Island Spotlight: Bimini
Bimini, whose name translates to “Mother of Many Waters” in the Taino Indian language spoken here in many years gone past, consists of two main islands – North Bimini and South Bimini – as well as numerous cays. Surrounded by shallow reefs and brilliant blue waters, Bimini’s history is interwoven with myth, legend, and folklore. Some say that Bimini is home to the Fountain of Youth. It’s the tranquil escape where Ernest Hemingway wrote and set his novel Islands In The Stream. Hemingway’s love affair with Bimini began the moment he docked his boat, the Pilar, on its shores in 1935 and continued for the remainder of his life. The author found Bimini to be so relaxing and unspoilt that he described it as being “like the end of the world.”
During Prohibition in the early 1920s, Bruce Bethell – a former British war captain turned notorious rum-runner – purchased a World War I concrete-hulled Liberty Ship, the S.S. Sapona, and brought it to Bimini to use as a floating warehouse to store and distribute his liquor supply. The S.S. Sapona was heavily damaged during a hurricane in 1926 and ran aground. During World War II, the S.S. Sapona was used as bombing target practice by U.S. fighter pilots. On December 5, 1945, a group of five torpedo bombers mysteriously vanished while returning from a run to the S.S. Sapona and target practice on the ship was stopped immediately. Today, the wreck sits in shallow waters just a few miles off Bennet’s Harbour in South Bimini. While the concrete from the hull has been worn away from bombing and weathering, the S.S. Sapona is an eerie and beautiful place for divers to explore.