I recently visited the newest port in the Bahamas while sailing on the Carnival Sunshine.
I was on a five-night sailing from Charleston, originally supposed to visit Nassau and Half Moon Cay, but the latter was switched to Bimini. Now I have to admit, I was quite excited about this change, as I know the port is very young, having only opened in the summer of 2021.
However, I was a bit skeptical also – I mean, Bimini is only about 55 miles EAST of Miami, so – how exotic of a place could it be? Well, I was pleasantly surprised and now I want to tell you how to make your visit to Bimini extraordinary.
As I mentioned, the pier at Bimini is very new, only having opened to cruise ships in July of 2021. The official name of the pier is Resorts World Bimini Cruise Port – and while some folks might hold the misconception that this port is privately owned by Virgin Voyages, that is not true. Virgin Voyages does indeed lay claim to a beach club and beach when their ships are in port, they dub this the Virgin Beach Club, however, this beach and club are BOTH open to other cruise ships when they are in port.
Despite being able to accommodate ships of all sizes, including the Royal mega-ships that are the largest in the world, the port can accommodate only one cruise ship at a time, which is nice because Bimini is a small island with only about 2,000 residents. Bimini is composed of three islands – North Bimini, South Bimini, and East Bimini and there is only a ferry that connects these islands. Bimini’s airport is on South Bimini, while the port is on North Bimini.
All of the cruise lines that call on Bimini, which is pretty much all of them at this point, offer various excursions, including day passes to Resorts World. Resorts World is a large resort complex just north of the port area, featuring a large beach club complete with large pools and a beach, as well as a casino and hotels. Resorts World operates a free tram that departs the pier and travels to multiple stops on the north end of North Bimini. You can access this free tram right off the ship, just proceed to the aft of the ship and you will see the queue for the tram, as well as some attendants who can help you out with any questions you may have. You can also choose to walk out of the port area yourself if you’d like, via a designated walkway right beside the tram road.
The first stop on the tram is the Beach Club at Resorts World – this is where you will exit if you have a cruise ship excursion for the beach club, known by some of the cruise lines as Beach 360. The next stop on the tram ride is a popular one and one I am going to focus on to highlight what is arguably the best thing you can do on your visit to Bimini. This second tram stop is at Paradise Beach – and here you can partake in a whole host of pay-as-you-go beach day activities. They have all sorts of water gear for rent, as well as for-rent loungers and umbrellas. They also rent out golf carts at this stop and that was exactly where I was headed on my visit.
At just $60 for the whole day, renting a golf cart was much more budget-friendly than some of the other excursions offered in Bimini.
And, the golf cart I rented fit up to four people, so you’re only really paying about $15 per person. You really can not beat that. And the only thing I was asked to provide to rent the golf cart was the money – there was no check of my license, no paperwork, or rental agreements. I handed over the payment and I was off.
You have free roam of the island of North Bimini on the golf cart – there were no limits. The rental attendant said the island of North Bimini was about 7 miles long and that there should be no issues with fuel; believe me, I made sure to ask to ensure I would not get stranded anywhere. Heading south from Paradise Beach and the Resorts World area will take you into Alice Town, the center of tourist trade on the island of Bimini. The main road through Bimini is known as Queen’s Highway, and it’s important to note that they drive on the left side of the road in Bimini, so please be cautious if driving a golf cart or other vehicle on their roads. It was cool to see just how much of the traffic on Bimini roads was made up of golf carts. It seemed like many others from my ship had the same idea as me.
After passing the selection of restaurants and shopping in Alice Town, I was soon to the south end of North Bimini. The road dead ends, but if you keep going off the pavement and onto the sand, you will soon discover a BEAUTIFUL beach at the end of the trail. I was amazed at the gorgeous blue waters and large waves that crashed against the rocky beach. This southern tip of North Bimini provided a great lookout over to South Bimini, just a short distance away. Unfortunately, there is no bridge, so a ferry is the only way to access South Bimini from North, and vice versa.
There is a shipwreck located just near the southern tip of North Bimini – the attendant at the golf cart rental mentioned it, but I had to stop and ask a local where it was located. There is a cemetery located where the Queen’s Highway ends and the dirt path to the southern point begins. If you go behind this cemetery, you will see the shipwreck and it is a great place to snap some photos.
This southern point beach was not the only beautiful beach on Bimini. Since the majority of the island is residential and the only resorts are on the north end of the island, most of the beaches you will encounter are free of charge to visit. And, if you’re on a golf cart, that makes beach hopping a breeze! Small roads are extending off of the main Queen’s Highway as you travel north-south on the island, and any of these will take you to a more residential street – this street offers easy access to all the beaches along the west side of the island — and these are some beautiful beaches that you do not want to miss. Radio Beach, Blister Beach, and Spook Hill are all located along this road. I would recommend planning on spending an afternoon laying out or enjoying the beautiful water and waves on one of these. And, there are local restaurants located nearby these beaches where you can grab lunch.
After relaxing on the beach for a while, it was time to head north again toward the large resort. Just south of the resort itself is the Resorts World Marina. Here you can find shopping and a few restaurants – including a full convenience store. This is handy in case you need any items, aspirin, medicine, or anything else you might not be able to find on the ship.
I enjoyed exploring the beautiful island of Bimini and its spectacular beaches, but all too soon it was time to return the golf cart and head back to the ship. The golf cart return was a breeze! I just pulled it back into the same parking lot I retrieved it from and that was it – no paperwork or check out or anything but a head nod to the attendant. And, there was a tram stop located in the very same parking lot! After a short ride on the tram, I was back to the pier and just steps from the gangway back onto the ship.
If you’re not yet booked on a cruise that calls on Bimini, I highly recommend that you find an itinerary and ship that calls on this stunning island. Despite my preconceived notions that this would just be another Bahamian port like Freeport or Nassau, I found Bimini to be more like an eastern Caribbean island, with its crystal clear blue waters, stunning natural beaches, and unique port experience. Visit as soon as you can before the inevitable build-up of this port, which is currently absent of Diamonds International, Senor Frogs, and other Caribbean port staples.
And if you are booked on a cruise that will soon visit Bimini, I cannot encourage you enough to seek out a golf cart rental for the day. The price that you will pay – around $60 for a four-seater or around $90 for a six-seater – will beat any excursion that you could book and you will have free rein to explore this beautiful place. And all of the locals are so friendly – everyone took time to wave and greet me anywhere I wandered on my golf cart. Do not miss this unique opportunity!