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Roseau, Dominica - Story and photos by Kelly Saunders
Kelly Saunders, an enthusiast diver and beginning underwater photographer visited the little island of Dominica recently and shares her experiences and photos:
(pronounced Dom-in-ee-ka) is located in between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
A former colony of the United Kingdom, Dominica is now an independent country but you will still find the Queen of England's picture on all of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) money used and everybody speaks English.
The island is surrounded by lush, tropical rainforest just begging to be explored. Nature hiking is wonderful – there are over 350 rivers and streams winding their way through ravines and gorges to cascade over countless waterfalls. You can easily hike to places such as Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, Titou Gorge, Aerial Tram or be adventurous and attempt the Boiling Lake, accessible after a four to five hour trek. A very wet hike!
Whale watching is also an option. Dominica is known for frequent sightings of both resident and visiting pods of Spinner and Spotted Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales and False Orcas.
Day trips to neighboring Martinique, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe are available through ferries and airplane tours. It is helpful to get the ferry schedule from the resort beforehand. And if that is not enough, there is biking and kayaking as well.
most importantly, we were here for the diving. There is a lot to explore underwater; dramatic walls that plunge down to 1,000 feet (300m), and pristine coral reefs. Orange and yellow sponges abound, as well as prolific schools of fish.
Wall diving, pinnacle diving, reef exploration, wrecks, and even two hot water springs dives, where you can observe, firsthand, Dominica's volcanic origins.
We dove with Castle Comfort Dive Lodge. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a complimentary rum punch from the gracious staff. You can also request a pina colada blended with a slice of banana (my personal concoction), mud slide or a strawberry dacari. All of which are refreshing and delicious.
Castle Comfort is owned by a friendly group of Creole speaking locals, who are very helpful. They were especially in locating my misplaced luggage! It is one of the smaller resorts (only 15 rooms) on the island, which makes the experience intimate and builds lasting friendships. Castle Comfort is beautifully located, directly on the edge of the ocean with the green hills of Dominica sitting at her back. Their dive operation is run smoothly and
Divemasters Reggie and Curt are fantastic. Their knowledge of the dive sites made every dive a wonderful experience.
They offer a range of scuba courses as well as snorkeling opportunities. Nitrox is also available.
There are loads of fascinating dive sites to investigate.
Champaign Reef was my absolute favorite. It's teeming with tropical fish including, black bar soldier fish, squirrel fish, trumpet fish, porcupine fish and an abundance of both invertebrate like pederson shrimp, arrow crabs, banded shrimp and squid.
The reef is cloaked in sponges, anemones and crinoids. A 250 year old wreck sits in 18 feet and one can see 3 fused cannon with planking.
Warm streams of air bubbles shoot up everywhere and there are algae covered rocks with plenty of macro life, such as anemones and crinoids, hiding in the crevices. Great photo op if you have a macro setting on your camera.
If you are an avid photographer, I would strongly suggest bringing a strobe to Dominica to illuminate your photographs. There are beautiful colors on the reefs, but depending on the weather, you might not get as much sunlight to enhance these colors as you might like.
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