Deception Pass

Washington, USA West
Entry Map
Not ranked yet
Viz (last reported 57517h ago)
Max Depth
40ft (unconfirmed)

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Deception Pass

Why dive this site? If things go well, and so far they have for me, (I've been diving with a buddy who lives near the site) you drift with the slack current east past three separate steep walls and sometimes even into a group of pinnacles, until the tide turns and you drift right back to the eddy you started in at the end of the trail. The walls are absolutely covered with life - the colors are more intense and varied than any Hawaiian dive and rival South Pacific dive sites. After the bland dives you've just done in southern Puget Sound, it's hard to believe you're in the same waters (unless you're just coming from the San Juan Islands.) The main difference is that you've diving a solid rock structure, unlike South Sound clay and muck, that is capable of holding securely the filter feeders that live off the potent Deception Pass currents. Once you get used to all the lingcod, painted and kelp greenling on this site, it's time to examine all the different colored anemones and search out the Irish Lords and grunt sculpins. And what are all those other long, pastel filter feeders? You'll never find out unless you try this site! Deception Pass has tons of tourists in season gawking at the whirlpools a couple hundred feet below the bridge connecting Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. I have never met another diver there, however, though this is the best shore dive I've yet been on in Washington, a state known for its shore dives. Pick up a copy of Henry Powers The Whidbey Island Dive guide or go to his former shop in Oak Harbor or the Anacortes dive shop for information. Here's Henry's drive directions: from the north (I-5 just north of Mount Vernon) head south on SR20 until passing over Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island. Once on Whidbey Island, take the first right turn into Deception Pass State Park. Next take another right turn into the North Beach area. Park in the upper parking lot. From the South, head North from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island on SR 20. Just before reaching the bridge turn left into Deception Pass State Park. Next take a left into the North Beach area. Park in the upper parking lot and gear up there (restrooms nearby,) packing your equipment down to the beach. (I'm guessing it's a downhill football field and a bit.) Remember that the park opens on April Fools Day and closes right around October 1st (usually).
Jeff Miller
Jeff Miller
Mar 30, 2015, 12:00 AM
We dove this site March of 2015. I will start off saying that this site should be dove by experienced divers only. If you are a new diver, or new to cold water diving, please go with a guide! Also talk to someone at one of the dive shops near there. Whidbey Island Dive Center has great info. Pat, the owner, was very helpful and gave us tons of good info! The tide exchange passing through this point is very strong, and can pull you along with it, no matter what you wanna do. So planning your dive using the current is a MUST! You can ride the exchange both ways if you do it right! But a longer slack time is the best. That being said, this is an amazing wall dive!!! The amount of life on the wall really is impressive. We tried our best to stay around 40ft (it goes down to 90 and the best stuff to see is between 40ft and 60ft we were told) the vis was horrible but we still had an amazing dive, the colors down there were out of a tropical paradise. Follow all the other info about how to get in. The current can push you up and down so keep an eye on your depth gauge. Just be careful, make sure you plan, and have fun. This is definitely a must dive spot, and I will most definitely be back!
Originally posted on
Gene Coronetz
Gene Coronetz
Apr 22, 2009, 12:00 AM
I've enjoyed this site by diving it once by boat (1970- before I knew better and didn't consider the tide range!) and 5 times from shore. When dived on a modest exchange, it's a very enjoyable ride in and out with plenty of creatures to see; Lings, black rockfish, cabezon, yellow eye, barnacles, sponge- plenty of invertebrate filter feeders and interesting geological structures. Access via the long path from the lower parking lot at Deception Pass State Park.
Originally posted on
Ed Kenney
Ed Kenney
Aug 17, 2006, 12:00 AM
Deception Pass is the best advanced (or intermediate with guide) site that I have visited in Washington State. Having enjoyed it three times from both sides, the steep walls feature acres of colorful filter feeders as well as nice populations of big fish. For shore divers, the site is only really safe a few times a month when the slack tides are long. Divers new to the site would be wise to consult Anacortes Dive Shop for advice or in water guidance, or at least someone who has been diving there multiple times. To get there, take Interstate 5 north from Seattle about an hour, traffic allowing, to Mount Vernon. Just north, take State Route 20 West to Whidbey Island. Gawk at the currents and eddies below as you cross Deception Pass bridge and turn immediately right as soon as you've crossed into Deception Pass State Park (north side of Whidbey Island, south side of the Pass). Park in the upper parking lot, where there's plenty of room and a bathroom. The site use to be only open from April until October, but this year is was open all winter. Quoting Henry C. Powers 2002 Whidbey Island Dive Guide, "gear up in the upper parking lot of the North Beach area inside Deception Pass State Park. Pack your equipment down to the beach. Once slack starts, enter the water close to the rocks on the right side of the beach. This tiny cove is somewhat protected even on a flood current. Orient your compass to mark your return course and make your descent." The walk down to the beach is pleasant and the small cove starting-point is spectacular. Look out for salmon fishermen in season. The cliff to your right is the one you'll be diving along. It starts out in a beautiful garden, then passes three pillars, eventually ending in a series of pinnacles if the slack allows you that far. Usually, a nice tour to the third cliff pillar results. Slack is sometimes hard to gauge here, so get to the beach early and watch the floating debris and ducks. It's easy to start off too late. In any case, the little garden at the end of the dive is a great place to spend some time if you get carried back early. It's pleasant and safe even with some current. The site is exceptional for invertebrates, filter feeder, ling cod, nudibranchs, grunt sculpins and all types of greenling. It is covered in a variety of colorful marine life.
Originally posted on