Bimini is a small island that is part of the Bahamas. It’s the closest Caribbean Island to Miami, Florida; just Southeast of Grand Bahama. You can either take a two-hour ferry from Fort Lauderdale/Miami or charter a seaplane. I decided on the later and flew with Fly tropic - a quick 25-minute flight out of Fort Lauderdale’s charter terminal. It was fun to take off from a runway at the airport but land in the water and moor up to a wooden dock on the island.
GREAT HAMMERHEAD DIVE
Great Hammerheads are found all over the world in tropical waters. Bimini Island is one of the places known for Great Hammerheads and I choose it because it was close to home.
The dive I did was ‘baited’, which was my first and had mixed feelings about it.
During the dive, we were treated to 4 hammerheads and 1 tiger shark! There were also easily 10-12 nurse sharks hanging around the bait cage.
The dive started ~10 am and was given two tanks and 90 minutes to dive with them. The dive is shallow (10.5m/34.4ft) so one tank could possibly last you that long. I was down there for 75 minutes and came up because I was getting cold. During the safety briefing, you are given a PVC pole and how to use it if one of the sharks approach you.
The hammerheads and tiger shark were hand-fed into their mouth by the dive guide. The sharks could care less about the 12 of us hanging out watching them and kept swimming in circles back to the bait cage to get fed. They’re used to the dive guides being there and return to this area knowing they will be fed. There is a biological field station on Bimini that does a lot of great research on many shark species that come through Bimini. The thing that I didn’t like about the bait is the way the nurse sharks were treated. The dive guide who was feeding the sharks would take a pole and jab the nurse sharks with it when they got too close to the bait. That didn’t sit well with me. I talked to one of the guides after about it and they said the nurse sharks have thick skin and it wasn’t harming them. She also showed me some bruises she got from them by not shooing them off. Still, I didn’t like seeing the nurse sharks being treated like that.
The island itself is small and not a resort town so not very touristy. People who do come to the island are there to dive with the sharks or go fishing. The locals are all nice and was able to walk to most places. One place frequented by both locals and tourists is Joe’s Conch Shack which as you can guess serves up conch salad 2 different ways; mango/pineapple and traditional tomato. If you like spicy you must try their homemade hot sauce! It definitely has a kick to test before you dump it on! If you’re lucky you will get to watch the locals harvest the Queen Conch to use in the salad and witness the massive mountain of conch shells that you can swipe for a souvenir.