A Perfect Day on Dominica, the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’

My wife and I awoke a little later than usual after a night of passing thunderstorms had us hopping out of bed periodically to close the shutters. The cool breeze and the sound of the rain on the metal roof of our treehouse were well worth a little lost sleep, though. We were spending the first few nights of our honeymoon on Dominica at the Jungle Bay Resort, on the southeastern coast, and we had no schedule to keep. The locals call Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean, and the combination of adventure, relaxation and friendly people we had read about were just the kind of vacation we wanted.

From our treehouse high above the surf, the walk down to the resort’s restaurant was enough to get our hearts pumping what with the 87 or so steep and winding steps, so we loaded our backpacks with snacks, rain gear and a dry change of clothes and took them with us. Our breakfast included an abundance of fresh fruit, omelets and better-than-adequate coffee, not to mention the bold, little Bananaquit birds that tried to steal our crumbs.

The restaurant staff was always nice enough to give us some ice for the road, so we could keep our water, lunch and happy-hour provisions cold during our hot day out. We intended to be gone most of the day, with planned hikes to Victoria Falls and Wavine Cyrique, plus an openness to whatever else might come up along the way.

After a quick stop at the front desk to get directions, we were on our way. About a 10-minute drive toward Delices, we turned off onto a dirt track that took us to the Victoria Falls trailhead. A guide isn’t required for the hike, but, with six river crossings and the risk of flash floods, the $20 or so per person you’ll pay is definitely worth it. Our guide, Moses Jr., lived in one of the houses at the end of the road, so it wasn’t a problem finding him.

The crossings can be a little tricky if the current is strong, but barefooted Moses lent a hand to get us there and back. After the last crossing, there was some slippery scrambling over mossy boulders before we had a good view of the falls, but it is well worth the effort. The whole round-trip, with some time at the falls to play and take photos, took us about two hours.

From Delices, we headed back to the coast road and turned north to Riviere Cyrique, one of the many small towns on the coast, eating a light lunch along the way. There is a sign in the middle of town pointing you to Wavine Cyrique, but if you miss it, just ask for directions. Everyone we met in Dominica was gracious and friendly, seeming genuinely interested to know that we were enjoying ourselves, and obviously proud of their beautiful island. Even times when we had a good idea where we were going, a friendly local would wave for us to stop just to make sure we weren’t lost and we were having a good time.

The trek down to Wavine Cyrique can be a challenge. The one-hour round trip (not including the hours you’ll likely want to spend at the bottom) can be difficult and steep. But if you’re in fairly good shape, not too afraid of heights, and can handle a near-vertical descent down roots, ropes and rickety ladders, you might just have one of the most memorable beach experiences ever.

At the end of the last rope, we followed the rocky beach around to the north. After just a few minutes of hiking, we could see the 80-foot waterfall shooting off of the cliff above and down to the black-sand beach. Looking around, we realized we had the entire place to ourselves.

The waves can be big and the undertow on the strong side, so take great care if you decide to get out in the surf. We decided to enjoy an early happy hour on the beach and save our swimming for a calmer setting. Then we showered under the waterfall and let the pounding water soothe our tired muscles before heading back to the top.

To top the day off, we had scheduled massages back at Jungle Bay for late in the afternoon. The open-air massage studios were positioned over the crashing surf below, so the usual obligatory new-age music that accompanies most massages was unnecessary. It was a fitting end to a day that turned out to be just like the entire vacation: adrenaline-pumping adventure, total relaxation and quite a bit in between.


When Joe Cooper isn’t exploring Caribbean islands or sailing the Gulf of Mexico, he runs Ecosouth Green Building Services, based in Huntsville, Ala.

 

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