San Juan Islands

Washington, USA West
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Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at San Juan Islands

I've been diving in the San Juans for about five years now and love it. We are fortunate to have some excellent shore dives available. There are several sites on San Juan island with varying degrees of difficulty. The most note worthy in my opinion is Lime Kiln state park. Not the easiest shore entry and some potentially devastating currents, hitting this site on slack is well worth the effort. A series of beautiful terracing walls, you can hit 200' within 50' of the shore. Rock fish, wolf eels, octopus, pacific king crab, walls of metridium anemones, the list goes on. If you aren't familiar with the area, it's well worth the trip
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Dan Kjelland
Dan Kjelland
Jul 8, 2004, 12:00 AM
San Juan County Park is nice, but Limekiln Lighthouse State Park is exceptional. Park in the lower lot and use a wheelbarrow to tote your gear 0.15 mi. down a gated road to a picnic table at the lighthouse. Entry is a small crevice immediately left (south) of the light. When the kelp isn't heavy this is an amazing dive. You'll get cold from not moving around much because there is so much to see. Best done at slack or during ebb tides with low exchange, because southerly currents hit the point and move away from shore, swirling clockwise in the small bay south of the point. 40 min after exiting on my last dive, Orcas were in the small bay. Watch for container ships in Haro Strait, they can kick up a few (short lived) rollers. This is the dive on the cover of Northwest Shore Dives. It may spoil you!
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Curt Johnson
Curt Johnson
Jan 22, 2004, 12:00 AM
I have several hundred dives in the San Juans. I believe the best for newcomers is at the county park on the west side of San Juan Island (Smallpox Cove). You can enter by the boat ramp and swim around either point at the opening of the bay. You can also scramble down the bank on the north edge of the park and explore those rocky out croppings. I occasionally swim out to Low Island just off the park and dive that. This is a place where you need to watch the currents carefully. With a rocky substrate you will see all of the attached invertebrates, feather stars, abalone, fish, seals, and orca. The whales are more easily seen from the surface; finding a submerged orca is a challenge. The winter offers better visibility and slower tidal currents during the day, but the weather is more of a problem. There are a couple of guidebooks describing dive sites in the San Juans.
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