I took a two hour ferry ride from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to the Bahamas for $200.
The ferry boarding process was easy and I enjoyed walking around the island.
I wish I could have spent more time on the island and coming home wasn’t perfect.
There are many different ways to spend $200 in a day in Miami.
A brunch with friends in South Beach could easily add up to this price if you’re not careful, and many city tours could cost just as much once you factor in parking and tip.
But this spring, I changed my routine and used $200 to take a solo day trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Bimini in the Bahamas.
It cost me about $200 for the round trip ferry ride.
I bought a two-hour ferry trip with Baleària for a Wednesday. My round-trip ferry ride from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini cost just over $200 thanks to a spring break promotion. Prices are usually around $225.
Prices can vary depending on the time of year and the airline, but a 45-minute flight from South Florida to Bimini typically costs $50-$60 more than the ferry.
Flying would have been faster, but I had never taken a ferry from Miami to the Bahamas before despite having lived in Florida for almost six years and wanted to experience it.
First, I drove to Port Everglades to board.
I left Miami and it took me almost 40 minutes to drive from Dade to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The ship was scheduled to leave at 9:00 am, and the information I received from Baleària said that we should arrive about two hours earlier.
Around 7:00 am, I went into the Palm Parking Garage, which is right next to the terminal that Baleària uses regularly. It cost me $15 to park during the day, which suited me because I was going back that night.
I had already printed my boarding pass and only had a small backpack with me so check-in was easy.
Within 20 minutes, I showed my passport, was through security and the ticket gate, and was ready to board. I was given a wristband that I needed to prove I was a day trip passenger getting off at the first stop on the boat before it headed to Freeport.
After an hour, the gates opened and people were allowed to board.
Once the boarding started, I realized that I was surrounded by people who had done this before.
We did not have assigned seats on the boat, so seats were first come, first served.
I’ll take my peace of mind about a seat of choice on a ship or plane any day, so I was one of the last people to board. Fortunately, the boat was nowhere near capacity on this Wednesday trip, so I was still able to snag a window seat in a solo row.
Once I got situated, the line for the concession stand was already long. As I waited, people around me were making comments about the trip and how it compared to others, which made me think that I was with people who do this trip regularly.
The boat left on time and I didn’t get my coffee and snack until 40 minutes later. I can only imagine how much longer everything would take if the boat was full.
The ride was rockier than I expected.
When I was 18 I sailed across the Irish Sea from Wales to Dublin and I thought I was fine. Now, a decade later, I can definitely say that I am not immune to motion sickness.
I’m not sure if the sea was rougher than normal, but I definitely felt the rocking of every wave as we sailed from Florida to Bimini. It wasn’t unmanageable, just uncomfortable. Going out on deck to watch the waves helped a bit.
The trip took almost exactly two hours and we docked at Bimini Harbor at 11:00 a.m.
Day trip passengers were prioritized when we disembarked in Bimini.
When we arrived in Bimini, the ship’s crew made an announcement for the Bimini day trip passengers to start disembarking first. I had to show the wrist brace I had gotten in Fort Lauderdale to get off.
Within five minutes, he was standing on the dock. A few minutes later, a tram came and picked us up to take us to the island. Since we were the first off the boat, we didn’t have to wait to get on.
I was only going to be in the Bahamas for one day, so I appreciated how Baleària was committed to maximizing my time on the island.
The area of the island it was on felt like it was really geared towards tourists.
When I first stepped off the boat, my group was immediately transported near the Hilton entrance at Resorts World Bimini. When we got off the shuttle, we were greeted by half a dozen people trying to talk us into spending $60 to rent golf carts. This is one of the most common ways that tourists explore the island during the day.
Although I was here to relax, I am not comfortable visiting a country and just spending my time in a resort. So before heading to the Hilton, I decided to explore the island on foot.
The further south he went, the fewer tourists he found.
It’s only about 2 miles from the cruise port to Radio Beach, and I was one of the few people I saw walking that day.
The weather was nice and warm and I was able to see many shops and businesses that I would have missed if I had been driving by in a golf cart. Locals and visitors in golf carts stopped me more than a dozen times to ask if I wanted a ride, so I guess it’s unusual to walk the length of the island.
I eventually made it to Radio Beach, which was pretty empty.
Even though I was alone, I felt incredibly safe and enjoyed my alone time.
When I finally got to Radio Beach, I was the only one there, and the ocean views made the hike worth it. After sitting and enjoying my solitude for a while, I walked back to the Hilton.
I stopped at a hotel on the island and bought a pool pass.
When I was planning my trip in the days before I arrived in Bimini, almost everything I read online said that I could get a day pass to Bimini Beach Club for $39.
However, I learned on the island that I could get a day pass to the outdoor pool at the Hilton for around $15. Since I only had a few hours left on the island after lunch, I chose this option.
The pool area was clean, stylish and nearly empty when I visited, as was the beach.
Leaving the island did not go as planned, but the process was still well coordinated.
When it was finally time to leave, we had a bit of a setback: the ferry, returning from Freeport, was delayed. Baleària notified Hilton and the hotel allowed me and other passengers to wait in the lobby for our shuttle to arrive.
Instead of boarding from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, we got to the ferry a little after 7:00 pm Boarding felt a bit rushed, but we were still able to leave in time to return to Florida.
Getting off the ship in Florida was the most stressful part of my trip.
After a long day of walking and traveling, I was ready to get back to Miami as quickly as possible. However, when the ferry docked just after 10:00 pm, we were told we had to wait another half hour until all luggage was off the ship before we could start disembarking.
The ferry had two levels of seats and I was on the top, so we had to wait for the passengers below to disembark before we could.
Once we got off the ferry, the passengers with checked luggage collected their bags and we went through customs and immigration before returning to my car.
I will definitely be back in the Bahamas, but probably not as a day trip.
Based on my brief time on the island, I think Bimini is a beautiful destination for the resort-goer or solo traveler looking for peace and quiet. I definitely want to go back to the Bahamas and visit another island, but I don’t think I’ll be doing a day trip again anytime soon.
Baleària and Hilton made the experience as smooth and joyful as possible, but it’s a long day. I’m glad I got to experience Bimini, but next time I’d like to spend a little more time on the island.
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