Touring Bimini Island from a Cruise Ship
We just got back from a cruise on the Carnival Magic. (nice ship) One of the ports of call was to Bimini Island in the Bahamas, which we had never been to. I knew there was a ferry from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini, but I did not know that cruise ships were stopping there. Apparently it is a new thing…And boy was it worth it! We were the only ship at the dock, which made it nice. But there are plenty of things to do on the island to spread people out.
Bimini Island is a very small island at only 7 miles long and 700 feet wide. It is sort of in the shape of a triangle with gaps at one of the corners. South Bimini is much larger, but inaccessible from where the cruise ship docks. The eastern part of North Bimini is also much larger, but that part is mostly wilderness. Alice Town and other things to do are all on the strip of land where the cruise ship docks.
Transportation on Bimini Island
One thing we almost never do on a safe island is take the cruise ship excursions. The ship’s excursions to the beach were $65 for two people to hang out a resort and pay for their food and drinks. We had already decided to figure out a way to get to the beach on our own. We always bring our snorkel equipment, so we never need to rent any. You will have a pretty good view of The Island from the ship when it’s at the dock, so you can spot Radio Beach way at the southern tip (see picture).
The Resorts World Tram Service and Beach Excursion
The Resorts World Bimini is located north of the cruise port terminal, and sponsors a free tram which will take you from the dock (close to where the ship is) to the hotel to spend the day at their pool and Beach 360. That is also a paid cruise excursion. At the time this was written, it was $64.99 for 2 people which included a welcome drink and 2 beach chairs. The Resorts World Bimini sits on 4.5 acres, and features two lagoon pools, lounge chairs and day beds, hammocks, oceanfront and poolside private cabanas, and two bars. If you want a no-hassle day where everything is taken care of for you, then definitely do this excursion. There was a huge line for this, so we know most of the passengers participated in this excursion.
Alice Town and Radio Beach by Golf Cart or Tram
If you want to go into Alice Town or to Radio Beach, which are both south of the dock, you can either rent a golf cart for $60 per day or take a $5 per person taxi-tram into town. You will have to walk the entire way down a very long pier to get to the main road on land. There is an information booth at the very end where the pier road ends at the main island road.
You will pass the golf cart storage area as you walk down the pier road, don’t go there. That’s just where they store the carts, not where you rent them. You rent golf carts and pick up the taxi-tram from the information booth on the main road. If you choose the taxi-tram, keep in mind that you will have to wait for a return tram, and there is no set schedule. If you are willing to do all of that, then the taxi-tram is the way to go. If you have 4 people in your group, then you might consider the golf carts because you can take them all the way to the southern tip of the island and park near the beach, then come back when you want.
The taxi-tram driver gave us a little tour, talking about the history of the island as we drove into town. However, the sound system was so bad we could not understand one word she said. I did include pictures here for you to see what the drive was like. It was cool because the island is so narrow in places that you can see water on both sides of the street. It is about a 5 to 10 minute ride into town which is where the entrance to the beach is. If you want to go all the way to the southern tip of the island, you will either have to walk or take a golf cart.
Sport Fishing on Bimini Island
As many of you know, Bimini is known for it’s sports fishing. You can book a fishing charter at the marina or go to Radio Beach where there are boats anchored right in the shallows that you can swim up to and charter. They run about $400 for half day and $800 for full day. Here is the business card I got from one of them. I have no idea how good they are or if they’re legit, but the boats looked nice and the taxi driver seemed to think they were ok. Definitely book at your own risk. Or you can book a fishing excursion through the cruise line if you want that security. You can also check out the Bimini Bahamas website for more info. I took a picture of the business card in the taxi, so it’s a bit blurry.
Once the tram drops you off near the shopping stalls, it’s just a short walk up the sidewalk to get to the beach. Right at the beach entrance, you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and there is Sherry’s Paradise Beach Bar has cold drinks and food. We chose to walk south along the beach to find the wreck that we heard about. We were told that it was a good place to snorkel. It was only about half a mile south of the entrance to Radio Beach, and the walk was just beautiful. We were the only ones on the beach which made it even better. Make sure you bring some sneakers to walk along the beach there, because it is not sandy in a lot of places. It’s basically one giant flat rock, but it can be rough for bare feet.
Snorkeling on Bimini Island
We found the wreck pretty easily, but it was almost completely out of water, so not a great place to snorkel. My husband went in, but I stayed on shore. It was a little rough getting in, and the wreck is made of sharp, rusted metal. So I didn’t want to chance it. Getting in was not easy, because the rocks were large and sharp and the waves were smashing up against them. It was only about another hundred yards past the wreck to the get to the very tip of the island.
There, we found a nice place to snorkel but it’s right next to the Channel where the charter boats go in and out, so be very careful and stick close to the rocks. It was easier to get into the water there because there was a sloped area that was protected from direct waves. The beach there is nice and sandy to sit on for people who don’t want to go in the water. We saw so many fish even just standing knee deep! The fish that we saw snorkeling around the far tip of the point were really beautiful. But it was a little windy out there so the conditions were a little bit rough at times. It was fine for an experienced snorkel or diver. We are both certified divers, so it was fine with us.
Beachcombing on Bimini
After we were finished snorkeling, we walked back to Radio Beach and had an ice cold beer from Sherry’s Paradise Beach Bar. It’s a cute open-air place where you can get food and drinks. While at the beach we found tons of shells, including lots of Queen Conch shells that were sitting in the sand. Never pick one out of the water because there could be something living in it. It is illegal to take Queen Conch shells with a living or dead animal inside. They will ask you when you board the ship if you got the shells off the sand or out of the water, so best to just pick them up out of the dry sand. And they’re everywhere, so that is easy to do.
We found lots of other shells there as well, so if you enjoy beachcombing, this is definitely the place to go. It is legal to collect shells there and bring them back into the U.S. The water temperature was perfect and it was so clear that it was very pleasant to just walk around in the water.
How to Get Back to the Ship
We hung out at the beach for about three hours before heading back into town (about a 5 minute walk). There are several little shops for T-shirts and gifts where you wait for the tram, so we looked around while we waited. But we waited quite a while, and there was no tram in sight, so a taxi stopped and offered to take us back to the dock for $5 each. We took that deal and had a nice ride back. There are some duty-free shops not far from the cruise ship terminal where the taxis generally stop. They sell cigars in other items if that is something you are looking for.
On the walk down the pier to the ship we saw a sea turtle swimming alongside us…so cool! It’s a long walk back, and it’s hot, so be prepared. But the view of the beach by the pier is beautiful. It’s a very pristine area around the dock.
The Bimini Fast Ferry from Fort Lauderdale
We did see the Bimini Fast Ferry from Fort Lauderdale on the way back. That boat is amazing! It looks like something space-aged. Apparently the ride is about 2 hours. There are different prices you can pay, for day trips, one way, or returning on a different day. The ferry also has service from Bimini to Freeport Bahamas. So you can always take a day trip there if you are staying on Bimini for some time. The Bahamas DO require proof of vaccination, so be sure you have that in order before you plan your trip. Only those who were vaccinated against COVID-19 were allowed off the ship onto Bimini. They are strict about this. Check out the Bimini Fast Ferry website for more information on tickets and schedules.
It was nice to go where there were no crowds, because most people take the tram to the Resorts World Beach and hang out at their expansive pool and beach. So if you want a relaxing day on a stunning beach, this is the place to do it. We really enjoyed Bimini island and would definitely take a ship that goes back there. I did make a video with all of this information (plus video) on my YouTube Channel.