Archived Story

Swimming in bubbles, waterfalls in Dominica

Published 10:38am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There is hardly anything as exciting as watching the ocean waters turn from indigo blue to the classic Caribbean turquoise, and nothing as relaxing as what the islanders call “limin’ away” in the Caribbean sun.

I personally love the foot-shaped island of Dominica, and was fascinated to find out my friends Mara and Ford Smith had discovered this same place in 1999, and decided to spend a month there.

Tagged “The Nature Island,” and pronounced “dahm-nick-ah,” it is not to be confused with Dominican Republic, and lies south of Guadeloupe. If there’s a wild side to the Caribbean, it doesn’t get much wilder than this!

One of the Treasure Islands, its mountains rise 4,000 feet straight from the sea, it has nine active volcanoes and one surviving tribe of now mellowed Carib Indians (yes, the tribe of fierce ones that shamelessly plundered the peaceful Arawak and practically killed Columbus himself ).

To appreciate Dominica’s unrivaled beauty, you must appreciate the primordial features it brings. Tropical waterfalls and river –– one river for every day of the year –– that’s a lot of floating. For people interested in eco-tourism, mesmerize your imagination with the undulating power of water and fire:

The Emerald Pool, Middlehelm Falls, Trafalgar Falls, Victoria Falls, The Boiling Lake (inland) and Champagne Beach, which is one of the best reefs for diving in the world, as you swim in tiny bubbles that escape due to volcanic gas.

If you visit Dominica, it helps to be a people person, because you may cross palms with someone like “Knowledge,” in Roseau (the capital city). A Harry Belafonte look-alike with dreadlocks, he is the resident “shrink,” claiming tosee into your third eye.

The souvenir magnet I bought from him contains the memory of the gentle, almost life-altering conversation he had with my teenager right there on the street. The mystical mix of Creole, Black African, English and Native Carib Indian makes the people proud and attractive.

Music on the island is not to be missed, because they originated Zouk, a form of calypso. The last weekend in October brings the World Creole Music Festival to Roseau, when famous world beat musicians who are usually on European tours come home to a colossal fanfare.

The best way to see this island is on a cruise, because it is a port of call for most Southern Caribbean itineraries from economy to luxury.

To email your travel story to columnist Lucianne Evans, contact the Bulletin or Evans at

Where’ve You Been

Who: Mara and Ford Smith, Tryon, NC. Mara and Ford met when they were in college, retired young, and have been very happy traveling together and living in Tryon. They have written a novel, a wine guide, two camping guides, and keep a blog called
Where’ve You Been?: Dominica, Caribbean stands out as a favorite. The couple camped one night in a ‘chickee’ hut on the Carib reservation! Then spent a week each on the north shore, a cottage in Roseau, a ship builder’s home on the south shore, and their favorite spot, a guest house in the botanical gardens near Trafalgar Falls.
Loved: “Champagne Beach: Snorkeling in champagne-like bubbles off the coast of Soufriere. It was a fabulous underwater experience with lots of colorful fish.”
Disliked: Mara got sick with a case of dengue fever, from a mosquito bite, which luckily only lasted a few days.  It is not common among leisure travelers, is rarely life threatening and is found in tropical climates all over the world. However, to avoid dengue fever, avoid mosquitoes, go where the wind moves, (beaches and cruise ships), use Badger or Off! Repellant when outdoors, and avoid hurricane season (from July to mid-October) when mosquitoes are more prevalent.

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