The Bimini Islands are the most popular small boat destination
in the Bahamas. Being only 42 nm off the major Florida metropolitan areas of
Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, they are crowded on any weekend, all holiday weeks, and
during their several major fishing tournaments. They're a fun place to be if
you're into fishing or diving, and have good shoreside
resturants and bars for the nighttime bar crawl. Because the trip is short, it's a good learning
trip before biting off the longer runs to Walkers or Green Turtle Cays.
A summer rainstorm builds as a string
of boats leave Bimini Bay.
Most of the inhabitants are on North Bimini, and live in the two small towns
of Alice Town, near the south end, and Bailey Town, occupying the middle. The
north end of the island is owned by private investors, who from time to time make
improvements to the property. The towns have a sprinkling of shops, churches and
merchandise stores befitting a small community.
The airstrip, some older dwellings, and the new marina/condominium complex of
Bimini Sands is on the south island. A BASRA base is well around to the south on
this same island.
When I'm in Bimini, I stay at the Big Game Club. It's well maintained,
has good 24 hour security, and everything I need either on premises or
in easy walking distance. I've listed its current (Feb 2002) rates on the sidebar.
Other than crossing the gulfstream, the only challenge going to Bimini is getting into the bay itself.
The entrance from the ocean is guarded by a long sand bar on the seaward side,
and a rock reef at the southern end. The idea is to stay outside the sandbar until
you find the range markers, then run a heading toward them until close to the beach.
There is plenty of good, deep water along the beach to turn north and run into the bay,
nearly 3/4 a mile to the north. The range markers are low lying, unlit, and difficult to see.
Find them and the route from there on is easy.
Line the tall marker up behind the short one
(about 75 degree heading)
and head for the beach.
The range markers are tough to locate in the best of light. The can be seen
clearly in the above photo, but what they really look like is shown below.
Ease up to the waypoint, and locate the marks.
Read the water on the way in!
Latitude 25 42.08 Longitude 079 18.58
You must locate the range markers, or follow a boat in that knows what they
are doing. Read the water all the way in. The rock reef is well off to starboard
if you're on the right track, and you might not even see it. In full sunlight
you'll readily see the long sand bar, which you must get inshore of before turning
north toward the bay. There is also shoaling north of the jetty of the new Bimini Sands
Condo/Marina, so prepare for heartstopping readings on the depthfinder
when passing across that area. In June, 2002, a small dredge was removing sand, leaving the marked pipe
in the water when not in use, adding another hazard for the unwary.
Other Navigation Notes
Don't run down the beach south of the range markers, as you'll run over the rocks.
If going to the Sapona, exit offshore at the range markers and stand well south
before re-entering the bank.
Don't cut the corner on the sandbar if you can't see into the water. It really gets
shallow all the way to the range markers on low tide.
Yes, there is an unmarked channel midway down the sandbar,
but its position varies with the latest storm and depth varies with the tide. It should be traversed
only if you have recent local knowledge.
When you're making the run in toward the range markers, and
then north along the shoreline, make notes of how you would do it at night.
Note the how much sea room you have
between the beach and the sandbar, the standoff you need at the Bimini Sands jetty,
note searoom at the narrow entrance to the bay itself, etc.
Sooner or later you'll want or have to do it at night,
where you can't see anything except what your spotlight and radar will show, and
those notes will prove invaluable.
|Port Everglades||119 mag||48 nm
|Miami Harbor||095 mag||42 nm
Range Markers Offshore Waypoint:
Latitude 25 42.043 Longitude 079 18.700
Range Markers Inshore Waypoint:
Latitude 25 42.165 Longitude 079 18.200
Do NOT make for this waypoint directly. Run to the offshore waypoint first, then use this one to locate
the range markers. It's about 50 feet off the beach, depth 10 feet, on a direct line to the markers.
Bimini Big Game Club
Closed for renovation from January thru April of 2002, they reopened for business
in May, 2002. For a boater they offer:
- Hotel rooms and cottages. (rates below)
- Large pool, tiki bar, and lounge.
- Well appointed resturant with
international and local cousine.
- 81 slip marina with electricity and water
- Diesel and gasoline fuel dock.
- Small boat floating dock.
- Grocery store across the street.
- Bait, tackle & guides nearby.
- Hotel rooms. (3 persons if bed added))
2 doubles or 1 king
- Cottage units. (4 persons)
2 double beds.
Refrigerator & sink.
- All room prices quoted include
the tax and maid fee adders.
- Foldouts beds available for any room.
- Marina slip rates:
$1.25/ft + water + electricity.
Water metered at $.45/gallon.
Electricity: 30 and 50 amp service
$15/day less than 39 ft
$20/day less than 49 ft
$25/day 50 feet and over
- Small boat dock.
$30/day + electricity if used.
6 slips available.
- Visit the Compleat Angler. Have a drink, visit the museum,
read the newspaper clippings.
- Visit the End of the World Bar.
you as having really been to Bimini.
- Rent a golf cart
and tour the island.
- Snorkel or dive the Sapona.
- Snorkel or dive the Bimini Road.
- Bring lots of bug spray.
They're plentiful, especially at dusk.
- Troll the wall. It doesn't get
any better than that.
- Bottom fish the rolloff.
Even a beginner can't miss.
Long a fixture anchored off the bay, the
Gallant Lady is now on the cemetery rocks.
Medical Help in Bimini
Like other populated islands in the Bahamas, the government provides (sometimes)
doctor and nurse care at a public clinic. In the Biminis, it's located at Porgy Bay in Baily Town, about
a mile north of the Customs building on North Bimini.
Hours are: 9:00 - 1:00 MF.
At other times, both are on call for emergencies at (242) 347-2210.
Prescription drugs are NOT available on the Biminis, with the nearest
pharmacy being Freeport or Nassau. The clinic has some drugs available
to dispense for patients who require them, but only if the doctor has treated the patient and
sees the immediate need. Otherwise, it's call Nassau and wait for the Chalk's airplane.