Northwest Point

Thunder Dome

The remnants of the steel framed dome from the 1990s game show "Le tresor de Pago Pago"

The Thunder Dome/Chimney, Northwest Point, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Depending on which era you were born (or what music you like), the mere name of this dive site will result in the melodic lulls of Tina Turner’s voice in your head.  For me, I always feel the pounding of AC/DC’s Thunder Struck before I jump in for this dive!  But all music aside, this dive site is as unique in its underwater features as it is in the story behind it.  Back in 1993 in France, Jacques Antoine created a kind of “survivor” game show and had it filmed in beautiful Turks and Caicos.  The game show  entailed couples who had a number of challenges, including free-diving into a large steel framed dome in about 30feet/10m of water.  The show was called “Le Tresor de Pago Pago”, which means The Treasure of Pago Pago.  While the free divers were inside the dome, little “pearls” were being shot out of a machine and the free-diver who could capture the most pearls won the bounty.  Circling the outside of the dome, scuba diver mermaids with tanks on their back and spare regulators to share, offered the free-divers the opportunity to trade a pearl for a breath of air from their regulator.

Now, if you can remember the general concepts of scuba diving and pressure (for a review check out this article I wrote!), you may know that on a free dive or breath hold dive, the volume of air in your lungs stays the same no matter how deep you go; however, if you change that volume of air (by taking a breath at depth like from one of these mermaids, for example), as you swim up, that air will expand and can cause a lung over expansion injury or air embolism…which happened and very quickly ended this bright idea of a game show!  You can find clips of the original Thunder Dome commercials on YouTube here

Fortunately for us divers, the remnants of the Thunder Dome have resulted in a beautiful artificial reef that has become an absolute favourite for all divers in Turks and Caicos.  At present time, the dome has collapsed, but the pieces that remain are covered with healthy brain corals, colourful sponges and is the home to hundreds of Blennies.

Not only does this dive site have this cool underwater feature, but don’t forget to check out the wall.  If you take a compass bearing exactly west from the mooring you will hit the wall after about 150feet and a nice little pinnacle to help you navigate back.  When you get to the wall, go north at about 75 feet for a good few minutes swimming and you will discover a really neat cut in the wall called The Chimney.  It is completely open at about 85 feet and one person can go in at a time and ascend up it.  If you watch from above, the bubbles surfacing through this swim (up) through looks like smoke coming out of a chimney!  Please be very careful of your head and manage your buoyancy as you ascend.  The wall, the Chimney and the Dome can be done all in one dive, but just be prepared for a good swim!


A gorgeous wall dive with lots of marine life.

Amphitheatre, Northwest Point, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

This dive site has become one of my most favourite dive sites at Northwest Point.  From the mooring pin, swim directly west towards the wall and descend down to about 80ft to the amphitheatre. It is about 30 feet wide with a nice sandy bottom and full of pretty sea whips and colourful corals and sponges on the wall.  I like to go inside and hover looking out at the blue and just imagine a lovely little marine orchestra!  There are often Horse Eye Jacks swimming in circles just outside of the amphitheatre.  You can swim north or south from the amphitheatre and you will find an absolute abundance of Black Coral.  Always look closely on the branches to see if you can pick out a cute Sea Horse hanging on there.

Eel Garden

This is a really great dive site to explore especially as a refresher if you haven’t been diving in awhile.  The reason I say that is because at the top of the reef there is a huge sandy area, which works well for divers who may not have their buoyancy under perfect control just yet.  I prefer to explore the wall along the south side where you will actually come across a Turks and Caicos telecommunications cable running underwater, down the wall, and into the deep.  It works as a very good navigational tool as well. When you arrive back to the giant sandy area, take a look along the edges.  I discovered an absolutely dear Harlequin Pipe Fish inside a pretty little coral head here along with its wee little baby (the-size-of-your-fingernail-tiny!).

Blue’s Ledge

I love watching the White-Spotted Filefish change colours as they move.

Blue's Ledge, Northwest Point, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

I think this dive site is the one that captured my heart and drew me into the clutch of deep diving.  This isn’t a beginner’s dive if you are interested in venturing off the top of the reef.  This dive site has a sheer wall that has a second ledge of reef around 100-110 feet that drops off again to who knows where.  I’ve seen Hawksbill Turtles emerging from the deep here and stunning underwater topographical vistas.  Every time I do this dive, I want to go deeper and deeper…I foresee a Deep Tec diving certification in my near future!