Exotic Aquatics SCUBA & Kayaking

Dive Site: Metridium
Depth: 35ft-70ft+
Skill Level: Open Water and above
Description: Metridium, named after the anemone that can be found in abundance here, is a perfect site for beginning divers and veterans alike. Divers can get a glimpse of what Northwest Diving is all about, or confirm exactly why it is they love diving here, with this site that is rife with scores of plumose anemones, many a tiny nudibranch, numerous varieties of sea stars, and even an octopus den or two. Make sure to scour the hulks of giant barnacles long past for grunt sculpins curled serenely inside. Metridium showcases the best of natural rock formations, with a small canyon/swim through, a mini wall, a nice sloping ridged reef, and an oblong main rocky reef structure with ribbons of seaweed draping over and cascading down it. Our Open Water students get to cut their teeth on this site for their day two dives, but after the initial exposure Metridium usually goes down in their logbooks as a favorite for many dives to come.
Perfect For: Drysuit Diver Specialty, Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty

Dive Site: Leikers
Depth: 50ft-70ft
Skill Level: Open Water and above
Description: On Leikers you drop right on top of the action, a large boulder patch with many nooks and crannies to peer into. After you have canvassed all the fissures on that pile, finding blennies, kelp greenlings, sea squirts, nudibranchs, among others, follow the slope upwards to the next patch, and see what you can find. If you’re lucky it may be a red octopus or even a stubby squid! Hopping from boulder to boulder one notices the structure changing into a small ruffled ridge, and can encounter copper rockfish, schools of black rockfish and perch, a solitary plumose anemone or two, decorator crabs, and even a birds cruising the depths looking for food! Make sure to scour the ledges as well for you will be rewarded with numerous small critters staring back at you. Do your safety stop entranced by the numerous varieties of colorful kelp swaying in the water adorned with kelp crabs clinging on tenaciously; the three minutes will fly by.
Perfect For: Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty, Drysuit Diver Specialty

Dive Site: Devil’s Boulder
Depth: 70ft-110ft
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water and above
Description: While following the buoy line down, the outline of a massive boulder aggregate slowly emerges and comes into sharp focus, introducing you to the main section of Devil’s Boulder. Directly on the bottom where the buoy line meets the rock structure lies an octopus den which contains a Pacific Giant Octopus. Encircling the boulder one spies many a rockfish, be it copper, black, or blue, and large specimens of lingcod. Once you have explored that aggregate thoroughly, follow the sand patch onto the next section, a rocky ridge that rises out of the sea floor melding into a mini wall section and which is surrounded by many small rock congregations. Pairs of mated wolf eels can usually be found by the keen eye; they use these small rock piles as a den, their grey mottled heads blending in seamlessly with their environment. Plumose anemones perch at wild angles on various rocks, adding a touch of white or orange to the surrounding greys and browns of the substrate and rock. Keep an eye out for the telltale swath of empty crab shells, leading you straight into a nook that houses a GPO; up to four separate octopi have been found on this site all on one dive!
Perfect For: Deep Diver Specialty, Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty

Dive Site: The Boss
Depth: 45ft
Skill Level: Open Water and above
Description: This site is comprised of two separate wrecks, one exactly on top of the other! Two cabin cruisers lay on the sandy bottom, partially disintegrated, and stacked at an angle to each other. While surveying the wreckage one can pick out pieces of the vessels former glory, a flattened stern here, a pointed bow there, a big square frame that what once must have been decking leading into a hold but which now stands upright like a picture window, and even the toilet from the head. If you tear your eyes away from teasing out the pieces from the tangle of boats before you, one will be rewarded with bright orange sea pens standing solitary in the muddy bottom; this is one of the few sites in the area that showcases these creatures. There are no penetration possibilities here, but this site serves as an excellent introduction to wreck diving both in terms of what one can encounter and what one should keep in mind when embarking on such activities.
Perfect For: Wreck Diver Specialty, Peak Performance Buoyancy

Dive Site: China Wall
Depth: 80ft-110ft
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water and above
Description: China wall, located a stones throw off of Blakely Rocks, is the premier wall diving site in the area. The buoy line deposits you on a small pointed rock tipped with plumose anemones, which melds directly into edge of the drop off leading to the wall. Starting at 80 feet the wall, comprised of a sheer rock face with numerous fissures leading downwards, lands you in 100 feet of sea water at the sandy bottom. Long strips of kelp cascade over the edge adding extra texture to the largely homogenously smooth wall face. During peak season divers have been known to frequently descend directly on top of a Pacific Giant Octopus cavorting out in the open at the base of the wall, or perched gloriously for all to see at the open, shallow end of a fissure in the structure. These friendly octos will cruise along the bottom, showcasing their fluid locomotion, their wild color and texture changes, and may even pause for a moment, long enough for a diver to come eye to eye with this magnificent creature. We have spotted five distinct GPO’s on this site in one dive, it seemed as if every crack we peered into would proffer a glimpse of a sucker, a siphon, a tentacle, an eye or even the whole form of an octopus. While these octopi usually steal the show, numerous rockfish swim in lazy circles above the action, accompanied by an array of sedentary comrades such as sea cucumbers and sea stars in the sandy shallows above the wall.
Perfect For: Deep Diver Specialty, Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty

Dive Site: Shangri-La
Depth: 40ft-105ft
Skill Level: Open water and above
Description: Shangri-la truly lives up to its definition; it is quite the earthly paradise under the waves. This site has many varied features, smooth flat spacious rocks, small walls and ledges, craggy rock piles, numerous fissures running through the entire structure, sheaves of kelp draping over various parts, and many more. Ocotpi frequently find the nooks and crannies a suitable home, luring divers in with an exposed sucker or siphon. Pairs of wolf eels also find the hidden chambers within the rock a great home, and their grey mottled heads can be seen by the keen eye. Kelp and decorator crabs find the prevalent kelp a great area and can be seen skittering around, clinging to strips, and waving their claws at passing intruders. Delicate nudibranchs cling precariously to the steep rock faces, their plumage moving with the current. Plumose anemones adorn the rock, cropping up as singles or as bunches in numerous locales; their sand dwelling look alikes, the sea pen stand singly in the fringing bottom substrate. Rock fish swim slowly around, accompanied by large numbers of massive ling cod. On Shang you truly can see a little bit of everything, all in one amazing dive.
Perfect For: Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty, Drysuit Diver Specialty

Dive Site: The Cribs
Depth: 40ft-70ft max
Skill Level: Open Water and above
Description: Dive into a part of history, right off the shores of Bainbridge Island. The Cribs consists of old submarine net anchors that held in place large nets intended to prevent entry into the waters beyond. Originating in front of Fort Ward and protecting entry into Rich Passage, a key entry point to the naval base in Bremerton, these nets served a vital purpose during WWII. Now, after the nets themselves have long been removed, only the anchors remain, and serve as an artificial reef for all sorts of wildlife. Octopi find the protection afforded by the anchors to be a grand place to set up a den, and many have done so, making spotting octopi at this site almost certain. Being located in an area of high current activity, the marine life on the site is prevalent and healthy. Filter feeders such as plumose anemones, also find the anchors to be an incredible place to live, covering the jumble of metal in an array of oranges and whites. Rockfish of numerous varieties, ling cod of differing sizes, and kelp greenlings can also be spotted swimming above or darting in and out of the structure. If you use your imagination you can almost imagine the structure as it was years ago, serving as a silent barrier to enemy submarines, and sometimes you might even hear phantom engine sounds of subs long taken out of service. Or was that just the ferry passing by?
Perfect For: Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty

Dive Site: Agate Pass
Depth: 35ft max
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water or above
Description: Experience and thrill of Drift Diving combined with the beauty of the underwater environment of Agate Pass. We run the pass in two opposite directions depending on the tides and currents of the day, providing divers with a drift speed ranging from 2 to 4 knots. Get your adrenaline pumping with a live boat negative drop entry, reminiscent of what one would imagine navy seals do, and start going with the flow as you descend the thirty-five feet to the sea floor. Divers can cover a lot of ground (up to a mile plus depending on the day!) while letting the current do all the work and enjoying the easy and fun ride. While cruising along one can observe numerous varieties of sea stars littered throughout the pass, huge hulks of barnacle specimens, a swath of small white carpet anemones, and sedentary sea cucumbers. At the forty-minute mark, start your ascent and deploy your safety sausage while you hang at fifteen feet, doing your safety stop on the fly. Finally ascend to the surface and marvel at how far you drifted and what an amazing ride it was.
Perfect For: Drift Diver Specialty

Dive Site: Microsoft
Depth: 50ft max
Skill Level: Open water and above
Description: Microsoft, named aptly after the divers from the namesake company who showed us this gem, is located off the shores of West Seattle. It is a lovely site comprised of a gem of a reef system that springs up all of a sudden from the surrounding sandy bottom. Tons of fish flock from the doldrums of the surrounding sand fields and congregate on the site, making it ideal for sighting a wide array of fish species. Plumose anemones also find the site a great place to set up house, and can be found in abundance all over. One can spend most of the dive exploring the crevasses in the reef, being mesmerized by the kelp swaying in the mild current, and spotting nudibranchs and other small critters. Make sure to venture to the edges of the reef and peer into the sand, hopefully to be rewarded with a glimpse of a sea pen standing silent sentry in the surrounding sand.
Perfect For: Underwater Naturalist Specialty, Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty

Site: Blake Island
Depth: 70ft-130ft +
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water and above
Description: Blake Island is a gorgeous remote island, with an incredible underwater environment fed by the raucous current whipping by it, located a mere hour ride from Bainbridge. Enjoy the luxurious sights of Puget Sound as you cruise your way out to the dive site, watching Blake Island loom larger and larger as you approach. The already rich environment off of Blake is augmented by an artificial reef system comprised of old chunks of the I-90 bridge. The jumble of concrete and metal superstructure was unceremoniously dumped in the area,(as an artificial fishing reef a number of years ago) but serves as an exquisite viewing reef for the diver, attracting numerous behemoth octopi, huge ling cod and cabezons, copper/black/blue rockfish, greenlings of differing varieties, plumose anemones, nudibranchs, among other flora and fauna. Sheets of kelp drift lazily off of the structure, adding multicolored texture to the water-scape. Cruising from section to section on the current, one is deposited on the clumps of wreckage where they can thoroughly explore at their own speed. Time will fly as you drift along, mesmerized by the wreckage and surrounding critters, and when your air time is up slowly start your ascent and spend your safety drifting along. Scan the shoreline as the boat motors over to pick you up, and you might be rewarded with a glimpse of a deer grazing in the woods or a bald eagle sorrowing by or pearched in a tree.
Perfect For: Drift Diver Specialty

Site: Waterman’s Wall
Depth: 130ft+
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water and above
Description: Waterman’s wall is the premier deep dive site in the area, and is frequently requested by customers and staff alike. Dropping down a sheer wall divers are treated to a wall that seemingly drops forever (although it truly bottoms out at 140ft). Chinks and cracks prove to be excellent housing for all varieties of critters, large and small alike. Plumose anemones coat the structure, providing contrast with their vivid whites and oranges to the darkened landscape, and waving lazily in the current. Fish of all varieties dart in and out, venturing out into the flow to check out passing divers then returning back to the wall for the shelter it provides. You never know what you might see here, a myriad of fish, tons of macro life, an octopus wedged into a fissure, sea lions on the prowl swimming by, or perhaps even a six gill rising from the depths.
Perfect For: Deep Diver Specialty

Site: Barnacle Bob
Depth: 45ft-70ft
Skill Level: Advanced Open Water and above
Description: This wreck dive is truly a gem, for its not every day that you get to dive a barge that landed perfectly on its side! Barnacle Bob aka Vertical Barge gives you just that opportunity, to dive a gravel barge which sunk, and when it found its final resting place on the sandy bottom, its orientation was vertical. This sinking created an lengthy artificial wall of sorts, providing habitat for a myriad of rockfish, ling cod, and perch, as well as a perfect locale for the ubiquitous plumose anemones. Sea pens find their ideal habitat in the sandy bottom, cropping up in their orange vibrancy along the sea floor. Flounder of different varieties also find this a grand site, and hide between sheets of red and green kelp. Keep an eye out for the dive site’s namesake, Barnacle Bob himself; a “diver” made of concrete and dressed in all the appropriate cold water diving garb, with a metridium anemone plunked dead center on his forehead.
Perfect For: Wreck Diver Specialty