Bimini is a district of the Bahamas composed of a chain of islands. The largest islands are North Bimini and South Bimini. The District of Bimini also includes Cay Sal Bank, more than 62 miles (100 km) further south, which is geographically not a part of the Bimini Islands but a separate unit. North Bimini is about seven miles (11 km) long and 700 feet (210 m) wide. Its main settlement is Alice Town, a collection of shops, restaurants, and bars surrounding a single road known as "The King's Highway".
South Bimini houses an airstrip, South Bimini Airport, and offers a quiet alternative to the slow bustle of North Bimini. There is a small community of homes on South Bimini known as Port Royale.
Bimini is located about 53 miles (81 km) due east of Miami, Florida and is the closest point in the Bahamas to the mainland United States.
The ocean surrounding the islands, best known for fishing, is considered by many to be one of the world's top fishing spots. Because Bimini is 53 miles (81 km) due east of Miami, Florida, many American anglers go to the island by boat to fish or to enjoy the local nightlife. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular activities, as there are many shipwrecks in the area.
Bimini became better known in the United States when Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. spent much of the time during which he was expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives (January 1967 to April 1969) in self-imposed exile on Bimini.
Bimini is home to several landmarks said to contain mystical properties of abstruse origins. Much of the historical data about these places is speculative in nature, and experts in various fields have opined across the full spectrum of explanation. The most contentious of these sites is The Bimini Road.
During the period of Prohibition in the United States, Bimini was a favorite haven and supply point for the rum-running trade. Some claim that the term "the real McCoy" was applied to the rum provided by William S. McCoy, who used Bimini to transport whiskey to America during the Prohibition era.
In May 1987, Colorado Senator Gary Hart's presidential bid was derailed after media reports exposed an affair with model Donna Rice. Photos taken of the Senator on an overnight trip to Bimini on the yacht Monkey Business fed the media frenzy. An intimate photo of Rice sitting on the lap of Hart on one of Bimini's docks was the nail in the coffin for Hart's campaign for the presidency.
The Bimini Road
Between 1930 and 1940, American clairvoyant Edgar Cayce
stated in a well documented prediction that remnants of the Lost City of Atlantis
would be found off the coast of Bimini in 1968 or 1969. In September 1969, the half-mile of precisely aligned limestone blocks that compose what is now called the "Bimini Road" were discovered offshore of Paradise Point on North Bimini. After ten underwater archeological expeditions beginning in 1974, historian Dr. David Zink is convinced that the stones are megalithic
in nature and were placed by humans. Gavin Menzies
, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America
, believes they might be the creations of shipwrecked Chinese voyagers. Others say that they are the result of dredging, tidal fluctuations or sea deposits called beach rock
. Whether these stones are in fact proof of a lost civilization, the work of stranded sailors or merely a natural geological formation has yet to be determined.
The Fountain of Youth
Juan Ponce de León
and his search for the Fountain of Youth
included references to Bimini. Arawak
spoke of a land called "Beimini" where the fountain could be found. Although the location was erroneously associated with the Bahamas, the natives referred to a location in the Gulf of Honduras
. Though de León's expedition brought him to Florida
, the fountain was rumored to exist within the shallow pools of South Bimini. Today there is a small freshwater well with a plaque commemorating the Fountain of Youth. The location is on the road leading to the South Bimini Airport
Found within the salt water mangrove forest that covers four miles of North Bimini is The Healing Hole, a pool that lies at the end of a network of winding tunnels that stretch underground. During outgoing tides, these channels pump cool, mineral-laden fresh water into the pool. Natural lithium and sulfur are two of the minerals said to be contained in these waters, which seem to exhibit curative properties, as people express a sense of mental and physical rejuvenation after their visit.
Bimini is home to several unique, endemic and threatened species. The Bimini Boa (Epicrates striatus fosteri) protected by Bahamian law is the largest of the terrestrial reptiles on Bimini. The Bimini Ameiva (Ameiva auberi richmondi) is a very common, fast moving lizard on the island. The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) is one of the rarest fish in the world, sometimes listed as Critically Endangered by conservation groups.
Among Port Royale's notable residents was Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.. The popular singer Jimmy Buffett also spent some time on South Bimini while writing one of his books. South Bimini was also home to Colonel Joseph Mackey, the founder of Mackey Airlines which was later bought by Eastern Airlines. He built a home on the very southern tip of South Bimini. This structure would become the Sunshine Inn and is currently a bar and restaurant, though the hotel is gone. For many years, South Bimini had few tourists because there were few accommodations other than private homes.
Bimini Bay controversy
In May 2008, marine conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau criticized Bimini Bay Resort, calling it a "catastrophe" and announcing, "allowing Bimini Bay to continue with phase II would certainly strip this island paradise of its precious natural riches. Over time, visitors and residents alike will suffer the decline of economic, social and environmental prosperity... In response, some Bimini residents disagreed with Cousteau and voiced their support for Bimini Bay Resort, citing its environmental protections and economic promise.
- A 500 lb. Blue Marlin caught off the coast of Bimini inspired Ernest Hemingway to write The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in The Stream.
- Ernest Hemingway lived on Bimini in the 1930s. He worked on To Have and Have Not and wrote a few articles, but mostly he fished aboard his boat Pilar, trolling the deep blue offshore waters for marlin, tuna and swordfish. Hemingway was attracted to Bimini by tales of the incredible fishing available in the Gulf Stream, the legendary “river” of warm water that rushes north past the Bahamas.
- The last scene of the film The Silence of the Lambs (1991) takes place at the Chalk's airline seaplane ramp on North Bimini.
- Chalk's Ocean Airways Flight 101 was en route to Bimini when it crashed on December 19, 2005; at least eleven of the passengers were Bimini residents.
- The 1921 Ted Lewis Song "Bimini Bay" is about the island of Bimini and its 1920s night life.
- On January 13 2006 one of the most famous bars in Bimini, The Compleat Angler burned to the ground in a raging fire. The bar is best remembered for the photographs of Ernest Hemingway that once lined its walls; these photos were lost in the fire.
- In the Billy Squier holiday song Christmas Is the Time to Say "I Love You" Bimini is referenced in the line that sings "Santa guides his reindeer through the dark / from rooftop to chimney, from Harlem to Bimini."
- The wreck of the SS Sapona is a popular area for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Sapona ran aground in 1926 during a hurricane. The top of the ship is exposed to the air while the bottom half is submerged. Parts of the wreck were stripped over the years and some of the wood was used in the construction of the Compleat Angler Hotel and bar on North Bimini.
- In the movie "The Ref", one of the things the annoying neighbor dressed as Santa Claus says is "Willard called the radio station from Bimini when he found out about the robberies..."
Other meaning of Bimini
(Bi-mini), meaning Mother of Many Waters, Bibi (Mother) and Mini (Waters), is a term and name in the Taino Native American
Indian language of the Caribbean islands and is the original Pre-Columbian Taino Arawak name for the present day U.S. state of Florida
Bimini top A type of canvas shelter on a small boat.
- Cayce, Edgar Evans. Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, Warner Books, 1988. ISBN 0-446-35102-4
- Menzies, Gavin. 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Harper Perennial; 1st Perenn Edition, 2004. ISBN 0-06-054094-X
- Zink, Dr. David. The Stones of Atlantis, Prentice Hall Trade, 1978. ISBN 0-13-846923-7
- Kresge, Dave. VantagePoint Guide to Bimini, VantagePoint Guides, 2005. ISBN 0-9729589-1-6
- Saunders, Ashley. History of Bimini, Volume I, New World Press 2000. ISBN 0-80-829-219 (S)