Bimini Road

In the works Timaeus and Critias, the Greek philosopher Plato briefly mentioned an island as an allegory for excessive self-confidence. The people on this landmass sported a massive navy, which attempted to destroy Plato’s version of an ideal state, Athens. The gods did not smile upon these people, so the deities inundated the island with so much water that it sunk, never to be seen again. This island was known as Atlantis.

Plato’s passing inclusion inadvertently kickstarted one of humanity’s lasting “mysteries.” In the roughly 2,300 years since Plato’s death, many people interpreted Atlantis to have been a real location, lurking beneath the sea somewhere, perhaps filled with priceless antiquities. Where exactly was Atlantis? No one knows. Most hypotheses center on the Mediterranean Sea, the center of the Ancient Greek universe. Makes sense, but no evidence of a massive, submerged island has yet surfaced in this region. Some expanded the scope of the inquiry past the Pillars of Hercules into the Atlantic Ocean. This body was not only much larger – and therefore more likely to hide an island – but it was also far less explored by the people of the era. Perhaps Atlantis had resided relatively close to Europe, just like the Canary Islands, Madeira Islands, or the Azores. As modernity ensued, theories expanded to the treacherous Bermuda Triangle, a fitting spot for a lost civilization.

On 2 September 1968, however, a group of divers finally discovered evidence that might point to the non-fictionality of Atlantis.

And it was just 60 miles east of Miami, Florida.

North Bimini Island from space, June 1998 - NASA

Just east of the southern coast of the United States sits the island nation of the Bahamas. The chain closest to Florida is called Bimini. The islands of this formation are tiny, covering just nine square miles in total. The largest, North Bamini, features a couple of towns with populations under 500, a Hilton resort, and an ancient sidewalk to Atlantis.


Diving in 18 feet of water off the shore of North Bimini, three people encountered a “pavement” on the seafloor. This diction requires a bit of examination for us in North America. We tend to view “pavement” as the hard surface of a road, laid down by construction crews. In Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, “pavement” can be more akin to a sidewalk, often the cobbled variety. So, beneath the waters of the Bahamas was not an ancient highway but an ancient walkway.

Linear stones formed the “pavement, ” running approximately half a mile. Though showing rounded signs of erosion, eyewitnesses described the incredible rectangularity and regularity of the constituent stones. On average, the rectangles measured 7-10 feet across, though the largest blocks stretched to 13 feet. This bizarre structure garnered the nickname Bimini Road or Bimini Wall.

When two other “roads” – albeit shorter, at 160 feet and 200 feet – emerged nearby, Atlantis fever popped off. What were these structures? How did they get there? Were they created by humans? How could nature have crafted such a regular sidewalk under the ocean?

Photo from Ancient Archaeology
Photo from Ancient Archaeology

As one might guess, the road does not point to Atlantis.

As an armchair investigator, the first sign that the case for Atlantis might be a bit weak stems from something circumstantial. Photographs, especially of good quality, are difficult to find. On today’s internet, that’s strange. The Wikipedia entry for the formations features exactly zero images of the stones. The only high-quality photos available come from for-pay stock sites. They look nice, but we can’t publish them here or we might end up in copyright court. The only images depicting geometry come from old, obscure sites. Videos of dives provided better views, but the visual evidence in total seemed lacking. If Atlantis were hiding 60 miles from Miami, one would expect documentation out of the wazoo.

Of course, a lack of photographic evidence does not disqualify a topic. Geologists, however, dispute the notion that the Bimini Road was crafted by humans. No tool marks have been noted, though others point to erosional forces to explain this dearth. No evidence of layering exists, just a single stratum, which would be unlikely for human structures of the time. Scientists believe the pavement to be pieces of “beachrock,” a type of cemented sedimentary rock that forms in the Bahamas. This type of rock arises when sediments become cemented into limestone along shorelines. Over time, as sea levels rise, these hardy slabs resist erosion more than the surrounding shoreline and can plop onto underlying bedrock. Radiocarbon dating supports a timeline that fits known sea-level fluctuations. Further, the regularity of the blocks was not as striking upon intense scrutiny as the original discoverers purported.

Add it all up and the Bimini Road is likely the work of Mother Nature.

Beachrock slabs along Réunion island seashore - B.navez

Perhaps the Bimini Road is not a paragon of perfect Euclidean geometry, but its blocks do seem rather non-natural on initial inspection. As it turns out, this more-or-less rectangular jointing of natural pavements is not a unicorn. Tiled and tessellated pavements exist in several spots around the globe, including Australia, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Utah. Reportedly, a similar structure lies near Dry Tortugas National Park off the coast of Florida. Plentiful examples above the water dot the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Limestone is slightly soluble in water. When acids in rain find tiny cracks or joints, they can start to form straight lines along the axis of the original imperfection. When this phenomenon occurs for long enough, gouges can appear or entire pieces can separate, forming visually pleasing polygons.

Limestone pavement above Malham Cove in Yorkshire - photo by Lupin
Tessellated pavement in Tasmania - photo by JJ Harrison

Still, the allure of Atlantis persists, and many continue to believe in human origins for the road.

Gavin Menzies, an amateur historian who penned the book 1421: The Year China Discovered America, went beyond Plato and Atlantis. He claimed the Chinese, circling the world nearly a century before Columbus, became shipwrecked via hurricane on North Bimini Island. There, they crafted Bimini Road from local beachrock as a highway for rescuing valuable commodities and parts from the doomed ships.

No evidence for the Chinese voyage or their crafting of the road persists.

These sorts of natural structures do tickle some portion of our brains. Lines and circles are the domain of mathematics and engineering. Most naturally occurring bodies skew toward fractals or grotesque, erosional curves and angles. When something seems to approach an “unnatural” perfection, we look for alternate creators.

Even if we know Atlantis isn’t chilling off the coast of Florida, perhaps the world is richer for the mythological practical jokes Mother Nature plays on our brains.

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