The Trip: Exploring dive sites with four U.S. dive store owners and one diving wholesaler
Location: The island of Dominica
Miles Traveled: 4,564
Destination Highlight: Taking a rowboat up the Indian River – gorgeous scenery, interesting wildlife, a fun tour guide and a surprise stop at a tiki bush bar to taste the dynamite rum punch
Dominica totally stole my heart! I’ve had the pleasure of working with many island destinations, and I am an islander myself from Tasmania, Australia – so I love discovering what makes each one unique.
Dominica is a gorgeous island in the Caribbean located between Guadeloupe and Martinique. It has an interesting history: It was passed between British and French rule no less than four times. Now independent, Dominica maintains cultural pride in their Creole and Kalinago past.
The island is quite dramatic and distinct from other Caribbean islands, featuring huge volcanic mountains and lush rainforests. Tropical rainforest covers 70 percent of the land and is home to numerous bird species and many natural hot spring spas. The typography is matched underwater with 100-foot drop-offs and scuba sites featuring volcanic activity.
On my trip, I joined four U.S. dive store owners and one diving wholesaler on diving and topside activities over the course of four days on the island. The group was scouting activities and locations for scuba travel groups to Dominica.
In one day, we had a leisurely breakfast, went on two boat dives, went hiking and bird-watching in a tropical rainforest, visited a hot spring spa and had dinner. To do all that in one day without feeling rushed is pretty special. I also really loved that there was little difference between a tourist hangout and a local hangout, which isn’t easy to achieve! Dominica has managed to maintain the rustic tropical flair that shows off how unique the island really is.
Because this was a dive-focused trip, we did six sites over three days and then had a topside day. My absolute favorite dive site was Solomon Reef, named after a drunk magistrate who drove off the road into the sea after a big night. The dive master affectionately nicknamed it “Itty Bitty Critter City,” which was right on the money. We started the dive at around 25 feet, looking at macro clinging to the pylons of a loading jetty that reaches above the sea; we saw tiny starfish, shrimp and lots of fish! Dropping down to 70 or 80 feet, we saw a much wider variety of sea life, including huge sponges, big (and delicious-looking) lobster and the biggest lionfish I have ever seen. Of course, since lionfish aren’t endemic to the Caribbean, they are quite destructive to the natural balance, but they sure are beautiful!
As a diver, the “wow” moments for me were the start times of 8:30 or 9am and boat rides of 10 minutes or less – a far cry from the pre-sunrise setups and long, long boat rides you need to take in so many dive destinations. One member of the group described it as “valet diving.” I’ll take it!