Posted September 30, 2013
By STEPHANIE PARRA
ALICE TOWN, Bimini, Bahamas – Cyan-blue waters, smooth sands and sunny days can all characterize the Bimini Islands of the Bahamas.
Located approximately 53 miles east of Miami, Fla., the chain of islands provides fishing, snorkeling and diving aficionados a special taste of the Caribbean environment.
The islands, which are located in the westernmost district of the Bahamas, have an approximate area of about 8.88 square miles. But don’t let the small size of these Caribbean jewels fool you.
With such great vacation spots so close to home, it’s almost impossible to not find a way to get away to these tiny isles for at least a day.
Transportation to the tiny islands
About six years ago, Bimini used to be a rich man’s paradise. Unless you were a local, Bimini was reserved exclusively for those who could afford yachts or luxurious methods of transportation to the main island.
Even though the main island has a total population of approximately 1,600 people and boasts a rich history of legendary figures visiting and vacationing in the area, its popularity as a vacation spot for Miamians didn’t really grow until the opening of Resorts World Bimini. The resort, which is located near the heart of the island’s major town area, Alice Town, boasts a spa area, shops, restaurants and bars. In addition, the resort is home to an iconic infinity pool that seems to extend to the end of the sky-blue, crystal clear waters.
Though other resorts existed before Resorts World Bimini, including Guy Harvey’s Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Marina, they seemed less trendy and ritzy when compared to the grand Resorts World Bimini.
With the popularity of the island on the rise, the owners of Resorts World Bimini decided to expand its horizons with the addition of a casino and a two cruise options.
Resorts World Bimini’s SuperFast Cruise Ship offers top-of-the-line quality vacation opportunities for those with a relatively low budget. The ship, which departs twice a day from the Port of Miami, was built in Germany. The ship cruises at speeds of about 30 knots, making it one of the quickest cruises in America.
The ship is also equipped with a casino – which serves as an extension from the version found in Bimini. Titled the Miami Casino, this on-board experience opens about 90 minutes after the ship has sailed. And, at that time, the ship is in international waters, so anyone over the age of 18 can gamble.
In addition to the speedy three-hour transport to the islands, the ship boasts other forms of entertainment and activities, including dancing and karaoke, as well as an assortment of restaurants and bars.
Better yet, select meals, including breakfast and lunch, are included in the price tag for the trip. Trip pricing ranges from $69 to $99, depending on the rate at the time of reservation. While the meals are certainly not worthy of a Zagat rating, they are pretty good for the price of a day trip to a different country.
While cabin reservations are not included in the price tag, they are available for about $40 each if booked prior to the sail date.
What to do in Bimini
While Bimini offers a variety of activities for people of all ages, including gambling, drinking, snorkeling, fishing and diving, one of the typical ways to spend the day in Bimini includes swimming and sunbathing on the smooth sands.
If you take the cruise to the islands, you arrive at North Bimini. You can then take a golf cart to the heart of the island, Alice Town, where you will find a nearby beach, shops and a rustic conch salad shack. The golf cart rides are free, and depart as often as five to six time daily from select drop off points.
Arrive at Alice Town and find a local museum, named Bimini Museum. The museum features some of the island’s history and highlights some of its most important points from the years its been inhabited. Many people enjoy the museum, and believe it stores some of the island’s best-kept tales.
“I love the museum at Alice Town,” said Carlos Rodriguez, 28. “I definitely visit it every time I come to the island.”
Rodriguez, a Miami native, has visited Bimini eight times in the past two years. Since the cruise began sailing in June, he has taken the trip twice.
“The cruise is phenomenal and, once you arrive to shore, the short trip becomes even better because of the different activities that you can participate in,” he said.
While some visit museums, others enjoy spending time grabbing a bowl of conch salad.
“The conch salad is amazing,” said Sebastian Ortegon, 23. “For anyone who likes sushi or ceviche they would definitely want it. And for anyone who doesn’t like seafood they won’t even realize what they’re eating.”
Ortegon, who visited Bimini for the first time in late August and is originally from Coral Springs, Fla., was impressed by the travel’s costs and options.
“I felt Bimini was one of the best trips I’ve taken since it was extremely cheap,” he said. “I literally only paid $20 to eat and drink in another country. Best one-day get away you can do, since it gives you the impression that you’ve been on vacation for a lot longer.”
Similarly, Adrianne de Silva, 20, thought the trip was worth the money and time spent.
“The trip was well worth the travel down to Miami,” said de Silva, who commuted from Parkland, Fla., to take the early morning cruise to Bimini.
Whether you enjoy a meal from a local eatery, or prefer to grab a Kalik (the Bahamian beer) and sunbathe the day away, this trip is certainly satisfying for any adventurous spirit.
The islands are not only extremely photogenic, but they are also home to some of the area’s most historically famous grounds.
Considered a “haven” during the Prohibition era in the United States, the area served as a supply point for rum running at the time. And, according to legend, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, while searching for the famed Fountain of Youth, made references to Bimini. The Arawak and Taino population spoke of a land called “Beimini” where such a fountain was located.
“I think it’s so interesting how such small pieces of land could be home to so much history,” said Elsa Rodriguez, 21. “It’s definitely one of my favorite vacation spots.”
Rodriguez recently traveled with de Silva and Ortegon to explore the lands.
“It was my fifth time in the area, and I really enjoy each visit,” she said.
The area, along with its natural beauty and environmental landmarks, has also housed people like Jimmy Buffett and Ernest Hemingway.
“Bimini is definitely a place I try to take all my friends to,” Rodriguez said. “I may not be Hemingway, but I definitely attract everyone I know to these islands.”
If You Go
- For more information, such as scheduling and fares on the Resorts World Bimini Super Fast, visit rwbimini.com or call 1-888-930-8688 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The offices are open seven days a week.
- Before boarding the ship, you can park your car at the Port of Miami Terminal located in front of the ship’s docking area. Parking is usually free.
- On-board the ship, there are six restaurants, including Ponce de Leon Restaurant, the Real McCoy Bar, Aqua Bar and Grill and Bimini Breeze Café.
- The ship features on-board entertainment and activities.
- For more information on Bimini Museum, visit biminimuseum.com.
Reminders and tips:
- Take cash. Not all vendors in Alice Town accept credit cards.
- The U.S. dollar is commonly used in the Bahamas.
- Select locations do not charge foreign service charges on credit cards.
- Do not forget your passport.
- Take a change of clothes for the trip.
- Take a towel, sunscreen and any other thing you may need for the beach.
- U.S. cell phone companies do not work in the island. Plan for roaming fees or make other arrangements to communicate with those back home beforehand.
Things to purchase at Bimini:
- A Kalik beer T-shirt, typically $20 for a long-sleeve
- Conch salad, usually $7 for a bowl. The conch salad contains raw conch, red peppers and onions. The food is raw.