Scuba Treasure Hunting at Twanoh State Park

What treasures can divers find underwater at Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal? Join Jade Scuba and Pallin' Around Charters to find out!

Recent posts

Chances are that even if you are a seasoned Pacific Northwest diver, you have not gone scuba treasure hunting at Twanoh State Park on the southeastern crook of the Hood Canal. Check out what Jade Scuba Adventures and Pallin’ Around Charters discovered on a chilly October morning! Want a scuba guide for this site or to rent gear? Call or text us at 360-300-7810.

Scuba Treasure Hunting at Twanoh

While the park often claims to have “one of the warmest saltwater beaches in Washington State,” that is not true in the winter! Freshwater input often lowers the water temperatures here in the rainy season.

Additionally, this park is often overlooked as a dive site because of its lack of structure. While rocky walls and kelp beds often harbor critters, so do expansive beaches! At sites like Twanoh, patience, a keen eye, and good buoyancy control with anti-silting finning reward the adventurous diver.

What did we find on this dive day? Check out the pictures below from an hour-long dive with a max depth of 50 feet. Visibility was very poor in the shallows due to wind and surface runoff, but cleared up beyond 20 feet of depth to reveal these unique creatures!

Photo credit to Ashley Arnold of Jade Scuba Adventures- Port Orchard & Brinnon (360-233-6825).

Paranaitis polynoides. Apparently, this little paddle worm does not have much of an online following!
Pycnogonid (sea spider). It takes sharp eyes to differentiate this creature from the substrate! Sea spiders represent an interesting family of over 1300 species ranging in size from 0.04 inches to 2.3 feet. Like many misnomers in nature, these are not “true” spiders. Lacking a traditional respiratory system, they absorb gases through their legs and use diffusion to transfer around their body. Sea spiders feed through a proboscis that they stick into soft-bodied invertebrates to suck in nutrients.
Dendronotus iris (giant nudibranch). Read a fascinating account of this nudibranch munching on its favorite prey. While this nudibranch can grow up to 12 inches, it’s usually around 4 inches in length. Also known as the “rainbow nudibranch,” the coloration of these creatures can vary widely. Uncommon for nudibranchs, this one readily swims when threatened.
Panopea generosa (geoduck). As the largest burrowing clam in the world, the geoduck has long been an important food source in the Pacific Northwest. With a typical shell size up 8 inches, the siphon (or “neck”) can be up to 3 feet 3 inches! Additionally, geoducks are one of the longest-living animals with an average lifespan of 140 years. One record species lived 179 years! Similar to tree rings, geoducks can be aged by annual rings of marine deposits that reflect their environment. Have you seen the Dirty Jobs episode on geoduck farming? I would much rather take pretty pictures of these creatures rather than try to dig them up for a living!
Antiopella gelida (frosty tipped nudibranch). It’s easy to see why nudibranchs are a favorite sighting of divers. As I affectionately call them, these “fancy underwater slugs” are often very colorful with striking forms. It is also notoriously difficult to differentiate among some of the 3000+ species as coloring can vary by individual.
Pagurus ochotensis (Alaskan hermit crab)- easily the biggest one I have ever seen. This crab would barely fit in both of my hands! Check out this article in Salish magazine for fascinating facts and entertaining drawings/photos by PNW diver Jan Kocian. It is often found in moon shells and preyed on by tanner crabs.
Tube worm.

Scuba Access at Twanoh

We typically dive Twanoh from the parking lot adjacent to the boat ramp. There is easy walking access down the creek that is north of the parking lot. The beach is gently sloping with pea gravel-sized rocks and scattered oyster shells. Just be careful with slippery rocks!

Access hours: Apr 1-Sept 30 (6:30AM-dusk) and Oct 1-Mar 31 (8AM-dusk).

Hazards: during the summer, this is a busy boat ramp without a protected dive area. Surface with caution in shallow waters with a DSMB or dive on the eastern side. Also, we have encountered surface currents around the point but do not plan this dive around currents. The eastern dive site (at the perimeter of the swimming area) features eel grass on a more gentle slope than the western side.

Take care to dive within your training, comfort level, and communication with your buddy. When was the last time you updated your basic safety gear?

Twanoh State Park is about a 1.5 hour drive west from Seattle and about 25 minutes west from Hoodsport.
Like all Washington State Parks, Twanoh requires a Discover Pass. Buy one on site, at local stores, or online. $35/year or $11.50/day.

Frosty Morning Gear-Up for Our Group of Divers

Services at Twanoh

Restrooms at the boat ramp are charmingly old-fashioned, but clean (and heated in the winter!).

Make It a Weekend Adventure!

The closest eats are at the fabulous Alderbrook Resort serving brunch through dinner with my friend Chef Sara Harvey at the helm. Treat yourself to a whole weekend with their spa package!

Looking for more casual eats and locally made crafts? Check out the cute little town of Union! Two Margaritas (360-898-2462) serves up mean post-dive drinks and classic Mexican-American dishes. Don’t miss out on Union City Market with their deli (it’s also run by Chef Sara!) and local art.

For gas, grocery stores, fast food, and all of life’s modern conveniences, head east to Belfair.

Interested in a Dive & Dine cruise on the Hood Canal? Read about the Pallin’ Around Charters trips to Pinnacle! Brought along your kayak? Check out this story on paddling with wildlife at Pleasant Harbor Marina in Brinnon.

More About Twanoh State Park

With an old-growth forest, more than 3000 feet of salt water shoreline, and a salmon-bearing river running through the campground, Twanoh is an enchanting place to spend a weekend. 25 standard campsites and 22 full hook-up sites for RVs are reservable May15-Sept 15 (first come, first serve the rest of the year). Check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife site for more info on shellfishing at this beach and when to expect salmon swims.

In our book, this campground also gets bonus points for having hot showers available, a boat launch with mooring buoys, and seasonal kayak rentals on the beach. As most Washington boaters know, you need a $7 daily launch permit + Discover pass OR an annual launch permit to use state park facilities. 200′ of moorage dock space and a pump out are available seasonally.

Don’t miss the hiking trail originating in the campground! As described by AllTrails, this is a “1.8-mile loop… generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 55 min to complete.”

History of Twanoh State Park

As one of Washington’s oldest state parks, Twanoh was primarily developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, it is one of the most intact examples of the National Park Service’s signature “rustic” style of architecture meant to complement the surrounding landscape.

The name of the park derives from the Native American Twana tribes, better known as the Skokomish, who made their home in the area. The park derives its name from the word tewa’ duxq. Twana, Twanoh or tewa’ duxq refers to the territory that encompasses the entire Hood Canal watershed. It is comprised of nine Villages of which the Skokomish is the largest and where most of the descendants of these villages reside today. The Skokomish people still practice their hereditary and treaty rights throughout this territory.

Washington State Parks