Under the Sea: Scuba While You Still Can
“Scuba is an exciting extreme sport where your life depends on your skills and ability to take care of your equipment,” says Kathy Zuk owner of Rogue Scuba.
That might be some peoples worst nightmare, but the underwater beauty of Southern Oregon is a pretty solid trade-off, making scuba a must for the waning days of summer.
Zuk says the biggest challenges are really just having the time to get to the locations.
“The Smith and Illinois rivers are great because the water is clear and they’re free of powerboats,” she says.
There are a few specific places that Zuk particularly enjoys here in Southern Oregon.
She says The Swinging Bridge or Bubble Room are the most fun.
“The water is clear, you can get some depth and if you go up from the hole you can go under a ledge and up into the bottom of a waterfall,” says Zuk. “If you’re diving during the right time of year than you can even be in the water while the salmon are running. That is a very memorable experience.”
To get there follow the Illinois River Road for around 11 miles until you’ll see the bridge below on your left.
Another favorite of hers is Early Hole on the Smith River. Just off highway 197 near the end of Charlie’s drive, the Smith is renowned for its crystal clear water.
“It’s definitely on the cold side,” says Zuk. “But the slow current makes it a really comfortable dive for beginners and if the water is high enough you can also get some depth.”
While weather on the Southern Oregon coast is notoriously fickle, which can mean that diving conditions are often less than spectacular, it is still a prime location.
“A lot of my instructors who are into spearfishing put in on Harris beach to go out to the reef there,” says Zuk. “It’s a rich location if you ‘re lucky enough to have good visibility.”
For those who are interested, but unqualified and under-equipped, Rogue Scuba offers a discover scuba course where you get into the pool with an instructor and get a feel for how to use the equipment and what it’s like to be under water.
“It’s only two hours and $30 and you get to determine whether you want to pursue the sport before committing to a certification class,” says Zuk.
Photo Credit: Lia Klugman