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The Fantasy: Bimini, Bahamas

 

The island's heyday was in the early 20th century, when rumrunners ruled and Papa Hemingway lived here, writing terse novels and tossing back mojitos. Fifty miles off Florida, separated by the boisterous Gulf Stream, this wispy seven-mile-long stretch of sand still offers refuge, but of a different sort as travelers discover an island poised for ecotourism: white coral beaches, natural pools, locally run, modestly priced cottages and hotels and 1,700 Biminites to hang out with. Hike the Bimini Nature Trail (eyes peeled for the endangered Bimini boa, a harmless snake). Or head five miles out to the Bahama Banks and swim eye-to-eye with a friendly pod of spotted dolphins through Wild Dolphin Adventures. Or kayak into the same mangrove forests that inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., to sketch out his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on the spot. King's boatman, Ansil Saunders, remembers: "He saw the fishes under the mangrove roots, birds overhead, stingrays shuffling, and he said, 'So much life all around us, how can people not believe the existence of God?'" The Bahamian government recently found religion of another kind, putting the skids on a proposed 18-hole golf course and creating a Marine Protected Area to preserve the mangroves, a nursery for wildlife.

 

The High: Savor a bite of Bimini bread, swirled with pineapple compote.

The Low: Don't rely on the island's single ATM; bring greenbacks.
 

   
             
 

 

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