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Bimini

Bimini has long been known as the Bahamas' big game-fishing capital. Bimini's strong tourist season falls from spring through summer, when calmer seas mean the arrival of fishing and pleasure boats from South Florida. The nearest of the Bahamian islands to the U.S. mainland, Bimini consists of two main islands and a few cays just 50 miles east of Miami, across the Gulf Stream that sweeps the area's western shores. Most visitors spend their time on bustling North Bimini; South Bimini is quieter and more eco-oriented. Except for the vast new Resorts World Bimini development that occupies the island's northern third, most of the hotels, restaurants, churches, and stores in Bimini are in capital Alice Town and neighboring Bailey Town and Porgy Bay, along North Bimini's King's and Queen's highways. Along the east coast of North Bimini are long beaches; on the west, the protected harbor, docks, and marinas. Most of the islands' 2,500 inhabitants reside in the southern 2-mile southern built-up area. Although Alice Town is walkable, the preferred (and fun) way to scoot around is by golf cart. Resorts World Bimini has increased North Bimini's bustle and economy. Three times a week, its Superfast Bimini cruise ship brings over between 500 and 1,000 guests from Miami who spread around the island enjoying its beaches, eateries, bars, nightclubs, and casino.

Sparsely populated South Bimini is where Juan Ponce de León allegedly looked for the Fountain of Youth in 1513, and a site with a well and natural trail memorialize it. More engaging, however, is the island's biological field station, known as the Sharklab for its study of lemon-, hammerhead-, and nurse-shark behavior and tracking, among other things. The main resort on this island is the modern, marina-based, Bimini Sands Resort & Marina with its South Bimini Beach Club in the south, which both stride a gorgeous mile-long beach and are home to the famous Neal Watson's Bimini Scuba Center. South Bimini is much more low key than North Bimini, a slower pace loved by hundreds of visiting residents (and some visiting boating partiers) who have built nearly 80 homes in Port Royal on the island's southern tip.

Salvagers, gunrunners, rum-runners, and the legendary Ernest Hemingway peopled the history of Bimini. Hemingway wrote much of To Have and Have Not and Islands in the Stream here between fishing forays and street brawls.

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