There is one shell that, for many of us, symbolizes all the beauty and exoticism of a tropical island getaway. You know the one I mean: the conch. That pink-lipped beauty with its spiraling core radiates island charm and reminds us of the wonder of island nature. (By the way, in the Caribbean and the Florida Keys, they pronounce the word "conk.") Unfortunately, in my home state of Florida, conchs have been loved nearly to death; all the conchs you'll see for sale at Shell World in Key Largo or at various souvenir stands in Key West come afrom abroad. Yes, they're often shipped in from far away places, like the Philippines. There just aren't many Queen Conchs left in the waters off the "Conch Republic," which is why it's not illegal to collect them from there. But, on a happier note, conchs, both the funny looking mollusks and their graceful shells, certainly are not in short supply in one island destination: Bimini!
(A discovery on our tropical island getaway to Bimini. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
At least for now, conchs on Bimini appear all over the place. The photograph above was taken out back behind a conch salad stand. When I saw them, my eyes bulged wide and I said, "Whoa!" This kind of sight was probably common in the Keys fifty years ago, but today, all I could think was, "They're just leaving all those gorgeous conch shells sitting around?" But that's what you can do in a place like Bimini. The archipelago possesses a wealth of conch! You find them cemented into walls...
(One example of the conchs in Bimini Bahamas. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
And you see the shells adorning gateposts...
(The Island Runaways had to stop to photograph this. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
As we biked around North Bimini island, Zickie and I were honestly amazed at the number of conch shells we encountered. Sometimes, you'd spot one just resting in a random place.
(A possible mascot for our island travel blog? Photo by Laura Albritton.)
Peddling through Bailey Town and Alice Town on this small island, I suddenly realized why my next door neighbor and conch aficianado (I mean you, Brian) has a soft spot for Bimini. Whether you love the shells, or love to eat cracked conch, this is a conch-lover's capital.
One of the prettiest conch-and-ocean views was the one we came across at the tip of Northern Bimini, where you can see South Bimini island just across the channel:
(Looking for things to do in Bimini? Try counting the conchs! Photo by Laura Albritton.)
The sea water glimmered in the afternoon sun and the shell glowed with subtle shades of beige and rose. And then there were the broken conchs and conchs that had been worn over time and battered against the rocks. Those looked beautiful, too, in their way.
(Broken conchs line the shore. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
As we reluctantly said our good-byes to Bimini, with its stunning ocean and narrow roads, I made a wish that these small islands would always have their veritable treasure trove of conchs. It's certainly one natural wonder that makes spending time here so very special.
Have you been to Bimini? If so, what was your favorite sight? Leave a comment below, or write us a quick tip on our Guest Island Experts page.