One of Bahamas’
Great Island Getaways
By: Jennifer Harpaz
call came from my friend, “Hey, would you want to go to Bimini
for a week and stay on my boat I have docked there?” I didn’t
have to think twice. After a quick look at my day timer I said,
“Yes!” and was, suddenly, committed to an impromptu
vacation. I would soon find out how incredible this set of Bahamian
A short flight to
Bimini was a superb way to begin the adventure to this small and
quaint island. From Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, via Bimini
Island Air, we soared in a small eight-seater plane, blessed with
stunning views, from take off to landing. I was filled with excitement
flying through the huge puffy clouds towards the two islands that
would be my host for a week. As we approached the islands I noticed
the long, skinny boomer rang shape of North Bimini, as compared
to the smooth round shape of South Bimini. We landed at the airport
on South Bimini. It was then that the adventure truly began.
From the airport, I
needed to get to North Bimini where my friend’s boat was docked
at the Big Game Club, a busy marina where many boats from the U.S.
rest. At the airport, a few of us got into a local taxi. There are
land and water taxis on both islands. The land fare includes the
water taxi fee of $5. The short ride transported us to the water
taxis, which then transported us to North Bimini, where most of
the attractions are located. The water taxis would have taken me
to the Big Game Club but I choose to walk from the drop off instead.
You can’t get lost on North Bimini. There are only two roads,
the King’s, and the Queen’s highway. I walked a short
distance to the boat dock and found my friend’s boat, where
I was going to make home for the next week.
Snorkeling was the
activity of my trip. The waters there are some of the clearest I
had ever seen. We were able to see 50 – 100 feet under water,
with glimpses of the sandy bottom and colorful reefs. A few miles
off shore flows the Gulf Stream where the depth of the ocean drops
from 100 feet to thousands of feet. One sunny day we snorkeled in
the Gulf Stream, where, instead of snatching views of reef dwellers,
we experienced a light show hosted by the one and only Mother Nature,
as sunbeams cut through the warm waters in numerous different directions.
As you can imagine, the best part of snorkeling was the chance to
swim the reefs around the island. The reefs gave us a chance to
experience two unique formations, Three Sisters, off North Bimini,
and Atlantis Road. The Atlantis Road rock formation is thought to
be the uncovered “lost city” from the prehistoric civilization
of Atlantis. We had the opportunity to snorkel around the reefs
just off the beach as well. This experience is a must for the beginner
snorkeler. It offers plenty of sea life, and a boat wreck, all with
the security of close proximity to the shore. For scuba lovers,
there are some spectacular dive spots, such as Little Cavern and
Boating around the island also offers adventures in local sea life.
I had the special chance to be the guest of some intriguing hosts;
stingrays off the shore of a small island off South Bimini, and
a plethora of wild dolphins off North and South Bimini. Bimini is
noted for some of the most playful dolphins in the world. We ran
into plenty of spotted and bottlenose dolphins. As we approached
the dolphin’s playground, we realized that time spent with
wild dolphins is never a dull experience. These dolphins, like most,
took advantage of the presence of the boat, by swimming and jumping
in the boat’s wake. Once the boat stopped, the dolphins got
bored and swam off quickly. Fortunately, there were plenty of dolphins
to encounter for the duration of the day.
There is one convenient
attribute of Bimini to note. If the wind is rough and blowing, you
can be assured that one side of the island will be calm. You can
anchor your boat on the calm side, and head off to explore for the
day. The day we were there, the wind was blowing hard on the eastern
part of the island, but the western part was flat as glass. We were
not able to take the boat out, but walking and playing on the beach
was fulfilling. This beach is located on the Western side of the
north island, with plenty of sand to nestle in, large trees to catch
some shade under, and picnic benches, built by the locals, to utilize
near the shore. If you walk to the northern part of North Bimini
Island, there is an intimate park, with beautiful trees and a picnic
area, a nice variation from the rest of the mostly treeless island.
If you have a day to
spend on the island and decide not to partake in boating, you should
consider some of the island’s other activities. One possibility…you
could walk the entire island. On North Bimini it may take a few
hours to walk from one tip to the other. You should bring plenty
of water, to combat the potential level of heat. You could also
stop into a few tourist attractions, such as the Hemingway Museum,
Bimini Museum, or Open Air Market.
Pictures and stories
of “Papa” Ernest Hemingway adorn the Hemingway Musuem.
They tell stories of how he made Bimini one of his favorite getaways.
He frequented the Complete Angler, a local bar where the Musuem
is located. Visit one of his homes and see where he wrote a good
portion of his books, To Have and Have Not, and Islands in the Stream.
At the museum we learned that one of the main reasons Hemingway
loved this island is because Bimini has long been know as the big-game-fishing
capital of the Bahamas. Deep-sea anglers find bliss here, for in
its waters roam great warriors such as marlin, swordfish, giant
tuna, wahoo, sailfish, and bonefish.
If you plan to visit
the Bimini Museum we highly suggest that you find out when the museum
will be open. This is the Bahamas! The doors may not open during
“normal” business hours. As the Bahamians would say,
“Relax mon”. Indeed, guests of Bimini must remember
to relax and go with the flow. A superb place to do this is at the
Open Air Market, which has some unique shopping opportunities from
local Bahamian cloths, liquors, and other souvenirs.
After re-boarding the
boat, we continued to spend the week snorkeling and relaxing. We
spent almost every night on the boat, except Wednesday night, the
night North Bimini, particularly Bailey Town, comes alive. The locals
and the tourists get together for some zesty fun. We started the
night eating dinner at the most popular restaurant, the Red Lion
Tavern. The food and service were decent. They have some of the
best cracked conch around, in my opinion. I made my meal from cracked
conch and conch chowder. After a pleasant dinner we headed to the
Complete Angler for some Ring Toss, a locals’ bar game, and
dancing to the tunes of local musicians. The music is always up
beat and can make anyone want to jump up and down. We danced past
with my friend and his impressive sailboat made staying in Bimini
easy for me. For those without friends on Bimini, there are plenty
of nice hotels, including Bimini Big Game Club, Bimini Blue Water,
and Sea Crest Hotel. On South Bimini the Bimini Beach Club is the
place to stay. I was able to use all facilities at the Big Game
Club, which included a large pool, pleasant restaurant and bar,
and plenty of friendly people.
If you have a friend
with a boat, don’t hesitate to take him/her up on any offers
to visit Bimini. It’s an enjoyable way to travel around Bimini.
Bimini’s close proximity to the United States, and lack of
crowds make it a fantastic place for a relaxing getaway. At the
same time, the islands’ outstanding boating, diving and snorkeling,
its unique history, and some of the best fishing in the world, makes
it an amazing adventure destination.
Bimini Island Air - 954-938-8991
North Bimini hotels and lodges
Bimini Big Game Club - 800-737-1007
Bimini Blue Water - 242-347-3166
Sea Crest Hotel - 242-247-3071
South Bimini hotels and lodges
South Bimini is the Bimini Beach Club - 242-347-3500
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