The 10 Best Budget Islands in the Caribbean

by - February 27, 2010 See all photo galleries
Bahamas Island View

The Bahamas

Only about 50 miles from Florida, the Bahamas is close-to-home with year-round temperatures averaging around 80 degrees. Diving, fishing, boating, snorkeling, and kayaking are all ways to explore the cays and lagoons filled with sea life, while golfing, shopping, and gaming are plentiful for those sticking to the land. Historical trails and national parks, along with stellar birding opportunities, can add a cultural element to your trip.

Why It's a Good Value

U.S. dollars are accepted alongside the Bahamian dollar, so you don't need to think about currency exchange rates. Finding a reasonable fare to the Bahamas is easier now that low-cost carrier AirTran has added service to Nassau, creating competition for JetBlue. Delta has expanded service to Freeport, while Spirit also has limited service to San Salvador in addition to its Nassau and Freeport routes. WestJet began service last year between Toronto and Freeport.

Most flights arrive in either Nassau (New Providence/Paradise Island) or Freeport (Grand Bahama Island), and both areas offer affordable accommodation choices nearby, from hotels and villas to inns and resorts. You can also make connecting flights to the Out Islands from these airports, or find nearby ferry service.

The Islands of the Bahamas official tourism site has deals and packages.

Best Beaches

As an archipelago of 700 islands, there are almost too many beaches to choose from. Enjoy watersports or just a walk along the shore at Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island or explore the world's longest underground surveyed cave system across from Gold Rock Beach, part of Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island.

dee4cats enjoys Treasure Cay Beach, part of The Abacos in the Bahamas, saying, "The sand is pure sugar-white ... It is very clean ... The water is so clear you can easily see sand dollars on the bottom ... This is the place to go to kick back and relax."

maui2az's favorite beach is on Eleuthera, "a lovely ferry ride from Nassau. The island is a true vacation spot for those who want to get away from it all. The soft, long, wide, pink sand beach against the turquoise waters is a feast for the eyes ... Often the beach is vacant; heaven!"

(Photo: iStockphoto/javier fontanella)

Read comments or add your own insight!