It's a strange quirk of fate, but the best diving in the Caribbean is almost exclusively in the more out of the way corners of the West Indies. So, much as we love Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Barts and the rest of the big hitters, their diving just doesn't cut the mustard. In the interests of dive-rsity (sorry, couldn't help it) here are our Caribbean crackers.

coral reef, Bonaire

Best for: Coral, Bonaire & Curacao

The so-called ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are Dutch dependencies just off the coast of Venezuela. Concentrate on B and C for for astonishing coral gardens, often accessed directly from the beach. Look out for brain corals seven foot in diameter, and enormous stag horn corals. This is also a great place to try fluo diving - night diving with special UV torches and mask filters that makes coral and critters look like something from Avatar.

hammerhead shark

Best for: Sharks, The Bahamas

Dive operators in the Bahamas pioneered shark diving, and there are few experiences as thrilling as sitting on the ocean floor as huge bull, tiger or hammerhead sharks swim right up to you. Bimini is best for hammerheads, and Grand Bahama for tigers.

wreck diving in the British Virgin Islands

Best for: Wrecks, The British Virgin Islands

Inappropriately enough in somewhere renowned as a sailing destination, the BVIs (as they are universally known) also play host to a number of wrecks, including Rhone. Sunk in a hurricane in 1867, Rhone is one of the best known and sought after wreck dives in the world and starred - complete with killer moray eel - in the film The Deep.

reef sharks Grenada

Best for: Learners, Grenada

Warm waters, colourful coral gardens, shallow reefs and an excellent local dive operation make Grenada a perfect place for anyone to learn. When they do, the first dive should be to the world's first underwater dive sculpture park and artificial reef, built in 2006, which was the brainchild of artist and diver Jason deCaires Taylor after a hurricane wiped out a coral reef.

petit st vincent, st vincent & the grenadines

Best for: Dive Centres, Petit St Vincent

The whole island resort of PSV (another TLM - Three Letter Acronym) is pretty heavenly anyway, with a delicious barefoot luxury Indian Ocean vibe, but throw in a state of the art dive centre run by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and it gets even better.

tube worm, Dominica

Best for: Macro, Dominica

Dominica is something of a macro diver's mecca thanks to its volcanic silt covered ocean floor, large golden-orange sponges and hard and soft corals populated by a plethora of weird and wonderful reef life from yellow-headed jawfish to frogfish and ancient soft corals, some reckoned to be 150 years old.