Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue April 14 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | April 14, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Bimini's Historic Dolphin House

    Bimini's Historic Dolphin House

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    If you ever travel to the serene shores of Bimini, Bahamas, one of the first required stops should be to the historic Dolphin House in Alice Town. A museum, art gallery, eco treasure, and inn all rolled into one charming building, the Dolphin House is a must-see. The first view of the glistening concrete structure, encased with shells, tiles, sea glass, and all manner of recycled material is just the initial layer of wonder. Once historian and Dolphin house builder Ashley Saunders starts explaining and showing how the house represents Bimini history, the real journey begins.

    Ashley Saunders' family has lived in Bimini since the American Revolution and his knowledge of the island's chronicles is so vast that he literally wrote the book on Bimini history ("History of Bimini vol. 1 and 2" [New World Press]). A former teacher, Saunders was inspired to build a house that was constructed of Bimini's natural resources in 1993.

    Named for the 27 mosaic and sculpted dolphins that decorate the building, Saunders has been building and adding to the Dolphin House for decades. He made concrete from the island's sand and created the interior from scraps that washed up on the beach. The walls are embellished with shells, coral, rocks, sea glass and a paste made from ground conch shells.

    Roaming around the two-level house can be a heady experience because art and artifacts are everywhere. There's a Caribbean fireplace covered with shells and a dolphin stain glass window, starfish and green soda bottles lining the walls, fishing bobbers hanging from the ceiling, and a room covered with mosaic mermaids. And that's just the first two rooms. Saunders rents two rooms with baths for $100 a night.

    On the lower level, a small museum crammed with displays of Bimini's varied history captures visitor's attention. A pirate's cannon commands the entranceway, and disparate items like a fishing rod carved from a coconut tree, a depression-era dress crafted from a flour sack worn by Saunders' grandmother, and an 18th century dagger partly covered in limestone.

    Of course, the ultimate historic resource is Saunders himself. He guides historical walking tours around Alice Town and makes sure that guests leave with a good grasp of Bimini history. I really loved his stories about local legends like Ernest Hemingway, who lived on Bimini from 1935-37. Saunders and the Dolphin House really give an engaging perspective of Bimini’s past and present. You can contact the Bimini Tourist Office to arrange a tour or a stay at the Dolphin House.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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