The Temple of Doom, Palau
The mysterious and remote archipelago of Palau is full of stunning scenery, both landscapes and underwater scenes. Jellyfish and corals, reefs and caves: it seems that nature has gathered in one place everything that can bring life to an ocean, mixed together and poured it out in an unusual combination. We have recently shown you the amazing Jellyfish Lake. After that we also briefly visited the reef of Blue Holes: it is the spot consisting of four vertical wells about 10 meters in diameter. At the depth of 20 meters, they merge into one spacious cave, having only two exits. And it is the place where the ominous Temple of Doom is hidden! Last time we just mentioned it, but now we will take a deep dive into this cave!
At first glance, the Temple of Doom is a small and inconspicuous cave. It is quite easy to get in here: a narrow entrance with a diameter of about one and a half meters, the so-called "seventh", an additional hole in a complex structure of the Blue Holes reef, is located at a depth of about 25 meters. If you rise from the bottom, you need to focus on the northern part of the main hall.
That's how the main entrance to the Temple of Domm looks like:
A few meters to the left of the main entrance, there is another additional gap that the most curious and adventure-seeking divers can squeeze into. But you should better use this gap not for entering, but on the way back as an exit since it will be clearly visible out of the darkness against the light. In case you try to enter through it, you will have to squeeze from the bright hall of the Blue Hole into the frightening darkness of the cave, which can be psychologically more difficult.
The route to the Temple of Doom is considered difficult and is not recommended for divers without experience. According to some reports, three Japanese divers once died here, and perhaps that's when the unofficial name was given to this small cave. Some people also call it the Death Hole. For whatever reason, but now only certified divers with special equipment and the "Cave Diver" level are allowed to swim here.
The popularity and closed nature of such places is the best advertisement! And so, not properly trained divers are also eager to explore the legendary cave. For them, it is only possible with the escort of qualified guides who are ready to take full responsibility. But for us, there is no danger at all: the AirPano virtual tour allows you to visit these gloomy places without risking your life!
We descend to the Temple through that very "seventh hole" and squeeze into the passage through the coral clumps surrounding us. The horizontal relief suddenly changes to a steep vertical drop. A beam of light from the lantern hardly breaks through the complete darkness, and suddenly, this black silence is interrupted by some kind of movement. Something flies by and right above your head, making you shudder, and it is not immediately clear that these are just harmless and living inhabitants of the depths. There are no corals here, but cranks, stingrays, humphead wrasses, lionfish, and other exotic tropical fish happen to swim here. It's okay, except that at first glance the cave looks uninhabited, and you don't expect to find any activity in it.
The Temple of Doom is a large hall measuring a few dozen meters in diameter. The upper part, the ceiling, is at a depth of about 20 meters, and the floor is at a depth of 35-40 meters. In different places, there are small branches with small caves and niches inside them. The exit from the Temple of Doom is not visible from the main hall: it is hidden by a vertical drop that can confuse inexperienced divers. But if you hang a couple of lanterns along the way, it will be easier to navigate.
On a plate at the far end of the Temple of Doom, there is a well-preserved skeleton of a large turtle. It serves as a kind of a memorial that warns all curious people against the desire to disturb the peace of the dead. It remains a mystery whether the animals came to this place to die of their own free will, or passed away without air, unable to find a way out...
At the main entrance of the Temple of Doom, there is a rope stretching inside: it does not lead to the skeleton of a turtle, but to the deepest part of the cave. And therefore the path along the rope is not of great interest for divers, at least on the first visit.
If you spend more time here, you will be able to find the remains of several other turtles in different corners of the cave, which are worse preserved and look just like heaps of bones.
However, our oxygen supplies are already running out, and it's time to go back. This is how the exit from the Temple of Doom looks like, leading divers to the bottom of the Blue Holes reef.
In this dive, we were accompanied by an experienced guide Fabio Esposito and returned to the safer areas of the Blue Holes without a single incident. And so, now you can safely enjoy this journey with AirPano panoramas!
The first panorama of this virtual tour is the spherical image with a turtle skeleton; this is the main goal of everyone who has chosen to dive into the Temple of Doom. Next, we show how to consistently get from the surface of the water to the skeleton of a large turtle. First, you will see an impressive bird's eye view of the Blue Holes, then you will dive into the Blue Holes reef itself. Afterwards, you will get to the entrance to the Temple of Doom and then finally, travel through the cave to the turtle.
Photos by Oleg Gaponyuk
16 April 2021