Beyond Destin: Bamahenge is a blast from the way, way past
Destin has a lot to offer, and although its beaches are world-famous and its seafood delicious, there are hundreds of hidden treasures in the area surrounding Northwest Florida that yields for fun adventures, day trips and weekend getaways. This column follows the wanderings of reporter Savannah Vasquez and explores the many opportunities in Destin’s surrounding area. I invite you to explore with me Beyond Destin.
Our venture this weekend took us out in the middle of nowhere, but this nowhere will trick your friends into thinking you have traveled to Wittshire, England, to visit the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. So get ready for some Instagram fun, some mild hiking, some dinosaur encounters and some replica fun in the wild world of Bamahenge.
The story of Bamahenge begins with Alabama billionaire George Barber.
Barber, a lover of art, had some fiberglass dinosaurs built for him by Virginia artist Mark Cline in the ‘90s. Years later, when Barber began work on Barber Marina in 2004, he had a wild idea to have Cline build something even more mysterious, a replica of Stonehenge for his new woodsy property.
By 2012, in addition to four life sized dinosaurs, Cline had completed an exact replica of Stonehenge and placed it in a clearing of trees on the side of the road leading into Barber Marina, and thus Bamahenge was born.
Bamahenge is designed in the exact formation of Stonehenge with fiberglass monoliths measuring 21 feet tall and 104 feet wide. Cline even aligned the rock formation with the summer solstice, in the same way that Stonehenge is arranged in England. To add to the monument’s mystery, Cline left no signage or explanation of the formation to help add to the wonder and discovery each guest feels when finding Bamahenge.
Although Bamahenge is easily spotted from the road, the dinosaurs and other artsy attractions of Barber Marina are a bit more elusive. Keep a sharp eye out on the right side of the road along the trees as you drive towards the marina and you will find a T. Rex, a Stegosaurus and a Triceratops. The most illusive dino, however, the Brontosaurus is on the left side of the road. Cristian and I didn’t end up finding Mr. Brontosaurus as we got caught in a freak rain storm by that point in our trip.
If you continue on the road to the marina you will wind up at a roundabout. At the center of the circle is a marble fountain of the Roman god Neptune, which is reminiscent of Neptune Fountain in Rome, although this time not an exact replica.
To the right of the fountain, near the boat house, you will find a giant steel spider that reminded Cristian and I of the spider from "Jumanji." If you still feel like exploring after seeing that scary sight, follow the roundabout to the left and in the small woodsy area to the right you can search for a handful of life-sized copper knights among the foliage.
Probably the strangest of art pieces at Barber Marina is the Lady in the Lake. Cline was asked by Barber to build a 50-foot floating woman to be placed in the marina, and Cline obliged. Although she wasn’t in the marina the day Cristian and I went (we were told she was being worked on), the monument is a woman’s head and knees popping out of the water and was originally named “Country Girl Skinny Dipping.”
A final sight to be seen while driving back out of the property is the Roman columns that stand out in a field by a pond, just before you reach Bamahenge. We decided not to wander through the tall grass to reach the columns, but were impressed by just how many statues and large works of art Mr. Barber has placed on his property. With no rhyme or reason, it seems the art is placed there to just be enjoyed and discovered, so if you find yourself wanting a bit of an odd adventure, trek on out to Elberta, Alabama, and see the sites of the strange!
Bamanhenge is located about two hours west of Destin within Barber Marina at 26986 Fish Trap Road in Elberta, Alabama. To find the monument from Fish Trap Road, turn left at the Barber Marina sign (onto Barber Parkway) and follow the road for one mile until you see Bamahenge in the trees, set back about 200 yards into a clearing in the woods. To find the other attractions, continue down Barber Parkway then onto Neptune Boulevard, which will lead you to Barber Marina. All of the attractions are free and open to the public, however, this is private property, so respect posted signs and barriers.