Ernest Hemingway lived on the small island chain in the Bahamas from 1935 to 1937 and famously drank vodka martinis, extra dry with olives, inside the Complete Angler Hotel, which burned down in 2006.
“Swim, eat, drink, work, read, talk, read, fish, fish, swim, drink, sleep.” That’s Bimini, summed up by a character in Hemingway’s novel, “Islands in the Stream.”
Walking along a quiet stretch of white-sand beach, visitors appreciate this remote retreat of old-school fishermen, miles of mangroves and spectacular ocean views.
The first group of islands in the Bahamas chain, Bimini — with the small islands of North Bimini and South Bimini at its core — is only about 50 miles from Miami, but the slow-and-easy lifestyle on the historic atoll feels like a world away.
Adam Clayton Powell, the late congressman from New York who embraced a self-imposed exile on Bimini in 1967, was known for sipping scotch and milk inside The End of the World Bar and referring to Bimini as a “shaggy paradise.”
Bimini has always been a tranquil place to escape the commotion of big-city living, a sandy haven where travelers can sit and listen to the ocean waves gently slapping the shoreline.
“When you look at the ocean in Bimini you can often see a dozen different shades of blue and green,” said Capt. Ansil Saunders, an 80-year-old world-renown fisherman, boat builder and local legend.
North Bimini is only seven miles long and less than a mile wide, so walking and biking along the main road — “The King’s Highway” — is the best way to experience Bimini. With 1,600 residents, there are no crowds or long lines and rush-hour traffic is often just a three golf-cart pileup in a hotel parking lot.
Take a leisurely stroll through Alice Town, Bimini’s main settlement that dates back to 1848, and you’ll find a cozy collection of small shops, family-owned restaurants and bars, one bank and plenty of engaging conversation.
What you won’t find in Alice Town are traffic lights.
“People come to Bimini because it’s a laid-back destination,” Anthony Stuart, general manager of the Bimini Tourist Office, said in a recent interview. “They walk the street, sit on the side of the road, meet local people, listen to music and experience good food — and that includes fresh-baked Bimini bread.”
And, Stuart added proudly, “Bimini is safe.”
Published by Atlanta Black Star