Dominica continues to be the most unique of the Caribbean islands. If you haven’t visited this isle of nature then your experience of the Caribbean is incomplete. Dominica’s rugged topography offers the adventuresome visitor a variety of challenging treats, from river kayaking, to boating with the fisherman in his Carib Indian styled dug out canoe, to mountain biking and horseback riding.
The thrill-seeker hikes beneath the trees of the thick rain-forests. He discovers a waterfall, wades or swims through a river, plunges down a valley, or ends up at the side of a lake. It is impossible to go anywhere in Dominica without taking a little walk at the end of which is a stream, a viewpoint or some other natural site. Rivers, valleys, hills and mountains literally cover this “Garden of the Caribbean” where paint artists claim to be able to identify over a hundred shades of green and the bird watcher marvels at the sound of the Siffleur Montagne or the indigenous Sisserou Parrot in flight.
Visit Soufriere in the south or Penville in the north of the island where volcanic springs burp sulpheric effluent, hot in the first case, cold in the second. People hike regularly to Ti Tou Gorge, the Boeri and the Fresh Water Lakes. But the best hike on Dominica is the one to the largest Boiling Lake of the world. The trek could take anywhere from 2 ? to 4 hours each way. “The challenge is worth it”, we are told regularly by sore-footed, mud-soiled, drained but delighted achievers who would not exchange for the world the pleasure of conquering the mountain. Indeed the myriads of wild vegetation and the various soil types just along that route are sufficient for a science lesson.
Dominica is also a great place for the diver. Acclaimed as being among the five best dive sites in the world our seas teem with unique underwater plant and animal life. Pools of hot springs exist a few feet from shore, soothing the weary bones of those who take the time to soak. Dive masters lead explorations through Champaigne, Pinnacle and other interesting underwater sites.
Whale watching continues to be a highlight for those who manage to include it in their itinerary. The whales live close by and have developed intimate relationships with the local guides who have given names to them. A level of mutual respect and understanding exists between the men and their gigantic friends and can be yours should you wish to experience it.
Dominica is the place for the party lover. Dominica’s Carnival is steeped in tradition. The parades are made up of mocho jumbies known as bwa bwa, red-o-cas, sooswell souwi, matador, gwo bonda and sensay figures, all pointing back to our African and colonial past. The music on the trucks would come from a band or hifi while on the ground you’ll find the steelband and the lapo kabwit or goat skin band.
The local Kubuli beer is a favorite as are the fresh fruit juices and cool coconut water. And the food? Stuffed bakes, chicken in all styles, braff or pelau, fig and codfish or breadfruit and smoked herring. You need to sample so as to capture all the aromas of this unassuming, mystique, resilient isle that is your nature host. Or if you prefer grab a cassava bread, a poan or a roast corn, whatever will keep you floating for the rest of the party. As a digestive take a ‘shoot’ of local rum. Shhhh. Don’t tell your Mama.
Whatever you do don’t miss the World Creole Festival Music, a grand show the last weekend of October in which the Creole world congregates on Dominica to wallow and participate in three nights of pulsating Caribbean rhythms. The festival also serves as a highpoint in Dominica’s National Day and Independence programme which normally runs from late September to November 5 of any year. In 2004 Dominica celebrates 26 years as a sovereign state.
Year round Mini festivals are held in every parish, and there too the music, food and festivity highlight the French Creole heritage that is Dominica’s. Dominica’s delight is for the individual who dares to be different.