By Alyssa Morlacci for Fort Lauderdale Daily
Stand by the shore at Radio Beach in Bimini, Bahamas, at night, and you’ll see Miami, off in the distance, its city lights twinkling. But homesickness is unnecessary. A 15-minute golf cart ride north, up Queen’s Highway, puts visitors at Luna Beach, a cove lined with white sand, cabanas, an airy restaurant and day-to-evening entertainment. Miami nightlife businessman Michael Capponi brought the destination to the island. “Bimini is an outlet for South Florida,” he says, suggesting that instead of taking a boating trip from Fort Lauderdale up to Palm Beach, or vice versa, day-trippers should veer from the coast and travel less than 50 miles east to the closest Bahamian island.
Capponi and his partner, Eric Milon, opened Luna Beach this summer, as there’s been an apparent spike in tourism in Bimini. The catalyst? Resorts World Bimini, which celebrated its grand opening last summer, offering a 280-slip marina and a 305-room Hilton hotel including 18 luxury suites.
The destination can be accessed via boat, as Capponi suggests, or by plane. Silver Airways offers a 30-minute trip from Fort Lauderdale—just enough time for flight attendants to pass out cups of water before the aircraft makes its descent.
A taxi and ferry ride come next, delivering guests to the resort. Or better yet, the Tropic Ocean Airways seaplane, which offers flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, can transport visitors from South Florida to the water just behind the property.
The Hilton is one hotel where first-floor accommodations are preferred. The suites include private patios with secluded access to a lagoon pool overlooking the bay. But for all guests, the real treat is a stunning, adults-only rooftop infinity pool that blends into the blue ocean at every turn.
The Serenity Spa, Salon and Fitness Center, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, restaurants like The Tides and Hemingway’s, and a casino with more than 100 slot machines all add to the resort’s lure. But expansion hasn’t interfered with the island’s authentic Caribbean town. Places like Joe’s Conch Stand, where shells emptied of the snails stack in mounds outside, and Joe himself preps conch salad while chatting with visitors, still offer authentic experiences.
On the topic of experiences, the S.S. Sapona is a must in the way of exploration. The concrete cargo ship was built during World War I, retired and then whisked away by a hurricane in the 1920s. Its final resting place is four miles south of Bimini, where the shipwreck protrudes partially from the ocean. Bimini Undersea takes small groups to the site for guided snorkeling excursions that let guests spot tropical fish and view coral reefs formed along the base of the vessel.
Back at the Hilton, a smaller-in-size wooden boat carrying rolls and sashimi can be ordered at The Sushi Bar located in the hotel lobby and conceptualized by “Top Chef” winner Hung Huynh. The shareable order pairs well with craft cocktails like the Blushing Geisha. Night will fall, and vacationers will move in all directions to restaurant reservations and poker tables at the casino. A grand piano will score the scene, and Miami will glitter in the distance for those who are looking.