Caribbean Cruising '22: Dazzling Dominica

Suzanna Pinder on 05 March 2022
Soaring peaks, deep valleys, lush vegetation, 365 rivers, hot waterfalls, boiling lakes and an abundance of nature… Dominica is said to be one of the last unspoilt islands in the Caribbean (mainly due to no international flights and limited large hotels) and boy, she did not disappoint!

Arriving to Prince Rupert Bay, we were immediately welcomed by the locals, who love meeting outsiders and proudly showcase their island. Taking a trip up the Indian River, we quickly escaped the bustle of Portsmouth into the tranquility of the bloodwood tree lined river, with tangled roots creeping out, vines dangling overhead, parrots calling, herons swooping and iguanas napping on branches. With no engines allowed in the river and taking the tour late afternoon, after most people had gone, our guide serenely rowed us upstream, pointing out the wildlife and other areas of interest, including a beautiful tributary and wooden hut featured in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. At the head of the river we were treated to a fabulous rum punch at the Bush Bar, hosted by local mixologist Buddah - there didn’t seem to be anything growing on the island that he hadn’t used to infuse the rum!

Roseau, the capital of Dominica, is a true Caribbean working town. Visiting on a Saturday, the streets were brimming with colourful market stalls and locals excitedly preparing for carnival time. Wandering the town we discovered some lovely old buildings and we also tackled the short but very steep Jacks Walk, up to the old garrison at the top of Mourne Bruce for some wonderful views across the town.

Dominica is an island to be explored inland. Taking a guide for the day, we ventured high in the north of the island, driving through lush rainforest dotted with tiny villages, peering into steep green valleys, crossing babbling rivers and enjoying occasional glimpses of the sparkling sea far away. We visited the charming Pointe Baptiste Chocolate Factory, with an interesting history dating back to a couple of bohemian Scottish aristocrats in the 1930’s (as they put it). Today, the same family produces many flavours of delicious chocolate using local fruits and ingredients.

Calibishie is a picturesque seaside town on the east coast, with a few little shops and restaurants lining the white sand beach and was the perfect spot for lunch before exploring the Kalinago or Carib Territory. Some say the Kalinagos were fierce warriors, dominating much of the Caribbean and threatening early European settlers with raiding parties. Visiting Barana Aute village, we were instead told by descendants that the Kalinagos were peaceful traders and any warrior like actions were purely for hunting and in self-defence! Perhaps a degree of truth in both? We were guided around the village, visiting traditional buildings, observing dugout canoes built by age old techniques, sampled cassava bread and learnt about daily life for these very early settlers and why they chose the rugged east coast to base themselves. An interesting visit to discover early Caribbean history.

Dominica is a hikers paradise, with many fabulous trails from simple short strolls along made paths through the rainforest, to the 115 mile Waitukubuli trail, running the whole length of the island. We did a couple of walks, exploring the area near Portsmouth and to the Emerald Lake for a marvellous refreshing dip. I loved how these trails can make you feel like a true explorer, surrounded by beautiful tropical vegetation and enjoying stunning vistas across new lands.

Living up to its name of ‘The Nature Island’, Dominica is absolutely an island not to be missed and I for one will be back.

This article was published as part of a series ‘Caribbean Cruising 2022’:

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