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The Bahamas, just one hundred miles from Florida, comprise a 100,000 square-mile archipelago with over 700 islands dotting the 500 miles of blue water. Though like many island destinations in wintertime they can be crowded, there's more than enough white sand to go around for everyone.

One may as well start with the official website for the islands of the Bahamas (tel. 888/884-0701; www.bahamas.com). It's a good place to get an overview of potential islands to visit, what to do (other than sit on the beach) once you're there, and the like. There are many vacation packages listed, but it's not easy to determine pricing at a glance -- you must put in your travel parameters -- which makes it tricky to comparison shop. When you can search by vacation package or current hotel deals, none reveal pricing so easily -- it might be best for those who have a particular destination in mind. In terms of scope, though, it's a great place that covers the basics.

Vacation Travel Mart (tel. 800/288-1435; www.vacmart.com) has two specials to Nassau for the fall. The first is at the Nassau Beach Hotel (www.vacmart.com/ct/detail.cfm/HID=1130/I_ID=NAS), near the Crystal Palace Casino and five minutes from the airport. All rooms and suites have a balcony or patio and most have ocean views. The deal is priced from $269 for three nights, air-inclusive from Miami, five nights from $379 or seven nights from $479. Other departures are available for additional prices of course, everything from New York to Dallas and Detroit. Travel is valid through December 31, 2005 but you must book by November 11; some blackout dates may apply. (Incidentally, the Nassau Beach Hotel is a reasonably priced place and has seen lots of traffic; the New Providence wing has recently been renovated so it's a good idea to inquire about that).

For a slightly more upscale trip, Vac Mart has a special at the Wyndham Nassau resort (www.vacmart.com/ct/detail.cfm/HID=710/I_ID=NAS), right off Cable Beach, the most spacious private beach in the Bahamas. Rooms have private balconies and the resort itself also includes the Crystal Palace Casino. Air-inclusive fares start from $419 for three nights, based on Miami flights, five nights from $589 and seven nights from $769. This deal, however, is valid from January 6-February 8, 2006 but you must book by October 31.

Orbitz (tel. 888/656-4546; www.orbitz.com) is offering some Bahamas deals. One package at the RIU Paradise Island is priced from $497, including flight on American Airlines from Miami, based on a Monday in November departure. It's a three-night, four-day stay, and RIU has all you'd expect form a beachfront property: a pool, Jacuzzi, in-room mini bar, private balconies, gym and sauna, etc. At least a half dozen other offers are also available, including the Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort (www.orbitz.com/App/shared/pagedef/results/hotelDetails.jsp?z=1e87&r=ks&z=1e89&r=ku&lastPage=interstitial), priced from $428 for a Monday in November flight from American Airlines in Miami for a three-night, four-day stay. The resort features a championship caliber golf course, freshwater pools, indoor and outdoor restaurants, entertainment, and so forth.

Gate1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a handful of trips to Nassau/Paradise Island, including the Nassau Palm from $329 for departures in November and December (the last departure being December 15). The deal includes airfare and three-nights accommodations. There are over a half dozen deals listed on this site, and if you are flexible you can get a great price -- for example, those who can depart on a Thursday can take advantage of the Nassau Palm deal. A three-nights stay at the Paradise Island Harbour Resort (www.gate1travel.com/bahamas/nassau-vacation-4-06.asp) will cost $519 (cash discount, as all prices on Gate 1 are) for Thursday departures between November 3 and December 15. The prices I based on flights out of New York City. If you're interested in a longer stay, try an eight-day, seven-night trip from $939, also based on airfare from New York to Nassau, for the same Hotel -- Paradise Island Harbour Resort (www.gate1travel.com/bahamas/nassau-vacation-8-06.asp). Depart on a Sunday from November 6 through December 11 and pay cash to receive these prices.

Sunburst Vacations (tel. 800/786-2877; www.sunburstvacations.com) currently has a special for five-star accommodations called Atlantis Paradise Island, from a $699 Boston starting point. It's a four-day, three-night trip at a resort that adopts the theme of the Lost Continent of Atlantis, with a saltwater swimming lagoon, ten swimming pools, five waterslides, a golf course, fitness center, and of course, a white sand beach. Other departures are possible for additional fees, and the deal is valid on travel through December 15, 2005.