4 days in Dominica: unwind within the Caribbean

Referred to as the Nature Island, Dominica (pronounced DomiNEEkah) is commonly confused with the Dominican Republic. We don’t anticipate that to occur for for much longer.

Although traditionally a lesser-visited island within the Caribbean, Dominica is now served by direct flights on American Airways from Miami, and Kempinski opened a luxurious resort in 2019.

Nasha Smith takes you thru divine Dominica, in 4 dreamy days.

I’m a St Lucian journey author who has studied overseas in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, the USA and Wales – but I all the time discover my approach again to the islands of the West Indies. And I promise you, if you contact down in Dominica you gained’t be capable to keep indoors. This magnificence beckons you to rekindle your relationship with nature as you uncover its soothing properties, with its scorching springs and blankets of vegetation serving as holistic antidotes to emphasize. 


Why you need to go to Dominica

With dramatic gorges, impossibly inexperienced rainforests, limitless rivers and ethereal sunsets, Dominica earns its title of “Nature Isle.” However this island nation can be the Caribbean’s most unspoiled jewel, providing a respite from life’s chaos. A connection to nature is ingrained within the Dominican life-style. A powerful tradition of farming and fishing leads to contemporary, healthful delicacies. 9 volcanoes have left the island effervescent with geothermal exercise – and ample scorching springs. Climbing trails abound by way of the verdant inside. The air is clear, the water cool. What’s to not love? 

dominica itinerary overview day 1

Putter round Portsmouth

Begin your day with a hearty breakfast at one in all a number of spots in Portsmouth, the second-largest city in Dominica. U&H Delights on Harbour Ln serves up a wide range of omelets, sandwiches and quesadillas (filled with eggs, ham, rooster, veggies or fish), waffles, smoothies (constructed from native fruits like guava, banana, mango, passionfruit, papaya, cherries and sorrel) and extra. Candy Tooth Treats on Bay St is one other breakfast nook that guarantees good meals and higher vibes, with a decadent menu that includes waffle tacos, stuffed donuts, pancakes, fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and herb breakfast potatoes. 

Dominica is the land of 365 rivers, none extra well-known than the Indian River, which flows into the Caribbean Sea. (Entrance to the Indian River is roofed underneath Dominica’s eco-tourism website cross, which prices $5 per day or $12 for every week, throughout which era cross holders are allowed limitless visits to eligible websites.) As soon as a transportation route for commerce and commerce, the river at the moment is a supply of serenity – and a superb space for mountain climbing. The trailhead begins simply exterior of Portsmouth close to the bridge.

On the customer middle, you too can e-book a spot for a guided tour in an eight-seat boat journey ($20). One factor you’ll rapidly be taught is that aliases are a part of West Indian tradition. Ask for “Cobra,” “James Bond” or “Lawrence of Arabia” – three boatmen who’re tour-guide favorites. Enjoyable reality: James Bond additionally served as a information for Pirates of the Caribbean stars once they have been filming on the island.

Oaring by hand, these river boatmen have mastered the recipe for decompressing. The tour is unhurried, shifting at a mild tempo that permits you to recognize the flora, fauna and wildlife of the coastal wetlands. The environment is sort of cinematic, with a thick cover of bushes permitting minimal gentle to filter by way of, and gnarly, interwoven roots of bwa mang bushes crawling alongside the river’s edge. Stops alongside this river “lime” normally embrace Cobra’s Bush Bar, the place the signature drink is called the Dynamite, an explosive concoction of native cask rum, gooseberry, ardour fruit, lime and guinep (a slippery, tart, candy and bitter fruit the dimensions of a big marble). Cinephiles will acknowledge Tia Dalma’s Shack from Pirates of the Caribbean: Lifeless Man’s Chest alongside the route. 

Lunch at Madiba Seashore Cafe

No journey to Portsmouth is full with no cease at Madiba Seashore Cafe. This unassuming open-air shack perched on the seaside serves contemporary seafood in opposition to a backdrop of gently lapping waves and a serene sea view. The catch of the day is usually grilled and persistently delectable – however the true star is the home made ice cream. Strive the rum raisin or (and?) peanut flavors. 

Dominica’s iconic 114-mile-long Waitukubuli Nationwide Path weaves by way of the rainforest and notable landmarks. The total two-week trek gained’t be doable for many time-limited vacationers, but there are a number of stops alongside the best way value exploring throughout a go to to the island. Cabrits Nationwide Park, the place the prolonged hike culminates, is a picturesque peninsula protecting over 1300 acres of land. (The eco-tourism cross is legitimate for this park.) The reserve sits between the remnants of extinct volcanic peaks, permitting an unfettered view of the seaside under. One other spotlight at Cabrits is Fort Shirley, a historic army outpost providing sweeping views of the northern shoreline. A number of cannons and barracks stay on the property, which is at the moment a Unesco World Heritage Web site.

Sundown drinks at Roots Rock Bar

The ethereal wood deck at Roots Rock Bar and Grill in Bell Corridor is ideal for pre-dinner drinks and a front-row seat to observe the solar slide into the ocean. Knock again a number of pictures of native bush rum on this idyllic setting. 

Even this comparatively leisurely day will depart you ravenous. Seize a taxi or drive to Steak Home Restaurant & Lounge in Picard, a mother-daughter-run institution with luxurious fare. Whereas it’s robust to choose a favourite from the flavor-infused menu right here, the shrimp-stuffed grilled fish is otherworldly. The slew of sides contains buttered rice, whole-mozzarella potatoes, corn pie, green-banana-cheddar pie and extra. Contemplate setting apart a few hours to soak on this gastronomical expertise – and make sure to e-book a desk prematurely as reservations refill rapidly.  

For lodging, Riverside Resort in Picard affords spacious luxurious suites amid Dominica’s pure wonders. Relying in your room’s location, you may get pleasure from a view of the mountain, a village, the Caribbean Sea or the river. 

dominica itinerary overview day 2

Cavort in Calibishie

House to the island’s longest barrier reef, elegant and scenic Calibishie, on Dominica’s northern coast, gives an opportunity to flee and unwind. Minibuses plying the route from Portsmouth to Marigot by way of to Citadel Bruce additionally serve the village, with the drive averaging 25 to 30 minutes. 

Prep for a breakfast picnic by stocking up on native delights from one of many a number of roadside eateries or cafes alongside the primary highway, then head to Level Baptiste Seashore. As a closely volcanic island, Dominica isn’t your typical white-sand, beach-bum trip vacation spot – but Level Baptiste is the exception that proves the rule, with golden sands and shallow, tranquil waters. After you get pleasure from your breakfast unfold, lie out on the abandoned seaside, chill out, swim, learn…or do nothing in any respect.

Discover cliffs and small caves 

But do discover time to discover Pink Rocks, the adjoining cliff formation simply identifiable by its easy floor and strange reddish shade, the results of mineral oxidation from infinite solar and seawater. Discover the small caves wedged into the cliff together with petroglyphs and stairs carved into the rock, then gaze from the summit out on the expanse of deep-blue water – and, on a transparent day, the neighboring French islands of Marie-Galante, the Saintes and Guadeloupe. Go to by yourself or get a historical past of the distinctive formations from the unofficial caretaker, who normally patrols the location gathering donations towards the preservation of the world. 

Poz Restaurant & Bar at Calibishie Gardens is common with each vacationers and Dominicans thanks to an intensive menu and the nice and cozy and welcoming character of its eponymous proprietor. A plant-framed wood entrance results in a magical backyard eatery flanked by a pool. The seafood is elegant (the coconut shrimp is a favourite) and the presentation pristine, whereas the rum punch efficiently straddles that razor-thin stability of fruity and potent. 

Pointe Baptiste Property Chocolate Manufacturing facility for dessert

Chocoholics could need to save room for dessert at Pointe Baptiste Property Chocolate Manufacturing facility. This small family-run operation produces fantastic chocolate bars in uniquely Caribbean flavors like “spice” (mixing West Indian cooking staples cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), ginger, scorching pepper, espresso, mint, tangerine and conventional milk chocolate; guests shall be guided by way of the method of remodeling the cacao into decadent bars, truffles and nibs. The 25-acre property caters to in a single day friends with a Nineteen Thirties villa adorned with vintage furnishings, work and an enormous library. The distinct scent of jasmine, frangipani, and ylang-ylang beckons you to a magnificently lush backyard crammed with fruit bushes, flowers and medicinal crops. A “chocolate cottage” overlooking the gardens options an open wall and a king-sized mattress – the proper setup for stargazing. After your chocolatey afternoon, return to the Pink Rock summit for a splendid sundown vantage level. 

Discover a hidden restaurant for dinner

Come supper time, head to a gem that’s really hidden: Coral Reef Restaurant. Enterprise behind a grocery retailer alongside the primary highway to uncover an enthralling hang-out with an exceptional ocean view. Proprietor Gus and his crew present genuine Dominican-creole delicacies, a mix of African, Amerindian, Indian and French flavors that embody the West Indies’ many tangled roots. Strive the extra-tender brief ribs – then stick round for post-dinner drinks. 

A lodging spotlight of Calibishie, Villa PassiFlora affords direct entry to the seaside, an infinity pool, a unprecedented sundown view and even a prepare dinner (for a further value). The three-room villa is the perfect setting for an intimate escape. 

dominica itinerary overview day 3

Get to know vibrant Roseau

Get an invigorating begin to your day in Dominica’s capital and largest metropolis with inexperienced juices, all-natural wholesome smoothies, fresh-pressed juices and natural teas at Tropical Blendz Cafe on Outdated St. Heartier breakfast fare contains staples like pancakes, omelets and eggs, or quintessential island bites like fried plantain and accras (salty fish truffles), and pillowy fritters made with salted codfish, peppers and the occasional dollop of scorching sauce.  

Wander over to Outdated Market Sq, a traditionally vital location in Dominica. This cobblestoned space was as soon as a website for auctioning slaves – and typically for finishing up executions. At the moment, it’s a bustling market alongside the seafront the place you may decide up contemporary produce, fruits and handcrafted wares from native artisans (suppose woven baskets, handmade jewellery, important oils and soaps). 

Historic artifacts at Dominica Museum

What the quayside Dominica Museum lacks in dimension, it makes up for in wealthy historic and cultural artifacts, all curated by preeminent island historian Lennox Honychurch. Among the many gadgets on show are a pwi pwi (the raft long-established from tree trunks by Dominca’s native Kalinago individuals) and musical devices utilized by early settlers.

Head quarter-hour northwest on Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Blvd (named after Dominica’s first feminine prime minister) to the Botanic Gardens. The property was as soon as a thriving sanctuary replete with among the most stunning flowers within the Caribbean; sadly, Hurricane David in 1979 and Hurricane Maria in 2017 broken the grounds. Nonetheless, you’ll discover over 50 sorts of indigenous crops, together with the bwa kwaib (Sabinea carinalis), Dominica’s nationwide plant, which yields a riot of scarlet purple flowers when in bloom. The sisserou parrot, the nationwide chook of Dominica (one solely discovered on the island), additionally calls the gardens dwelling. The physique of the regal however shy “satisfaction of Dominica” is deep violet, with a shock of greenish-yellow wings tipped with purple streaks. Preserve a watch out for the signature baobab tree that fell and crushed an empty faculty bus throughout Hurricane David: nonetheless alive at the moment, it stays a logo of the nation’s resilience. 

Views of the capital and Emerald Pool

For panoramic views of the capital, make the brief trek to Morne Bruce on the outskirts of town middle. It’s a five-minute drive, or a 20-minute hike from the Botanical Gardens should you’re up for strolling. Come lunch, Escape Bar and Grill is thought for modern cocktails just like the Grinch and the Pineapple Categorical – so make sure to pattern a pair throughout a hearty meal of wings, grilled ribs, fried plantain, burgers or shrimp in garlic sauce. 

Emerald Pool is a serene stunner inside Morne Trois Pitons Nationwide Park, a Unesco World Heritage Web site (it’s additionally eligible for the eco-tourism cross). Hop on a minibus, and let the motive force know that Pont Cassé is your vacation spot – about 40 minutes away. (In the event you’re driving, there’s loads of parking.) Once you get off on the park’s entrance, it’s a simple 10-minute stroll from the guests middle by way of the forest to the magical grotto – which was additionally featured within the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. A slender pillar of frothing water cascades over the rocks from a 40ft (12m) drop, whereas a semi-secret cave affords much more seclusion simply off the primary pool. Underwater algae are chargeable for the pool’s greenish tint, but it’s the daylight reflecting off the water and bouncing off the leaves that offers it the signature emerald look. Swimming is allowed, although the water will not be very deep so diving will not be suggested. On-site distributors serve lunch if you wish to make a full afternoon of it; you’ll additionally discover two viewing platforms, plenty of benches, bogs and a altering room. 

Dinner in Citadel Bruce

Catch the sundown at Islet View Restaurant & Bar, a 15-minute drive away in Citadel Bruce. Come for the views; keep for the 50 types of home made rum. Then it’s on to dinner: perched on the sting of Roseau, the Outdated Nice Home Grill & Bar blends Western delicacies with native aptitude. Like many eating places on the island, seafood is a staple, as are starchy root greens like dasheen (taro), candy potatoes and yams. All the pieces is made with the freshest elements for optimum taste. 

dominica itinerary overview day 4

Rambling close to Roseau

For greater than 30 years, Pearl’s Delicacies has been churning out breakfast delicacies within the metropolis. Make a beeline to Nice Marlborough St to get pleasure from saltfish accras, souse (a lightweight, broth-like dish consisting of pickled pig trotters and cucumber flavored with onion, garlic, lime and varied spices), stuffed pies and native cocoa tea. The lunch menu is equally mouthwatering. 

Bubbly Journey at Champagne Reef

It’s time to go to Champagne Reef, some of the distinctive experiences on the island (seize a bus, or drive for quarter-hour). The place else are you able to snorkel round a golden-tinged reef in what looks like a glass of bubbly? That’s what it looks like, due to volcanic fuel rising from the seabed that mimics the glowing wine’s effervescence. The water is heat sufficient right here to get pleasure from for hours; avid snorkelers can even benefit from the riot of shade from the colourful sponges, trumpet fish, parrotfish, turtles and seahorses. You should definitely carry water footwear and an underwater digicam or a water-resistant case to your cellphone to doc the spectacle. Entrance to the seaside requires a $2 marine-reserve payment payable at Donny’s Seashore Bar. It’s also possible to lease gear from Donny’s and different operators on the seaside, and be a part of one in all their dive excursions (from $20). The occasional robust present makes good swimming expertise important. 

Lunch at Scotts Head Seashore

Now that you simply’ve labored up an urge for food, head quarter-hour east to lunch at Chez Wen Delicacies on Scotts Head Seashore. This bayside restaurant makes a speciality of seafood (we love the grilled fish in garlic sauce) however does provide different choices like grilled rooster and a number of other stewed meats. 

Spa Day at Ti Kwen Glo Cho

Ti Kwen Glo Cho (“little nook of scorching water” in Creole) is about 40 minutes heading northeast, – and properly well worth the prolonged journey. A $10 entry payment features you entry to a lush backyard with stone swimming pools of therapeutic thermal waters – they’re scorching, however not dangerously so. It’s simply what a sore, achy physique or overactive thoughts wants. There’s no rush on this sanctuary, so take as a lot time as you want. 

Luxe dinner to finish your keep

Fingers down, one of the best restaurant view in Roseau belongs to Palisades on the Fort Younger Resort. (This upscale, all-inclusive property is a superb place to remain the evening, too.) Dine exterior with unfettered views of the Caribbean Sea as the ocean breeze calmly caresses your pores and skin, or go for a extra intimate indoor meal. The fusion of native and worldwide flavors with modern and conventional dishes yields choices like dasheen fritters, Cajun-spiced grilled rooster breast, vegetable arrabiata and Dominican fruit cake. The gown code right here is on the elegantly informal aspect (no shorts) – and it’ll really feel good certainly to finish your fabulous 4 days on a classy word.