In honor of tomorrow being the first day of Spring, and me oh-so-desperately wishing for warmer weather, today's post is all about Dominica!
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a small island in the Lesser Antilles. It's not very developed, so this island is a nature-lover's dream come true; it's absolutely gorgeous, lush, and refreshing. There are 365 rivers, countless waterfalls, a Boiling Lake (the second largest in the world), and some of the most spectacular views you could ever imagine.
Ironically, Hurricane Gonzalo had swept through just north of Dominica (all flights were cancelled the day we were scheduled to arrive from St. Lucia), so we unfortunately lost a day and didn't get a chance to take advantage of the snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding due to the heavy surf. But there were plenty of other activities to do on the island, so we stayed pretty busy (and I was exhausted by the end of each day).
We stayed at a magnificent "hotel" called Secret Bay. It's an eco-friendly, luxury retreat nestled on a cliff's edge overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This isn't your typical hotel: there are only six villas on the property and no restaurant. You fill out a pre-arrival form listing food, beverages, whatever you'd like...and your villa is stocked with all the goodies awaiting your arrival. There are cooks on the premises who will cook your meals for you,and let me tell you...I'd rather have these lovely ladies cook a meal for me versus a five-star restaurant. These women cook with love and use family recipes...it's such a wonderful treat! The villa itself was incredible, along with the amenities. One of my favorite things to do was open all of the windows and accordion doors, creating one huge open space letting the breeze trickle through. I wish I could have brought back their freshly squeeze orange juice and delicious homemade rum punch (which I requested a bottle of almost daily).
Our first full day we hiked to three waterfalls, swam through Titou Gorge, and took a scenic (and nauseating) drive through the island. The roads are extremely winding, like in St. Lucia, and I get sick pretty quickly if I'm not sitting in front. One of our drivers told me smelling lemongrass curbs that feeling...and he was absolutely right. I made sure to grab a few leaves to sniff during our ride back to the airport. Our second day we went horseback riding through the rainforest to the top of a large hill and had beautiful views of Guadeloupe. Our last day we just hung out around the villa and enjoyed the pool mostly, but by late afternoon we were able to kayak over to the secret beach and from there we swam to the cave to go exploring. That was an experience because we had to time entering and exiting the cave perfectly with the waves. Yikes! At night we'd wind down, enjoy our meal, and look at the stars. The sky was breathtaking...I've never seen so many stars, and you could see the twinkling lights from Guadeloupe in the distance too.
The hotel was extremely accommodating and arranged all of our excursions, taxis, tour guides...they even called a local salon to have someone come to the villa and braid my hair!
My husband and I would listen to music in the evenings and one song we played almost every night was the live version of Hotel California...so it seemed fitting to use it in the video. We also listened to Sade "No Ordinary Love" but that just seemed too sexy for hiking and waterfalls.
My favorite part was just spending time with my husband in the villa, relaxing, cooking, listening to music, enjoying rum punch....not having a care in the world. The only regret I have is that we didn't hike to the Boiling Lake (8 hours round trip) and I didn't get to see the Valley of Desolation. But...there's always next time!