First, the bad news: The twin beach-frosted archipelagos due north of Hispaniola have been officially discovered by the rest of the world (thanks to Hollywood newlyweds Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner).
Now, the good news: Few divers, fewer tourists and probably no Tinseltown glitterati venture beyond the main island of Providenciales ("Provo" to locals) despite a great network of small planes. And there are seven other islands including diving hot spots like Grand Turk and South Caicos and dozens of unspoiled cays out there.
South Caicos, after a five year hiatus, has been newly reopened to divers. With a wall that drops to 7,000 feet curling around the island, it's no wonder that South Caicos is known as the country's big fish capital.
Across the Turks Island Passage off Grand Turk from January through March, you can snorkel with migrating humpbacks and their curious calves.
Provo has rightfully earned a reputation as a first-class diving destination, particularly at Northwest Point Marine National Park where the wall starts at a mere 35 feet, but sheers off to more than a mile. Mellower sites are found in the sheltered waters of Princess Alexandra National Park, where a 14-mile-long barrier reef guards the pillow-soft sand of Grace Bay. And you might even spot a celebrity JoJo, the friendly wild dolphin (whom did you think we meant?).
Destination Primer Average Water Temp: Summer, 82-87°F; winter 72-78°F
Average Viz: 60-120 feet
What to Wear: Summer, shorty; winter, 3-5 mm and hood