We have been flying through the leeward islands, somewhat nervous that we needed to be out of the high risk hurricane zone by the end of July, so Dominica was also a very short stop for us. We arrived mid afternoon after an early morning departure from Iles Des Saintes, to the town of Portsmouth at the top of the island. It made an impressive sight, towering mountains and rain forests, as we peered through rain squalls entering our anchorage that afternoon. The squalls were coming frequently from across the island, so only Pete headed out to brave the weather and customs officials, the rest of us sweating it out in the boat as the rain continued to pour down.
The next day we decided to explore the island ourselves, using local buses, rather than the tours offered by the “boat boys”. Although we had heard about the excellent tours they organised, we still felt that at around $300 US for the day we could do the same thing but for much cheaper using buses and our legs!
First visit was the town of Portsmouth which gave us our first insight to how poor Dominica is compared to the other countries we had visited so far.
Everyone seemed very friendly, and before long we were singing along to Sam Smith as we roared across the island in a packed minibus to the Atlantic Coast and Pete’s chosen lunch destination, the seaside town of Calibishe.
The views along the way were possibly the most stunning views I have seen. The road very windy and narrow, and quite a hair-raising ride. Roadsides were planted with tropical plants, surrounded by huge towering mountains, enormous trees and some very pretty little townships along the way.
At Calibishe, our bus driver dropped us off at his recommended restaurant, which was situated in front of the local supermarket, right on the beach. From our restaurant, we had a great view of the sea, red rocks to the south and some incredible large rock formations to the north.
After a great meal of a local chicken stew we were very fortunate to be picked up by a newly operating tour guide (actually we were his 3rd group), who offered to take us to the nearby waterfalls Pete had selected. As we got closer, he gave us some great advice – don’t go, the torrential rain about to fall could cause avalanches, best option being to stay with him and his current 2 guests and 4 year old son and visit the cold sulphur springs. So, for about $35 US, we then spent the rest of the afternoon being driven to some lovely spots on the northern tip of the island, seeing much more than we had ever anticipated, all from the comfort (or semi-comfort) of his minibus, whilst the rain bucketed down. I was so glad we weren’t trying to make our way around falls in this weather.
We visited a lovely bay and beach bar at the very north of Dominica that had a range of locally made, supercharged Rum.
Of course, Pete and I had to sample, so we shared a shot of a brew called “Ressurection”, recommended by the bar-tender. It had everything in it, and actually tasted quite nice, very woody, and very, very strong, so we soon diluted it with some sprite!
On return to our anchorage boys had a quick dinner on the beach and a swim in the rain before we headed back to the boat for an early night, exhausted after our days adventures.