Titlow Beach

Date Reviewed:February, 2002
Location:near Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Access:shore dive
Site Description:flat cobblestone/silt bottom, big pilings, octopus holes to south.
Main Attraction:Large Sea Lemons, octopus, piling life

Titlow Beach is just south of the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Take the last exit before going over the bridge (headed west), turn left, go to 6th, and turn right. Go down to the bottom of the hill, and the street dead-ends into the park. There are showers (for rinsing) although they are only functional in the summer.

Titlow is a very current intensive site, so be very wary of diving it during any significant tidal exchange. It is possible to dive off-slack, but it is NOT very enjoyable. I have spent the end of the dive driving my knife into the substrate to keep myself from being whipped out in the channel. It can get nasty here. That said, the site does have some interesting features.

Due to the constant back-eddy that flows north through the shoreside of the dive, it makes for a neat little drift dive if you time it right, and dive on a flooding tide. Swim out through the backeddy to the abandoned pier, and explore the pilings, and all the critters that live there. I've seen many different species of sculpin, Sea Lemons as big as my fist (and I have big hands), Plumose Anemones, many different species of crab, shrimp, and schools of perch. At the pilings, it is very shallow (30-40 feet), so you can spend lots of time here. Out around the pilings are piles of wooden structure (not sure what they are from) that are fun to explore.

When you've had your fill of the pilings, catch a ride on the flooding current south. As you get about 2-300 yards south of the pilings, you will notice big arcing sandstone ledges, 50-100 feet long, and 1-4 feet high. Explore these carefully, as there are (or used to be) MANY octopus inhabiting the crevices here. I've also seen enormous gumboot chitons, more sea lemons, and lots of crabs and shrimp. Small Bull Kelp can present a slight tangling irritant, so swim carefully, and please don't cut the kelp loose! I've also heard (but not seen) that there are Pacific Spiny Lumpsuckers here in the evenings in the shallows at the entrance to the dive.

Although I haven't checked it out in a while, there used to be several Wolf-eels to the south of the ferry pilings. The way I would find the Wolf-eels is to look for the set of two pilings isolated by themselves to the south of the old ferry pilings. If I remember correctly, the lone pilings are connected with a board across the top. Anyway, go straight out from these pilings and you will start to run into sand stone ledges. The ledges start at no deeper than 30 feet. Under some of these ledges are holes that octopus and Wolf-eels will use as dens. Although I haven't checked it out in over a year, there used to be a Wolf-eel pair in one of these dens, and the female was tame enough that she would take an offering of herring from my hand.

As your air starts to get low, allow yourself 4-500 pounds to drift back north with the backeddy, and haul yourself out when you reach the pilings.

This is a popular spot for many local shops, so it pays to dive off-hours (weekdays!).

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