Dominica; Rebuilding after Hurricane Maria

In September 2017, a Category 5 Hurricane, named Maria, hit the small island of Dominica and shocked the country, the people and the land. It destroyed most things in its path and left some people wondering where family members were. It was catastrophic for an island that was still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. Hearing the news in Canada left many feeling helpless and worried about loved ones.

In February last year, I made my first trip to Dominica to visit the country my partner’s family comes from. It was one of the most green and gorgeous countries I had even been to. I’ve travelled a lot in my past and this was an eye-opener. From the green mountain tops to the numerous waterfalls, Dominica was beautiful.

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I wanted to write today to share some photos and travel stories from our time in Dominica, because even though the whole country is rebuilding right now, the people are resilient and we have to believe that Dominica will recover. I hope to go back soon one day and I would recommend anyone looking for a beautiful getaway to think of Dominica in the future.

Road Trip to the North Side of the Island

One morning, we packed a picnic and hit the road. We were staying in the Warner area, so we made our way from there. Other than some reckless drivers, the drive was smooth and the views were endless. The winding roads around the cliff sides kept us captivated all day.

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Our first stop was Portsmouth for freshly squeezed juice by the side of the road. Portsmouth is the second largest town in Dominica and home to Cabrits National Park and Fort Shirley. The town seemed very laid back with locals leading tourists on horseback through the water and others swimming. The bay was full with anchored sailboats. It was quite lovely. The serenity of it all was very welcoming.

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Fort Shirley is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and situated within the Cabrits National Park. For those that are interested in the Hiking Trails (that are being rebuilt and cleaned up as I type) in Dominica, which there are many of, Cabrits is the final stop on the Waitukubuli Trail. Fort Shirley is most famous for a revolt by African Slave Soldiers which ultimately lead to all slave soldiers being freed in 1807. We toured the grounds and went inside some of the small stone rooms looking out over the harbour.

 

Making our way further north, we came to the region of Calibishie. From this point, on a clear day, you can see Guadeloupe in the distance. We ate our picnic beside an abandoned beach shack, relaxed in the sand, listened to the waves crash against the rocky shore and felt the ocean breeze on our faces. It was heaven.

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We headed south after our picnic, all while taking in the views around every corner. Before getting too far from the north, our guide (Uncle) decided the road trip wouldn’t be complete without passing by the Prime Minister’s house in the region. It was a large but modest house. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him that day.

Chasing Waterfalls

I knew that Dominica had a plethora of eco-tourism projects going on but I didn’t realize how awesomely green the island would be. Thanks to my partner’s Uncle, we chased waterfalls for days.

 

If you decide to chase waterfalls too, get to Spanny Falls, off the beaten track. You’ll have to hike a bit, climbs some rocks and walk on narrow ledges, but it’s worth it. The Emerald Pool is always a favourite among tourists. It’s not as ’emerald’ as it used to be, but you can still swim and climb behind the waterfall. They’ve also spent some time making the walk to the pool as comfortable as possible. I do hope that it’s still there today. Last but not least is Trafalgar Falls. This was the easiest one to get to, only a 10 minute walk to the view point and there was not one, but two falls. I was told the visible debris was from Storm Erika and changed the environment immensely, but the falls were still flowing. Each waterfall was different but all of them brought a sense of freshness to the environment and the sounds were so soothing.

Mero Beach

Dominica is not known for its beaches because it has quite a rocky shoreline. However, Mero Beach was a nice treat. It’s a short drive up the coast from the Capital and a nice escape from the hustle of the city. It’s not your typical beach, it’s covered in black sand!

It was so quiet; hardly any other people were there. We spent the day relaxing with a few Kabulis (Dominica’s beer; which I have heard is not in production at the moment), hopping into the Caribbean Sea when we felt like it and then dried ourselves in the hot sun. What more can you ask for? We liked it so much we went twice. To nourish ourselves, we went for the local fried chicken and bakes; a fried biscuit that is popular around the island. The perfect snack.

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I hope the community there and all the people of Dominica are safe and doing well.

There are so many other things I could talk about in Dominica, like the Boiling Lake, but I already wrote about that here. We also went Whale Watching…but didn’t see any whales. Oops. That was a little disappointing but we did get to see the island from the sea and enjoy a rum punch.

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I may have only spent a vacation in Dominica but it has a very special place in my heart. I will be back and I can only hope the country is coping well with all the trauma and stress they have had to endure over the last few months. It may be rebuilding now, but I know Dominica will prevail and I hope if you’re reading this, you’ll consider it in your future travel plans.

 

Photo Credits: Simply Living