Imagine that you have just taken ownership of your new (or new to you) catamaran in South Florida. And what better way to put your yacht to the test than to take her for a sail across the Gulf Stream and to the Bahamas? More often than not, this will be the first destination to many new owners.
The Bahamas is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the South Florida lifestyle and get yourself in tune with the cruising lifestyle. With the help of Leopard Brokerage Sales Agent and accomplished Bahamian traveler Michelle Ropiza, and some of our Leopard Owners, this article will be the first of a five part series where each week we feature a different region or chain of islands in the Bahamas. After Bimini, we will feature Abacos, Eleuthera, Exumas and the Out Islands, so be sure to check in with us weekly so you don’t miss out!
Clearing Customs in Bimini
Bimini seems like the most sensible place to start, considering it is only a 50 mile sail from South Florida. In Bimini you can clear customs on the North Island or the South Island. If you clear on the North Island we recommend visiting the Bimini Big Game Club. Originally opened in 1936 as the unofficial capital for big game fishing tournaments, this club has attracted sportsmen from all around the world. Being one of the first hotels in Bimini, it is quite an interesting place that boasts a rich history.
For boats over 30 feet, clearing customs will set you back $300 and this covers a boat with four people or less. The fee covers the cruising permit, fishing permit, customs and immigration charges and the $15 per person departure tax for up to four people. Each person above four is charged a $15 departure tax
If you opt to clear in South Bimini, Bimini Sands is the perfect place to do this. They have floating docks, an infinity pool for relaxing, a nice little beach area and a restaurant. You may also fill up on fuel and water here if needed. There are condos available for rent around the marina if you feel the need to shake out your sea legs and the airport is not too far, should friends and family want to fly in for a visit.
Bimini's Best Diving SpotsBimini boasts gin-clear waters as well as some of the most beautiful blue and turquoise waters you have ever seen. We could go as far as to say that the water colors of Bimini are unrivaled! This piece of paradise will provide you with the feeling of remoteness that you are searching for, and you will have a hard time believing you are only a short day’s sail from Miami. Because of the deep drop off, Bimini is a fisherman's dream and as you can imagine there are plenty of great places for snorkeling and diving. One place of interest for divers is the Sapona Wreck. Sapona is/was a concrete cargo steamer that ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926 and the wreck is still visible above water.
If you are looking for a secluded anchorage, South Cat Cay, located south of South Bimini, is the perfect place to unwind. On North Bimini, if you are looking for some beachside rest and relaxation, we recommend a place unofficially referred to as Blue Lagoon Beach which is just around the top of the island on the outside. Take a stroll along the shoreline to discover good beach finds and more conch shells than your eyes will believe. When you consider the beaches, the waters, the fishing, and the proximity to South Florida, we believe that Bimini, Bahamas is a boat owner’s nirvana. Whether you are new to the cruising lifestyle or you have circumnavigated the Caribbean thrice, do yourself a favor and find bliss in Bimini, Bahamas.