One of my hobbies is deep sea fishing on party boats. I’ve been going, on and off, since I was about 6 or so. But since Covid started, I’ve gone much more regularly – usually once or twice a month.
In the past I’ve written about my fishing in the waters off:
- Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach – Ocean Obsession II (they’re my favorite!)
- Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach – Orlando/Canaveral Princess
- Key West – Gulfstream Fishing, Inc.
When we were planning on what we’d do while on our Virgin Voyages (VV) cruise, it was Joe who discovered they had a fishing excursion while in Bimini. I was interested, but it was $250 for 3 hours. That’s a whole lot of money for just a couple of hours of fishing (as a comparison, as of this writing Ocean Obsession charges $70 for a half day [6 hours], and $105 for a full day [9 hours]). But it was in a place I had never fished before, and I had already promised myself I wasn’t going to get anything done at the spa, so this would be my one “splurge.”
The thing was, I found no – not even ONE! – review about this Bimini fishing excursion of theirs (and heaven knows I tried! I Googled, I joined VV Facebook groups to ask, etc.). So I was spending $250 on something but was going in totally blind. Gulp! But I figured at $250 for just 3 hours, how many people were they actually going to get? If nothing else, the excursion company would cancel from lack of interest and I’d get my money back. And if they didn’t, hey, I’d get to go fishing! It was a win-win! 😉
Two days before our cruise, I got a message on their app (almost all of VV’s communications are on their app) that my 1 pm fishing trip was rescheduled for 10 am and they’d see us at Kayak Beach 20 minutes beforehand. Wow, I guess this was actually going to happen!
I figured the boat would provide the fishing pole, bait, etc. So I only brought what I would typically bring on a short fishing trip – suntan lotion, water in my insulated water bottle, some gallon sized ziplock bags in case I caught anything, and a soft-sided insulated bag to store them in.
I wasn’t sure what the situation was in terms of rest rooms on the boat, so I asked at the Shore Things information desk (“Shore Things” is how they refer to excursions and the like). The guy said he wasn’t sure if there was a rest room on the boat or not. Awesomesauce [/sarcasm]. So I figured I would go for a happy medium of drinking enough to stay hydrated in the hot sun, but little enough so I wouldn’t have to pee for 3 hours. I can DO this! LOL!
I also asked about how to get to Kayak Beach. The Shore Things guy said I could take the tram from the ship and there would be a stop for Kayak Beach. I was also welcome to walk on the bridge between the ship and Kayak Beach, but it would be a 10 minute walk (in the blazing summer Caribbean sun – this was July, mind you – with no shade).
No thanks, I’ll take the tram.
The boat was scheduled to take off at 10am and I was supposed to be there by 9:40am. Not wanting to be late, and not exactly sure about the tram stops or even what to do when I got to Kayak Beach, I left the ship at 9am. I grabbed one of VV’s beach towels before I left, so I’d have something to wipe my hands on after I’d put bait on the hook (good thing I did – they didn’t provide anything on the boat, so if I hadn’t, I’d be wiping my fishy hands on my shorts, like everyone else did).
The tram was at the end of the dock. I had just missed the latest one so I had to wait a couple of minutes before the next tram came. I watched as we drove past Kayak Beach and made 5 or so other stops before finally being let off there. It was about 9:25am now (Note: if the first stop is Fisherman’s Village, just get off there and backtrack to Kayak Beach; it’s much faster!).
There were no signs of where anything was, but a mass of what looked like cruise people were gathered around a hut. I did see one person wear a VV “crew” shirt, so I knew I was in the right place. I went up to the people working at the hut and said I was here for the fishing excursion. A girl working for Bimini Blue Adventures asked my name, looked at her list and said my name wasn’t on the list. Huh??? But no worries, she’d just add me to the list (wait, so I could have not paid ahead of time, just shown up, get added to the list and gone fishing? 😉 I would never do that, of course, but that’s the thought that went through my mind). She then gave me a “sign your life away and you won’t sue us” form to fill out, and would I like them to email me a copy of it? Yes, please. They never did ;-).
After I gave the form back, she gave me a green wristband to put on and told me to wait “over there.”
I walked to “over there” and searched for anyone else wearing a green wristband, figuring they’d be on the fishing excursion, too. Eventually I found one guy, Chris, who was from Boston, and Tanner and Whitney, who were from Tennessee. We exchanged pleasantries for a while, talked about where and if we’ve fished in the past, etc.
We just stood and waited to be called while all the other excursions – swimming with sharks, painting, snorkeling, etc. – went out. We asked at the hut and the Bimini Blue Adventures people said the fishing guys would be there “soon.”
Finally, we were called for our fishing excursion and were led a couple of blocks away to the dock where our boat, the Blue Whale, was.
There were 8 of us now (there was also a couple from Minnesota and 2 guys from New Mexico) plus the 3 mates. We had to wait for “the boss” for something but once he was there and gone, we were on our way at 10:30am.
The mates (they told us their names but it was hard to hear over the motor) said we’d be at the fishing site in about a half hour. Meanwhile one of them explained how to bait your hook, how to cast your line, and what to do if you caught a fish.
They used casting reels, which is a type of reel I’d never had much success with. But I’ll tell ya – by the time I was done for the day, I was practically an expert at casting. 😉 I also noticed that the sinkers were teeny tiny. I’m used to using 6 to 12 ounce weights, but I guess that’s not what they use in Bimini.
We got to the fishing spot around 11am, and started fishing. The mates helped with getting the fish off the hooks, giving you a new rod if your hook/sinker got chopped off by a fish or a rock, and they also took your picture whenever you asked.
They had drinking water on the boat; it was in a big cooler and they offered it in cone shaped paper cups – I was kind of glad I thought ahead and brought my own water. But I drank it sparingly because nope, there was no toilet on the boat.
All of that being said, the fishing was GREAT! In the 2 hours we actually fished, I caught FIVE trigger fish; all keepers! I never have that kind of luck at home! I was so proud that I got my picture taken with each one of them.
All too soon, it was time to go back. We technically should have headed back by 12:30pm but they let us fish an extra few minutes because we got such a late start.
While on the 30 minute ride back to shore, I looked up what the rule was for bringing reef fish back to the U.S. from Bimini (or, more specifically, to Florida from the Bahamas). It turns out you can, depending on the fish. Triggerfish are fine, but if they’re filleted, you need to keep the skin on (I guess so the inspectors can I.D. what kind of fish it is?), and can bring no more than 10 whole fish or 20 fillets (2 fillets count as 1 fish) per person.
When we were almost back to the dock, one of the mates pointed out what you can find in the different parts of town in Bimini. Apparently, there’s a market not too far away and I wouldn’t have minded exploring there, but Joe would be waiting for me at VV’s resort so I didn’t go.
After we docked, I asked one of the mates if he could fillet 5 fish for me. He said he could (NOTE: I have spoken to someone who did this excursion a few months after I did – she said that she and her husband were not allowed to keep their trigger fish). He picked out 5 big ones and after they were filleted and in my ziplock bag, he got some ice so they’d stay fresh. It was still sunny and boiling hot, so I was happy I had brought my cooler.
I gave him some more tip money on top of the tip I had given the mates (U.S. dollars were fine) and walked to the nearest trolley stop. When I got back to the ship, I dropped off my towel with the fish guts on it (sorry to whoever picked that one up – phew!), and went back to our cabin so I could put the fish in our fridge and turn the temperature really low.
After texting Joe that I was on my way, I took the shuttle to VV’s resort and met him there.
The fishing excursion on Bimini happened on a Wednesday, the day before we disembarked in Miami. On Thursday morning, before we got off the ship, I filled 2 more gallon bags with ice and put those in my insulated bag, with the fish between them.
As it turned out, Customs/Immigration didn’t ask me a thing about declaring anything. So I kept my mouth shut. Not that I was doing anything wrong by bringing the fish back – I had the page with the rules all ready, if needed – but if they weren’t going to ask, I certainly wasn’t going to potentially open a can of worms by saying anything LOL!
The insulated bag I brought was a cheap piece of crap and as the ice melted, the outside of the bag started to get wet. So we stopped at a local Walmart for something sturdier (the soft sided one got tossed when we got home – it stunk like fish. No way that smell would ever get cleaned or aired out of it).
Joe and I were just driving home, so getting the fish to our house was just a matter of a 3-hour car ride. Had we been flying, I would have asked our cabin attendants if they could label and put the fish in the freezer overnight, get the packet back in the morning, and then use our technique for bringing frozen foods home.
So yeah – I went on VV’s “mysterious” fishing excursion. Was it worth $250? Well, as far as I’m concerned, $250 for 3 hours ANYWHERE is a lot. But I did catch 5 fish in that short period of time, which, for me was a big deal (and wound up costing $50 per fish – the most expensive trigger fish EVER! LOLOL!) So in that respect, yeah, it was worth it. Would I do it again? Yeah, probably. 🙂
I did have a really good time but I wish they had prepared us ahead of time:
I wish they had given us a better description of the excursion itself
This is how they described the excursion:
Reel in fish year-round on a charter boat that will take you to the best reef spots in the Caribbean. Fishermen flock to Bimini to take full advantage of the bounty of fish that inhabit the coastal waters of Bimini. On a day spent surrounded by the reef’s turquoise waters, cast your line to reel in snapper, grouper, barracuda, and many more species (we can go on and on and on). No matter the season, Bimini’s tropical climate makes for ideal fishing conditions year-round – making it the sportfishing capital of the world. Take advantage of Bimini’s ideal location that houses a wide variety of fish. Reel in grouper, snapper, barracuda and many more fish species
All anyone caught was triggerfish. The mates said all that’s there is triggerfish. So why mention snapper, grouper and barracuda? But besides that, a mention of what’s included (i.e. rod and reel, bait) would be nice.
They could have listed the things they recommend we bring
I go fishing a lot – in Florida, no less – so I know better. But if you’ve never fished before, or only gone lake fishing up north, you may not think to bring suntan lotion, sunglasses, etc., thinking they may have that stuff available on the boat, perhaps even to purchase. And people who don’t fish are NEVER going to think to bring a towel to wipe their hands after touching bait, fish, etc. The only thing they did mention was, “Sailors prone to motion sickness should take precautions prior to this Shore Thing.”
They could have given a better description of where to go
“Get off at Kayak Beach, right at the end of the pier.” That’s all I knew. Except as we headed away from the ship, the tram went right past Kayak Beach (I saw the sign for it), without stopping. I didn’t know it’d be OK to get off at Fisherman’s Village and walk to Kayak Beach, thinking there was going to be stop for Kayak Beach proper. Instead I went through every stop – Fisherman’s Village, the casino, VV’s beach resort, Fisherman’s Village again, and THEN finally Kayak Beach. I also had to “guess” that the hut was when you sign in (later on they did put up a sign that said Shore Things” but it didn’t happen until close to 10:30am).
They really should give a heads up that there’s no head
The “head” is a nautical term for bathroom. But really…you’re out there for 3 hours, have to be there 20 minutes ahead of time, and there’s no toilet on the boat. Wouldn’t it make sense to tell people to “go” ahead of time, and where they can do that, perhaps in any spot that’s closer than the ship itself?
Overall: Recommended, but with one caveat
I’m well aware that all the above is just the result of people not thinking things through. Despite the things I wish they had done, I really DID have a really good time.
Again, I was allowed to keep my fish and one of the mates even filleted them for me. However based on talking to someone who went on this excursion after me, this might no longer be the case. As someone who wants to keep my fish, if I’m no longer allowed to, I have no interest in paying another $250 to catch fish, just for the mates and/or Bimini Blue Adventures to keep/sell/etc. Keeping your fish may not be a game changer for you; as always, as the good blog goes, Your Mileage May Vary.
That being said, if I could keep my fish, I would seriously consider doing the fishing excursion again.
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