You’ve never heard of Dominica before. No, not the Dominican Republic, Dominica. It’s an island in the southern Caribbean in the vicinity of St. Bart’s, and it’s a rainforest heaven that has not yet exploded with the commercialism of tourism. I had never heard of it, but I definitely loved it. When I first drove through Nassau in the Bahamas, I was struck by how flat and rather arid it was, but it was not so in Dominica. Mountains covered in every shade of green known to nature shoot up 3,000 feet out of the ocean, volcanoes that shape the geography and mood of the island. Maybe it was my upbringing, but I feel much more at ease in forest and imposing cliffs and mountains than I do with flatness.
The first day (of two) that we were there, I had arranged a tour which ended up being for upwards of forty people. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a good idea to arrange a tour in our very first port with forty people I didn’t know. It ended up working out wonderfully, though. Our lovely guide Levi took us to rent snorkel gear, and then over to Champagne Reef. It is thus named because volcanically active fumaroles vent warm water a gasses from the ocean floor, and visitors can swim through them (fun fact of the day). The sea water was cool but refreshing and the scenery was beautiful. I was scared at first to swim through the bubbles, but all they did was tickle me. We saw a hawksbill sea turtle and lots of colorful fish (whose names I don’t know), and plenty of other sea life.
Next Levi took us to Titou Gorge, where parts of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed. At first it looked like a pool of fresh water, which we jumped off a 15-foot rock into, but then we discovered the rocks had a crevice which we were able to swim through. The sun shone down upon us through the lush greenery, and filtered through the twenty feet of shadows that were the imposing cliff faces above our heads. At the terminus of the gorge there was a waterfall, which we were able to climb up and jump off of. I’ve never done so much jumping! The water was cold but it was the clearest, cleanest water I’ve ever seen. It was the best Monday of my life, and I can’t believe that this is my life.
Our next stop was Trafalgar Falls and the hot springs there. The 10-minute walk to the view of the falls was nice, but the hot springs were what really made it. We walked another 10 minutes and got in the hot springs, which spilled over a series of rocks. The water was hot tub-temperature and incredibly relaxing. Levi let us stay there as long as we wanted, which was probably about an hour. It was a relaxing end to a beautiful day.
Dominica is overshadowed by popular nearby islands like St. Bart’s and Martinique, but I’m writing to sing its praises. It’s hard to get to and isn’t well-known, but it’s well worth a visit to this surprising Caribbean island. Next stop, Brazil…