What an enchanting country this is. Having visited Dominica three years ago, we were familiar with Portsmouth and Prince Rupert Bay, but we found ourselves delightfully unfamiliar with some of the other areas we explored this time around. We were greeted by Elvis on our approach to the bay and he confirmed he had a mooring buoy free for us when we were ready. We initially dropped anchor outside the customs dock and then headed back over towards the Purple Turtle Bar, radioing Elvis on our way. Once secured to a buoy we were in plenty of time to join the Easter Monday beach activities. Clearly this was the place to be on Easter Monday and the beach was full of families and young people enjoying the water, the sun, the company, the music and of course the local refreshments. A great start to our trip to Dominica. Amazingly, the whole area looked immaculate by the time we headed ashore next morning, a testament to the hard work of those we could see picking up the rubbish and generally tidying up.
There are many trips offered by the local 'boat boys' and the taxi drivers are happy to provide island tours, but this time we opted to hire a car and visit the north of the island, an area that we had not managed to see on our last visit. We had an incredible day, full of contrasts, local insights and the most spectacular scenery. Local insights were provided by the many local people that we provided lifts to (local buses don't run very regularly in this part of the island and we were happy to offer rides), ranging from information about what to go and see, to the employment situation for young people on the island, to the governance of the Carib Territory and even how to grow pineapples. We had a great lunch at the Islet View restaurant, where the view really did live up to the name and we were able to sample an assortment of local produce.
Our drive through the north east area of the island took us through incredible landscapes with unbelievably steep farming and plantation areas. We take our hats off to the farmers that were managing to grow pineapples, passion fruit, cassava, bananas, coconuts, guavas, mangoes, pumpkins and numerous other fabulous crops in this challenging terrain. Whilst in the Kalinago Territory, we took the opportunity to visit the L'Escalier Tete-Chien where a local guide told us briefly the story of how the Carib people believe that a snake from Martinique climbed from the ocean at Dominica using the stone staircase and went to live in a cave. They also believe that the snake breathed in tobacco, removed the smell and 'breathed out' white people. I might have lost a little in the translation there !!
The roads were a little challenging on occasions and unfortunately we spent half an hour negotiating a particularly tricky road, only to find that that it was closed as the bridge had been swept away down river. Having found our way back to a route that was open, we picked up another hitch-hiker who advised that the bridge had been damaged over a year ago and that there used to be sign to say the road was closed, but “someone had moved it” - you just have to go with the flow in the Caribbean !
The following day we decided to take the dinghy over to visit Fort Shirley and the Cabrits National Park – another eye opener for us. We love Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua, but are surprised that Fort Shirley in Dominica does not get similar publicity. The buildings are beautifully restored, the gardens kept in lovely condition, the staff extremely helpful and informative, plus it has access to numerous walks through the surrounding forest – all detailed on the hiking trail guide. I guess it just lacks the super yachts that frequent Nelson's Dockyard. We have decided that this area of Dominica in particular warrants a return trip with our hiking shoes and back packs. One of the restored buildings even has overnight accommodation that we may well make use of. All in all, our return visit to Dominica was a delight - full of new discoveries with plenty more just waiting for our next visit.
Link to Dominica Tourism Board