Discovering Dominica

When it comes to destinations that have the most natural beauty per square mile, I’m not sure that I’ve been anywhere that can top the gem of a Caribbean island that is the tiny country of Dominica. The problem when trying to plan an itinerary here isn’t coming up with things to do, it’s narrowing down your list. Between rugged volcanic landscapes, bountiful dive sites, lush jungles, and raging waterfalls, there’s a glut of things to explore on this island that still somehow seems untouched by tourism. The landscape here is so pure and pristine that even from a first glimpse, it is apparent why this tropical paradise is know as The Nature Isle.

We encountered some drama on our way to Dominica. Rachel, Jared, and Bonnie met up at our place at 4:00 am, and we all carpooled to the airport, only to sit on the tarmac anxiously waiting for the plane and runways to be de-iced. By the time our first flight finally landed in Miami, we had already technically missed boarding time for our next flight. We sprinted to the boarding area only to find that the plane was closed and preparing for takeoff, which sent us into a sprint back to the gate where we pleaded with the gate agents to try to get us on board our plane. The next flight to Dominica didn’t leave for two more days, so if we missed this one, we’d be stuck in Miami. Thankfully, the gate agents were able to get the plane opened back up for us, and we boarded, out of breath, sweaty, and exceedingly grateful to be there.

As we neared the island, the flight took a surprising turn that carried us over the jungle, the plane tilting sideways and giving us incredible views of the breathtaking landscape we’d nearly missed out on seeing. It was as though we’d gotten a free scenic air tour rolled into the price of our tickets. The rest of the day was spent on necessities. We picked up our rental car, finally ate a meal (we’d only had airplane pretzels and cookies that day), went grocery shopping, and drove to Pont Cassé where we checked in to our airbnb, the Ramelton Estate.

After a peaceful night of sleep accompanied by the soothing sounds of night bugs in the surrounding jungle, we woke up before sunrise to enjoy a relaxing morning on the Ramelton’s deck and its vibrant garden.

This was our first of two free days of this trip, so we were in no rush when we finally left the Ramelton and drove out to Dominica’s rugged Atlantic Coast. Our goal for the day was to find Wavine Cyrique, a waterfall that tumbles over a tall cliff to meet the waiting ocean waves on a black-sand beach below. We were about to discover just how tricky it can be to locate some of Dominica’s more remote points of interest. Although we had read reports of how to find the waterfall online, we still wound up taking a wrong trailhead at first. It wasn’t until we wandered into a pasture full of goats and lost the trail entirely that we realized we were in the wrong place. The wrong place still had quite a beautiful view down to Rosalie Bay though.

After apologizing to the goats for interrupting their morning, we retreated to the car to regroup and try again. This time we managed to follow a blogger’s directions and made it to the actual trailhead for Wavine Cyrique, which happened to be right outside of a man’s herb garden. As it turned out, our timing wasn’t ideal for visiting the waterfall. A local canyoning guide was hanging out in the garden and explained that there weren’t currently ropes in place to get down the cliff. She told us that we could still hike down to the top of the waterfall, but it wouldn’t be safe to go any further than that. Luckily she did give us a recommendation for another hike in the area that would be safer.

Bonnie, Vince, and I made the steep trek down to stand in the river where Wavine Cyrique originates, while Jared and Rachel stayed back uphill and Jared flew his drone, making him the only one of us who got an actual glimpse of the waterfall.

©Jared Hauck

During our hike, we talked with Nicodemus’s (the land owner) daughters, and their three puppies trailed behind us until the terrain became too difficult. When we made it back up to the garden, Nicodemus offered us fresh coconuts and sent us home with a bouquet of herbs so we could make ourselves some bush tea later.

The canyoning guide had recommended that we hike to Glasse Point, which was a coastal area with volcanic pools that we could swim in if the waves weren’t too big when we got there. This trailhead was clearly marked so we didn’t have any trouble finding it, and we began our descent through a thick jungle as hummingbirds zipped along eating from flowering trees near the trail. We stopped several times just to ogle at monstrous, leafy plants before even making it within sight of the shore.

When we were finally within sight of the Atlantic, we were met with a view of jagged cliffs being battered by violent waves. The rolling waves were mesmerizing, and we stopped and watched them for a while before finishing the last little bit of the trail.

It didn’t take long after that to find the Glasse Pools, which looked exceedingly inviting after a long, sweaty hike. In no time, we had stripped down to our bathing suits, and hopped into the refreshing salt water. Vince and Bonnie had brought snorkel masks, so we took turns looking at little patterned crabs scuttling across the sharp rocks at the bottom of the pool. I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t seen anyone else around for the entirety of our hike; we had the pools completely to ourselves.

We dried off as best as we could before putting our clothes back on over our bathing suits, and started the trek back uphill feeling rejuvenated. Once we’d made it back to the car, the day was almost over so we returned to the Ramelton and watched our first Dominican sunset as we looked forward to SCUBA diving the next morning.

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