The Fantasy: Bimini, Bahamas
For years the island of Bimini has been a poorly kept secret in south Florida boating circles. Fishermen, divers and weekend revelers have long frequented the tiny island for its obvious charms – clear waters, good fishing and a truly laid back atmosphere. These regulars formed a sort of loose cadre known around the docks as the “Bimini crowd.”
Sure Bimini can be a bit rustic, these folks will tell you, but that’s part of the fun. And what Bimini lacks in sophistication, it more than makes up for in character. Over the years celebrities such as Jimmy Buffett, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Nixon and Gary Hart have all frequented or lived on the island. It’s one of those places that attracts free spirits and larger than life personalities.
The brilliant turquoise waters of Bimini
If you like the idea of a colorful vacation getaway, but are less than enthusiastic about rustic lodgings, there is an alternative, the new Bimini Sands Resort & Marina. The resort is a recent addition to the island and boasts modern amenities and all new construction. The one and two bedroom units are every bit as clean and comfortable as the typical hotel room back in states. The resort is located directly on the beach and every room features an ocean or marina view. And when we say the ocean views are magnificent, we mean it. These rooms look out over the famous Bimini color change as the water fades from indigo blue to an almost neon green – it has to be seen to be believed.
As the name implies, Bimini Sands Resort & Marina also features a fully protected marina with floating docks, electric and freshwater hook-ups along with a Texaco Starport offering gas and diesel. The marina can accommodate the largest yachts and depth is maintained at 8 foot. Construction is underway to provide even more slips for visiting yachtsmen. Being a protected harbor, your boat will not be subject to wakes from local vessel traffic.
Of course to visit Bimini you must first cross the Gulf Stream as it meanders between the Bahamas and the east coast of Florida. The run over is about fifty miles, give or take depending on your departure point. The trip is well within reach of the typical fishing boat, assuming one prepares accordingly and keeps an eye on weather. Summer tends to be the easiest time to make the crossing as the Gulf Stream seas are often 2 - 4 feet or less. If you regularly venture offshore there is nothing fundamentally difficult about the trip. The 200-page Bimini Cruising Guide by the author of this article provides everything you need to know to make the trip safe and enjoyable.
Once you arrive in Bimini you will have to clear Customs and Immigration, but even here Bimini Sands has you covered. There is a Customs and Immigration office located in the marina to clear you in quickly and easily. This is a real time saver on those crowded summer weekends when visitor traffic picks up. Just remember to bring your passport!
Fishing. That’s what put Bimini on the map and it’s what continues to be the biggest draw. The bottom fishing is top-notch, with numerous ledges, reefs and drop-offs nearby. For the hardcore bottom scrapers, a 20 mile run up to the lighthouse on Great Isaac could be just the ticket. Venture a bit further and you reach the Gingerbread grounds, which get even less fishing pressure.
Depending on the season, trolling yields the traditional species – tuna, wahoo, marlin, sailfish and the ever-present dolphin. The best trolling grounds are within minutes of shore, including the famous wall that is literally in sight of the beach. Bimini is a place where you can forget about long offshore runs, you’ll have baits in the water before your morning java has had a chance to cool down.
Live baiting is less common here than in Florida due to the healthy barracuda population. Ravenous is a good way to describe these locals. If you troll in anything less than 300 feet use wire leaders, or tackle that you’re not too fond of.
Bonefishing on the flats remains excellent and there are a number of competent local guides. Like the offshore fishing, the flats are just a few minutes away. Ansil Saunders, one of the elder statesmen of the local guiding community, is equally famous for the beautiful custom flats boats he builds. It’s worth a trip to his shop just to marvel at the amazing artistry that goes into each one. Ansil still holds the record for the largest bonefish on Bimini, a whopping IGFA certified 16-pounder!
It should also be noted that Bimini is gaining acclaim as a first class diving destination. In Scuba Magazine’s annual poll, Bimini scored in the top 5 of six categories in the Atlantic / Caribbean. There are two full service dive shops on island.
All rooms in the resort are privately owned condominiums with Bimini Sands taking care of property management and rental. The resort has been a resounding success and there is currently a waiting list to purchase new units. Whether for a weekend or lifetime, Bimini Sands Resort & Marina is a great place to experience the island lifestyle.
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