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Blake Dowling: Kicked in the conch … Bimini, part 2

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In early 2016, I wrote a column for Florida about the island of Bimini, which is located in the Bahamas about 50 miles from Miami. Hemingway wrote some books there, Gary Hart got busted for some shenanigans there, it is a small fishing village with some seriously cool spots to check out. Nature, watering holes, possible site of Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle, conch, rum, etc.

I put together a piece intended to be a technology column. In the end, the finished product was a discussion of what — in my opinion — constitutes overdevelopment on the island.

As the column hit the streets, the feedback started roaring in like crazed Bernie Sanders supporters at a hemp rally. I got comments from the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Miami, Texas and all the way to England.

My column was reposted across the pond by a group called Tourism Concern that has been watching the island closely. Jolly good show, Alison Stancliffe.

(L to R: Myself, Bradley Beesley, Trimmer)
(L to R: Myself, Bradley Beesley, Trimmer)

Here is the short version of the past and the now. In 2008 an area of the island was declared protected, and it is called the North Bimini Marine Preserve. Oddly enough, since that time, a rather large resort, pier, marina, and some private homes have been built, and they keep creeping closer to the NBMP area. One of the other people to pick up my column was filmmaker Bradley Beesly (Google him: HBO original shows, Travel Channel Shows, the Flaming Lips documentary, etc.)

Bradley and his team were commissioned to do a piece on what is going on in Bimini. He flew me and my esteemed cohort, Trimmer (whose family has close ties to the island) down for a few days of filming.

Getting there was a real treat man, Silver Airways to Tampa-Tally-Ft. Lauderdale-Bimini. Get to the Tally airport two hours early, all flights canceled. WTF. Rerouted to Miami airport with a one-hour layover, thanks to a taxi driver on meth, I actually made the 45-minute rampage across town and caught the connecting flight to the island.

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We hit the ground running hard, literally, really hard (those Silver Airlines pilots need to take a refresher, just saying) around 5 p.m. We threw our bags down, cracked a Kalik beer, and started our quest to capture the essence of the island on film with a scene at the local conch shack. We talked to locals and guzzled a few Kaliks while enjoying some fresh conch salad. Working with Bradley was great, he guided us in and out of several spirited conversations, and we really got the chance to lay it all out there.

The fact of the matter is, the hotel is there now. It is HUGE, by the way, I had never seen it with my own eyes, we checked it out via boat, and then rolled over on the golf cart. Granted it is not an ugly hotel, it’s cool looking, but (ye gods!) it is slapped right on the end of an island that only has 2000 people on it, and the island is just 7 miles long.

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I think at this point the hotel and the island need to work in more harmony as neither one are going anywhere. Also, the hotel and the government need to sign the NBMR law and move on, and stop any discussions of golf courses where mangroves and reefs are currently located. Attention, señor, what do you think helps stops storms, replenishes the sea life, etc.?

These things are why people come to the island in the first place.

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We spent a lot of time at Big Johns, the Big Game Club, had some homemade Souse with Sarah Lee, rum drinks at Ebby’s, listened to stories from the Barefoot Bandit (foreign girls, fishing, etc.)

We did some swimming, ate like kings, more Kalik, did some boating, more rum, tinkered with the boat, got the golf cart fixed (maybe), etc. Everything, and all things that make the island a real gem.

These awesome characters or activities would not be around without the bounty of nature that Bimini has to offer, it is a shame it is being disrupted. But hopefully, that is over. As we sat at Joe’s Conch Shack during our first day of filming, we were discussing some of the negativity associated with the recent development, and I think I summed it up nicely by saying, “the island got kicked in the conch fellas.”

So there you have it, the good, the ugly and all the rest. See you in the islands again soon.

I will, hopefully, be at the far right corner of the porch at the Big Game Club, and I will let you buy my next Kalik.

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Blake Dowling is Chief Business Development Officer for Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee, and he writes columns for several organizations. You can contact him here:

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