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See allSeven Affordable, Under-the-Radar Beach Destinations

by , SmarterTravel Staff - January 12, 2009
Bahamas - Swimming Pig near Staniel Cay

Staniel Cay, Bahamas

There are more than 700 islands in the Bahamas, but the vast majority of travelers never get beyond the mega resorts of New Providence (home to Nassau), Paradise, and Grand Bahama islands. That means there's plenty of lightly trafficked "Out Islands" to choose from for an alternative beach getaway. For glassy, gem-colored water, condo-free beaches, affordable accommodations, and some the best sailing grounds in the world, head to Staniel Cay, a two-square-mile island within the Exuma Cays.

Most of the action on Staniel Cay centers around the friendly Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where yachters and landlubbers alike stay, dine, and congregate. Here you can rent 13- and 17-foot boats (from $95 per half day) which will allow you to cruise to some of the uninhabited islets nearby, see marine life like nurse sharks, and visit with the famous "swimming pigs" of Big Major Cay, which paddle out to sea in hopes of getting a handout from sailors. You can also rent snorkel gear ($20) to use at Thunderball Grotto, a natural fishbowl featured in the James Bond film "Thunderball." Diving, kayaking, and bonefishing are other options.

The Yacht Club offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom waterfront cottages and suites from $145 a night, room only. All-inclusive prices that cover three meals per day, airport transfers, and use of a 13-foot boat, snorkel gear, kayaks, and bicycle start at $162 per person per night.

(Photo: iStockPhoto/Amanda Langford)

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