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Andros, Bimini, and the Berries have a slightly different high season than most of the other Bahamas islands. Because of their close proximity to Florida, boaters make the crossing in droves from spring break through summer, especially to Bimini. Waters tend to be calmest during these months. Andros and the Berries, because of their famed fishing and diving, experience traffic also in the winter season (mid-December through Easter), but not as much as elsewhere. Fishing and diving are good throughout the year, although cold fronts December through February can cause rough seas. Temperatures usually remain steady enough to enjoy the beaches year-round, but occasionally drop into the 60s. At many resorts rates remain steady throughout the year, except in Bimini and at fishing lodges on the other islands, where they are generally higher in spring and summer. Hurricane season technically runs from June through November; August and September (the most likely months for hurricanes) can be hot and steamy, and many resorts and restaurants are closed.
Junkanoo Celebrations take place in Fresh Creek in Central Andros, Nicholl's Town in North Andros, Alice Town in North Bimini, Bullock's Harbour Park in Great Harbour Cay, and Berry Islands on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year's Day with festivities that include traditional Junkanoo parades, music, dancing, and food.
Though bonefishing is the name of the game on the Andros islands, in April the town of Red Bays in North Andros hosts a Snapper Tournament.
During the second weekend in June, three days of crab races, cook-offs, live Rake ’n' Scrape music, and national musical artists comprise the All Andros Crab Fest in Fresh Creek, held at Queen Park. Expect wild street parties across the Bahamas on July 10, Independence Day. The All Andros & Berry Islands Regatta takes place the second weekend in July, featuring A, B, and C Class Bahamian sailing sloops, local cuisine, and entertainment at Andros Regatta Village on Morgan's Bluff Beach. Don’t let the name fool you; Junkanoo in June —traditional summertime parties with Goombay dancers and musical groups—take place throughout the entire summer on Fridays (and sometimes Saturdays) in Andros, the Berry Islands, and Bimini. On-island tourism offices can provide more details. The Berry Islands celebrate everything conch—from culinary preparations to conch dance competitions—during the Conch Festival held in August. South Andros also hosts a similar festival in Mars Bay in mid-October. The conch-cracking contest is always a highlight there. Bimini hosts the Bahamas Boating Flings (formerly the Bimini Open Angling Tournament) in June and July as well as the Annual Bimini Native Fishing Tournament in August.
Direct commercial flights from the U.S. to the Bahamas’ northwestern islands are few and far between. While Bimini is still accessible via direct flight from Fort Lauderdale on Silver Airways (dba United Express), the islands of Andros and Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands require a flight connection in Nassau unless going by private charter. Most major U.S. carriers fly to Nassau. The onward journey requires a flight on LeAir or Western Air. As strange as it may sound, connecting from North/Central Andros to South Andros or Mangrove Cay requires flying back to Nassau. Private charters and regularly scheduled charters also serve these islands. To get between the Bahamas’ northwestern islands, Captain Paul W. J. Harding (242/357–9876) operates a seaplane that offers bespoke pickup and drop-off points within Bimini, Andros, and the Berry Islands.
Bimini and the Berry Islands are popular with private boaters. A weekend commercial ferry connects Miami to Bimini. Regular ferries (thrice weekly) connect North/Central Andros to Nassau. Ferries do not serve the Berry Islands or Mangrove Cay/South Andros. Those wishing to reach the various islands by old-fashioned mail boat should contact the dockmaster in Potter’s Cay in Nassau. All mail boats leave from Potter’s Cay, and the dockmaster has the most up to date information on which boats sail where. Note that mail boats may make several stops, and due to their infrequency you may be marooned on your chosen island for days, if not weeks, until the next mail boat arrives.
Dockmaster's Office (242/393–1064.)
Dockmaster's Office (242/393–1064.)
Car rentals are available on Andros and on Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands. Don’t expect major companies; rentals are done through micro-enterprises and usually arranged directly by the hotel or lodge. Make sure to call in advance to have a rental car waiting upon arrival at an airport or ferry dock. There are no car-rental agencies on Bimini. Most of Bimini can be accessed on foot, by golf cart, or by tram.
Taxis are readily available at airports to meet incoming commercial flights. Additionally, they are stationed in Alice Town, Bimini, and Fresh Creek, Central Andros, for arrival of regularly scheduled ferries and smaller ports for the arrival of mail boats.
Andros and Bimini banks are open Monday through Thursday 9:30–3 and Friday 9:30-4. All have ATMs. There are no banks on the Berry Islands.
REVA (954/730–9300 or 800/752–4195. www.flyreva.com.)
Andros Medical Clinics (242/329–2055 Nicholl's Town/North Andros; 242/368–2038 Fresh Creek/Central Andros; 242/369–4849 Kemp's Bay/South Andros.)
Andros Police (242/329–2103 North Andros; 242/368–2626 Central Andros; 242/369–0083 Mangrove Cay; 242/369–4733 South Andros.)
Great Harbour Cay Medical Clinic, Berry Islands (242/367–8400. Nurse onsite Mon.–Fri. 9–2.)
Berry Islands Police (242/367–8344.)
North Bimini Medical Clinic (242/347–2210. Mon.–Fri. 9–4.)
Bimini Police (919 fire rescue; 242/347–3144.)
Andros, Bimini, and the Berry Islands have accommodations to suit most tastes, from a handful of luxury properties on private cays (pronounced "keys") and remote beaches to simple fishing lodges and funky hotels with swinging nightlife on weekends. Figure out what you want—service, amenities, activities—then do your homework. Comfortable motel-style accommodations are most common, and usually have a restaurant and bar. Some fishing lodges are not well suited to overall vacationing or for families with small children. Some lodges don't have air-conditioning, in-room telephones and TVs, or Internet. Most do have a phone for guest use on the property, and some will have a computer with Internet in the lobby area. Often you must pay your hotel bill in cash. If these issues are important to you, check with the hotel before you book. And remember, even places that say they have Internet service may not have it all the time, as connections can go on the blink without warning.
Rates typically stay constant throughout the year in Andros and the Berry Islands. In Bimini, spring and summer are high season, and rates reflect that.
Dining in these parts is a casual experience and rarely involves anything fancy. Restaurants, lodges, and inns serve traditional Bahamian fare—fresh seafood, grilled chicken, johnnycake, cracked (deep-fried) conch, and barbecued pork with all the fixings (potato salad, coleslaw, peas ’n' rice, and macaroni and cheese). Call ahead to make sure a restaurant is open; some require you to order your dinner ahead of time. Resort restaurants are often the most dependable source of sit-down meals and most welcome nonguests. Many of the favored food outlets are take-out places. Thatched conch stands and colorful roadside bars are a treat—and a cool way to mingle with the locals.
Restaurant prices are based on the median main course price at dinner, excluding gratuity, typically 15%, which is often automatically added to the bill. Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, excluding service and 6%–12% tax.
Andros Tourism Offices (242/368–2286 Central Andros; 242/369–1688 South Andros. www.bahamas.com/islands/andros.)
Berry Islands Tourism Administrator (242/367–8291. www.bahamas.com/islands/berry.)
Bimini Tourism Office (Alice Town. 242/347–3529. www.bahamas.com/islands/bimini.)
Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board (954/740–8740. www.bahamas.com.)