The largest island in The Bahamas, Andros is an excellent budget destination. One of the Western Hemisphere's biggest unexplored tracts of land is still quite mysterious. Mostly flat, its 5,957 sq. km (2,300 sq. miles) are riddled with lakes and creeks, and most of the local residents -- who still indulge in fire dances and go on wild boar hunts on occasion -- live along the shore.

Andros is 161km (100 miles) long and 64km (40 miles) wide. Its interior consists of a dense tropical forest, truly rugged bush, and many mangroves. The marshy and relatively uninhabited west coast is called "the Mud," and the east coast is paralleled for 193km (120 miles) by the world's third-largest underwater barrier reef, which drops more than 167km (104 miles) into the Tongue of the Ocean, or TOTO. On the eastern shore, this "tongue" is 229km (142 miles) long and 1,000 fathoms (1.8km/1 mile) deep.

Lying 274km (170 miles) southeast of Miami and 48km (30 miles) west of Nassau, Andros actually comprises three major land areas: North Andros, Central Andros, and South Andros. In spite of its size, Andros is very thinly populated (its residents number only around 5,000), although the tourist population swells it a bit. The temperature range here averages from 72° to 84°F (22°-29°C).

You won't find the western side of Andros written about much in yachting guides -- tricky shoals render it almost unapproachable by boat. The east coast, however, offers kilometers of unspoiled beaches and is studded with little villages. Lodgings that range from simple guest cottages to dive resorts to fishing camps have been built here. "Creeks" (we'd call them rivers) intersect the island at its midpoint. Also called "bights," they range in length from 8 to 40km (5-25 miles) and are dotted with tiny cays and islets.

The fishing potential at Andros is famous, spawning records for blue marlin catches. Divers and snorkelers find that the coral reefs here are among the earth's most beautiful, and everyone loves the pristine beaches.

Warning: Be sure to bring along plenty of mosquito repellent.