The History of Bimini Islands
While all of the islands in the Bahamas have a fascinating past, the history of Bimini Islands is full of drama, colorful tales and legends. Just 40 miles off the Miami coast, the two islands that make up the Bimini Islands are small and pretty. Most of its 1,600 residents live on North Bimini, making South Bimini a pristine and quiet place.
The Fountain of Youth and The Healing Hole
The indigenous Arawak peoples have many intriguing stories of a place known as “Beimini”, where a mythic fountain of youth once existed. This legendary fountain was believed to be situated in the strait between North and South Bimini. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon went in search of The Fountain of Youth but never made it past Florida . Today a small freshwater well near the South Bimini Airport bears a plaque commemorating the fountain.
Other legends suggest that there is a pool just off the North Bimini coast where the waters are healing – where individuals with ailments can be cured. It is said that when the tide goes out, underground tunnels release mineral-rich fresh water into the pool, substances that are abundant in lithium and sulfur, and believed to be curative. The spot is called The Healing Hole and is located in a salt-water mangrove swamp.
Home to Atlantis?
Then, there are the rumors that the Lost City of Atlantis may lay in the waters off the Bimini Islands. Divers have reported unusual slabs of rock that resemble a road , or part of an underwater city. These rocks have been named the Bimini Stones, the Bimini Wall, or the Bimini Road, and have sparked much speculation about their origins. Geologists, archaeologists and marine engineers have flocked to this area since the discovery of the stones in the late 1960s, resulting in various explanations that range from beach rock with specific fracture patterns, to the fanciful theories of a road to the mythic Atlantis.
Several television shows have filmed episodes in Bimini, addressing the long-standing question of whether the Bimini waters could possibly house the legendary lost city of Atlantis.
In the 1920s, the history of Bimini Islands took a dramatic turn when smugglers started using the islands as a base to ship bootleg liquor into the United States during Prohibition. The infamous William S. McCoy ran his whiskey smuggling operations in Bimini, and is often believed to be the source for the expression “The Real McCoy”.
Hemingway’s Inspiration and Other Notables
Today, the Bimini Islands are a favorite destination for sport fishermen, who come from around the world for the excellent big game fishing. It was the thrill of big game that brought famous author Ernest Hemingway to Bimini. He made his home on the island from 1935 to 1937, during which time he worked on his classic ‘To Have and Have Not’ . Legend has it that it was the event of a fisherman who caught a 500-pound blue marlin off the coast of Bimini that inspired Hemingway to write ‘The Old Man and the Sea’.
The history of Bimini Islands includes other notable names such as U.S. Senator Gary Hart who derailed his presidential run by having a photo snapped with pretty model Donna Rice sitting on his lap on his yacht named ‘Monkey Business’. And civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King who came to Bimini in 1964, and is said to have composed his acceptance speech for his Nobel Peace Prize on the island. As well, popular singer Jimmy Buffet spent time on pretty Bimini while writing one of his books.