in the coin operated hot showers. Beware of Surge and Surf and Bull Kelp entanglements.
How to get there:
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.
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.
Thanks to Slobert for submitting this site!
|John R||9/13/2009||Rating: 5|
|The stairs leading to the water are numbered on several of the posted maps in the Park. We entered #3 -a short stairway to the rocky shore. We clambered to the right and entered via a small beach area. We snorkeled past the shallow rocks because of the intense surge. Once we we at depth the surge was still felt but easily manageable. This dive was tons of fun as we cruised though rock lined canyons. The kelp beds were short in height and easily traversed. We saw two GPO's deep in dens, beautiful fish-eating anemones, several red irish lords, a huge beds of blue urchin. Exit was the same way - we surfaced picked our route back through the surge and swam on the surface to avoid the shallow rocks.|
|This dive was amazing!!!! My mom, brother, and i went in and it was like a punch to the face everything was just rite there! We didn't make it all the way to the kelp but still, on this dive you can be in 30 ft. of water and see some awesome stuff.|
|This dive reminded me more of diving in Grenada, than any of the dives I've done in the sound, because of the clearer water and the abundance and variety of life. Of course, the masses of Kelp that are present in August keep you from being able to appreciate the full effects of the increased visibility but, the kelp can be fun to wind your way through as long as you can keep from getting tangled in it. In some places it's so thick overhead
you feel like your doing a cave dive. Their are fields of purple urchins and a good variety of colorful anemones and starfish.
The surf was low that day, I see how entry could be interesting on a choppier day.
Along the shoreline in about the center of the campgrounds their are some shallow caves and a tunnel you can swim part way through.
The campground is nice, be aware they hold an annual high school cross country meet there on a Saturday in mid September and you may not be able to get in into the park that day.|
|Another great Salt Creek Day. Surge got heavier during our dive and second dive, but once you are comfortable with this site, it just adds to the fun. This site reminds me of the Monterey Bay in Califronia. With all the rocks and channels and kelp it is an explorer's paridise. Go on a calm day or go with someone who knows the site, but just go. |
|This is definitely my favorite dive yet! There is a forest of bull kelp to swim through and countless channels running through a rocky bottom. The colors are fantastic and there is much to see here that can't be seen lower in the sound. Sea urchins beyond count, large kelp greenlings by the dozens, ling cod, and colorful anemones like none I've seen before are par for the course on this dive. If you ever get the chance to experience Salt Creek, jump on it!|
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