Dominica: The Real Caribbean
Monday, September 29, 2008
How the little island of Dominica has embraced its reputation as the “real” Caribbean.
By Manda Spring
Imagine a unique and unspoiled land, free of pollution and overdevelopment and full of natural beauty. Many of the islands in the vast Eastern Caribbean archipelago display a sense of modernized atmosphere and they are driven by the new ways and are somewhat spoiled by the need of convenience. However, one island stands alone and is spectacular in its natural and unhampered form. The lush and fertile island of Dominica is exactly this: a true paradise for all to enjoy. But what makes this island so different than all the others in the Caribbean?
It’s almost unreal how many natural wonders can be found on Dominica Island. Arienne Perryman, an expert on Dominica, described what makes the island so unique from its Caribbean sisters. “Dominica has many natural wonders, including the Boiling Lake — the second largest of three such lakes in the world; as well as scores of sulfur hot springs comprised of hot mineralized water that many say has medicinal healing properties.”
Dominica is also unique in that many of the island’s 70,000 residents have been here long before settlers set foot in the region. “Dominica is home to the Carib Indians. No other Caribbean country can boast of having an indigenous population living in it.” Arienne also describes how the entire population revels in its diverse and rich cultural heritage. “People here are zealous and they truly love and enjoy life, including music and food. Food, especially, is an essential part of our culture. When you look at it you can find remnants of East Indian, African and notably French culture.”
Arienne describes how there are just as many wonders to see off-shore as there are on land. “Whale and dolphin watching is extremely popular and the island’s many coral reefs make it a perfect destination for snorkeling. The underwater life is really quite dramatic.”
Many of these activities are not only there just for pleasure, but they also have to do with Dominica’s focus on creating harmony with nature. “There are countless undiscovered waterfalls that we are still in the midst of discovering,” says Arienne. “There are also a number of hikes and tours, such as a walk in the Botanical Gardens, where you can find some 500 species of trees, or Jack’s Walk in the Botanical Gardens, which offers some of the best views of the island once you reach its end. Also, hiking for the more adventurous include treks to Sari Sari Falls — one of Dominica’s most spectacular falls — or the blissful Emerald Pool in the Carib Territory.”
It takes a lot to keep something this magnificent in such a natural state and to keep it from being spoiled by overdevelopment. The people of this island take this part of their duty extremely serious. Arienne explains the efforts involved to keep this land natural. “We have a number of national parks on the island protected by the government including Syndicate, Morne Trois Pitons, as well as several marine reserves, like the SSMR (Scotts Head Marine Reserve). Also, many trails are being constructed in an environmentally-conscious manner by using less obtrusive materials. We also have a turtle initiative that protects turtles and their hatchlings.” Given how important tourism is for the country, Arienne explains how the industry has an interest in preserving the land. “Those in the tourism sector are very knowledgeable and they try to educate visitors on the importance of keeping Dominica true to the essence of the real Caribbean.”
The panoramic vistas here magnify the raw beauty in a way that is unparalleled. As you gaze upon the sparkling waterfalls that seem to be a flood of light beams pouring down from the sky, you can truly understand what it means to enjoy nature and all its charms. The visitors to Dominica consider themselves fortunate to be able to be a part of this land and to attempt to discover the mysteries held within.
From the luxurious villa rentals overlooking volcanic black sand beaches and the resorts that are nestled in the middle of the rainforest, to the tiny cottages perched on mountain tops that allow for the best hiking that the island has to offer, these choices are all designed to deliver a vast array of options to fit any budget, personal preference and event.
There seems to be something for everyone on Dominica Island. No matter your dream for your Caribbean vacation, you are sure to have one of the most memorable times of your life during this very real Caribbean experience.