Located just 50 miles off of Florida’s coast, the 2-mile-long Bimini island is known for it's incredible beauty and fantastic diving. Being a lesser-known travel destination, it offers a more local atmosphere than some of the larger, commercial islands of the Bahamas like Nassau and Freeport, with a dose of history to discover, too: Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote parts of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech there, and it was a favorite getaway for Ernest Hemingway. The island's healthy mangroves are ideal for kayaking and it's one of the few places in the world to see great hammerhead sharks. Not to mention, you can find diverse reefs with domes of brain corals and acres of sea fans. But the best part? Bimini is incredibly affordable. With our guide, a 3-night stay would cost an estimated $1000--and that includes flights. Here's how to plan your getaway.
Where to stay
Arriving by seaplane or ferry, the Resorts World Bimini ($189 per night) is tucked away on its own corner of the island and offers three waterfront pools, a first-class spa, and a 10,000-square foot live action casino. The rooms are quaintly furnished with sweeping balconies that overlook the pools and villas. If the trip falls on a birthday, you'll be treated to the staff forming a calypso band using kitchenware like empty water drums, pans, and metal baking trays to create a playful melody.
While staying here, there's no reason to fret about a car. Most visitors buzz around on golf carts, which you can rent for an average of $150 for three days at various vendors on the island.
Where to eat
Luna Beach Bimini is a beach club and restaurant, which offers beach chairs, umbrellas, and complimentary beach cabanas, along with lounge seating in the shade. There's a healthy lunch and dinner menu, and must-try items are the massive prawns and the red snapper dressed in local spices and secret Bahamian seasonings (average meal is $18). Don’t miss the lively junkanoo bands in the evening, when guests are often encouraged to participate in the festivities.
The Resort World’s dining hotspots include Hemingway’s, the marina view casino bar where you can catch a sports game on one of the large screens above. For a healthy option, try the Green Energy burger: a black bean and corn patty with avocado, goat cheese, chipotle mayo, and sun-dried tomatoes with sweet potatoes fries ($14). Here, you can relax by the pool or swim up to the bar to order food at Oasis. The casual restaurant offers relaxed and inexpensive fare: the dill-marinated shrimp kabob ($18) and veggie kabob ($12) are popular options. To get off property, take a hotel rental golf cart for a 10-minute drive to the unpretentious Island House Bar and Grill in Alice Town, a local bar with a DJ and pool table located along Kings Highway. The bar boasts a breakfast and lunch menu (an average meals clock in at $7) with stew conch, sheep tongue, chicken “souse," and steamed oxtail. Come weekends, the unassuming bar gets lively with a DJ playing Caribbean hits and 90s music during Sunday “ladies nights.”
Where to Dive
December through April you can dive with great white hammerheads in Bimini, one of the only places in the world where the creatures migrate for the winter in large numbers. The hammerhead safari dive ($299 per person) takes place at Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center, where divers plant themselves in the midst of several hammerhead sharks at an easy 30 feet below. You receive a detailed briefing from your PADI-certified instructor, to experience a personal encounter of diving with the docile sharks, as well as a chance to see other marine life that visit the dive site like tiger, bull, and nurse sharks.