We are dreaming of a tropical island covered in rain forests where we can relax and enjoy quiet beaches, unspoiled waterfalls, and healthy living.
So, we are off to the island of Dominica!
Let’s clarify some things. It is pronounced dom-ih-NEE-kə. It is an independent island nation in the West Indies, part of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea.
It is not the Dominican Republic, an equally lovely island, but not where we are vacationing.
Dominica is a tall island covered in tropical rain forests. How tall, you ask? Dominica’s precolonial indigenous inhabitants were the Island Carib people. They had named it Wai‘tu kubuli, which means “Tall is her body.” So it’s pretty tall.
We took the Express des Iles Ferry from Martinique to Roseau, then rent a car and drive to Rosalie Bay Resort, which is situated on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. From the map above, you might infer that Rosalie is a town; you’d be wrong. The ONLY thing in Rosalie is Rosalie Bay Resort.
Rosalie Bay Resort
Since it is shoulder season (two weeks before hurricane season), the resort is almost devoid of other guests. In fact, we are the only occupants in this four-suite building. Sweet.
The staff at the resort is very professional, and we are soon in our room.
We booked this resort while on Martinique, with perhaps ten minutes of power left on our laptop, so we did not have time to research it. We saw that it was a secluded resort on a tropical island, and clicked “Reserve” before the battery completely died. (Yes, we have since learned to travel with an assortment of plug adapters.)
The room is spacious, with a walk-in closet, a small refrigerator, a flashlight, and a remote to control the air conditioner. I am pointing out the remote control is for the a/c because this is a zero-TV vacation. 😎
There are apartments in New York City that are smaller than our bathroom. Now, you might think, “But I don’t like bathtubs, I like showers!”
But we know how to enjoy such tubs. (Of course, there was champagne involved.)
And to assuage any concerns, Yes, there was a shower in the bathroom, too.
From our balcony, when we look northward, we can see the manicured grounds and the tall mountains behinds them.
Directly east of our balcony is the Atlantic Ocean. We discover that there is a permanent breeze coming off the ocean, keeping us cool no matter how warm the island gets.
Mornings look like this from our room, and we awaken each morning to enjoy the rising sun. We consider leaving the doors open during the night to enjoy the cool breeze, but the cool breeze also brings cool moisture which gradually covers everything in a slightly-salty mist.
We explore the resort to see what there is to see. In one of the few clearings, we can see a wind turbine turning slowly in the breeze. We wonder what happens in hurricane season.
Most of the grounds have a fairy-tale to them, as if a cgi expert had designed the whole resort.
Rosalie Bay Resort has its own labyrinth. The sign informs us that it dates to prehistoric times and is a sacred space.
We walk the labyrinth, thinking it easy, but discover that it is impossible to see the over-all pattern. Eventually we find our way out.
The northern edge of the resort abuts the Rosalie River, and the resort has thoughtfully provided a viewing nook.
Ahhh, the perfect place to take a cheesecake photograph. Smile!
Looking upstream, we see locals bathing in the river. It looks refreshing!
Do you see what looks like a pipe crossing the river? It is a concrete bridge, little more than one-vehicle wide, with no railing, and is the only road connecting the resort with the rest of the island. No drinking and driving on this island!!
The resort has a swimming pool, which we use only once, just to experience it. Why use the pool when the island is covered with rivers and waterfalls?
There is a bar near the pool and we decide to get an island-style drink. The bartender is an island girl, tall and thin with dark, shiny skin, beautiful long hair, big eyes, and expressive lips. (This reads like bad writing, but it’s nonetheless true.) I ask her if they have any sweet rum on Dominica. She looks at me for a moment, purses her lips, and with an island accent, perfunctorily says, “No.” And that’s it.
Not very talkative, these girls from Dominica.
Speaking of speaking, another expression we hear often is “alright,” spoken as if agreeing with us.
Me, speaking to local: “Good morning.”
Local, to me: “Alright.”
We eventually learn that is island talk for “Everything is good.”
Traveling in shoulder season can be risky, which is why it is shoulder season. But a major benefit is romantic dining with super-good service!
Photographs of food never do justice. (Sorry, Facebook foodies, but it’s true.) Although this looks nasty, it smells and tastes delicious. Yours truly enjoys meat, but if we lived on Dominica, I could easily become vegetarian. Everything we eat is harvested directly from the island’s bounty and is prepared with very mild seasoning so we can actually taste the food.
We have a car, so let’s see what else is on the island of Dominica.
Dominica was governed by Great Britain from 1763 until 1978, so we drive on the left side of the road. Not really a problem because the roads are largely unmarked.
The folks in Dominica who do not live on Resorts or in cities live very close to nature. Notice that the window openings have shutters rather than glass or screens.
We appreciate this shed, constructed from mostly recycled materials. And, it’s colorful!
When you build on a mountainous island, you don’t worry about flattening the land. Your house has an island feng shui.
We see few European-style livestock and are surprised when a free-range cow approaches our car. We tell it to “mooooove”, then proceed. 😀
We follow the road north and west and find a beautiful beach just south of Cabrits National Park. It’s the perfect place to take a long walk.
We walk past the Purple Turtle Restaurant; it looks like it’s recovering from a storm. Even though we are on the Caribbean side of the island, it must be difficult to care for a dwelling situated in a place that gets hurricanes.
Contrasting the lifestyle of the interior of the island, we see sailboats and yachts in the distance. You can’t tell due to the foliage, but there are many residences and business along this coastline.
We take a photograph of the pier, a postcard-perfect view. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
We stop near a rocky beach to explore, and we see a lone column in the distance. Perhaps it is evidence of an ancient civilization that built great structures dedicated to the gods, or a marker to guide antediluvian travelers to a safe haven.
We may never know.
The weather is always warm in Dominica, and swimming is the perfect way to cool off.
Who would have expected waves on the Caribbean side of the island?
We follow the highway west though the mountains, then continue along the coast. The view is stunning.
We are surprised to see the erosion of the hillsides. It hints at the ferocity of the winter storms that pound this island paradise.
At one point, we are able to see the islands to the north of us, Guadeloupe, about 20 km. distant. (We will travel to Guadeloupe, but that is a tale for another time.)
As we travel, we see various island critters, and even manage to photograph a few.
In this slideshow, you can see a yellow-banded millipede from two angles, an adult and juvenile Puerto Rican crested anole, a Dominican ground lizard, and a cyrique crab.
There are more plants here than we could ever effectively photograph, but we take pictures of a few that catch our eye.
Here we see a noni, which is used for food and medical uses, a palm forest, a tree fern, two examples of tropical vegetation, and two hibiscus.
Okay, let’s find waterfalls!
Our first stop is Trafalgar Falls, where we get two for the price of one.
The hike down the trail is easy, if a bit slippery, and before long we are witness to two beautiful waterfalls.
We follow the trail to the pool, but find it to be too slippery, so we instead go downstream, following the path of the stream.
Eventually the water from the larger waterfall intersects with the water from the smaller waterfall which, to our delight, is warm!
This is great! We let the warm water massage our muscles, deep in a valley on this island paradise.
Next on our waterfall voyage is Salton Falls. The trailhead is not what you might expect. There is a sign in a residential area that reads, “Welcome to Salton Waterfalls”. We park our car, pay a small entrance fee, and start walking down a manicured path.
Almost immediately we encounter a waterfall filling a small pool.
The water is cool and refreshing, very tropical islandish.
We continue down the trail. Multiple small waterfalls cascade, their spray forming a mist in the afternoon air. Fortunately, the path has stairs and railings.
The farther down we trek, the more water that falls seemingly out of the forest itself.
We find a rainbow, suspiciously lacking the pot of gold. Sad.
We arrive at the bottom to find the largest pool. It’s about one meter deep, which is deeper than most pools we have been in.
It’s not long before other water-loving adventurers join us, and laughter fills the canyon.
Our final waterfall is Emerald Pool in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
We begin at the trailhead of Waitukubuli National Trail, which is well marked and easy to find.
Like many places on Dominica, the trail is well cared-for.
After just a short hike, we find the Emerald Pool and go for a soak. It is simply beautiful.
The water has a slight green tint to it.
This is a wonderful way to spend a day in Dominica.
They wouldn’t have rocks underneath waterfall unless you were meant to climb them, right?
The pool is way too shallow to dive in. Too bad. I could have shown off my great diving form. 🙄
We get dressed, then take a photograph from behind the falls. Pretty cool, eh.
One place we have no photographs of is Champagne Reef, because the action is all underwater. Volcanic vents emit continuous streams of bubbles making the place feel like a giant glass of champagne. It’s ticklish on our skin, plus the water is clear enough to see many ocean creatures.
We have been in lovely Dominica for six days, and it is time to carry on elsewhere with our adventures. We leave you with one final tale.
In Dominica, people use machetes to cut vegetation. Female workers at Rosalie Bay Resort trim bushes with machetes. Stores sell toy machetes for children. Machetes are a ubiquitous tool on the island. Much of the food we eat is harvested on a daily basis by men with machetes, hacking at branches to gather the forest’s bounty.
So it is very common in the early evening to see men returning from a hard day’s work, wearily shuffling along the road dirty and sweaty, carrying an unsheathed machete, looking little different than Hollywood’s version of a zombie. 😯