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Dive into Dominica for Excitement that’s Larger than Life

Izreef2.jpgWhere else can you be floating over a reef in a cloud of champagne bubbles in the morning, watching sperm whales offshore in the afternoon and then celebrating the Sunset in a natural hot spring? Although Dominica is only 29 miles long and 16 miles wide you can do more here in a day than on any other island in the Caribbean. This characteristic is what sets Dominica apart; it is so easy to do various activities in the same day.

Snorkeling here is also amazing because of the possibilities. One of the most famous sites is called Champagne where you can float over an underwater hot spring that disperses tiny bubbles and underwater vents of hot water. As the sun reflects he millions of rising bubbles it really does feel like a glass of champagne. This shallow and easy site is a great place for spotting squid, octopus, and numerous reef fish and if you head out over the sand flying gurnards and puffer fish are often spotted!
Further south, you can float over the edge of walls that drops down into the depths or for the more adventurous float right along a cliff face that drops over 1500 ft (500m) straight down. While this is an easy snorkel with no currents, it requires a lack of fear of heights with the illusion that is created by the deep blue water! Other great places to Snorkel include Rodney’s Rock in the center of the island, a site well known for its seahorses, Toucari caves in the North where you can follow numerous small valleys and crevices and also snorkeling in Cabrits National Park near the Fort Shirley.

Toucari Cave brings a world of wonder through the many crevices. With turtles, stingrays, barracudas and eagle rays gliding along the open blue to hidden moray eels peeking out at you. The high point of swimming through this beautiful cave and coral archway is finding hidden crabs and lobsters clinging to the cavern ceilings.

Dangleben’s Pinnacle is a series of 5 pinnacles rising from the depths. One great thing is that, as with most sites, it can be done numerous times and never seeing the same thing twice. One can find anything from large barrel sponges to schools of horse-eye jacks and Creole-wrasse, deep walls and sloping reefs frequented by turtles. At either end- this is an amazing site. A famous photographer once said “’ If you could whisk me away from my desk for a morning dive in the Caribbean – it would be Dangleben’s Pinnacles”
Our scuba diving is consistently rated as the best in the region and has won many awards in such diverse categories as “Healthiest Marine Environment”, “Top Underwater Photography”, “Top Dive Destinations”, “Best Macro Life” and “Top Marine Life”. One look at this amazingly beautiful but ruggedly mountainous island and you can only imagine how this topography continues underwater. But divers will not be limited to their imagination and most eagerly await their first dive!
Just minutes from shore, walls plunge over 1500ft (500m), pinnacles rise up from the depths and reefs slope into the deep waters just offshore. The best thing about these many dramatic valleys, swim-through and overhangs is that they are covered in some of the Caribbean’s healthiest and certainly most colorful reefs. Massive sponges are everywhere, and almost every sponge seems to have golden, red or yellow crinoids spilling over the top. It is a photographer’s nightmare with so many subject choices. We are often told how happy our photographers are with the advert of digital, that we are no longer limited to 36 photos!

After you have recovered from the assault of color look a little closer and you start to notice things not usually seen elsewhere, or not in these quantities. Seahorses and frogfish are our most famous reef inhabitants, and most Dive masters will ask you “what color you prefer!” But look even closer and you will find a huge selection of shrimps from banded coral, Pederson, squat anemone, scarlet lined, spotted and many others! On a night dive it is not uncommon to see 5 different species of lobster and perhaps another 3 species of night shrimps.

As “The Nature Island” we have a responsibility to protect our reefs. Our marine reserves have moved in this direction. With our clean water, lack of industrial pollution, deep water and protected reefs, we see a healthy fish population on our reefs with schools of wrasse, soldier fish and grunts commonly seen, and larger fish like yellowtail snappers, bar jacks and horse-eye jacks patrolling the drop offs.

pinksponge3.jpgWhen its time to dry off you should think of experiencing why we call ourselves “The Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean”. Every week our whale watching excursions head out a few miles offshore in search of some of our resident sperm whales. The deep waters close to shore are the primary reason these giant whales come in so close and this makes Dominica one of the best places to see Sperm Whales. At certain times of the year the males visit the resident females and calves and this is a great time to observe large pods and socializing behavior. Throughout the year one can see many different species of whales and dolphins and it is rare not to see something. Even on those rare days the view of Dominica from the sea is so spectacular, this alone is worth the trip!

One of the best times to visit for families is for the Annual Dive Festival, held in the second week of July. It involves free scuba diving, snorkeling lessons for all levels, treasure hunts as well as excitement with the Kubuili Canoe Race, Whale Watching Tours and a Wine & Cheese Cruise. It is an event for all and takes place throughout the island. Visit www. divefest dominica .com

Speaking of Festivals, Dominica is known for its Annual World Creole Music Festival which is held the last weekend in October. It brings together the combination of creole, zouk, compas and bouyon music. It has attracted some of the most renowned musical groups and soloists from the creole-speaking world. Groups such as Kassav, Carimi, Tabou Combo, Sakis, Exile One and local artists such as Ophelia, Michele Henderson, WCK and First Serenade are just a few of the names to have graced the stage at this spectacular event.

Hiking in Dominica can mean anything from a walk in the park, to a mountain ascent, to a swim through a narrow gorge.
Thanks to its mountainous terrain and despite its small size, Dominica offers a wide variety of challenges to hikers. Here you will find everything from a gentle stroll to magnificent waterfalls, to a strenuous trek through rainforest up to a sulfur rich boiling lake.
Many of the country’s trails follow routes developed by its Carib population long before Columbus arrived. Most can be completed in a day or less. All have memorable highlights.
There are plans to develop a country-wide trail called the Waitikubuli National Trail for those who wish to camp en route and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest at night. But most visitors, even after enjoying a dip in the pool at the foot of an impressive waterfall, prefer to return to one of the island’s cozy hotels to enjoy the local hospitality.
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Images credited to Images Dominica.