6.27.2011

Bimini | Bahamas | Ashley Saunders | Dolphin House | Resort

Our last day in the Bahamas turned out to be a quite amazing experience. It was one of those moments that you can’t explain why it happened but it was one of those moments that you wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on.

The Captain and I strolled around Bimini to prepare our legs for the upcoming 3 day sail through the Gulf Stream. During our casual stroll we arrived at a narrow road that lead up a slight incline. There was nothing extraordinary about this road but we felt motivated to turn and hike up it.
When we reached the top of the hill we noted a strange sight to our left, it was a building that was designed and built using a distinctive technique.
As we admired the masterpiece we noticed a man with a huge smile spread across his face

walking towards us pushing a bicycle. “Would you like to see inside?” he asked? “Of course!” was our response. He introduced himself as Ashley B. Saunders and the creator of this work of genius. He invited us inside and began to give us a guided tour and with each room we became more enthralled with this man’s imagination and creativeness. Ashley began building his dream in 1993 and named his building; “The Dolphin House”.

He embarked on this project by hauling tons of sand up the steep hill from the beach with help of family and friends utilizing a wheelbarrow. Next, he allowed the sand to sit for months so it would be washed by rain water to clean the debris and salt from it. After the sand was rinsed enough he used it to mix with the other ingredients to make the concrete for his foundation. After the foundation was cured he built the exterior walls utilizing cinder blocks with double layered steel rods coated with anti rust to decrease corrosion.

Ashley’s philosophy was explained to me as follows; “you should build like it is meant to last forever”; he also described the relationship between steel and concrete like a husband and wife, a relationship that provides support and strength to each other. I would bet that this building could definitely withstand a hurricane!

The interior is made up of building materials that consist of left over scraps from other projects on the island, scraps from buildings that were destroyed , scraps of whole and broken tile, bottles, marbles and all types of various items that he found washed up on the beaches over 10 years.



He utilized natural resources such as rocks, various shells including heaps of conch shells which some he ground down and made paste to coat the walls. He also receives items by mail from individuals who have visited him.

They send him items to use such as broken vases, souvenirs that they no longer want, coins from all over the world and even stain glass from old church windows.

The front lower level of the Dolphin House
consists of a museum that displays

several old items such as a pirate’s cannon,

a dress that belonged to his grandmother

and even 2 drivers’ licenses from Shawnee, Kansas.

Next door you will find a gift shop named, “The Shabby Boutique” which sells various items such as shells and jewelry that is made from items found on the beach such as sea glass, shark teeth and shells.

Ashley’s living quarters can be found on the lower level in back of the house. The apartment is modestly charming and is decorated with various objects that he has collected over his years living on the island.

Next you walk up the stairs that are located on the
side of the building where you will find 2 rooms that Ashley rents, each room includes a kitchen, living area, bathroom

and 2 bedrooms and are 32 steps from the beach.

The rooms rent for $50/per person/per night.

In the living area you will find a

Caribbean fireplace,

a library with a supply of Earnest Hemingway books

and a TV.


There are all sorts of items embedded

in the walls to make art and décor including an old anchor chain that

Ashley built into a pillar with parts exposed.

It is difficult to witness all the unique forms of art,

I would lay a wager that you could spend days in this room and still notice something new such as a size five woman’s sandal that he found on the beach embedded in the corner of the living area.

The bedrooms each have a theme, one of the rooms is called the mermaid room due to the 5 mermaids in various areas of the room.
The other bedroom has a fish theme which includes a broken mirror that Ashley

fashionably disguised with coins that he formed into palm trees.

The roof is open for sun bathing or relaxing to enjoy a sunset cocktail. The roof overlooks the Atlantic Ocean to the west
and to the east the Caribbean Sea.


There is also a fruit garden behind the house where you can find bananas, mangos and, papayas.
Ashley believes in utilizing resources that are natural or that most people consider trash as to save our environment from further clutter which is slowly destroying our planet.

Ashley also believes if you want to do it right, do it yourself which he practiced in building this magnificent building.

Ashley is a magnificent man that was born and raised on Bimini. He attended the University of Wisconsin where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Next he did his post graduate work at Harvard. His aspiration is keep the history of Bimini from being eternally lost therefore he is the President of the Bimini Historical Society. Ashley was the 2000 winner of the prestigious Cacique Award,


a distinguished poet

and the author of many books including 2 volumes of books named,

History of Bimini. His lists of accomplishments are astounding!




Ashley comes from a generational family of craftsman, they build wooden bone fishing boats, crafted display boats out of seashells,
there are musicians in the family, Earnest Hemingway was a big part of their lives and his banjo playing uncle,

Nathan Saunders, is mentioned in Hemingway’s book titled, Island In the Stream. Uncle Nathan also wrote a song about Hemingway called, The Big Fat Slob.



Ashley and his family are definitely well diverse and very interesting to spend time with.

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