Dominica, The Nature Island.
Dominica (pronounced Domineeka), is a combination of ABC’s “Lost”, the Garden Isle of Kauai, and an ecologically aware day spa all wrapped into one hidden gem of an island.
Tourism doesn’t run rampant here the same way it does on other more populated islands in the Caribbean, which is the main reason Dominica remains predominantly untouched, natural, and magical. It also may be one of the reasons various scenes from The Pirates of The Caribbean movies were filmed here.
The jungle meets the Caribbean Sea at Rosalie Bay.
After my pilot navigated the tricky jungle canyons of Marigot, we swooped in for a landing at the tiny Melville Hall International Airport where I quickly go through customs. I notice that the airport, and many other public places on the island, smell of a fresh health spa or classy massage parlor. This scent is from bay oil, and natural soaps, some of Dominica’s largest exports and used throughout the island.
Rosalie Bay Resort’s reception area.
l have two Rosalie Bay Resort transport options: rent a car, or have a staff member from the resort pick me up. I opted not to drive myself since Dominicans drive on the left side of the road as they do in England, which sort of freaks me out.
Dominica has been affiliated with both France and England throughout its history, so most of its people speak French and English, along with the native Creole. The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD) is the official currency, but U.S. dollars are also widely accepted, so I was able to tip my driver without any problem.
The scenic drive is one hour on a windy, one lane road along the coast to Rosalie Bay by tour operator Zahir Oscar. On the drive, Zahir pointed out areas of interest and explained the history and culture of the indigenous Kalinago tribe of Barana Auté.
“These people have been here since long before Christopher Columbus discovered the island,” he said. Zahir also mentioned that the reason the island is called Dominica is because Columbus discovered it on a Sunday, which is Domingo in Spanish, hence the name Dominica.
A wind turbine powers the Gardenview Cottages.
At Rosalie Bay Resort, I discovered serenity at the eco-luxury and wellness resort situated on the southeast coast of the island, backed against both the freshwater Rosalie River and the Caribbean Sea. The location of the resort is unique in that it is situated in one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites — the Morne Trois Pitons. Here, endangered sea turtles come ashore on Rosalie Bay’s private black sand beach to nest, which is a unique thing to witness. Tours are available through the resort to see the turtles first-hand.
An airy Oceanfront Suite.
The resort consists of 28 rooms and suites, each with hand-carved wooden furnishings that give off a natural scent that constantly remind me that I’m in the heart of nature. Some of the larger suites include vaulted ceilings, a living room with sofa, a spacious bathroom with double sinks, tiled walk-in rain showers with oversized tubs, a king sized bed, and a sitting area..
Each suite has a swing on the back porch backing to the water’s edge as well as a front porch with views of the pool. Room amenities include a flat screen TV, iPod docking station, robes and slippers, beach towels, complementary bottles of water, and a fruit basket upon my arrival.
The staff also provides a fresh flower arrangement, coffee maker with coffee, and natural locally made organic toiletries. Additionally, a healthful continental breakfast featuring fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, organic fruits, oatmeal, whole wheat toast with homemade marmalade, power drinks, smoothies, herbal teas, and coffee are also provided daily.
This custom built sanctuary focuses heavily on green energy and protecting the environment. A gigantic windmill towers above the resort spinning out about 75% of the site’s energy use. The remaining energy is supplied by a series of solar panels interspersed throughout the property. But green energy and environmental protection are only part of the Rosalie Bay Resort philosophy.
Hydrotherapy at Kalinago Spa.
Another large part of the experience here includes a wellness aspect in relation to overall mental, physical, and nutritional health. There are cooking classes where Chef Serafine teaches how to make nutritious meals; practice yoga with a certified instructor; attend life coaching sessions; or just pamper yourself by getting professional spa treatments and massages. There’s also a gym, large pool, poolside bar, and an additional spa with treatments connected to the river (which has drinkable water by the way).
As far as food goes, The Rosalie Bay Resort is proud of its Zamaan Restaurant, offering indoor and outdoor dining, and it is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Zamaan offers healthy yet rich cuisine in a traditional Dominican-style menu line, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Rosalie Bay Resort also offers organic cooking classes to help guests continue to eat healthy at home. Led by the resort chef, the hour-long class covers the basics down to how to slice and chop with a large knife; tastings are reserved on a private and group basis.
Local Dominica rum,
The thatched roof pool bar is open for lunch, afternoon snacks, and happy hour daily to quench your thirst and stave the hunger pangs.
But what if you don’t want to be pampered? What if you just want a nice place to stay, but you’re more interested in getting out and seeing the island? For that, Rosalie Bay Resort has an expansive litany of outdoor activities managed and hosted by Zahir. I partook in many of these activities. Here are a few of them:
A light-greenish-blue natural pool with cool fresh drinkable water filled constantly by a large waterfall above. The walk to the swimming hole is easy and short, as well as beautiful. Zahir pointed out specific trees and their magical properties. One for example, has bark that gives a Viagra affect to men if ingested. But don’t take the bark, it is illegal as these trees are protected.
The Emerald Pool.
Seeing this pool is one thing, jumping off a rock and performing a mid-air somersault like I did is another! I chose my landing area carefully, there are varying levels of deepness in the pool. It’s refreshing, beautiful, and not overly crowded with people. Both the pool and waterfall are surrounded by lush green jungle with various colorful lizards popping in and out, and it is absolutely worth seeing.
Lester extracts an
almond from its fruit.
Snorkeling here is unlike anything I have seen in other diving spots. There surprisingly weren’t many people during my excursion despite the fact that the beach is just down the way from Roseau, Dominica’s capital city. Zahir mentioned that because the beach is made up of small rocks as opposed to sand, the pebbles keeps the reef safe from too much tourism.
The name Champagne Reef comes from volcanic gasses that emit bubbles under the water, giving snorkelers and divers the unique experience of — as they say — swimming in a glass of champagne. And it certainly did seem so, with the exception that this particular glass had sea turtles, bat rays, and a myriad of other tropical creatures sharing the bubbly with me. The water is crystal clear, warm, and perfect for snorkeling.
I was interested in fishing, and when I mentioned this to the staff they recommended Lester, from the restaurant, to help me. Lester grew up on Dominica and he has mastered the art of both fishing and cooking, which works perfectly together. Lester took me out into the Rosalie River where he taught me to catch fish using only a piece of bread and a hook on some fishing line. Amazingly, he caught a fish in about 30 seconds! Although they were small, they were still edible. So I ended up following his lead and I caught about 12 fish within the hour. I handed them off to him to cook up for dinner later that night, which turned out to be a fantastic seafood chowder.
Rosalie Bay Resort as seen from the Rosalie River.
Lester also taught me about some of the vegetation near the river, including an odd looking fruit that I didn’t recognize. I was confused at first as to why he was smashing it open with two rocks, but then he showed me what was inside. To my surprise, it turned out to be an almond! He also taught me to watch the birds over the river to see where the fish are. This, and virtually any type of excursion you can dream up, is doable at Rosalie Bay Resort.
Endangered baby sea turtle.
One thing to note about Dominica is that despite the fact that virtually the entire island is densely covered in a lush green landscape of jungle, there are virtually no bugs or mosquitoes, which helps motivate me to get outdoors and see the land. I can bathe in emerald waterfalls, swim with tropical fish, eat spices and fruits right from the tree, and breathe in clean air unmatched anywhere else in the Caribbean.
With all the options of beautiful places to see and experience in the Caribbean, Dominica remains one of its best kept secrets with Rosalie Bay Resort the gem in the crown.
— Feature by Josh Edelson, Jetsetters Magazine Adventure Correspondent; photos by Josh and courtesy or Rosalie Bay Resort.Follow and Share your Jetsetters Magazine Adventures.