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Bimini’s romance is found in what some visitors consider a favorable lack of mass tourism (in addition to the obvious nature of the scenic island, of course). Though rich in history with interesting attractions and practically deserted beaches, Bimini, the Bahamas, is not overcrowded, catering primarily to fishermen due to the large stock of bonefishing (it’s pegged as the bonefishing capital of the world) and water activities such as diving, kayaking and snorkeling.
But it won’t be off-the-beaten path for long.
The high-speed ferry by The Balearia Ferry Group from Spain (which has postponed launch dates on several occasions) will offer streamlined travel service from Miami in less than two hours. IBC Travel launched flights in August from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (approximately a 20-minute flight). Additionally, Tropic Ocean Airways started offering seaplane flights. While mass tourism is still not expected, the promise of more visitors will help shape the island’s tourism infrastructure. Travelers the world over are in luck — this tiny island is full of discoveries.
Bimini (comprising North and South islands, totaling seven miles long with a population of 1,600) is something like the mystical island in the television show “Lost”: it's chockfull of mysteries, legends and romance. For instance, there's the Healing Hole, a mineral-rich pool hidden deep in the mangroves that was discovered approximately 20 years ago. Locals swear by this water — it contains significant amounts of sulfur, which is said to have healing properties.
On the other side of the island, there's Bimini Road, predicted to be discovered in 1968 by the late psychic Edgar Cayce. The underwater assemblage of large limestone rocks is believed to lead to the lost city of Atlantis, destroyed in a natural disaster several thousands of years ago.
In 1513, a rather ambitious explorer by the name of Ponce De Leon set off to locate the Fountain of Youth. He found the well in Bimini and, some 500 years later, I gave myself a healthy splash of what supposedly will keep me forever young.
Luxury and adventure travelers will be delighted to know that RockResorts, a Colorado-based hotel company, took over management of Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, which offers 347 rooms, suites and villas, three restaurants and the largest deep-water marina in the Bahamas. RockResorts plans on further developing a 100-room branded boutique hotel, residences and a spa, along with additional restaurants, a beach club and environmental and sustainable projects, estimated to open in the summer of 2014. Bimini Bay is already a hot spot for weddings.
The legendary Bimini Big Game Club hotel recently celebrated its reopening as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort, much to the enthusiasm of divers. Visitors can expect updated guestrooms, a new Bimini Big Game Bar & Grill and the Outfitter Shop.
Lately, the tourism facelift has been the talk of the town — new material to pass the time while conche de-shelling since the Compleat Angler hotel burned down five years ago. It was the social center of Bimini and housed Ernest Hemingway, who put Bimini on the map with his frequent visits for sport fishing and for writing the novel “Island in the Stream.”
Speaking of storytellers, you'll be awe-inspired by local historian Ashley Saunders, who hand-built the island’s prized Dolphin House (a hotel/museum/shop made completely out of dolphin objects). His vivid memories of Hemingway boxing his relatives in a make-shift ring brings the island to life, a story more engaging than the tabloid fact that Melanie Griffith met Antonio Banderas on the island.
The award for best story, however, goes to Ashley's brother, Ansil, who took Martin Luther King out for a bonefishing trip in 1968.
“He was writing part of his eulogy on my boat,” said Ansil. “He told me he had a feeling he was going to die. Three days later, he was assassinated.”
The Balearia Ferry Groupwww.balearia.ferries.org
Bimini Big Game Clubwww.biggameclubbimini.com
Bimini Bay Resort & Marinawww.rockresorts.com
Getting thereBimini can be reached by flights with IBC Airways (Fort Lauderdale and Miami) and Continental from Miami. Tropic Ocean Airways offers seaplane flights from various destinations. Bimini can also be reached from Nassau and Grand Bahama.