Divers, take note: Grand Turk, the southernmost island in the Turks and Caicos, houses an exciting underwater secret that is 7,000 feet deep! The Grand Turk Wall is the deepest part of the West Caicos Walls—an area of sea walls, canyons and pinnacles in the ocean. Divers from across the world come to visit this “Grand Canyon of the Caribbean” to witness a remarkable underwater world and ecosystem. Visit the sleepy island of Grand Turk and make this a beach and scuba diving vacation to remember.
Exploring Grand Turk Wall
Divers call this underwater drop-off “the Wall” and it’s one of the most popular diving sites in the Caribbean. To get there, start off in Cockburn Town, the quiet capital of the Turks and Caicos. From here, you can charter a boat on Grace Bay or Governor’s Beach to get to the drop-off. Blue Water Divers and Oasis Divers are two good diving shops that offer equipment, excursions and scuba diving certifications. There are over 40 dive sites you can choose from that lead to the Grand Turk Wall—in fact, it stretches along the entire leeward side of the island. The wall is even more remarkable because of its geography. The water off of Governor’s Beach, for example, is shallow and bright turquoise, much like a swimming pool. But if you walk about 1,000 feet out from the beach—about a five-minute boat ride—you will suddenly plunge a quarter mile into the ocean.
Diving the Wall is like a journey through various ecosystems and even through time. Corals, sea sponges, sea turtles and groupers inhabit the upper portion of the wall. You can swim right through Austin’s Reef and from there either go deeper or turn back with the current towards shore. Deeper down, visibility gets less clear and the marine wildlife stranger. Many sections of the wall that have existed undisturbed for thousands of years.
Divers who don’t feel ready to dive into an abyss will love exploring the abundant marine life in the shallow waters near Grand Turk Wall. Novices can start off with a simpler dive at Gibbs Cay, an uninhabited island a few minutes offshore. The water here is shallow, crystal-clear and populated by gentle stingrays and barracudas. Stingrays freely interact with humans here, which is part of the reason the cay’s nickname is “Stingray City”. Gibbs Cay is only seven acres long but features a beautiful, crowd-free beach with pink-white sands. Tours like the Big Blue Collective depart from Cockburn Town to Gibbs Cay daily.
Staying in Cockburn Town, Grand Turk
The Bohio Dive Resort in Cockburn Town offers luxurious accommodations as well as diving classes and excursions around the island. Beach bums can sunbathe on Governor’s Beach or swim in the warm, clear water. Stingrays and barracudas are attracted by the boat motors and are frequent here. Just be sure to stay away from the part where the water turns deep blue or watch for the large pole sticking out of the water—that is where the drop-off begins. Cockburn Town is one of the oldest settlements in the Caribbean and the site on which Christopher Columbus supposedly first made landfall. You’ll find plenty of history here, along with a few charming gift shops and restaurants that feature authentic Caribbean drink and cuisine.