While I am sustained by eating well on wonderfully fresh foods, I expend those calories during regular walks and occasional long hikes. There is nothing like hoofing it uphill to burn off those extra calories – treadmills are not needed here! And apart from being at sea level, there are inclines at every turn! It’s so easy to stay in shape while inhaling the purest air imaginable up in Dominica’s pristine forests.
Serious fitness buffs should definitely try out the Waitukubuli National Trail, a 185 kilometer (115 mile) – long trail that criss-crosses the island from north to south and is broken up into 14 segments. Its maintained tracks pass through some exceptional terrain and topography – remote rainforest, steep mountains, powerful rivers, rocky shorelines, historic sites and indigenous villages. (I’ve completed 11 segments at this writing and intend to finish the other three during 2014!)
But if you’re overwhelmed just reading about this unique trail, which is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, I would encourage you to consider numerous other options in Dominica’s phenomenal outdoors. There are lots of little hikes with stunning scenery and easier trekking – such as the 20 minute uphill track called ‘Jack’s Walk’, which is located in Roseau’s beautiful Botanical Gardens. The view over the city is breathtaking – especially when the sun is setting. And every village has feeder roads that lead to gardens at higher elevations where one can admire the view and engage in conversation with a farmer too. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered something right off of the vine!
After an intense day on the trail or a busy day running around Roseau, I always appreciate a little down-time to either allow sore muscles to recover or to melt away any kind of stress. All the natural hot springs in the Roseau Valley are well-known to me. They are all found about 15 minutes inland from the city, and as they are in such close proximity, they are well used by many people. My favorites include Tia’s or Screw’s in the village of Wotten Waven and the lovely award-winning Papillote Wilderness Retreat near Trafalgar. When I go there for an open air massage and organic lunch and a long soak in flowing mineral waters, I call it a “spa day!”
Yes, it does get very hot here sometimes, but it’s always easy to find a cool place to hang out at higher elevations. A “river bath’ is a refreshing way to spend part of a day – whether in a meditative mood or with friends and a picnic. It’s been said that Dominica has 365 of them – one for every day of the year. During the rainy season, I think there are even more!
If you think that Dominica is without beaches, then you’re wrong! There are some lovely ones all around the island’s shores. Of course, it’s calmer on the Caribbean side. The volcanic sand is darker, but it’s definitely not dirty! I like to do a little “lime” (West Indian for hanging out) at Mero Beach, where I also devour delicious organic lunches in the cheery ambiance of Romance Café. I also frequent Champagne Beach, which is close to my home. It’s famous for the bubbles that rise from volcanic vents on the sea floor. While I have not snorkeled there for some time, many people do! There’s also “the north” – in the shelter of Prince Rupert’s Bay – Coconut and Purple Turtle are wonderful places to enjoy the tranquil seaside near Portsmouth. In the northeast, plentiful secluded beaches close to the village of Calibishie are revitalizing, with brisk breezes coming in off of the Atlantic. While the surf can be strong, one can definitely admire the strength of the powerful waves from the shoreline.