hr

Top Ten Things To Do In Bimini, Hemingway's "Islands In The Stream"


BiminiMany of you are heading south to get out of the cold weather and one of the big destinations will be the Bahamas. We have cruised these islands extensively and it is aboslutely as beautiful, tranquil and idyllic as people say it is. My particular favorite is Bimini Island. Sure, there are prettier islands, more interesting, islands, more exciting islands, but this little spit of sand really captured my heart and I try to go back there any time I can. There are so many things to do in Bimini and it is so close to the US! Bimini is the westernmost district of the Bahamas that sits 50 miles due east of Miami. The 3 tiny islands of the district are North Bimini, South Bimini, and East Bimini. Its history is full of characters and legend from Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain of Youth to whiskey-running bootleggers during US Prohibition to Ernest Hemingway's enjoyment of its tranquility and beauty. These historic characters knew what we know. Bimini may be tiny, but it is full of unique and wonderful experiences. Here is a top 10 list of what to do in Bimini:

1. Two "major roads" - no traffic, no rush

North Bimini, the primary and largest of the 3 islands, has two dusty little roads, The King's Highway and Queen's Road running parallel along its 7-mile length. Even though there is the odd car or two, golf carts are the preferred mode of transport. Strolling leisurely down the now slightly scruffy King's Highway in Alice Town, you won't find a traffic light but you will find an interesting mix of little shops, a few ruins, bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, a bank and liquor stores, all housed in colorful little Bahamian buildings. The locals will quickly engage in a friendly back and forth with tourists and extend an invite to eat or drink at their favorite watering hole somewhere along the route. The pace is leisurely, the atmosphere friendly and the scenery is breathtaking.

2. Bimini Bread, a heavenly indulgence

Taste of Heaven, the local bakery across from the Bimini Big Game Club, has the best Bimini bread according to the locals I met during my quest for this slightly sweet white bread similar to Hawaiian bread but much better. They start the baking process at 4 am and by 8 am, when they open their doors, locals line up for their daily fix. If you happen to miss out at the bakery, Miss Barbara will fix you up! She bakes it right in the kitchen in her home. Ask any local where Miss Barbara's house is and they will send you up to the little yellow house. Just knock on the door. This bread is literally "heavenly"! It is melt-in-your-mouth good, light, buttery and slightly sweet and best enjoyed warm from the ovens. It will melt any resistance you might have to this calorie-laden guilty pleasure! (Bimini bread recipe)

Taste of Heaven

3. Diving

SCUBA diving in Bimini is like exploring in an aquarium. The water is so clear, the sea life so abundant and the coral reefs so colorful, one can easily lose oneself in this wonder world. Dive spots in Bimini range from shallow reefs and shipwrecks to deep wrecks and walls dropping into the abyss of the Gulfstream waters. The corals are healthy and vibrant. It's not uncommon for visitors to see wild spotted dolphin, Loggerhead turtles, Southern stingrays, reef sharks, nurse sharks, and barracudas, along with many game fish and tropical fish. Divers also come to Bimini to explore the fascinating limestone formations, called Bimini Road that some believe to be the Lost Continent of Atlantis.

4. Fresh Conch salad, a Bahamian delicacy

The Bahamian Islands are known for their wonderful fresh conch salad. It is made with Queen Conch, a large edible sea snail that tastes kind of like calamari. It is a little chewy and on its own does not have any distinct taste but prepared properly with the right ingredients, it's the ideal dish. Stuart's Conch Stand located near Porgy Bay Park in Bailey Town serves up the best conch salad (Conch salad recipe). This machete-wielding conch man serves up a wonderfully fresh mixture of diced up raw conch, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, a splash of orange and lime juices, spiced up with some hot peppers. The gorgeous pink conch shells litter the beach in front of the restaurant where they are harvested, a goldmine for shell collectors like myself.

The conch man1

5. Stingrays at Honeymoon Harbor

Accessible only by boat, Honeymoon Harbor is a small anchorage on the north end of Gun Cay. This deserted island is inhabited by literally hundreds of live pink conchs strewn across the powdery white beach waiting for the tide to come in. We were most often the only boat anchored off the beach. The waters in the harbor are teeming with life! Expect to see stingrays, colorful starfish, conch, and even a nurse shark or two. Feeding the wild stingrays is such a great experience with nature. These gentle creatures accost you the minute your dinghy hits the shore, coming in for a greeting like tame puppies, waiting for their treats.

Stingrays


6. Fishing and Conservation

Bimini has an unbelievable marine population and is well known as the "Big Game Fishing Capital" of the world. The seasonal runs of giant bluefin and yellow fin tuna, monstrous wahoo, king mackerel, blue and white marlin and sailfish will excite any angler. However, sports fisherman and marine conservationists work hand in hand to preserve this marine paradise for future generations. It is the site of choice for many tournaments and most of them now employ tag-and-release and limit the amount of fish caught per boat. The fish are bountiful and make for an awesome fishing experience.


7. Lobster galore

We happened upon a local fisherman one day on one of our excursions in the dinghy. He had just come back from diving and his boat was laden with his catch of fresh-caught Caribbean spiny lobster. He immediately traded us a shopping bag full for a bottle of rum and some US dollars. He has been our guy ever since. We grilled those lobsters that night on the coals with a little garlic butter and a splash of lime. It does not get any better than that. Truth be told, one can dive one's own lobster or get it at one of the local restaurants but nothing beats the smile that our local supplier flashed whenever he could unload his catch to some very appreciative sailors!


8. Beach Bars

Sherri's Beach Bar is right on the beach on the west side of the island in Alice Town. This is the place to watch the sunset on the beach, sip a cocktail, and reminisce. While Sherri gets ready for the evening service after dark, she plies her patrons with her special "Bahama Mama" rum cocktail and if you're brave enough, you may try two. But be warned, the third one will kick your butt! Sherri is no stranger to having fun and will very quickly get even the most shy of her visitors to engage in the fun, dancing to the beat of her screechy sound system. One visit to Sherri's and you will be going back again and again like we did every day!

Sherris Bar

9. Bimini Museum

Exhibits at this pink-hued two-story frame house explore the colorful history of the Biminis and visitors from around the world enjoy Biminis' historical significance. Ernest Hemingway called Bimini his summer home. Jimmy Buffett spent time here while writing his book, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is believed to have composed parts of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech while sailing with local boat builder, Ansil, who still lives on the islands today. Pirates like Blackbeard in the 1700's as well as the notorious rumrunners in the 1920's and 30's and the modern day cocaine cowboys of Miami all made this a port of call at one time or another. Photographs and maritime artifacts chronicle the history of the island. Quite a treat!

10. Beaches and sunsets

Bimini has some of the most beautiful clear blue water in the world and the white powdery beaches are littered with pink conch shells. It is truly a site to behold. The beaches are never crowded and one can often find oneself completely alone on the beach with only a few crabs as company. Words can simply not describe the beauty and tranquility of this beach paradise.

Bimini

While there are many things to do in Bimini, sometimes it is best to do nothing at all...

>>Read our article in Cruising Outpost: Bimini Islands: Tiny Islands Full of Characters and Legends

>> Check out Boat Miami for vacations and event planning on the water in Florida and the Bahamas

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

contact-call-button          Insider list