Besides the piercing blue water, fresh conch and island charm, the Dolphin House on Bimini is another attraction that draws in visitors from near and far.
During our recent trip to Bimini to explore the marina and grounds of the Bimini Big Game Club, I put a visit to the Dolphin House on my “must do” list. The following story, photos, and surprises are what we discovered.
Established in 1993, local Bahamian writer and historian, Ashley Saunders built his home/museum from the ground up as a tribute and a thank-you to the wild dolphins he swam with. His encounter with these intelligent creatures opened up the door of creativity in his soul and the artist inside Mr. Saunders emerged.
If that doesn’t sound magical enough, the whole house is made up of recycled material he has found on the beautiful shores of Bimini. Conch shells, rum bottles, beer bottles, mirrors, brushes, flip flops and much much more are all part of the foundation of this beautiful and uniquely crafted home.
The Dolphin House is also known as “Poem In Stone” but it could also be called poetry in motion since he is currently building a third story. Ryan and I will have to make a trek back to Bimini once the new addition is complete.
Though RumShopRyan has already seen the Dolphin House on past adventures (before Castaway Crystal existed – well, she existed but no one knew, not even her.), this was my first time.
On the first day of our two day visit to “The Island In The Stream,” we attempted to take a tour but to no avail. Though the hours on the sign said it should have been open, it seemed it was closed for the day. That’s the island charm I was speaking of – We are openish at these times…maybe. You can’t help but laugh. Island Time is real.
We were told by the lovely ladies at the front desk of Bimini Big Game Club to try the next day around 9 or 10am. That’s what we did and sure enough Mr. Saunders was there eagerly ready to give us a tour of his proud creation.
Our tour began outside in front of the mosaic home where Ashley introduced himself and told us how the home came to be. After that, we followed our new island friend upstairs while he pointed out the different objects that were plastered into the walls. This is where the subtitle “A tour like no other” comes to play.
Touring the Dolphin House is nothing like touring the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina or for that matter, any other home tour in the United States. I’m not saying in terms of the home (of course) but how the information is delivered to you.
Usually your tour guide has a memorized speech about the artifacts and architecture. Instead, here at the Dolphin House, it’s a little more relaxed (Hey. You’re on island time, remember?). You’ll hear phrases like “Look at this bottle” and “Look here, I put an old lipstick container in the wall.” Again, I can’t help but giggle. I delight in the simplicity and rawness of the islands.
As I said in the beginning, people from all over the world have come to the dolphin shrine. Since his visitors are so diverse, Saunders came up with the brilliant idea of having them write “Welcome To The Dolphin House” in their language on a piece of plywood. You can find these welcome signs all over the main room of the house. It’s kind of like the Disney ride “It’s a Small World” meets Bimini.
After the tour, Ashley will take you down to the little gift shop and museum where you’ll see Hemingway quotes written on the ceiling and a collection of all sorts of things. From an old pirate hat and shipwreck items, to a fishing pole made out of coconut…you’ll see a little bit of everything. We thought it only right to help Ashley with his collection, a RumShop Caribbean Castaway coozie was added next to one of Ryan’s favorite Hemingway quotes. Let us know if you see it!
The Dolphin House is a colorful and inspirational masterpiece. And though there are no real dolphins there (like the ones Saunders swam with) just maybe all the creative magic inside will bring out the artist in you.
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