The Nature Island
Which Island do you dream of? Immediately upon stepping foot on Dominica’s soil, we fall in love. The view from above while landing painted an obvious picture of why she’s called #TheNatureIsland. After becoming completely enamored with everything Dominica, we’re still dreaming about our visit and are incredibly excited to share it with you from start to finish.
Our day of departure begins with our driver being 30 minutes late to pick us up from our home in Delray Beach, FL. One of us is in a slight state of panic, which quickly subsides as our Uber driver is ok to fast pace us to our direct flights from Miami Beach.
Luckily, check ini s a breeze and security’s empty, so we’re at our gate in no time. We board our American Airlines direct flight to Dominica’s Douglas Charles International Airport.
A couple things to note about the AA direct flight: It’s a new route for American Airlines, is mostly full, and the views over the Caribbean Sea are absolutely stunning. Usually we’re watching movies or reading during our fights, but on this one our eyes are out the windows peering upon the crystal blue and turquoise waters while taking plenty of photos.
The flight path takes us over north/central part of the island to land on the south eastern side of the island. Dominica is a volcanic Island with a rigid topography, which we get to see from above. The runway is next to the sea and the day’s winds dictate our landing path through the valleys and into the strip – which brings us at and under the tree line for almost a minute! It is genius flying by the captain with bewildering views of the lush Island.
The airport is small and not busy, so customs is a breeze and spotting our bags is a breeze since there’s one carousel.
Our guide Mois is waiting for us outside excited to connect. He becomes a brother to us over the next few days and is a bank of knowledge on his native Island.
We set out to Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski which is 45 minutes away on the western/Caribbean side of the Island. I note the “side,” for there’s the Atlantic side with cliffs and rough waters that surfers sometimes challenge and the Caribbean side which is calm, laid back, and more mountainous rather than “cliffy.” Though there are mountains everywhere.
The road over hugs the coastline of the eastern side of Dominica offering gorgeous tropical views from low and high.
We arrive at the gorgeous Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski. The entrance has a massive royal palm perched above fountains with water running underneath the entry walk. The lobby is gorgeous with views overlooking the calm Caribbean.
The resort is new and was built in 2019. The room we stay in is modern with his and her showers, in addition to sinks. Each shower has its own controls so couples can enjoy their own temperatures, or a single person can move from hot to cold with a short step. Our balcony looks over the massive pool which is a work of art within itself.
Everything at Kempinski suggests luxury delivered by their architects’ best intent and deepest creative integrity.
A restaurant with an eclectic menu sits poolside and has a bar serving speciality drinks to enjoy why shooting pool or just chilling out. While we’re here, most are watching the World Cup and this is the area most people congregate to be social.
Breakfast is included with the stay and includes a vast buffet and fresh juices squeezed on the daily. The restaurant is large and has plenty of additional seating outside overlooking the Caribbean. A great aspect of the Kempinski Dominica is there’s plenty of open space and always relaxing vibes.
Mois arrives for our day’s first journey out to Trafalgar Falls. The steep topography along resulting from several volcanoes result in craters atop the mountains to fill with water during tropical showers. This leaves an abundance of fresh water for the island and a natural flow for hydro-electric power, which is 40% of the Island’s energy supply.
It also creates several waterfalls with Trafalgar being the largest. Trafalgar lives in a national park, with a smaller sister waterfall, both of which being very photogenic from afar and up close. Luckily Mois knows all the vantage points.
In the park, we climb onto the rocks for a few closer shots and develop a few tips for you during our experience: Do not attempt to climb the rocks with sneakers (you’ll slip), do not attempt to climb the rocks with bare feet (you’ll be left hurting), and definitely do not attempt to climb the rocks in flip flops (you’re definitely slipping and falling). Swallow your pride and get yourself a legit pair of water shoes, which you’ll be wearing at other popular attractions on the Island.
With volcanoes come heat, which needs to vent, and venting creates a beautiful natural phenomena, hot springs. We make a quick visit to witness the naturally steamy pools on the mouth of a river that folks can tube east towards to the Atlantic, and continue on our way to our next stop to Champagne Beach.
Champagne Beach is on the southern part of Nature Island and is popular for locals and tourists alike. There’s a few beach shacks with bars, snorkeling equipment rentals, plenty of beach chairs with straw umbrellas and cute local dogs who are just absolutely adorable.
We are there to snorkel, but first hop behind our new friend’s bar to concoct a couple cocktails with his infused rum to enjoy before heading into the water.
After a short swim we come upon the bubbly waters of Champagne Beach’s waters. Our guide scoops up a snorkel-full of water directly from the crust’s effluent and pours it into our hands so we can feel the warmth from the springs underneath. Champgane Beach gets it’s name as a result of the volcanic activity beneath the ocean. The warm air exits the springs by way of air bubbles which creates a mystical looking effect underwater with a distinct rumbly noise and warming physical sensation. This experience definitely is a highlight of our trip and we spent a little extra time snorkeling around, photographing the springs, coral, and wildlife alike.
We dry off and make our way to our next stop, a late lunch at Jungle Bay Resort.
Jungle Bay Resort
Jungle Bay built on a mountain which provides views of the Caribbean and perfect sunsets from almost every vantage point on the property. Their restaurant has an international menu, with tasty dishes served by their sweetheart of a staff.
The view from our table overlooks their infinity pool which one of us jumps in to cool off and enjoy the views of south western Dominica.
The general manager take us on a tour of the property which looks as if it has grown out of the mountain. We feel like we’re in a fairytale.
Jungle Bay is also nicknamed the “edible resort” as they grow mangos avocados, pineapple, and many other fruits guests are free pick and enjoy at their convenience. To add, they have a gorgeous spa and yoga studio with a long path surrounded by lush gardens leading into the house of zen.
We’re back off with Mois heading North along the coast towards Kempinski with a pit stop at Mero Beach mostly home to locals. Families are hanging out, people are playing volleyball, men are working on their boats, and most are just chilling out gazing into the setting sun which casts a golden glow upon everyone’s smiling face. It’s another slice of paradise.
The remainder of the drive takes about 40 minutes on a road that hugs the western coast and displays perfect views of the sunset turning the skies into orange, then blue and purple hues acting as a beautiful backdrop of our day’s end.
We’re scheduled to have dinner at a nearby restaurant Tin Tin which serves up their version of Chinese food, however a tropical storm keeps us in our hotel room, happily ordering room service (a tasty greek salad and dish of butter chicken).
Now it’s Monday morning, and Mois brings us over for a tour with Andrew Armour, the whale whisperer. He owns a boutique resort near the hotel where he runs his decades young business Anchorage Whale Watch and Dive Center. The vessel he takes us out on (with a small group of 7) is the same catamaran we were on a few weeks earlier in Curaçao, which is big enough for 60 people. It leaves plenty of room to move around, lay out on the bow’s netting, or hang by the stern with captain Andrew and his crew while witnessing the process of tracking our planet’s largest mammals.
His nephews join as his first and second mate to help run the boat, serve snacks + soft drinks and assist in listening into the Whale’s to steer us in the optimal vantage point. For most of the day the whales were dormant except for one they found with an underwater camera making its way directly up towards the surface of the ocean before flattening out to a float! We never knew that whales sleep “vertically” with their tail towards the ocean floor and head towards the surface. It’s a fascinating experience getting this close to the animals and learning from someone like Andrew who has cultivated relationships with pods of whales over his lifetime.
We turn around to make our way back with the intention of stopping at what we believe is called “secret bay beach” which is only accessible by boat, but heavy clouds make their way in and ring themselves out directly above us, so we divert from the initial conquest back to the docks where we started.
Generally, we associate rain with taking cover, and spoiling our plans. However Captain Andrew has a huge smile on his face and was laughing through the storm, which brought glee to most of us aboard to make this a beautiful, memorable moment. By the time we return to shore, the clouds are parted with the sun shining.
A few have lunch at Andrew’s restaurant, and we make our way back to Kempinski for our couples massage. Usually, neither of us gets excited for massages since we never really know what we’re going to get. However, Kempinski’s spa is gorgeous and relaxing, and both our therapists have strong hands with beacons alerting them exactly where to focus on our bodies. The only regret is it’s only for 60 minutes. We’re happy to give them generous tips… and it’s back to the room for a night similar to last’s.
Our itinerary dictates that we check out early and head back to Douglas Charles for our direct flight back to Miami. Luckily for us, we made the right decision to extend our trip one more day to experience the Kempinski for the day.
It would be a shame to not live a day in the life inside an architectural piece of art surrounded by nature, large cool pools, and black sand beaches encircled by the calm Caribbean Sea.
It gives us the opportunity to paint Kempinski Dominica’s picture with photos and videos rather than just words to pay homage to the magnificent property. We spend more time with the lovely staff, speak a bit with their charming manager Rudolph, and spend some time on their lookout tower watching families enjoy tubing and snorkeling.
A gorgeous, golden sunset comes our way which gives us a new meaning to “golden hour.”
The trip goes by too fast, as we feel at home and fall absolutely in love with Dominica. Paradise is a relative word to most, but after a visit to the Nature Island, we discover its new meaning which we feel should live permanently in Merriam Webster’s dictionary.