Bahamas Out Islands: Bimini, with Video Tours
Bimini is one of the “Out Islands” of the Bahamas and is the closest one to the continental U.S. In fact, the island lies just 53 miles off the coast of Miami, Florida. Actually, Bimini is made up of two islands – South Bimini and North Bimini –joined by shallow flats. The island was made famous by Hemingway, as it was one of his favorite haunts.
Bimini is very close to the Gulf Stream, and just offshore, there’s a prodigious drop-off. For this reason, it’s a favorite with scuba divers as they have the opportunity to not only explore the wall of the crevasse, but also to search reefs and wrecks. One of the most famous wrecks here is the SS Sapona, a ship used by rum runners during prohibition. Because the wreck is in such shallow water, both snorkelers and divers can enjoy it. Another hot spot for divers is the Bimini Road, which appears to be the ruins of an ancient highway now resting at the bottom of the ocean. Many cite is as evidence of the lost continent of Atlantis. The amazing clarity of the sea surrounding Bimini makes it an even more appealing dive site.
With the inherent current of the Gulf Stream comes a variety and abundance of game fish. Anglers from all over the world come to Bimini to battle marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and tuna. Bottom fishing for grouper, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks, blacktip sharks, snapper, and amberjack is also popular. Bimini’s most famous fish, however, is probably the bonefish. The flats around the island are so productive that Bimini is touted as the “Bonefish Capital of the World.”
North Bimini has Alice Town and King’s Highway, the main road through town, where practically all the island’s businesses are located. These include shops, restaurants, and hotels. South Bimin has mostly private vacation home and villa rentals, but there are a few hotels, including Bimini Reef Club and Marina, where rooms start at $79, with breakfast included. Bimini Sands is also on South Bimini, and their rooms start at $90 per night.
Accommodations on North Bimini include Bimini Big Game Fishing Club, Bimini Ocean Villas, and Bimini Bay Resort and Marina. Prices for these range from $150-$550 per night. If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to stay and one that has lots of local flavor, book a room at Big John’s Conch Shell Bar and Hotel for just $125 per night. In the heart of Alice Town is Sea Crest Hotel and Marina, where rooms are just $99 a night. Even cheaper lodging can be found at Bimini Blue Water Resort, where rooms are $90 a night and include dockside services and 32 slips. You can actually enjoy a pretty cheap Bahamas vaction on Bimini.
How should you spend your vacation time on Bimini? The island is famous for its glorious beaches and crystal turquoise water. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and nature walks are popular, as well as the fishing, of course. Don’t expect the glitz and bustle of Nassau or Freeport here – this island is totally laid back and casual, and no one ever seems to get in a hurry here. Some of the beaches are practically deserted most of the time. You can also schedule a dolphin encounter or visit the Hemingway museum.
Dining on Bimini is awesome! C. J.’s is a small restaurant with bar stools and tables that serves mostly fried seafood, especially cracked conch. They’re also the only place on the island where you can find ice cream. Meals here are usually under $10. Captain Bob’s is right on King’s Highway and serves breakfast and lunch for under ten bucks. At the north end of Alice Town is the Red Lion, where you can get a meal for under $20. The Anchorage serves lobster and other local seafood, homemade bread, and desserts for under $20. For more upscale dining, visit Casa Lyon at Bimini Bay Resort, or Sabor, where French-Mediterranean cuisine is served.
How do you get to Bimini? South Bimini has a small airport, and several charter airlines fly to the island from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. The flight takes only 20-30 minutes. Many boats and yachts also make the short trip from Florida. To enter the island, you’ll need a passport and a return ticket, and you’ll have to go through customs.
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