A local filmmaker discovers the island of Dominica.
From the moment I first spotted land as our little plane descended over Dominica during the day’s golden hour, every inch of the island appeared blanketed in deep and vibrant greens. They call this breathtaking island nestled between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles, the “Nature Island,” and now I could clearly see why. Dominica might just be one of the most lush and unexplored places you’ll ever set foot on.
For a filmmaker like myself, the island screams “capture me,” with its black, sparkling sand beaches, crystal-clear water, and impressive waterfalls. It’s home to the Waitukubuli National Trail that snakes 115 majestic miles across and around the island.
As I set out to explore the Nature Island’s vast beauty, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my backyard adventures on Nantucket where conservation land is an essential component of why people love to visit, summer, and call it home.
With around 70,000 people residing throughout the island’s 289.5 square miles, Dominica is home to a few lucky expats and a wealth of friendly locals. The rich volcanic soil allows just about anything to grow here, which may be why Dominica is home to the most centenarians in the world per capita, one of whom I had the chance to meet on his 106th birthday.
The island’s poetic past and present are represented by a large number of artists and thriving craftsmen, in the Kalinago Territory, home to Dominica’s indigenous people, and many other areas of the island. One artisan, carver Ras Julie, welcomed us into his home as he was chipping away at his next masterpiece, a small, intricately detailed carving we were given as a gift. With so many invitations from the locals to “stay a while,” I ended up doing just that, and extended my adventure by four days.
Largely undiscovered and unspoiled, Dominica makes travelers feel like they’re discovering its natural wonders for the first time in history. I felt this way when I set my heart on hiking the incredibly challenging Wavine Cyrique, which required descending a mud- covered wall using nothing but ropes and roots to climb down. All the dirt and adrenaline was well worth it as I met a powerful waterfall gushing into the sea when I reached the bottom.
The last night of the trip was unforgettable. We came across Layou, a small fishing village, which was full of life, men playing dominos after a day’s work, and kids jumping off the docked fishing boats into the river. One of these young boys uttered some of the most memorable words I’d heard in Dominica: “It’s special because you can never be alone.” Yes, Dominica might be an island defined by nature, but its true character is found in its people.
Dominica is more than just an escape where you won’t find a single chain hotel or fast food restaurant. Rather, it is a place to try new things, to go outside your comfort zone, and taste the undiscovered flavors of life. It’s a place where true adventure exists, and moments you could never plan for stick with you for a lifetime.
Fly Jet Blue from Nantucket to New York City or Boston and then continue on to St. Martin. Then hop on a local flight with Winair to Melville Hall Airport (DOM).
In Portsmouth: Picard Beach Cottages. Near Rosseau, stay at Anchorage Dive Shop. No frills and right on the water, a great base location for getting your feet wet. To escape it all, head off the grid to Bananalama Eco Villa. (open seasonally)
It’s a rainforest. Always carry rain gear. Downpours happen sporadically. Renting a car is great if you’re there for a week or more, but hiring a driver will get you to all the right places.
Kristen Kellogg is the founder of Border Free Travels based on Nantucket. This winter, she and Nantucket-based photographer Katie Kaizer earned a spot in the Dominica Film Challenge, in which six teams of creatives were flown in to the island from around the world by Bolin Marketing and the Discover Dominica Authority to create two-minute films about Dominica. Kristen is currently working on her second interactive travel film for Border Free Travels about Nantucket Island set to launch in 2015.