While the locals “Keep Portland Weird,” you can keep your dive gear wet at these nearby gems
Individuality rules in Portland, where anyone can suit their interests with everything from exotic coffee shops and international food trucks to expansive bookstores and outdoor adventure. Visitors to Portland can reap the benefi ts of the clear spring waters surrounding nearby Mount Hood and rich northwestern diving in Puget Sound.
IF YOU HAVE ONE DAY
Connect with a local dive shop to find a buddy, rent some gear, and head to Little Crater Lake. Ideal for intermediate divers comfortable in drysuits, some of the clearest water in America — with viz at 100-plus feet — is waiting to be explored. Within two hours of Portland, Little Crater Lake sits on the Pacific Crest Trail at an elevation of 3,300 feet, bubbling up by the foot of Mount Hood. The spring is best reached hiking down a short path with a cart. Spring temperatures stay consistently close to 43 degrees F. After diving, warm up with some coffee in downtown Portland.
IF YOU HAVE TWO DAYS
Take the two-and-a-half hour drive from Portland or rent an on-site cabin at Clear Lake Resort. Either way, rise early enough to start your day with a shore dive and affordable paddle-boat excursion at Clear Lake, a spring that was created when lava flowed into the north shore 3,000 years ago, preserving an underwater forest. After diving, hike on the Mckenzie River National Recreation Trail to Tamolitch Blue Pool or head back to the city to do some sightseeing at the Oregon Zoo or downtown area. There, you can head to popular Powell’s Books or try the devilishly delicious Voodoo Doughnut.
IF YOU HAVE THREE DAYS
Fully experience the best of the Northwest by driving just over two hours north to Tacoma, Washington, where a charter boat will chauffeur you to the best sites in Puget Sound. Soak in the stunning structure of Dalco Wall — which starts at 35 feet and plummets beyond 110 feet — or enjoy some face time with the critters hiding among the artificial reef at KVI Tower, including nudibranchs, plumose anemones, red Irish lords and, if you’re lucky, wolf eels and giant Pacific octopuses. But don’t let boat diving steal all of your attention; save a day to see Mount St. Helens — an hour and a half from Portland — or enjoy the year-round skiing and snowboarding in the region.
Above: Oregon’s Clear Lake lives up to its name with 100-plus feet of visibility.