Bimini might be The Bahamas best-kept secret. Less than 50 miles away from the South Florida ports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Bimini offers Out Island relaxation at inner-island travel times.
The petite island—separated into two islands of North and South Bimini—is actually considered an Out Island of The Bahamas and has the assets to prove it with miles of white sand beaches, excellent fishing grounds, bountiful scuba diving sites, and a laidback, small island appeal.
A Surprising Summer Destination
Unlike the rest of The Bahamas and the Caribbean, high season in Bimini isn’t in the winter. Instead, high season in Bimini starts in the spring and runs through summer, when weather in the Gulf Stream is more favorable and the seas between South Florida and Bimini lay down flat—crossable by a small craft or even a center console. Many will leave their larger yachts in Bimini and commute back and forth on these peppier vessels that can run between Bimini and Florida in a matter or hours. But in the winter when the winds kick up, crossings slow down, and so too does Bimini.
Old Meets New
Bimini is drenched in history. Just say the name “Hemingway” to a local of a certain age and prepare to hear stories of the writer’s days spent fishing, fighting (in a ring) or drinking on the island. And many bars lay claim to fame that he did just that in their establishments. When Bimini Big Game Club, a supposed Hemingway haunt, reopened in 2010, it even brought in Hemingway’s offspring to add to the colorful history. And anyway who has been going to Bimini for long enough knows about the Compleat Angler, a Papa Hemingway hangout, which sadly burned down in 2006.
Bimini experienced a rebirth in recent years, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In addition to the renovated Big Game Club, a few other new marinas are making their mark on the island. There is Bimini Sands on South Bimini, and on the north end of North Bimini, Bimini Bay is a luxurious enclave offering private homes and resort rentals—and the largest marina in The Bahamas. Its two marinas, the main Fishermen’s Village Marina and the Megayacht Marina, provide 230 slips accommodating yachts up to 203 feet.
While the island is going through a renewal, old blends with new, and Bimini still has its laidback charm. Unfussy conch shacks—where the freshest, most delicious conch salad is made before your eyes—line the road in Bimini. Sweet, melt-in-your-mouth Bimini Bread, of course, is still the staple; the best comes from a local’s oven, so ask your dock master for a recommendation. Locals and visitors alike dance the night away at bars with sand-covered floors. And golf carts are still the preferred way to get around.
It could be easy to while away the day on a beach or at the pool in Bimini, after all, this is paradise—but that isn’t why most come here. If you ask sportfishing aficionados, it’s for the same reason Hemingway came here all these years ago, for the excellent fishing grounds that are just offshore. In addition to game fishing, fishing close to shore for bonefish is also a popular pastime in Bimini.
The divers in the group will enjoy seeing the underwater attractions in Bimini. These include Bimini Road—an underwater rock formation that doesn’t look to be natural or made by modern-day man, leading some to surmise that this is the remnants of the lost city of Atlantis. Reef and wreck diving is also excellent in Bimini, and another popular diversion is swimming with wild dolphins. Bimini Wild Dolphin Adventures will take you out to sea where dolphins are known to play, and has a high rate of coercion-free dolphin swimming contact.
Those looking for healing should venture to the aptly named Bimini Healing Hole, set in the mangroves of north Bimini. The mineral makeup of the water is said to have curative benefits, but even if you’re a non-believer, the guided kayak tour out to this pretty spot can be worth the journey.
And Bimini has enough bars offering up elixirs to really cure what ails you if the Healing Hole doesn’t do its trick!