After recovering from our exciting Gulf Stream crossing (re: sleeping our first day away), we set off to explore this tiny speck of land that hails itself as the ‘Island in the Steam’. The first thing we noticed was the color of the water. Key West was more green/teal, where this is more aqua/turquoise. It’s beautiful. And warm! Matt was ready to jump in right at the marina, but was warned that bull sharks frequent the area looking for the scraps the local fisherman throw out, and quickly changed his mind about going for a swim.
We set out along the main drag – Kings Highway – to do some exploring on foot. Directly across from our marina was the charred remains of the Compleat Angler, a favorite spot of Ernest Hemingway. It was destroyed by a fire in 2006, but one of our guidebooks still lists it as being not only open, but ‘the spot to see and be seen’ in Bimini. Hmmm. I think I might not reference that book anymore.
True to a small, underdeveloped foreign town, many of the businesses along the main drag look like they were either closed permanently, or were in someone’s living room. We were unsure a few places were even in business until we saw someone walk out the darkly tinted door with a bag in their hand. They could definitely benefit from some better advertising around here. We stopped by BTC – the phone/internet company of the Bahamas – to get a new SIM card put in our phones so we can connect to the Internet if WiFi is not available. $30 for 2GB of data. Not too bad I guess.I spent the better part of two hours sitting in their lobby trying to get the card to work in my phone. It finally does, so you’re welcome in advance for all of the amazing content that’ll be coming your way.
We discovered several beach front stands selling fresh conch salad, with mounds of shells piled in the water to stand tribute to how much business they’ve done over the years. The conch is cut up into chunks and served raw with a mix of peppers, onions, tomatoes and a whole lime squeezed on top. Sort of like ceviche. It was amazing. And I haven’t had to run to the bathroom yet, so I’m assuming it was prepared properly. We also discovered Edith’s pizza shop, which made Matt super happy. It took nearly 45 minutes to get a 10” personal pizza, but it was delicious and well worth the wait. Hey, it’s Island Time around here.
At the Northern end of the island, they’re in the process of building a huge resort and casino. Apparently the construction company is partly owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines, so you can see where they’re trying to go with that. What is finished is absolutely beautiful, but it was a ghost town. I’m guessing this is what an offshore tax haven looks like. Either way, it was sorta creepy to be the only ones walking around that weren’t part of the construction crew or resort staff. Talking to a security guy in the casino, they have a high speed ferry that comes over from Miami, but because the weather had been so rough lately, the ferry hasn’t been running. So, we had the whole place to ourselves.
At the Southern end, we discovered a small cemetery and a deserted beach with a great view of the Atlantic. Washed up on the beach were dozens of what I’m guessing were dried up squid? They were all puffed up like balloons and popped like bubble wrap when you stepped on them. Which I did to a few, of course.
On our way back from the southernmost beach, we passed a marina that was packed full of sailboats. It was actually the marina we had wanted to stay at because of their super low prices and close proximity to the main inlet, but saw they were full when we sailed past coming in the other morning. We couldn’t believe our eyes. There were dozens of cruisers (some young ones too!) hanging out on their little beach, playing beach volleyball and lounging by the BBQ area having happy hour. It looked like heaven. We grabbed a Kalik and lurked at their bar trying to catch someones attention but ended up feeling like creepers and left. Compare that to the cruiser group at our marina, which mind you, is less than a quarter mile up the road. They’re a bunch of power boaters (older) and spend most of their time dissecting the weather and having extremely organized potluck dinners. It felt like the series, Lost, and we were stuck with the group on the back side of the island with the tyrant rulers in the little compound (aka The Others) while the cooler group (the one with Jack, duh!), frolicked on the beach just over on the other side. So close, but like two different worlds. Geeze. Guess we got sorted into the wrong crowd. We did meet a cool Canadian named Claude who was on a Jeanneau 39 with his adorable lab, Rosie. He was also outcast from the powerboat group. Maybe that’s why he was so much fun.
Next up: crossing the Grand Bahama Bank to the Northwest Channel en route to Nassau!