Caribbean Tourism

Bimini

Once thought to be the site of the lost city of Atlantis, the Bimini, (pop: 1,639 1990 census) chain of islands, only 50 miles from Florida, is divided into North and South Bimini and a series of cays. There are more bars than shops on Bimini and service is minimal. It is not a glamorous resort, although there are plenty of luxury yachts moored there. The big attraction on Bimini is the deep sea fishing, which has drawn sportsmen to its waters for generations. The theme of big game fishing is reflected in the bars and restaurants, which also have Hemingway associations. Ernest Hemingway lived on Bimini in 1931-37 at Blue Marlin Cottage and his novel Islands in the Stream was based on Bimini. A display of Hemingway memorabilia can be seen at Compleat Angler Hotel and Museum. On South Bimini is the legendary site of the Fountain of Youth, sought by Ponce de León in 1512. The pool known as the Healing Hole is claimed to have some beneficial effects. In 1994, a Spanish treasure ship, believed to be the Santiago El Grande, which sank in 1766 while heading for Spain laden with gold, silver and emeralds, was discovered off the southern tip of Bimini.


There are more bars than shops on Bimini, service is minimal, car rental non-existent. The main mode of transport seems to be the golf cart. It is not a glamorous resort, although there are plenty of luxury yachts moored there. In 1997, the government signed a controversial agreement with a US company for development of a five-mile strip of land at Bimini Bay. The US$400mn project will include a 225-room hotel and casino, a marina, golf course and residential development. Local people are concerned that proposed in-filling of mangroves will damage spawning grounds for shrimp, conch and fish, with a consequent impact on the fishing industry.

Alice Town is the capital of Bimini although most people live in Bailey Town to the north along the King’s Highway. Alice Town has a lot of bars and a straw market, and little else. Heading north from Alice Town you come to The Anchorage, a restaurant on the highest point on the island with good views of the sea. The beach in either direction is excellent with white sand and good surfing waves. Above the beach is a pathway which passes the picturesque Methodist Church (1858) and leads to Bailey Town.

The airplane wrecks at the edge of the airfield at Alice Town on North Bimini are mostly the results of unsuccessful drugs running attempts en route from Colombia to Miami. Bimini has been claimed as an important success in the fight against drug running to the US mainland; Gun Cay has become the centre for drug interdiction operations and is full of US DEA personnel.Bimini suffered flood damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 but soon recovered.

Cat Cay, to the south, was hit by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, with winds of 180 miles per hour, gusting to 250 miles per hour. Damage to island property was estimated at US$100mn. First developed in 1932 it had a golf course, 68 houses for the rich and their staff, and lots of expensive yachts. The private club here accepts transient yachts except on big holiday weekends when members converge. There is a marina fee for customs and immigration.

In 1997, the government signed a controversial agreement with a US company for development of a five-mile strip of land at Bimini Bay. The US$400mn project will include a 225-room hotel and casino, a marina, golf course and residential development. Local people are concerned that proposed in-filling of mangroves will damage spawning grounds for shrimp, conch and fish, with a consequent impact on the fishing industry.


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