Just a two-and-a-half hour boat ride east, the Bahamas has always been known for its great weekend trip opportunities. But if you’ve already got stamps galore in your passport from Nassau or Freeport, you need to check out the westernmost island of Bimini. I was invited on a press trip with a great group of writers to the island and brought along my boyfriend to take in the adventure the resort had planned for us. A small island with roughly 1,500 people, it’s a quiet island known as the fishing capital of the Bahamas. Frequented by Ernest Hemingway back in the day — supposedly the island was his inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea” — and bootleggers during Prohibition, it’s a place filled with history and adventure… my kind of getaway!
Bimini can be reached via plane, but a more affordable option (and the one that we took) is the Resort World Bimini Superfast, a smaller cruise ship that makes day and weekend trips out to the island. We had the three-day trip on our itinerary, and definitely would recommend it over a one-day trip. There’s just too much to cram into one day. Run by a Malaysian company, the nine-story ship has a casino, six restaurants, a dance floor on the top, quieter lounge chairs out on the deck, rooms to stash your things, and overall a perfect melding of entertainment for both families or a bachelorette party. While on the island, we stayed at the new Resort World Bimini, which is still finishing up work. Guests stay in large, comfortable villas and get around via golf cart, like many of the locals do. Hit up the casino, stroll through the Fisherman’s Village with eateries and shopping, or indulge in delectable bites at the five different restaurants at the resort. One can stay on the resort property and indulge in the infinity pool, restaurants and beach, but if you’re planning on leaving the resort property, here were some of my favorite spots.
1. Sapona Ship Wreck
If you’re yearning to get out on the water and explore, ask the hotel staff about signing up for a boat trip out to this legendary ship wreck. Moored in shallow, 15-foot water, the rusted ship has turned into a home for colorful schools of fish, barracuda, stingrays, and nurse sharks. The Bahamas was a key spot for bootleggers since it is so close to the SunShine State, and Al Capone allegedly stored some rum on this ship (unfortunately, we did not find said rum). If you have great upper body strength, take the challenge to rope climb your way to the top of the ship and jump off – it’s about a 20-foot drop!
2. Joe’s Conch ShackBailey Town, King’s Highway
Ask anyone on the island for Joe, and they’ll know exactly who you’re talking about. After moving to Bimini in the ‘70s from another Bahamian island, he’s established himself as the go-to guy for conch salad. In fact, he’ll even take you out back to show you how to shuck a conch from divers bring in regularly (he says he goes through about 1,000 a week and I believe it). Once the conch has been evicted from its shell, head back to the shack for a freshly made concoction of conch, tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, seasoning, lime and voila, you’ve got a fresh island lunch in a bowl.
3. Taste of Heaven Bakery
Bailey Town, Bimini
The Bahamas is known for their sweet bread, comparable in taste to Hawaiian bread. This baker cranks out loaf after loaf every day, as well as delicious rum cake, banana bread, cookies and other desserts. When I went in I “reserved” a loaf that was on its way out of the oven in 30 minutes, and as promised, they set it aside for me. Definitely go in and buy a loaf of Bimini Bread; you won’t regret it.
4. Bimini Big Game ClubHistoric Alice Town
Open since 1947, adventurer and American literary legend Ernest Hemingway called Bimini his home for a few years and supposedly was inspired to write “The Old Man and the Sea” during his stay. The historic Hemmingway’s Lounge has since been converted from a bar touting fishermen’s big catches and into an event space. At the property’s restaurant, try out the hotel’s very own beer and indulge in the delicious spicy island shrimp. During season, participate in the Bimini Bull Run — drop into a shark cage while the fishermen clean their catch, attracting a whole gang of bull sharks!
5. Edith’s Pizza & Bahamian FoodBailey Town, Bimini
Yes, even on Bimini you can find a place to get a slice! Instead of toppings of pepperoni and mushrooms, you’ll find chopped up bits of lobster, conch and other seafood delights on a bed of rich cheese. Living on an island, the locals actually yearn for steak and are tired of what we consider to be luxury food items! Sitting outside with a perfect view of the ocean (we even saw a water spout come and go), a pairing with a bottle of Kalik Bahamian beer calls for the perfect afternoon. Warning: this lady doesn’t mess around with her pizzas, these pies are huge.