|Date Reviewed:||October 2000|
|Location:||Southwest Hood's Canal|
|Access:||Shore or boat dive|
|Site Description:||Expansive rock wall, boulder fields|
Sund Rock is located on the south west side of Hood's Canal, just north of Hoodsport. Sund Rock is one of my favorite shore dive locations in the Puget Sound area because of the structure and excellent abundance of marine life that always frequents this location. As this site is situated down the canal a ways, currents here are not intense and visibility can be outstanding (it can be terrible, too!). In fact, we had a dive here in 2000 where we had vis that approached 80 feet, the best I have ever experienced in the Puget Sound area.
Unfortunately, this is another super popular dive site that tends to get totally pounded by divers on weekends. For that reason, I only dive this site during the week, and rarely see other divers. Occasionally I will chance my luck at hit this dive site on a weekend in winter, but usually early morning (like leave Seattle at 6 AM).
There are two ways to dive this site. The cheap way and the lazy way. The cheap way put you at the south end of the site and requires a little hiking and swimming. The lazy way requires that you pay $15 per diver to drive into the northern beach access. I personally would rather be cheap. If you would rather be lazy, then you need to stop at Hood Sport and Dive, which is just north of this dive site, to pay the piper and get directions.
Which ever way you want to dive this site, Sund Rock is about a 2 hour drive from Seattle if you go over the Narrow's bridge. The dive site is actually located right along Highway 101, just north of Hoodsport. As I have only done this dive through the southern (free) access, this review will focus diving this site from that perspective.
The southern access is not well marked, although there are some signed nailed to a few trees along the road here that designate this area as the Sund Rock Marine Preserve. I always know I am getting near this site when I pass the "Holiday Beach" sign along the road. The pull-out for this dive site is just over the next small hill from this sign. Next time I go, I will try to remember the mile marker!
The pull-out is just big enough to fit about five cars. There are no faculties here what so ever. You basically pull over, suit up, and jump the guard rail. Once you find the path that heads down to the water, you will note that it quickly splits. If you go straight, you will encounter a steep and rapid descent and probably spend at least 45 minutes picking mud and leaves out of your regulator. The southern path takes a much more amiable route for someone with over 80 pounds on their back. Either path can be very slippery, so be very careful.
Once you reach the water, you are on the public beach. I understand that the public beach area is very small. Once at the beach, you will see the a large sheer rock face to the north of the beach area - you can't miss it. This is Sund Rock. Because the public beach area is so small, you need to enter the water right way and swim to the rock face (be warned - it is a fair surface swim of 200-300 yards). The property between the rock and the public beach entrance is all private property. Please respect the property rights of others if you are diving here, and do not trespass.
The surface swim to the rock is actually fun to snorkel if the vis is good. The depth is only about 10 fsw or so, and if vis is good you can watch the crabs and sole scatter around on the bottom as you are swimming out to the rock face.
Once you reach the rock face, descend and follow it down and to the north. If within your limits, you can follow it down to about 90 fsw. The rock face is fairly expansive, but only marks the southern end of this fantastic dive site. After exploring the face, make certain to head north where you will find boulder piles, additional walls, ledges, isolated rocks, etc. The boulder piles are typically where we find Giant Pacific Octopus and Wolf-Eels making their homes. On one dive here, I found 8 Wolf-Eels (although none of them were as tame as the Sunrise Wolf-Eels) and 3 Giant Pacific Octopus. Large schools of Copper Rockfish always frequent this location. During nesting season, it seems like Lingcod are everywhere here, boldly protection their nests. In addition, you will also find Quillback and Brown Rockfish, and schools of colorful Striped Seapearch and Pile Perch. Gobies are also in abundance, as are Sea Cucumbers, starfish, anemones, shrimp, sea gherkins, an assortment of nudibranchs, and crabs of different varieties. There is (was?) also a large field of Sea Whips at the base of the wall. Eventually, the rocky structure gives way to a silty substrate to the north.
Because the lower reaches of Hood's Canal are not subject to the massive tidal exchanges that most of the rest of Puget Sound are subject to, the water here has a chance to settle into different thermoclines. You may notice these thermoclines as you descend through them, both from a temperature and visibility standpoint. Plankton blooms are frequent in Spring and Summer, but the plankton is usually contained to the top thermocline. The moral of the story is do not despair is the initial vis looks really bad - a buddy and I almost abandoned a dive here because vis appeared to be about 3 feet. However, below the thermocline, we encountered 40 feet of vis and had an awesome dive.
Mike's dive shop is located just south of this dive site, and offers complete and friendly scuba service, including air fills. Hood Sport and Dive is to the north, and also offers friendly service - and Nitrox. Be careful though - many of the stores in this area close during parts of the work week, so if you need air when diving here during the work week, you might be out of luck. There are also some good restaurants in Hoodsport is you need to catch something to eat after diving or during a long surface interval.
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