A couple of weeks ago we took a trip with some of Peter’s baseball teammates and their families to the beautiful island of Bimini in the Bahamas! Despite it being only about 60 miles from Miami where I am born and raised I had actually never visited! I am going to share all about it from the COVID protocol to enter the Bahamas, to our hotel, to the beaches, dining and of course, the aspect of our trip I’ve been asked about the most- the ferry ride!
DISCLAIMER: I wrote this and later heard the week after our trip the COVID protocol changed. Since I’d already written this, I figured I’d leave it in here just in case things revert back to how they were when we traveled.
I will start from the beginning with the COVID protocol. Fortunately (in my opinion anyway, I guess it depends on where you stand on the matter) the Bahamas is no longer requiring proof of COVID vaccine to enter the country! At the risk of possibly losing some followers on IG, I will admit that Peter and I never got the COVID vaccine and needless to say, if we were not comfortable getting it ourselves, we certainly did not have our kids get it. This has been frustrating for me because I love to travel and I have felt a little limited. Fortunately, this all seems to be blowing over and we were welcomed in the Bahamas!
Everyone (vaccinated and non-vaccinated) must COVID test 72 hours prior to travel. You must then complete a health visa online at this webpage at some point before your trip: Bahamas Health Visa. Make sure you have your negative COVID test result before because you need to upload it to the site. Be mentally prepared (because I was not) that completing the health visa is probably going to take you about 15 minutes. It asks all kinds of questions including but not limited to- how you are arriving (air or sea), vessel number if you are coming by sea, where are you staying including address and phone number, where did you COVID test including address and phone number. You will also need to upload a photo of your passport. It was a bit of a process and I had to do this for myself and the kids…. 45 minutes later I told Peter he is an adult and could complete his own! Haha I got a little frustrated because I was not ready to provide all this information so just be warned you need to set some time aside for it. The health visa also has a fee of $60 per adult. I believe it may be $40 for adults who are fully vaccinated against COVID. They did not charge us for our un-vaccinated kids.
While online it says the island still has mask mandates in place, the only time we were asked to wear masks was going through customs. Don’t forget to pack them like I did because then you will need to spend $20 on the ferry to buy some!
Hilton at Resorts World Bimini
We stayed at hate Hilton at Resorts World Bimini. It’s the only hotel of it’s kind on the island so unless you want to look into a VRBO or Airbnb, this is really your only option. The hotel is beautiful in my opinion and the rooms were comfortable and spacious.
We had a balcony with a partial Ocean View and on the other side of the hotel is the marina so from what I could tell, either side had good views!
As a guest of the hotel, you are also granted access to Beach Club 360 and this includes lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and bar service. There was also a pool area that the kids enjoyed where they had a DJ with great music. I’ll be honest- I did not go to the pool area because the beach was too beautiful to be in a pool in my opinion! My kids were lucky we went with friends because Peter and I had already told them we did not travel to the beautiful Bahamas waters to be in a pool!
It’s also worth mentioning that I definitely recommend renting a golf cart. We were able to rent them at Resorts World Bimini. It’s really the best way to get around the island. It was $250 for the time we were there. You should reserve them in advance and payment must be in cash.
I only really had one complaint about the hotel and it’s related to the ferry situation. I’ll get into more detail when I deep dive into the ferry, however, for the sake of reviewing the hotel I will mention that due to the ferry’s departure time, we wanted a late check out. Several of us approached the front desk several times on Saturday (we were checking out Sunday) and we were told every time in order to request late check out we needed to call day of between 7am-10am. Several of us set our Sunday morning alarms at 7am to call and request the late check out to be told since the ferry was arriving with new guests that day, early check out would be impossible. I understand that, however, the hotel had to have known this on Saturday night around 10PM when we inquired about it. Why make us set an early alarm on our last day of vacation? They could have told us from Saturday late checkout was not possible and we would have planned accordingly. Furthermore, I was told with a bit of a rude tone at 7AM that late checkout could not be granted, however, then when part of our group called later in the morning they did grant it.
At the end of the day though, this whole island has a really laid back island life attitude and as you’ll note when I discuss dining, you must be very patient when you are on island time!
We visited two beaches during our trip. They both had beautiful waters!
The first beach we visited was Radio Beach. This is the beach you want to visit for a true Bimini experience since this is the beach locals frequent. You won’t find the bells and whistles of a resort here but it’s a fun and casual island life atmosphere! There are little stands where you can purchase drinks and while still expensive, they are more reasonably priced than at the resort. Nonetheless, I’d recommend bringing a cooler with your own drinks if you want to save some cash. They also have stands that sell food. Our friends had recommended it for breakfast, however, I cannot vouch for the breakfast because there was a very long wait for it and we opted not to wait so we could start enjoying the beach!
You can also purchase fresh coconut water which was delicious and hydrating! They sold alcoholic beverages in the coconuts as well.
The second beach we visited, is the one I’d mentioned above, Beach Club 360. This beach provides a more relaxing atmosphere. They had plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas and they offered restaurant and bar service to the beach. The price tag of the food and drinks of course matches the upgrade in service. We did bring our coolers and they did not tell us they were not allowed so this is definitely an option! If you come by golf cart the parking is also nearby so you can leave your cooler there. The beach is adjacent a really nice bar/restaurant area. It’s also near the pool, which as I mentioned I had no interest in but for those who want to enjoy both beach and pool this is the place for you!
The pool also hosts pool parties with a DJ in the afternoons. While the area by the beach is relaxing, you still can hear the music from the pool. It’s a a decent volume by the beach so I enjoyed it. That being said, I have to imagine it was loud by the pool!
I’ll be honest, I felt food was a little bit of an issue to a certain extent. Bimini totally runs on island time and everyone is just extremely laid back. You need to be ready to wait pretty much anywhere you want to eat so don’t come hungry! We did eat at some delicious places which I’ll share below though!
BIMINI BIG JOHN’S
The first place we dined when we arrived was Bimini Big John’s. This is a dive bar type atmosphere. Peter and I ordered conch fritters and they were delicious! We’d ordered tuna tacos but thanks to the amazing service, we ended up taking them to go. Peter enjoyed them on the beach and said they were really good. I’ll admit I failed a bit at getting food photos this trip. My friend did take these photos at Bimini Big Johns of the bar, the view, and of course, some Kaliks! I’ll also admit that Bimini Big John’s is where my alcohol free journey kind of came to an end. It would probably require it’s own blog post to get into the details of my feelings on it but it was too hard to abstain on this trip and I did end up enjoying a few drinks in moderation! I honestly couldn’t come to the Bahamas and not enjoy a Kalik.
I’ll share that they did have music playing and since it was early in the day, the dance floor was empty. For our big group this was perfect because us moms did dance a little bit with the kids! Our boys also played some ball! It was a good time!
BEACH CLUB 360 DINING
For dinner we had reservations at Beach Club 360. This is part of the resort so it is more upscale than what you will find out on the island. We had a table at the restaurant adjacent to the beach. This was very nice with a beautiful view and relaxing breeze.
Again, terrible service, which did surprise us because it is part of the resort. Fortunately it was a really nice atmosphere. The ladies and I ordered a bottle of white wine so in all honesty the long wait for the food was bearable even though it was disappointing. I am not huge on fish but will eat it when visiting an island like this or while in the Florida Keys since you know it’s extremely fresh. The curry grouper on the menu is AMAZING! I highly recommend.
RADIO BEACH BREAKFAST
The only reason this even gets a spot on here is because my friend happened to take a photo of his meal. The wait was about 20-30 in line to order food and 20-30 minutes for the food to come out. We were looking at about an hour wait to eat and we just wanted to jump in the beautiful blue water! We ordered an early lunch at a place that had just opened, and still took long. Our friends said the breakfast was good though and maybe if you get there early enough it’s worth trying to grab breakfast here. Be warned- they don’t serve coffee! If you need coffee in the mornings, make sure to get your caffeine elsewhere!
STUART’S CONCH SHACK
This was actually one of my FAVORITE meals here! After spending a few hours on Radio Beach, we decided to jump in our golf carts and head to the beach at Beach Club 360 with a stop at Stuart’s Conch Shack. As the name implies, it is a literal shack, as most of the places off the resort are. Do not let this deter you though! They make the fresh conch and lobster salad right before your eyes. It is delicious! I highly recommend visiting if you are in Bimini. Since it’s ‘fast food’ I will also share that surprisingly, the wait was not terrible. They are also known for their Bimini Knock Out Punch. It’s a tropical rum punch with a definite kick!
HEMINGWAY’S RESORTS WORLD BIMINI
For dinner, we had a reservation at Hemingway’s in Resorts World Bimini. This is a sports bar type place located next to the casino. It is our understanding that The Tides was another upscale option at the hotel, however, not a great fit for a group that includes half a little league baseball team with all their siblings!
Hemingway’s definitely provided the best service of all the places we dined at throughout the trip. This is not to say that it was great, especially given that we were a large group, but it was not the extremely long wait times we endured everywhere else.
I went with the simple grilled cheese which was pretty good especially since it was made on the sweet Bimini bread! We also celebrated one of the boys birthdays and they brought out a cake which was really sweet. One of our friends had been in contact with the resort and handled all of our reservations so they did know in advance that we were celebrating a birthday.
NATE’S BIMINI BREAD
For breakfast on Sunday we went on a search for Bimini bread! In retrospect, this is what we should have done the previous day! We went to Nate’s Bimini Bread and it was delicious! It’s a tiny shop in the island. We asked the girl working the shop which bread she recommended and she told us to go with the coconut roll. SO GOOD! We also bought a loaf of traditional bread. This is a definite must if you are visiting Bimini! We were told by the hotel staff that Charlie’s Bimini Bread is also really good! They said when the bread is being cooked you can smell the delicious sweet bread in the oven down the street. Unfortunately, this was on Sunday and they were closed. If we’d had another day we definitely would have checked it out and I definitely want to try it when we come back!
Our final meal was at Edith’s Pizza. Do I even need to say it? Terrible service! Haha Despite the fact that it was empty, the pizza took a long time. HOWEVER, it was WORTH THE WAIT! This pizza is amazing! The bread is Bimini bread. The mix of sweet and savory is delicious! This is a definite must and since it’s pizza, it’s kid friendly. I do not like seafood on my pizza but if you do, everyone who had the lobster pizza raved about it! I did not get a chance to try the pepperoni but according to one of our friends, it was actually the best one! I don’t think you can go wrong!
In summary- Bimini has delicious food, but you need to be patient. You’re on island time!
I saved the best for last! Deep dive into our ferry experience! While we have a boat and the trip is very doable on boat from Miami, we were scared to count on taking our boat and then have bad weather that day and not be able to cross for safety reasons. Additionally, this was somewhat of a team bonding trip with Peter’s baseball team so the idea was for all of us to be together.
I did not do the research on pricing and what not but I know that the ferry was at a better price than flights so we decided to go with it. Oh the ferry! Let’s just say it gave me some great content here! I considered even giving it it’s own post but then decided to keep all things Bimini together.
Somehow, by error, my family of four was given ‘priority’ tickets. We were extremely confused as we were checked into the ferry, given wristbands, and told that we would be able to board to ferry first, sit with the VIPs, and be provided with a snack and drink. I realized the receipt I had showed double the charge to what my friends had paid and well- I had a mini meltdown because I would have never in a million years paid double for priority seats on a ferry ride that is only a couple of hours. Furthermore, we wanted to sit with our friends. Luckily, after going through our credit card statement we realized it was all a mistake, we’d been charged the same as our friends, and we should just enjoy our mistaken ‘VIP’ status. This also gives me an opportunity to share whether or not it’s worth paying for priority status on the ferry.
Our group was five families so needless to say, the opinions on the ferry vary. One family doesn’t mind it as they have done it various times while others were over it from the ride to Bimini. Peter and I did not mind the ferry coming to Bimini, however, we did think it was a lot for the amount of time we were there. Our trip was from Friday- Sunday with Saturday really only being the full day there. You are required to arrive at the port in Ft. Lauderdale at 7AM on the day of departure. We are from Miami so this required leaving our house shortly after 6AM. Between one thing and another, we were not checking into the hotel until 1PM. It was a lot of steps and ‘travel’ time for a 2 day trip. I was ok with that though.
My gripe with the ferry is the day of departure for various reasons. There are people who come and go on the ferry in one day, which is insane in my opinion given the amount of travel time. In order to cater to these travelers, the ferry does not leave Bimini on day of departure until 6PM. Hotel check out is at 11AM and as I explained above, there was no late check out. You likely will not get late checkout if you are traveling on the ferry since there is a new group arriving (ferry only comes Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) and even if you did get late checkout, it’s only until 1PM unless you want to pay extra (I think it was $160ish). That’s a big price tag for a shower. There really is not anything to do in Bimini other than beach and pool so without a hotel room, you are either showering at an outdoor shower by the beach or pool or you are coming back home salty. Not fun.
Also, if you travel with large luggage that cannot be carried on, you need to check it in early so if you have items that you may not want to take to the beach with you but you want handy on the ferry, the hotel cannot hold it and they need to send your bags away. I definitely recommend if you are going out the ferry, make sure to take carryons even if you have to split your belongings in two small bags rather than taking them all in one big bag. It was all just very uncomfortable. They also charge $25 each way per checked in luggage. Ideally, the ferry would leave earlier in the day. Yes, you’d miss time on the island but you would not be on this mission and you’d get home at a reasonable time which is favorable if you are traveling on a school/work night.
The ferry ride back was kind of miserable but we did make the best of it! They do sell drinks on the ferry so we ordered a couple of bottles of Prosecco and I will admit that we laughed it off and had a good time. We did not want to spend more time than necessary on the ferry so we boarded a little late. The ferry is two floors and we almost had to sit upstairs. Luckily, they close off seats by the exit. The staff has learned if some of the first boarders sit there, it gets really hot because of the door opening and closing and passengers start complaining so they prefer no one sit there until it’s almost departure time. Regardless, it’s hot the whole ride. Our friend was able to secure us seats there. Despite the heat, we were extremely lucky to snatch those seats and I’ll explain why…
In case you are wondering about my family’s ‘priority’ status, it appears they sell more ‘VIP’ status seats than actual seats. We did not fit in that section so even if we had wanted to (which we did not because we wanted to be with our friends), we could not sit there. As far as the snack and drink we are provided, it’s a hospital food type sandwich with some mediocre snacks and a bottle of water or can of soda.
I had been told that the huge benefit of the priority status is that you get to disembark the ferry first. After seeing the line to go through customs, I can understand this argument. Here is the thing though, when it was time to get off the ferry, the staff was not looking to see who did or did not have the priority wristbands. We had the seats by the exit so our whole group was let off the ferry before the priority passengers. Let’s say you arrived later, did not fit in the VIP section and you are upstairs. You are at the back of that line. It’s late Sunday night and they only have two customs officers there. You are in for a long miserable night. I absolutely DO NOT recommend paying for priority. It was double the price for nothing. Had I actually paid it, I would have disputed the charge with my credit card company.
We were also very lucky we were at the front of the line. As it was, we got home around 10PM. I am willing to bet the people at the back of the line did not get out of there until past midnight. The ferry travels Sunday, Wednesday and Fridays. IF, and that’s a big IF, we ever did the ferry again, we would possible do Sunday-Wednesday rather than Friday- Sunday. It would give more time on the island making the long travel time more worth it and I am guessing there are not as many people trying to come back on a Wednesday. I could be wrong though. Nonetheless, if you can find another way to get to Bimini, I do not recommend the ferry!
I also want to mention that unlike a cruise or a flight where you go through customs and then retrieve your luggage, here we were supposed to grab our checked in luggage before going through customs. There were no signs or announcements about this. We left the building surprised not to find the luggage outside. I wont bore you all with the details but it was yet another little mission to go through at the end of the night when we just wanted to get home.
Outside of the ferry situation and bad dining service, it was a wonderful trip! We created beautiful memories! These boys may not remember the outcome of this past season or what games they won or lost but they will remember the time they spent together in the beautiful waters of Bimini well into adulthood! I definitely recommend visiting Bimini especially since the water is like no other! I would love to hear about your travels if you do!
Thanks for visiting!
One thought on “All things BIMINI, Bahamas!”
Great post! Thank you! You hit spot on why I have not returned to take the kids… Those ferry stories! I went without kids and took a private flight on one of those little Cessnas. Won’t lie, I was super nervous until after my second glass of wine en route! Arrival and departure was a breeze via that mode of transportation. You also hit the nail in the head about the service. Those Bimini waters though!!