While many well-known islands inhabit prominent spots on the average bucket list, there’s another group of outposts that only the truly island-savvy know about. These under-the-radar islands have sea views and ocean breezes, but are blessedly lacking in crowds, fabricated attractions and recreation “ambassadors” leading the Macarena. Even in rough economic times, it’s important to take a break from the “real world” and treat yourself to some relaxation and it’s preferable to do so on a warm beach. You just have to look a little harder and a little off the beaten path to find affordable destinations.
15. Staniel Cay, Bahamas, The Yacht Club
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 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 to use at Thunderball Grotto, a natural fishbowl featured in the James Bond film “Thunderball.” The Yacht Club offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom waterfront cottages and suites. All-inclusive prices that cover three meals per day, airport transfers, and use of a 13-foot boat, snorkel gear, kayaks, and bicycle are a great bargain.