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Bimini Big Game Is Back
For more than seven decades, the Bimini Big Game Club was a larger-than-life destination on this tiny Bahamian island just 50 miles off the Florida coast.
It once had a marina filled with million-dollar sport-fishing yachts, a bar full of sunburned anglers telling lies and rooms that were booked far in advance. But it fell on hard times after being sold by its long-time owners, the Bacardi family of rum fame. After deteriorating through a series of owners, it closed in 2008.
The good news: Bimini Big Game is back and better than ever.
Founded in 1936, it was a popular watering hole for Ernest Hemingway, who lived and fished (and boozed and brawled) on the island while finishing To Have and Have Not. His time chasing marlin on the Gulf Stream just offshore from Bimini became the basis for The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream, but Hemingway was just one of the characters who engraved Bimini in popular culture.
First pirates and then rumrunners prowled the waters. More recently, the Bimini Big Game Club docks were where Sen. Gary Hart sank his 1988 presidential hopes when he was photographed with Donna Rice aboard the aptly named yacht, Monkey Business. Controversial Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. also spent his last years "keeping the faith, baby" at his home on Bimini.
The white knight rescuing the resort is world-famous marine artist Guy Harvey (in photo), whose paintings of brilliantly colored fish adorn countless t-shirts and posters held dear by anglers. Harvey–who has enlisted three backers–is also a marine biologist and conservationist, and the reopened resort has partnered with marine research facilities in the area to offer guests visits to their laboratories.
As the first of a planned series of ecotourism Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts, the Big Game Club isn't large–it has 35 rooms, four suites and half a dozen cottages. For those who remember the Motel 6-style rooms of past decades, rest assured that the facilities have not only been totally rebuilt but upgraded as well. The bougainvillea-covered property also has an open-air bar and restaurant overlooking the marina, which has been updated and can now accommodate 150-foot yachts. Famed diver Neal Watson has just opened an onsite Dive Center to provide access to the treasure trove of nearby dive sites.
But the real draw for Bimini Big Game is the Gulf Stream just minutes from the dock. It's a warm-water superhighway for migrating game fish where anglers find record-sized marlin, tuna, sailfish, wahoo and swordfish. Also nearby are wonderful shallow-water flats, home for bonefish and permit.
South Bimini Airport has a 5,400-foot runway and customs/immigration services. Bimini Big Game Club provides transportation to the resort for its guests. For more information, call (800) 867-4764 or visit www.biggameclubbimini.com.