The Conch Shacks of Bimini
This small island in the Bahamas is big on flavor -- and history
The Bahamas is known for white sand beaches and crystal waters. Most visitors travel to Freeport on Grand Bahama island or to Nassau (on New Providence Island) and adjacent Paradise Island.
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key than a mega-resort, Bimini is a great choice. Just 50 nautical miles from Miami, Bimini has been a favorite with boaters who can generally make the trip from the U.S. in a few hours. If you don’t have your own boat or plane, there are commercial flights and a fast ferry from Miami. Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady cruise ship also stops in Bimini.
The island itself is small but big on history: Ernest Hemingway would make the Bimini Big Game Club his headquarters for fishing expeditions, and Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech while on the island.
After taking in the sights, you’ll need some refreshments. Remember to bring cash — it’s king in Bimini. Most of the places on this list don’t have websites or even social media. They don’t list hours of operation (though generally think lunchtime to sundown), and don’t accept credit cards. But that’s the fun of Bimini: It’s the ultimate place to just hang out with a drink on a beautiful beach. It’s also almost impossible to get lost in Bimini, so don’t be concerned that none of these places have addresses — there are only two main roads and plenty of friendly people who will help you find the way.
We all could use a little Bimini in our lives.
Shadow’s Coconut Bar
(Queen's Hwy., Alice Town)
Head over to Radio Beach to find Shadow’s Coconut Bar, where the proprietor will make you a pina colada or sky juice by hooking up a blender to a generator. The drinks are usually made with three (or four…maybe five) different kinds of rum, fresh coconut water, and juice. For best results, wade into the pristine waters while sipping your drink and feel the weight of the world fall from your shoulders.
(Queen’s Hwy., Alice Town)
If you’re looking for cracked conch, a Kalik (the local Bahamian beer), and a view, look no further than Sherry’s. This little orange shack serves the tenderest cracked conch on the island, the beer is ice cold, and Sherry’s patio is directly on the beach.
Stuart’s and Joe’s
(Both on King’s Hwy., Bailey Town)
There’s much debate among conch salad lovers whether Stuart’s or Joe’s has the freshest conch, the fieriest hot sauce, and the coldest beer. The truth is, they’re both fantastic.
Joe’s goes through about 300 conchs a day to sate the pangs of locals and tourists alike. The housemade hot sauce, made with locally grown goat peppers, is potent — so start small and build the heat up. Though conch salad is the main attraction, try the scorch conch, where fresh conch is tenderized with lime juice, salt, garlic, and red onions.
Stuart’s might be the most popular conch shack with visitors, but it’s still an authentic taste of Bimini. The open-air shack is no frills — pay for your conch salad and beer. Pull your beer out of the cooler, and watch as the cook deftly dices onions, peppers, and tomatoes with a machete before adding the conch (pulled fresh from the ocean), kosher salt, and lime.
Ebbie’s & Pat’s Shack
(King’s Hwy., Bailey Town)
Ebbie’s is a delightful restaurant with a deck directly on the water. Grab a Kalik or a Bahama Mama and watch the reef sharks and stingrays swim below you as you wait on your order. Start with conch fritters — large meaty pieces of conch are mixed in a reach cornmeal batter and deep fried, before choosing your meal. Ebbie’s menu usually consists of Caribbean lobster, a whole catch of the day, and shrimp — all grilled while you wait.