A weekend trip to Bimini turns into a 48 hour party with plenty of rum, beach time and new friends. Read on…
Last summer, I sat at a quiet pub in Key West talking to my friends Rum Shop Ryan and Shawn from Coastlines & Tan Lines. It wasn’t one of those drunken late night philosophical conversations, but we did touch on all of the usual topics – islands, booze, women and music. We talked about our future travel plans and decided that a ‘guys trip’ was in order. Our professional and social calendars were pretty busy and a long weekend holiday was all any of us could commit to. After some consideration we decided that a laid back journey to Bimini would fit our needs.
Fast forward a month and the three of us gathered at Terminal 3 at Ft. Lauderdale airport before our quick flight over to Bimini. The mandatory overpriced preflight beers quickly disappeared before we boarded the plane and 20 minutes later we were shuffling through immigration in the Bahamas. After a cab ride across South Bimini and a ferry ride over to the north island, we checked into a super-cool waterfront fishing resort called the Big Game Club.
The three of us wasted no time and made our way to the hotel bar for a rum-laced planning session about what the next two days might look like. No surprise here, we decided the best way to discover the vibe and culture of this little island was to set out on a two day pub crawl.
We spent the rest of the evening bar hopping at local resorts and tried to find the legendary End of the World Bar. We found it, but it was closed until official tourist season began. The beat up bar facade got tagged with a few RC stickers and we decided to call it a night.
The next day we’re up by the crack of noon and set off to find a golf cart to rent. The agent presented us with their most beat up model and we began the bumpy 15 minute ride to the northern most point on the island. A quiet beach bar distracted us and we stopped off for a rum & ginger to quench our thirst.
The further north we go the more beautiful Bimini becomes. We found ourselves at the end of the road where the little one lane gravel trail meets beach sand and decided it was a perfect spot for an afternoon swim. An hour or so slipped by and we meandered south again stopping quickly at Stuart’s for the world’s best conch salad.
Back in town, we ventured up a side street in the cart and met a nice couple from Miami while taking photos of a bizarre tiled building called the Dolphin House. BOOM, they immediately became part of our pub crawl crew. They guided us to their favorite locals bar on the west side of the island where we sipped beach drinks and talked about beautiful Bimini. We drained strong rum punches in the sunshine and watched the pounding Atlantic surf.
After hearing about a cool shipwreck site nearby, our group decided to track it down. We refueled at the bar and headed down the beach with a cart full of Kaliks. We found the wreck and it was indeed impressive. Our group climbed out onto the rusty steel structure for photos and I decided that, after a morning of drinking, the best place for me was on shore acting as the photographer.
Back to the main drag on the golf cart, I aim us in the direction of the High Star Bar, a ramshackled open air place that is stilted over the water. We ate lobster bites and drank Kaliks and rum from the bottle until the sun dropped into the sea.
Back at the Big Game Club we lazed in the pool until dinner. Bar & Grill food hit the spot until we made our way back to Big John’s Bar to catch a live band that plays calypso and reggae every night. Some of us lounged on the boat dock next door and gazed at the stars while part of our crew fell asleep on comfortable chaise lounges back on shore. After one last nightcap, the perfect island day came to an end.
The next morning played out the same way. We attempted to return the golf cart but the rental shop was closed. Instead, we zoomed up north again in an attempt to track down another rum & ginger at “that bar with the perfect view.” Unfortunately they were closed and we settled for a beer from a roadside market. One beer turned into two and then three. The cart finally got returned and by mid-afternoon it was time to start thinking about packing our bags and boarding the ferry boat that would take us to a cab that would take us to the airport.
It turns out that you only need about 20 minutes pre-flight time to check in and drop bags for flights from Bimini. We had an hour to kill and it was a beautiful day so we made our way to the bar next door for one last beer. The place was packed with Americans and the Dolphins game was playing loudly on TV. The bartender served us up a bowl of snacks and we drank, watched the game and caught our breath after a wild 48 hours in Bimini.
Only 51 miles from the States, Bimini feels worlds away. Somehow it hasn’t been polluted with chain hotels and fast food restaurants and obnoxious tourists. Locals are fun loving and friendly. They are always there to lend a hand or give directions, usually with a smile and handshake. I can say with confidence that anyone living in S. Florida, or anywhere for that matter, should skip Orlando, Naples and the Keys and jump on a flight for something totally fun and authentic. Get yourself over to Bimini for at least 48 hours of rum and fun. You will never forget it.