Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center and Big Game Club

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Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center and Big Game Club

Bimini, Bahamas

 

An Introduction to the Bahamas

 

From the Lucayan Indian word meaning “two islands”, and known around the world simply as “Bimini”, North and South Bimini, along with their smaller neighboring cays, make up this group of Bahamian islands situated on the edge of the Great Bahama Bank, overlooking the cobalt blue waters of the storied Gulfstream and Florida Straits.

Owing to a unique seagrass habitat and endless miles of shallow flats, Bimini is a particularly popular bonefishing destination. The flats comprising Bimini Bay off North Bimini Island are now part of the Bahamas “Marine Protected Area”, ensuring a healthy bonefish habitat for generations to come. The “Big Bones” of Bimini are not just stories. You’ll find them in the IGFA record books!

The gin-clear waters surrounding Bimini have given rise to popular year-round recreational diving. Uniquely situated on the edge of the Continental Shelf, Bimini offers some of the most interesting dive sites in the Bahamas, and is consistently ranked one of the world’s top dive destinations.

From a leisurely dolphin encounter to an adrenaline filled shark encounter, from a wall dive to a snorkel along the mysterious “Atlantis Road” – an ancient, underwater arrangement of stones that has baffled natives, mystics and scientists for generations – Bimini offers something for the diver of every skill level.

Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina is a boutique resort situated close to everything in Alice Town in North Bimini. Accommodations include beautifully decorated rooms, cottages and penthouses. Resort and marina guests can enjoy the fresh water swimming pool, shaded hammocks, complimentary water sports and LOTS more! The resort also is home to the Bimini Big Game Bar & Grill, Sharkies Bar & Grill, Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center and a 75-slip full service marina.

The Bimini Big Game Bar & Grill is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perched on the 2nd floor overlooking the resort’s marina and bonefish flats of Alice Town, guests can choose from indoor dining or open air dining on the deck. The Big Game Dive Shop with a full schedule of scuba diving, snorkeling excursions, scuba diving lessons and rental equipment. The resort’s dive boat is the Bimini Blue, a 60’ twin engine glass bottom boat that transports customers in comfort and is equipped with onboard restroom. The shop also has scuba diving lessons and specialty training courses available. Kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles are available for resort guest use.

 

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Accommodations

Standard Rooms

Thirty-five of the Big Game Clubs best accommodations, each fully rebuilt and redesigned for the best in out-island hospitality. Choose the convenience of a ground level lanai room, opening into the gardens and pool, or a second floor room with a generous balcony and commanding view of the pool, gardens and the bonefish flats beyond.

Rooms are available with a king bed or two queen-sized beds.

Rooms come equipped with:

27″ flat screen TV, Hair Dryer, Alarm Clock, Coffee Service, Digital In-Room Safe, Ironing boards,Free Wi-Fi, Cable TV.

Cottage Rooms

A perfect hideaway, each cottage is set among the towering palm trees and hibiscus gardens. Each of the Club’s garden cottage rooms comes complete with kitchenette and an island bar counter for that impromptu party with friends. Each cottage has two spacious connecting guestrooms – one with a king sized bed; the other with twin queen beds. Each room sold separately. Open the door, and you have a delightful two bedroom complex to call your own.

At daybreak, step off your patio and onto the docks. Watch the sun rise over the tranquil bonefish flats. Experience Bimini in the style of the first club members for whom the bungalows were built.

Cottages come equipped with:

27″ flat screen TV, Hair Dryer, Alarm Clock, Coffee Service, Undercounter refrigerator, Digital In-Room Safe, Ironing Boards, Microwaves, Cable TV, Free Wi-Fi, penthouse and oversize tub.

Suites

Four Beautifully decorated suites with a kitchen, island, King bedroom, Full Living room with pull out queen couch, balcony overlooking the Marina or pool and a Bathroom decorated in island style.

Suites come equipped with:

27″ flat screen, Hair Dryer, Alarm Clock, Coffee Service, Digital In-Room Safe, Ironing boards, Free Wi-Fi, Cable TV, Refrigerator, Microwave, Coffee Maker, Shampoo, Soaps, Large walk in Shower, oversize tub and Separate Bathroom facilities.

Resort Amenities

To complement the Resort’s special setting, they have ensured every opportunity to relax and unwind. From outstanding island cuisine and friendly service, to thirst-quenching drinks, from Sharkies on the beach for Bahamian barbeque, to a game of pool with friendly pool-sharks, they have tailored Bimini Big Game Club to make time with family and friends enjoyable and relaxing.

  • Full Service Marina
  • Dive Shop
  • Swimming Pool
  • Complimentary use of bicycles
  • Sharkies Bar & Grill
  • Outdoor shark aquarium and bull run
  • Big Game Bar & Grill
  • Game Area – with pool, ping pong and ring toss
  • Hemingway Rum Bar event space
  • Outfitter Shop/Liquor Store
  • Hammocks

Dining

Casual Waterfront Dining

Perched overlooking our marina and the mesmerizing bonefish flats beyond, the Bimini Big Game Bar & Grill offers the best in casual waterfront dining.

Grab a stool at the bar, and catch Major League Sports on one of the big screen TVs. With the bar top decorated with colorful navigational charts, pick a different spot every time, and travel down island through The Bahamas on your barstool. Always plan on a good time with friends, and entertainment from the bar staff and enjoy live music every Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.

Enjoy innovative cuisine and the best in friendly Alice Town service. Indoor or outdoor seating, your choice. The BGBG Fish Sandwich, conch, fresh fish, steaks, pasta, or maybe that Cheeseburger in Paradise? Big Game Club doesn’t claim this is where Jimmy Buffet got his cheeseburger inspiration, but they know our Big Game Burger will satisfy the most demanding Parrothead!

Scuba Diving with Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center

Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center, located at the Bimini Big Game Club, operates a 55-foot glass bottom dive boat well-suited to accommodate divers, snorkelers and sightseers alike. In addition to reefs, wrecks and wall diving, Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center offers Great Hammerhead Shark, Wild Dolphin, Reef Shark and Sting Ray Safaris. PADI certifications and courses are also available.

The island’s direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean and relatively shallow reefs make The Biminis one of the most spectacular aquatic destinations in The Bahamas. The amazing coral reefs, blue holes and canyons are not only easily accessible but provide shelter for an abundance of marine life ranging from the tiniest of reef fish to turtles, dolphins, eagle rays and so much more. Gin clear waters … Dramatic continental shelf walls … Fish covered wreck sites … Endless options all located within miles of Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center!

GREAT HAMMERHEAD SAFARI!

Bimini has emerged as one of the best places on the planet to encounter one of the ocean’s most amazing predators, the Great Hammerhead Shark. These elusive giants have evaded divers for years, but now Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center has access! They are the first operator on Bimini to offer this amazing excursion and have learned the secrets of this spectacular experience from the original people who discovered this dive years ago. They are committed to safety, both for divers and the sharks and are excited to unveil this thrill of a lifetime to guests!

Our Great Hammerhead Safaris run for a limited-time period each year, and have limited-availability, so book now to secure your place on one of the most spectacular dive opportunities available anywhere in the world!

REEF SHARK SAFARI!

The Bull Run dive site off south Cat Cay is home to the Shark Safari. On the 45-minute ride to the site, the dive crew starts by dispelling many of the myths that are associated with the common image of sharks as dangerous predators. Once divers are in the water, a member of their experienced staff will bring down a homemade frozen “chumsickle” and we all safely enjoy watching Blacktip, Caribbean Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks and often Bull, Lemon and Hammerhead Sharks in a controlled, comfortable environment. An exhilirating and informative safari!

STINGRAY SAFARI!

Bimini is a fantastic place to encounter a variety of different ray species in the water, though few are as friendly and playful as the local stingrays down at Honeymoon Harbour. This idyllic beach down on Gun Cay is home to a population of Southern Stingrays (Dasyatis Americana) that anxiously await the arrival of visiting guests. Simply by wading out from the beach or floating off the back of the boat, guests can interact with these frolicsome fish in a safe and exotic setting. This is a great excursion for families and non-divers. It is also a perfect place for divers to enjoy their surface intervals when exploring the amazing reefs down by Cat Cay.

WILD DOLPHIN SAFARI!

The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin is the most curious and playful of all the marine mammals in The Bahamas. On the Wild Dolphin Safari, they travel north past the Bimini Islands to the western edge of the Great Bahama Bank where these animals are most often found. Ranging in depths of 15 to 30 feet of water, the white sand bottom makes for an incredible contrast to the crystal clear water. Once a pod of dolphin find you, they enjoy surfing the boat wake and often provide an impromtu acrobatic performance. When the time is right, guests get into the water and play with these spotted beauties. It is certainly an experience not to be missed!

Activities

While a guest of the Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina, you can be as active or in-active as you want to be. Activity options include the use of kayaks and stand up paddleboards is complimentary to resort and marina guests as part of the daily resort fee. Enjoy!

Golf cart rentals are available on-site.

The game Area offers billiards, ping pong and ring toss.

The Bimini Big Game Club Marina also has a 75 slip full service marina popular for boating, yachting and fishing. Marina amenities include: full shower and bathroom facilities, electric and water 30/50/100 amps, 3 phase hook up, ice and trash service for guest use.

The resort is also a perfect place for small groups to meet. With a combined space of 2,100 square feet, the Hemingway Rum Bar and Gulfstream Conference Center can accommodate a group up to 60 persons for meetings, dining and receptions.

Area Attractions

Bimini Nature Trail – A beautiful hiking trail that showcases Bimini’s plants and animals in their natural environment. (South Bimini) – 2 miles

Fountain of Youth – A small well on the side of the road believed to have been visited by Ponce de Leon in search of the mystical fountain in 1513. (South Bimini) – 1 mile

Bimini Craft Center – Features 17 stalls offering authentically Bahamian products. Live entertainment is featured occasionally. (Alice Town) – short walk from the resort

Bimini Museum – Built in 1921 as the Commissioner’s office and jail. It contains historical artifacts such as old cannon balls, photographs of Ernest Hemmingway and artifacts from the old Rod & Gun Club. (Alice Town) – short walk from the resort

Dolphin House Museum – Built and occupied by local author/historian Ashley Saunders. Its unique structure offers guests quarters and a mini museum. (Alice Town) – short walk from the resort

Alice Town Walking Tour – Tour of the uniquely built Dolphin House and the historic points of interest in Alice Town with Mr. Ashley Saunders – short walk from the resort

Ansil Saunders Boat Yard – Bimini Boat Building is the work-shop of local boat builder Ansil Saunders, creator of “The Bimini Bonefisher”, a custom handcrafted work of art. (North Bimini) – 2 miles

The Bimini Biological Field Station “Shark Lab” – Their mission is evenly divided between education and research. The BBFS studies the role of sharks in a tropical marine environment, especially the Lemon Shark. (South Bimini) – 3 miles

Brother Peter’s Well – Also known as “Bul Peter Well” is a natural rock well carved by Peter Russell, an ex-slave, to water crops on his farm. (South Bimini)

The history behind Bimini and Bimini Big Game Club

While prosperity came and went quickly during the 1920’s and the era of Prohibition, the enduring appeal of Bimini was first popularized in the 1930’s by the exploits of noted sportsmen, industrialists and philanthropists who ventured to Bimini for world-class fishing. Legendary angler Zane Grey and his captain, Tommy Gifford, recluse Howard Hughes, and retailing genius turned scientist/naturalist Michael Lerner all collaborated in turning Bimini into the “Big Game Fishing Capital of the World”.

It was this celebrity, and friendship with Lerner, that brought novelist Ernest Hemmingway to Bimini in 1935 – where he drank, brawled, and wrote his way through several fishing seasons, travelling back and forth between home in Key West and his beloved “Island in the Stream”. Tournaments attracting anglers from the far corners of the world became common as Bimini’s reputation for giant blue marlin and bluefin tuna blossomed.

Today, the schools of giant fish have moved on, with record catches the exception, not the rule. The island tempo has returned to a more leisurely pace. With its convenience to the mainland, Bimini remains a popular destination for boaters. Recreational fishermen have mostly replaced the professionals, and have expanded their interests beyond the pursuit of giant marlin.

Bimini continues to retain its allure for the water sports enthusiasts. Alice Town is a colorful out-island port of call, complete with character and the characters that give it a special personality. On an after-hours stroll down Kings Highway, new and returning visitors are as likely to run into Jimmy Buffett as their neighbor from down the street back home. For each, Bimini is their “Island in the Stream”.

The Legend is Born. Nassau entrepreneur and bon-vivant, Neville Stuart, opened the “Bimini Big Game Fishing Club” in 1936 and began organizing big game fishing tournaments, attracting sportsmen from around the world.

Originally a formal dining club, with tuxedo and tie as the preferred attire for gentlemen, the club moved to its current location in 1954 with the completion of a marina and six cottages for visitors.Ever the promoter, Stuart published the Bimini Bugle, offering a weekly chronicle of life on Bimini, and in his spare time, built the town’s first power plant that truly lit up the streets.

In 1963 the main hotel building opened, firmly establishing Alice Town as a mecca for big-game fishing. The Club was later acquired by the Bacardi family, and underwent two years of renovation that included the new marina, complete guestroom renovation, new fuel facilities and a host of other improvements. The Bacardi’s reopened the legendary resort in Spring, 1972 and positioned it as one of the world’s foremost big game angling resorts until its sale in 2000.

Today, after several brief ownership changes the Big Game Club carries a familiar vision to make the Club legendary for Out-Island hospitality and sportsmanship. Your hosts at the Big Game Club are honored to be the custodians of the club’s legacy, ensuring its continued reputation as a world acclaimed destination for discriminating sportsmen and their families.

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Bahamas Travel Tips

An Introduction to the Bahamas

 

Sun, sand, and sea are merely perimeters of the Islands of the Bahamas. At the core of the islands, you’ll find a big heart, open arms, and a way of life that is both timeless and new. It is the Bahamian heritage. It is your departure from everyday life. Welcome.

Blessed with the perfect location (less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida), the perfect climate (averaging a little over 75F degrees) and the perfect environment (crystal clear turquoise blue waters and pearly white sandy beaches), the Islands of the Bahamas are the perfect travel destination for your wedding, siesta, party, honeymoon, or family vacation.

According to the Bahamas Tourism office, the Islands of the Bahamas are unique with their individual character and charm--and there is truth to this. Visit the main islands like beautiful Grand Bahama Island (Freeport/Lucaya) and bustling New Providence (Nassau and Paradise Island).

Or, if you really want to get away from the crowds, visit one of the many out islands like Abaco, Andros, Acklins and Crooked Island, Biminis, Berry Islands, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exumas, Inaguas, Mayaguana, and San Salvador.

New Providence Island and Paradise Island

This pair of islands, at the heart of The Bahamas, greets visitors with a genuine Bahamian blend of experiences. City slickers, family packs, water lovers, and land lovers alike will find no shortage of fun in the sun on Nassau and Paradise Island. Feel what it’s like to be both satisfied and hungry for more. Nassau, capital city of the Islands of the Bahamas, resides on New Providence Island, neighbor to Paradise Island. This island pair maintains a distinct blend of international glamour and tropical ease, giving travelers freedom to do everything or nothing at all.

What to Expect in the Bahamas

BANKS: Banking hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are Automatic Bank Machines in the main tourist areas. These machines are on the +PLUS and Cirrus systems.

CURRENCY: The legal tender is the Bahamian dollar (B$1), which is equivalent in value to the US dollar. Both U.S. and Bahamian dollars are accepted interchangeably throughout the islands.

CLIMATE: The trade winds that blow almost continually throughout the Islands of the Bahamas give the islands a warm, agreeable climate which varies little year-round. The most refreshing time is September through May, when the temperature averages 70-75F degrees. The rest of the year is a bit warmer with temperatures between 80-85F degrees.

DEPARTURE TAX: The departure tax of $15 is normally included in the price of your ticket. Please check with your airline or ticketing agent for details. If it is not, you must pay it when you check in for your flight home. It is payable in Bahamian or U.S. Dollars only.

DRINKING WATER: The water in the more developed islands such as New Providence and Grand Bahamas is distilled from seawater and is perfectly safe to drink, however they are only able to desalinize 95% of it, so it does have a strong taste. When on the outer islands, it is recommended you drink only bottled water.

DRIVING LICENSE: British rules apply, so please drive on the left and be extra careful on roundabouts. Visitors may use their home licenses for up to three months or may apply for an international driver's license. Pedestrians should remember to look right before crossing streets.

ELECTRICITY: With standard North American 120-volt/60-cycle AC electrical current, you and your delegates will be able to operate American or Canadian appliances without adapters.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport and a return or ongoing ticket.

TOURISM SEASONS: The Islands of the Bahamas have a temperate climate ranging from 80-90F degrees with high humidity in the summer months to 70-80F degrees in the winter. Nighttime temperatures are generally cooler by 5-7 degrees. In the more northerly islands, winter temperatures are approximately 5 degrees lower than the southern islands. Sea surface temperatures vary between 74F degrees in February and 84F degrees in August. The months of June to November constitute the hurricane season. The weather does influence travel decisions and, often, inaccurate reporting of information on hurricanes results in needless cancellations by U.S. travelers. Many Bahamas hoteliers have instituted a Hurricane Hotel Policy for vacationers which states that visitors who cancel a Bahamas vacation during a hurricane will receive an immediate refund with no penalties. If caught on-island during a hurricane, hoteliers would extend the lowest possible rate and all possible courtesies.

VACCINATIONS: No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to the Bahamas. However, we always suggest that you speak to your family physician for a personal recommendation.

WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS: Water temperatures generally range between 75 – 80°F. Most people find wearing a 1mm – 3mm wetsuit keeps them comfortable in the summer. Consider a 5mm in the winter.

Bahamas - "Top Side" Activities and Adventures

 

Below are just some of the activities and attractions that await you in the Bahamas. We will be happy to arrange any of these and more to complete your customized itinerary. Please contact us for more information.

Ardastra Gardens and Conservation Center:

More than 300 birds, mammals and reptiles from The Islands Of The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Latin America and around the world are on display among acres of lush tropical gardens.

City and Country Tours:

You can cover a lot of ground and capture a real feel for life on the island when you sign up for a tour by air, taxi or aboard a colourful, horse-drawn surrey. Chances are you’ll enjoy the company of one of our most experienced guides as part of the bargain. (Few Bahamians are more expert about everything on the islands than these friendly guides.) A walking tour is another alternative, where you can take a leisurely stroll around Nassau’s Market Plaza on Bay Street. There you will experience Bahamian life close-up and can polish your bartering skills while sampling the work of some of the local artisans. You can set out on your own, or check for a government-certified guide.

Dolphin Experiences::

After an educational talk on the deck, wade into waist-deep water for close-up contact with the dolphins. Swim with the Dolphins: Spend approximately 30 unforgettable minutes in the water with the most intelligent creatures next to man. Includes the thrilling "Foot Push." Home of Universal Pictures' Flipper.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park:

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was created in 1958, this 176 square mile park was the first of its kind in the world and is famous for its pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. It is the first marine fishery reserve in the Carribbean. Accessible by boat only

Fort Charlotte:

If you have time to visit only one fort, see this one. It is by far the largest and covers 100 acres. Located on a hill overlooking the far west end of the harbour, Fort Charlotte commands an impressive view of Paradise Island, a good part of Nassau and the harbour. Built in 1788 by Lord Dunmore, this fort has a moat, dungeons, underground passageways and 42 cannons, which have never been fired in an act of aggression. Tour guides (working for tips) are happy to give you a complete history of the fort.

Lost City of Atlantis:

In 1968 the discovery of huge limestone blocks off the coast of North Bimini led many to believe that this was once an undersea road to the Lost City of Atlantis. Many divers have examined this half-mile stretch of neatly aligned relics, and everyone seems to have an opinion of what this may, or may not, be. You can get a look for yourself; it is near the shore in only 20 feet of water.

Lucayan National Park:

Upland forests, rare flower species, mangrove creeks, and a magnificent beach in this 40-acre national park provide an unparalleled glimpse into the complexities of the Grand Bahamian environment. Lucayan National Park, established in 1982, is the only place where you can see all six of the islands’ ecosystems. It is also home to one of the world’s longest underwater system of limestone caves, which is also among the most environmentally distinct. The vast tunnel system, accessible by both land and sea, was created over eons by the seepage of acidified rainwater into the island's limestone base. After exploring the caves, you’ll want to stroll the trails through native pines, cross the tidal creek on a wooden boardwalk, and at the end, discover Gold Rock Beach. It is the perfect spot to relax, swim or enjoy a picnic lunch.

Pirates of Nassau:

Pirates of Nassau is a world-class pirate attraction in the heart of downtown Nassau. Experience the true story of pirates in an amazing, historically accurate, interactive environment, which will entertain, excite and educate visitors of all ages.

Powerboat Tours:

Experience an exciting high-speed boat ride around Paradise Island, Cable Beach or surrounding islands on a custom-built, 55-ft off-shore racing powerboat.

Seaplane Tours:

Get away for the day to one of The Bahamas treasured Out Islands on a scheduled seaplane adventure. Flying off the water, low over stunning blue-water seascapes is a special treat. In only 30 minutes you'll arrive into another world. Your choice of destinations includes The Exumas, featuring secluded beaches and hungry iguanas, or colorful Harbour Island, with its famous pink-sand beaches and gaily decorated village.

The Heritage Trail:

Before 1955, the main transportation artery on Grand Bahama Island was the Old Freetown Road, a dirt path leading from Old Freetown in the East to Eight Mile Rock and other settlements in the West. After the foundation of Freeport brought in a modern highway, the old road was abandoned and left to nature. Eventually, nature did such a good job of reclaiming it that a stretch of the road near Freetown has become one of the island's chief nature walks. Along the easy, five-mile trek are over 30 species of plants, 18 kinds of birds, 7 species of butterfly, and what remains of "The Hermitage," the oldest intact building on Grand Bahama, dating back to 1901. You'll also see remnants of the early settlement and a cemetery.

Undersea Tour:

Grab your swimsuit and towel and get ready for an experience of a life time, exploring the reefs the way the earliest marine biologists did before scuba was invented. It is like taking a walk in a botanical garden under the sea. The helmet keeps your head completely dry so you can breath as you would on land, wear glasses or contacts. It is the safest way to dive for all ages 5 to 85, great for non swimmers (swimming is not permitted as it scares the fish). Even the certified scuba diver and avid snorkel will get a kick out of it and find it a great way to get a friend introduced to the undersea.


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