After successfully crossing the Gulf Stream, we were finally in Bimini!
Bimini is a chain of islands located about 50 miles east from Miami. It is the closest point in the Bahamas to the continental United States. The population is a bit more than 2000.
Bimini consists of three islands – South Bimini, North Bimini and East Bimini, and a bunch of small uninhabited cays. East Bimini is really nothing but mangroves, and pretty much all the local population lives on North and South Bimini.
Next to the Bimini chain, there is another small chain of islands – Gun Cay and North and South Cat Cay (and North Cat Cay is a private island! Wow!).
A lot of activities in Bimini have to do with sharks. You can see all kinds of sharks, including nurse sharks, lemon sharks, hammerhead sharks, bull sharks… and even swim with them! There is a Shark Lab on South Bimini, where you can find out about the world of sharks.
I am not big on swimming with sharks, and although I wanted to see the Shark Lab, we never made it there. So I will tell you about other things that you can do in both North and South Bimini. There is a water taxi between North and South Bimini that runs continuously and costs $3 per person – there is no problem getting back and forth. Sailboat owners can also go by dinghy.
Based on my “sharkless” (LOL!) experience, I selected 8 things that you can do in Bimini, above and below water:
1 – Take a walk in Alice Town
Alice Town is the capital of Bimini. The population is a roaring 300, and the town is concentrated between two streets: Queen’s Highway and King’s Highway. Queen’s Highway is situated on the Atlantic side, higher on dunes, so its nickname is the “High Road” and King’s Highway is on the side of the Bahama Bank and is lower in altitude, therefore it is the “Low Road”. On the ocean side of the High Road, there are endless beaches, and along the Low Road you will find several marinas, including the Bimini Big Game Club.
Stop in one of the small cafes along the beaches to have a fresh fried fish or ceviche and have a rum drink in an empty coconut shell!
One thing that totally amazed me ever since we arrived is the abundance of conch shells. They are everywhere and decorate docks, piers, fences, porches. They are scattered on the streets, at the beach and people even use them for construction! No wonder! The shell is an extremely hard material! It is interesting though, to see posts and walls built out of conch shells and concrete.
2 – Have a beer in Hemingway Bar of the Bimini Big Game Club
Since the 1920s, the era of Prohibition, Bimini became the “capital” of sport fishing. Rich American anglers came here to fish for game fish such as marlin and tuna and to party especially after big tournament action. Even Hemingway tried his luck in these waters. These days huge and beautiful sport fishing boats came from Miami and around the world. Bimini’s sport fish tournaments are among the biggest and the most famous in the world. One of the spots where all the marlin hunters love to meet since 1936, is the historic Bimini Big Game Club. There is plenty of memorabilia on the walls that covers all kinds of sport fishing and you can find out who had the biggest catches through the years.
3 – Visit the Dolphin House
This is definitively the most interesting stop in Bimini. Ever since 1993, an elderly modest Biminite, Ashley Saunders, has been building a house. But it is not a common house! It is built without heavy machinery, basically by his bare hands, and all the materials used in construction were recycled, donated, found on the island and somehow repurposed.
Early in his life Ashley found himself swimming in the middle of a pod of dolphins and since then his whole life vision changed. Now the meaning of his life is finding a bridge between dolphin and human consciousness and everything in his house is dedicated to these beautiful animals.
For a $5 donation he will take you around the house and trust me – this is the best $5 you’ll ever spend! Every wall in the house is a piece of art. There are all kinds of cool items inside the walls: license plates, sculptures of dolphins, mermaids and sea horses, colorful pieces of tile and pottery, beads, bottles of rum and beer, coins from around the world, sea glass and even flip-flops and an old boat prop! All the mosaics and sculptures were created by Ashley, as well. And of course, there are plenty of conch shells in the walls, especially in the corners, for reinforcement! This is a hurricane-proof house!
But this is not just a house excursion. All the time Ashley Saunders talks about being one with nature and about his motherland – Bimini. A Harvard graduate, he came back to teach children history and culture about the islands, but couldn’t find any books on the subject. Well, he did the only thing logical – he thoroughly researched the subject and wrote his own books! Before Ashley Saunders, education on Bimini ended on Middle School. He is responsible for creating Bimini High School. In the house, he’s got a large library with one of the stands fully dedicated to all the books that got the Nobel Prize.
The third floor is still under construction, so if you go to Bimini, bring him something for the walls! He’ll love it. “So, are you going to build a fourth floor”, I asked him. “No,” he laughed. “When I am done with the third floor, I will put a roof over it and retire!”
4 – Enjoy a quiet day at the pool or walk the beach
Bimini Sands Marina, where we stayed, has an infinity pool facing the ocean, and it was so nice to spend an afternoon or an evening there. Not only there were hardly any people and most of the time we were all by ourselves, but there was a spectacular view of the sunset. Right before the sunset we walked the beach and collected sea glass. It was a truly relaxing experience.
5 – Walk Bimini Trail
Ashley Saunders and other like-minded people are responsible for creating another landmark in South Bimini that is nice to visit on a quiet day. It is a mile-long trail through the woods. Here and there you will see signs, telling you about common plants and animals in Bimini. The trail is a bit run down after hurricanes, but it is still walkable and is a neat experience. You will learn what snakes, butterflies spiders and lizards live on Bimini, what birds are native and what are simply migrating, learn about poison wood and that pines are not indigenous trees on the island, but rather an invasive species and see ruins of an old conch house.
6 – Swim with Stingrays
On Gun Cay, about 10 miles south of Bimini, there is a beach called Honeymoon Harbor. The beach is famous for stingrays swimming around and coming really close to people. I thought it would be scary to swim with them (just look at those dangerous barbs on their tails!), but they seem really friendly and just stare at you with curiosity. And then slowly fly by… Yes, I said “fly” because this is how it looks when you see them swim – they gracefully move their wings, which looks like they are flying in the water! A truly amazing experience!
7 – Jump from the wreck of SS Sapona
Another popular snorkeling site is the wreck of SS Sapona. Built in 1920 out of concrete (steel was too rare and valuable), the ship was supposed to serve in World War I. But soon after the war ended and Sapona was never used. So she was first bought by Carl Fisher, who wanted to make her into a nightclub, but instead, used her for oil storage. Later she was purchased by another entrepreneur, Bruce Bethel, who wanted to smuggle liquor during Prohibition. But the idea failed because in 1926, during a strong hurricane, SS Sapona ran aground south of Bimini.
Now the underwater part of Sapona became a coral reef abundant with marine life. The upper structure above water looks like a rather spooky “skeleton” of a ghost ship. So maybe that was her final purpose – to entertain the tourists, who for almost a 100 years now come to snorkel around the ship, climb her walls and jump down from her decks. Interesting how things turn out sometimes!
8 – Find the road to Atlantis
This one was the most interesting snorkeling site for me. No wonder, where everyone else sees is plain non-interesting stones, I will be looking for aliens. So, on one of the days, Michael, myself and two of our friends went to explore Bimini Road!
Off of North Bimini, at about 15 feet of depth, lies a road that is about half a mile long and consists of pretty rectangular, perfectly aligned limestone blocks. Erosion rounded these stones a bit, but you can see very well that it is not a nature-made formation. It is just too organized! The borders of the road are well-defined, and there is just sand and odd stones lined up here and there outside of it.
The shape and the alignment of the blocks is very similar to those used in Pyramid construction, or the great Stonehenge. Using carbon dating, the researchers concluded that the average age of the construction is about 3500 years (uranium dating claims that they are much older, at least 15,000 years old, but it doesn’t have much validity in the eyes of the scientists).
So, might it be that the Bimini Road is a part of something, similar to the other ancient monuments? If so, who built it and why? Interesting, that similar structures were discovered on the bottom of Aegean Sea near Greece. Then those remains were believed to be a part of Atlantis, but now Bimini Road claims to be a part of Atlantis as well. Who is right? I’d say both sites could equally be a part of the lost city or cities. Possibly, there are others we don’t know about! Perhaps, a whole world-wide civilization?
So yes, for some those are just stones, but I’d say, Bimini Road (which earned its second name: Atlantis Road) is an extremely interesting place, where you can literally touch ancient history.
These coordinates will put you right above it: N25-45.995 W 079-16.712
On the way back we caught a mackerel that fed four of us dinner and there was still enough left over for fish cakes next morning!
After staying in Bimini for 8 days, we finally got a weather window to cross to the Berry Islands – a crescent-shaped chain of 30 cays about 80 miles east from Bimini. I don’t know if we will go to the North or South side of Berries, I guess, only the wind will tell….
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