Bimini Reefs & Fish, Bahamas
Bimini Reefs & Fish, Bahamas

Ernest Hemingway lived on Bimini from 1935 to 1937, staying at the Compleat Angler Hotel. He worked on To Have and Have Not and wrote a few articles, but mostly he fished aboard his boat Pilar, trolling the deep blue offshore waters for marlin, tuna and swordfish. Hemingway was attracted to Bimini by tales of the incredible fishing available in the Gulf Stream, the legendary 'river' of warm water that rushes north past the Bahamas. A 500 lb. Blue Marlin caught off Bimini allegedly inspired Hemingway to write The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in The Stream.

The largest islands are North Bimini and South Bimini. The District of Bimini also includes Cay Sal Bank, more than 62 miles (100 km) further south, which is geographically not a part of the Bimini Islands but a separate unit. North Bimini is about seven miles (11 km) long and 700 feet (210 m) wide. Its main settlement is Alice Town, a collection of shops, restaurants, and bars surrounding a single road known as The King's Highway.

South Bimini houses an airstrip, South Bimini Airport, and offers a quiet alternative to the slow bustle of North Bimini. There is a small community of homes on South Bimini known as Port Royale. For many years, South Bimini tourists were limited to boaters because there were few accommodations other than private homes.

Juan Ponce de León and his search for the Fountain of Youth included references to Bimini. Arawak and/or Taino spoke of a land called 'Beimini' where the fountain could be found. Although the location was erroneously associated with the Bahamas, the natives referred to a location in the Gulf of Honduras. Though de León's expedition brought him to Florida, the fountain was rumored to exist within the shallow pools of South Bimini. Today there is a small freshwater well with a plaque commemorating the Fountain of Youth. The location is on the road leading to the South Bimini Airport.

Found within the salt water mangrove forest that covers four miles of North Bimini is The Healing Hole, a pool that lies at the end of a network of winding tunnels that stretch underground. During outgoing tides, these channels pump cool, mineral-laden fresh water into the pool. Natural lithium and sulfur are two of the minerals said to be contained in these waters, which seem to exhibit curative properties, as people express a sense of mental and physical rejuvenation after their visit.

Other water activities include para-sailing, windboarding, and a tourist submarine. One of the hotels has captive dolphins that put on shows with tourists each day for approximately $100 per person.

South Bimini was home to Colonel Joseph C. Mackey, the founder of Mackey Airlines which was later bought by Eastern Airlines. He built a home on the very southern tip of South Bimini. This structure would become the Sunshine Inn and is currently a bar and restaurant, though the hotel is gone.

Among Port Royale's other notable residents was Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who was excluded from the U.S. House of Representatives because of allegations that he misappropriated Committee funds for his personal use. He stayed in Bimini from January, 1967 to April, 1969 in self-imposed exile until the Supreme Court ruled that the House had acted unconstitutionally when it excluded Powell, a duly elected member.

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