Whether you're a 'been there, done that, where's next?' kind of traveller, or simply like the idea of exploring beyond the norm, we're here to bring you all the best diving 'Deep Cuts' - destinations that fly under the radar and yet offer some of the best scenery, diving and holiday experiences around. Having canvassed the globe, here are five of our favourites…
The Azores, Portugal
When I say Portugal, you say golf, right? Wrong! Cast aside your preconceptions of Portugal - it is in fact home to a group of islands that offer perhaps the best diving in Europe, the Azores. And it's all about the pelagics in terms of the marine life here, from mantas and mobulas to blue sharks and even whale sharks if you're very lucky. Rest your head on dry land and dive the sites local to the islands or stay aboard a luxury liveaboard and travel out to some of the offshore sites, where the diving is truly world class. Exclusive to Original Diving is Water & Wind, a fabulous new luxury liveaboard, with which we will be running set departures throughout summer 2016.
Socorro Island, Mexico
Experienced divers looking for an adrenaline fix beneath the waves should look no further than the Revillagigedo Archipelago off the west coast of Mexico. These unassuming islands in the middle of the ocean look like little more than pieces of rock jutting out of the water but the sheer cliffs below are home to giant mantas, moray eels, white tip sharks and Galapagos sharks, among others. Strong currents and little protection mean diving around Socorro is not for the faint hearted but, as our very own Charlie Everitt will attest to, there is some of the most challenging and rewarding diving to be found here.
While most people are familiar with Malta, the neighbouring island of Gozo is rarely found in the travel headlines. And yet this little island packs quite the holiday punch. Its underwater landscape is typified by caves (Blue Hole, anyone?), wartime wrecks and colourful reefs teeming with fish life, while to land there is plenty in the way of ancient ruins and traditional villages to explore. Add to that a selection of lovely boutique hotels and you're onto a winner.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Picture the palm tree-fringed islands, paradise-esque hotels and crystal clear azure waters of Bora Bora and Moorea. And now picture all that without the crowds. The undeveloped gem of Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus Archipelago and one of the largest atolls in the world. If you look at it on a map, however, it is the tiniest speck in a vast ocean - the phrase 'getting away from it all' springs to mind. Divers can expect to see hordes of turtles, dolphins, sharks and rays, and the Tiputa Pass is considered one of the best dives in the world - time to get the bucket list out.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Indonesia may not be the most off-the-beaten-track diving destination on the planet but Raja Ampat, in the West Papua province, is certainly up there. Comprising over 1500 small islands, not only is the scenery quite spectacular but the diving here is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Few other places can lay claim to having extraordinary coral, marine and macro life in the same vicinity. In fact, Raja Ampat is home to the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. And if that hasn't swayed you, this region is also home to some of the very best luxury liveaboards around - the best way to experience all that Raja Ampat has to offer.
So there you have it, our favourite under the radar dive destinations. If you'd like more information or are interested in a diving holiday, please get in touch.