Through my window on the tiny four- seater plane, I was captivated by the lushness and dense greens of the thick jungle of trees completely covering the tiny island. No jumbo planes are allowed, as planes have to slam to an abrupt stop on the very short runway.
When you have guests for dinner, you don’t blurt out the dishes you are serving as soon as they arrive. Dropped into the Lesser Antilles, this far-flung island plays the same way, teasing gently with appetizers in the form of something simple to whet your appetite. Unlike other Caribbean islands that flaunt their attributes, Dominica doesn’t reveal its personality immediately.
A dizzying drive through winding mountainous roads led us to the ocean side cot tages we were staying in. With 365 rivers, one for every day, navigating this small island of only 740 square kilometres takes time.
The salad course provides more substance to a meal, and in Dominica seeing the huge array of waterfalls you slowly get an idea of what the untamed island is about. The natural rugged beauty of the island is the lure as is the simple way of life. Without distractions, the singing of the birds is emphasized, as is the gentle sound of the rivers burbling, and the rust ling of the trees in the dense rainforest.
The other tourists with me are hikers, adventurers, bird watchers, divers and sailors. One Norwegian tourist who sailed from the British Virgin Islands said that he has travelled all over the world and returns to Dominica for the uniqueness, unusually huge number of waterfalls, the sulphur springs, and the boiling lake.
A silver domed lid comes off in a flourish of the main course, which for me was the Champagne Reef Snorkel Tour.
I have snorkelled in other locations, which seemed astounding at the time, but this was definitely a substantial main course. Our guide – wearing brilliant yel- low shorts so we didn’t lose track of him– led us through the clear aquamarine water, pointing out fish we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Snorkelling near a live volcano created bubbles that were fre- quent attracting huge numbers of start- lingly beautiful fish. After showering and changing we were lured towards the aroma of the on site charcoal barbeque roasting local fish and vegetables.
Dessert, the grand finale, was getting totally immersed in the natural sur- roundings as part of island life. Hiking the Waitukubuli National Trail is an ideal way to see the local trees and take in bird watching, an activity that brings tourists to the island from all over the world. The trail is a first of its kind – one of the long- est hiking trails in the Caribbean, covering 185 kilometres, spanning and twisting the length of Dominica on unique and varied terrain. We only hiked a portion of it, but it does continue through coastal villages, up woodland hills, into lush rainforests, past waterfalls, down to rivers, back up to the mountains and down to the sea again. The island’s unique and varied terrain and natural beauty earns its nickname, the Nature Island.