Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a small Caribbean nation of 275 sq. miles with a population under 73,000. Dominica refers to itself as the Caribbean’s best kept secret. As tourism accounts for about 38% of the GDP, I would guess they wish it were not. Median income is under $7,800 US. The anemic GDP however, does not take away from the beauty of the island and its natural resources; lakes, rivers, waterfalls, the gorge, a thermal lake and of course, whale watching. I would have liked to spend a few days there seeing more of it, but the cruise stop was only for the day. I was only on shore for a few hours, but I did get a quick tour through the center of Rousseau and went out on the whale watch.
and then on to the botanical gardens …
A particularly interesting curio is this scene at the botanical garden. It seems 1979’s Hurricane David uprooted this tree and it fell on and crushed a school bus. It was empty, but they left it and the tree in place as some sort of macabre tourist attraction. It’s actually featured in Trip Advisor reviews.
We decided to do a family outing on a skiff to try and spot some whales and dolphins. We went out about 12 miles from shore to an area where a an active pod of whales was seen earlier in the day. We didn’t get that lucky. We saw a few, or better put, the top 15% of the whales. They weren’t being playful as reported earlier in the day, they were just sort of floating. Once or twice one rolled over exposing a fin. As a photographer the challenge was the other 24 people on board who kept jumping up and blocking my shots every time someone saw blowhole spray. Add to that other boats around us and you can understand why these magnificent creatures pretty much kept to themselves. The highlight of that particular outing was racing a fishing boat back to shore. 20 knots on water is fast. Who knew?
Unlike St. Lucia, I saw no other big ships here. There is no port development. There is no adjacent mall with duty free shops hawking gold at “HUGE DISCOUNT” prices, or restaurants and many other services. These small Caribbean islands have a lot in common, so the island with facilities for the larger ships is going to attract them. In fact, that is point of contention among the residents. They would like to develop Dominica into a not-so-secret destination with all those features and the potential for a better quality of life. A new ferry terminal for Roseau and adjacent port development was supposed to start in 2022 and expansion of the airport for international flights. I didn’t see anything around the dock to indicate construction was imminent.
Next, San Juan
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