And I’m sure at this point you are asking Where? Even if you have been to the Bahamas, odds are very high that you haven’t been to the “Gateway to the Caribbean.”
If you are the traveler that likes those “sleeper destinations” where amenities and decent lodging is available, yet there is plenty of space to explore (or lose yourself), Bimini should be on your list.
In fact, if you are the Ernest Hemingway type, this is the perfect island for you! Hemingway spent much time here, staying at The Compleat Angler. While the hotel has been destroyed by fire, most of Bimini retains its authentic feel that is reflected in Hemingway’s writings like “Old Man and the Sea.”
Hemingway isn’t the first famous person to live on Bimini. Ponce de Leon scoured the shores, mangroves, and highlands in search of the Fountain of Youth. While it wasn’t discovered, there a certain calmness and ease on the island that makes you feel younger, more refreshed. Perhaps that mojo rubbed off on another visitor – Jimmy Buffett.
Bimini is just shy of 50 miles off the coast of Florida. While you probably could hitch a ride on one of 10,000 sport fishing boats that will ply the gulf stream between Miami and Bimini, I would recommend a more conventional approach.
FRS Caribbean is the primary ferry service operating daily to Bimini. For just under $200, you can get roundtrip transportation from Miami, and arrive in about 2 hours.
If air is more appealing, Silver Airways operates regional jet service from Miami, and Tropic Ocean operates seaplane service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Both range from $300 to $500 for roundtrip service.
If you are a US or Canadian citizen, just bring your passport. Other countries need to check with your consulate for details.
Staying on the Island
Unless you are looking for a dive, or intent on squatting along the beach, the best choices in my opinion are Resorts World, Hilton, Bimini Big Game Club, and Bimini Sands.
Resorts World is located on North Bimini near the apex peninsula that extends over to East Bimini. They offer very nice condo, cottage, and villa lodging, ranging from studio to 5 bedroom properties. Free trams and shuttles take you to the marina, casino, beach, and shopping areas, as well into downtown Bailey and Alicetown. The beach area is standard fare for resorts, complete with water sports, jetskis, lounge chairs, umbrellas etc. Prices start as $250 per night.
Hilton at Resorts World was completed summer 2016. Its a fresh and inviting structure, located within Resorts World, and houses the new casino. It also functions as the main terminal for shuttles and trams. Onsite restaurants, coffee bar, nightclub, and more, offer all that you have come to expect in the Hilton line. Prices start at $275.
Bimini Big Game Club began has a supper club, and eventually moved to its current location to expand to a renowned resort and marina. Dining here is still as popular as before, and the resort services have kept pace with its reputation. Its an older property, but that doesn’t reflect on the quality or service found here. Its located near the southern end of North Bimini, in Alicetown. Not far from the haunts of Ernest Hemingway and other famous visitors. There is a pool area at the resort, and 2 blocks west is Radio Beach, so named as its location was ideal to pick up radio signals from the United States. Prices start at $189.
Bimini Sands is located on South Bimini, not far from the airport, and just north of Port Royale. Its effectively a condo structure built around a private marina, with about half also facing the open ocean. Clean and quiet, its location is perfect for those who enjoy quiet time on deserted beaches, or exploring the many paths within the adjacent nature preserve. Prices start at $280.
I viewed all four properties in November of 2016, and found them
to be of good value for your money. While many travelers are looking for low budget rates, I wouldn’t recommend any other locations at this time. If you have visited Bimini, and have input on other locations, I would love to hear from you.
Thing to Experience
First, going to Bimini and not going fishing, is akin to going to the North Pole and not visiting Santa. Except the fishing is real, and its epic! The gulf stream flows right between Florida and Bimini, and the coral reefs are teaming with life. An abundance of fish await your bait. whether you are a dock fisherman, or deep s
ea sport, you are bound to have a great time.
As for me, on my next visit, I’m going to look up Ansil Saunders, and spend a day fly fishing. Ansil is a renowned guide who has been awarded for his skill and service. Ansil first hit the world scene when he was the guide for Martin Luther King Jr, who was on respite on Bimini, just prior to receiving the Noble Peace Prize. Ansil hasn’t stopped since, and everyone gets the same world class service, no matter your station. Spending a day with Ansil would be fine enough without catching anything, but his reputation indicates I’ll catch plenty.
Second, book a guided tour with the Resorts World staff. They will spend 4 hours with you, visiting both islands, and showing the local haunts, historic locations, mythical places, and more. It will set the base for what to do, and where else you might want to visit over the duration of your stay. You’ll get more value if its a private tour. Plan on visiting the well allegedly investigated as the fountain of youth by Ponce de Leon.
Third, go on a diving excursion. They are less expensive here than found in other international marine areas. You can snorkel in the mangrove areas, or full on SCUBA on the edge of the reef. An international shark research center is located on Bimini, and perhaps you might find the courage to be involved with one of their studies of the Lemon Shark!
Fourth, Find yourself a local Conch Shop. They’ll treat you right, serving up conch fritters, fried conch, and other dishes made of conch. Its a mainstay of the Bimini diet.
Fifth, arrange for a trip out to the Healing Hole. A natural subsurface well, that percolates mineral laden fresh water into the sea water above. Its well hidden among the mangroves, and missed by Ponce de Leon. Clearly its not a fountain of youth, but the mineral content is high enough to have some health benefits. Before the end of the last ice age, this natural well would have been above water. If you have ever visited Soda Springs, Idaho, or Montezuma’s Well in Arizona, this would have been quite similiar. Some even speculate that the well was used by the Antlantean people written about by Plato (Same people who presumably occupied the city of Atlantis.) Couple this with the modern spirituality movement who have declared Bimini and the Healing Hole as a energy vortex, and you have reason to at least visit the location. (Sedona Arizona is the epicenter of said vortexes.)
Sixth, Go visit Ashley Saunders and his Dolphin House. If you do the tour as mentioned in #2, you will visit this location. If you have chosen to forego the tour, at least make time to visit this iconic house. Ashley Saunders is a poet laureate in the Bahamas, who has written a two volume history of the Bimini islands. In 1993, he began building a home that could withstand the harshest of hurricanes. The walls are thick and the home constructed of recycled materials. These items come available when other buildings are destroyed in the storms, and then gathered by Saunders to further his expansions. His artistic side is demonstrated in the extensive murals and designs on every wall of the property. Named the Dolphin House after his love of Dolphins, and a Dolphin tile mosiac above the doors of his museum and gift shop. The second floor is full of mosiacs made of shells, tiles, and license plates from all 50 US states. Donations are appreciated.
There is much more to do and see on Bimini, and I hope you discover them as you experience the six I have listed. Its certainly a place that draws you in, with its own unique flair and mystique.
If you are ready to visit, reach out by email, as I would be happy to discuss more about Bimini.