Last summer, I had the opportunity to fly out to Bimini (the closest of the Bahamian islands) for the ribbon-cutting of the new Hilton at Resorts World Bimini. It was my first time in the Bahamas.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about flying by seaplane as I don’t always do well with heights. But once we got airborne, it was way more enjoyable than I expected. Maybe it was because I knew I’d only be up there a half hour. Or because the waters just kept getting bluer and bluer, until they were translucent. At once point, I could even see sharks swimming a few hundred feet below. It was too beautiful to be scary.
As we descended onto the island, it was clear there was a great divide between the residents and the tourists. Ramshackle homes, unfinished construction projects, and the occasional large pile of trash on one end, with gorgeous pastel-colored villas and an impressive hotel on the other.
Arriving in Bimini by private seaplane was a much different experience than arriving via commercial flight. The RWB has its own customs base right on the resort. They make guests feel like VIPs from the minute they set foot in the country. We were greeted with cocktails, then taken to a small, on-site eatery for drinks and lunch and a stunning view of an infinity pool by the sea.
We spent our first afternoon exploring the seven mile stretch of North Bimini by golf cart. With few motorists on the island, most tourists either bike around or rent carts to ride around the isle. We stopped by Stuart’s Conch Shack first. In the distance, you could see the old man in the shallow waters beyond picking up conch after conch out of the water and bringing them to the shack. Not very appetizing to this vegetarian, but I did grab a crisp Kalik (the national beer, and a strong one at that) and made conversation with some locals–two friendly, grade school teachers from Nassau.
Afterward, a bumpy drive through Alice Town to the end of Kings Highway landed us in Radio Beach. This beach more or less blends in with Blister Bay (perhaps because the sun shines so hot you’re likely to burn badly within a few hours). A fairly secluded stretch of sand and shore was exactly what I’d been hoping to find. Quiet, peaceful, empty. We walked past an old shipwreck (one of many along the Bimini coast) and took some photos before driving just a few blocks down and away from the rusty wreckage. The powdery white sand and the cyan waters found here were nothing short of perfect. We had to jump in.
Next, a drink at Bimini Big Game, a resort and marina with a fantastic restaurant and bar, to warm up. I had a Goombay Smash along with a shot of Nassau Royale Liqueur, a slightly syrupy rum from the islands. Then it was a tipsy golf cart ride back to the hotel for a pre-ribbon cutting day cocktail hour, where we schmoozed with none other than the Patriots cheerleaders, who were in town shooting their next calendar. (Note: I’m not a Patriots fan, but the girls were incredibly sweet to and professional with everyone.)
Later that eve, we hit up the infamous Edith’s Pizza joint, where the pies are made with Bimini bread dough. This is a must for both locals and tourists alike. Sit on the wooden picnic tables, order up some Bahama Mamas, and listen to the waves crashing underneath while you wait for your pizza. Omnivores tell me it’s all about the lobster pizza here, but I was able to finagle myself a single vegetarian pie.
If you find yourself in Bimini, definitely try the brunch at Sabor Seafood and Steakhouse. Fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, pastries, bacon and sausage for my meat-eating friends, plus Bimini french toast were all laid out for me.
Later, I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, featuring numerous local officials and employees of the resort. The sun was coming down strong, so it was a joy when the Junkanoo kids came around in costume to signal the end of the event and the start of the celebrations.
Up on the roof, we were fed miniature plates of polenta and beef and stir fry and mini donuts. We schmoozed, then hit Paradise Beach for a few hours, the resort’s private beach area. FYI: Chairs and umbrellas are available to rent as are a number of water activities like jet skis and kayaks.
Dinner that night was at the Tides, another on-site restaurant. The wine was fabulous as was the salad I ordered, but sadly the risotto turned out to be entirely too salty.
It wouldn’t be a ribbon-cutting without another party, so up we went to the rooftop again for more cocktails and conversation.
We were supposed to go swim with wild dolphins the next day, but the weather wasn’t permitting it so we went into town for more exploring. I tried stopping in at the Dolphin House, but it was closed for the day. We did get to take some photos there, and along the Bimini War Memorial & Heroes Park. We also bought Bimini bread to take home for later (which makes for an excellent souvenir).
The rest of the day was spent at Radio Beach, in a spot located by CJ’s Deli. Here, I was able to obtain a solid grilled cheese and french fries. A local DJ was playing tunes on the sand and the cheap beer kept us dancing. My trip ended with me sprawled on my hotel bed watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. My kind of trip.
Gleanings From Bimini
Bimini is incredibly quiet and serene. Few cars and fewer pedestrians are found, and it seems that at least in North Bimini, most inhabitants hail from other parts of the Bahamas. Local businesses seem to do alright here thanks to the influx of fishing tourism. I would definitely love to return to Bimini some time. I didn’t get to explore the south end which had a couple points of interest, like the Sapona wreck site and the Bimini Biological Field Station. Bimini is so small that you can easily see most of it over a weekend. I’d recommend it to first-time solo travelers as well since it’s hard to get lost and fairly safe overall.
Disclosure: The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini provided accommodations for our stay, but I was not compensated for this post and opinions here are my own.