Bimini has long been a beloved port of call for boaters and anglers, but with the opening of the new Hilton Resorts World Bimini, this Bahamas outpost 53 miles east of mainland Florida is morphing into a destination for leisure travelers looking for an upscale Out Islands vacation close to home, too.
We’re just back from the official opening of this 300-room North Bimini resort hotel and found that, overall, the Hilton seems ready to go. Guest rooms — modular units built overseas and shipped to Bimini — are complete apart from few suites. The overall sense of polish is enhanced by the resort’s clean and modern design, with Scandinavian inspired glass, dark wood and chrome furniture and finishings paired with subtly nautical touches, like textured panels resembling the sandy sea bottom. Outside light floods every public space in the hotel, notably the main ballroom in the meeting center (which also has a wraparound, ocean-view balcony) and the casino — the only one we have seen with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Standard guest rooms are appointed with tan and white bedding blends and brown wood floors that extend into the bathroom and even the shower stalls. Twin bowl sinks and a large lighted mirror are nice touches, and a window with slatted shades lets the sun into the shower. The resort’s room count includes 18 suites, which despite spacious interiors only sleep two guests; adjoining suites can be connected, however. The freeform pool that runs the length of the resort can be directly accessed from ground floor “pool suites.”
The Hilton has six restaurants, including a welcoming sushi bar in the lobby with low tables that are ideal for noshing and conversation; the sashimi and rolls we sampled during the opening weekend reception were fresh and expertly prepared. A raw bar and cocktail bar sit right behind the reception desk. The Tides has a breakfast buffet and serves three meals in a bright and airy space just off the lobby — we enjoyed an excellent seafood platter here. Other eatery choices include the Aqua Grille near the pool, where we had a fat and juicy burger on the first day of our visit, and the fine-dining Sabor in a separate building near one of the resort’s pools.
Extensive watersports offerings include jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, and water bikes at Paradise Beach. Add the largest marina in the Bahamas (megayachts welcome), a rooftop nightclub, and a spa, and you can see the appeal to upscale Millennials as well as the yachties who have traditionally dropped anchor in Bimini. Agents can pitch the Hilton Resorts World Bimini for sportfishing trips as well as luxury getaways for singles and couples; it’s less ideal for families. The attractive meeting space makes the Hilton a good host for destination weddings.
Outside the gates of the resort, Bimini retains a small-town Caribbean feel, with weathered buildings housing boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Captain Bob’s has omelets stuffed with lobster or conch, and the corned-beef hash is fantastic. A Taste of Heaven is among several bakeries where you can get the island’s famous Bimini Bread, also found on sandwiches at the Bimini Big Game Club and serving as pizza crust at Edith’s. Tart and tasty local conch salad can be washed down with a cold Kalik at Stuart’s or Joe’s conch shacks — a real taste of local culture. Radio Beach is the best place for swimming and sunning; diving the wreck of S.S. Sapona and swimming with wild dolphins are unforgettable Bimini experiences.
Bimini is accessible by private boat, scheduled flights from Ft. Lauderdale to South Bimini Airport via Silver Airlines, and seaplane service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale on CapeAir and Tropic Ocean Airways (the latter docks right at the resort). High-speed ferry service from Fort Lauderdale is slated to return as well.