Salt Creek State Park (Tongue Point)

Date Reviewed:May 2001
Location:Strait of Juan de Fuca
Access:Shore dive
Site Description:Rugged rocky bottom
Main Attraction:Thick kelp beds, incredible anemones

This is truly a cool dive site (although not as cool as Sekui or Neah Bay)! It is located on the Washington peninsula on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about half way to Neah Bay. The dive site is actually part of a Washington State Park, which offers picnic areas, fresh water, and restroom facilities. The drawback is that if all of the camp grounds near the access points are occupied, you may be in for a bit of a walk.

Like most other Strait dives, Salt Creek is nothing like your standard Puget Sound dives. The coast here is extremely rocky and rugged, and surge is often present, which can make beach entries and exits kind of tricky. These rocks can be very slippery when wet too, so be very careful when getting in and out of the water. Also make certain to pick your exit point before getting in. It is hard to select a good exit point when you are only a head sticking of the water. Fortunately, Tongue Point has a bit of an east and west side to it, so one side usually offers a bit more shelter from the surge than the other side.

The dives I have done here are very shallow - no deeper than 35 fsw, but as this is a high current area, visibility tends to be good. The main attraction here are the massive kelp forests that thrive in the sunshine in summer and fall. The bottom drops off outside of the kelp forest, but depending on how thick the kelp is, it can be a real chore to make it to the outskirts of the kelp forest. Also keep in mind that the current can really pick up outside the shelter of the kelp.

At times, swimming through the kelp is like swimming through a jungle. If you have never swam through thick kelp before, it can be somewhat intimidating. But after you get used to it, it is a blast! The topography here is also very cool. As on land, it is very rugged underwater and offers huge rocks, ledges, and underwater "channels" to explore. If you have good vis and the sun is out, this is a hard dive to beat. Make certain to bring a dive knife in case you get caught up in the kelp. One thing to note - if you do get tangled in the kelp, air hoses and Bull Kelp can look about the same underwater. Be careful before you cut anything!

The marine life here is also very different. Fish are not as prominent as in other parts of Puget Sound, although there are some Kelp Greenlings, Painted Greenlings, Lingcod, perch, sculpins, and rockfish in the area. Occasional large schools of bait-fish also frequent the kelp beds. What sets this straight apart is the massive number of Green, Red, and Purple Sea Urchins and large, brightly colored anemones that own this site. The explosion of color here is truly incredible, and well worth the drive!

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