Dive Type: Boat
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Three Arch Rocks are exposed to the normal flow of NW swells and coastal
winds. The West/NW walls are steep and can drop quickly into depths
far beyond recreational limits. Diving the East/SE side can be shallow
in places so divers must be cautious and comfortable with surge.
Divers should always dive within their limits.
Arch Rocks is a National
Wildlife Refuge and the waters are closed within 500 feet from May 1
to September 15. For a map of the closure area look at a copy of the
Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. Of course the closure
period is during prime diving season and leaves Fall through Spring as the
only time for diving the Rocks. However, if the weather is good during
this time Three Arch Rocks is a wonderful area to explore. The steep
walls on the northwest side are alive with scallops, anemones, and a variety
of small crustaceans. To the immediate southwest the water is shallow,
about 30 feet, and supports large kelp beds. Travel a little further
towards shore and the rocky bottom breaks up into rugged terrain.
Small ridges and valleys, crevices and boulders offer a home to sea bass,
lingcod, and more kelp. Fortunately this near shore dive area is outside
the closure limits and can be explored during the summer. If you dive
during closure try to take boat ride around the rocks, you will see
murres, cormorants, puffins, and a host of other bird species.
Directions: Three Arch Rocks is a boat dive with launch access from Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, or Pacific City. Launching from Tillamook is the safest route due to the secure ocean channel produced by the jetties. Launches from Netarts Bay should only be attempted by experienced boat captains; the channel is unprotected. Boats entering the ocean from Pacific City launch off the sandy beaches and must be designed and equipped for such procedures. Normally flat bottom dories or light inflatables are the only boats attempting such a launch. Qualified dive charters from U.S.I.A. and Doug's Diving can provide a wonderful day of diving on Three Arch Rocks.