Jo and Mark visited Dominica in April 2012
From the moment you touch down, it’s clear that the lush tropical island, Dominica, is an unspoilt Caribbean gem which deserves to be explored. Unlike its neighbours such as Barbados and St Lucia, Dominica has not embraced all-inclusive, resort-style tourism – instead it is the home of unique guest houses, boutique hideaways and off the beaten track bars.
Dominica suits those wanting an ‘authentic’ Caribbean experience, people who are happy to stray off the path and are looking for adventure as well as relaxation.
Diving is perhaps what Dominica is best known for and it really is worth putting on your ‘must do’ list if underwater action is as important as land-based fun. There is a 150 mile trek you can do from one end of the island to the other, stopping off at guest houses and B&B’s along the way.
Twitchers get very excited at the rare species on the island and colourful scenery they inhabit. The smell of lemongrass catches the wind as you drive along bumpy roads, it grows wild here.
I went there to see for myself the small hotels and guest houses that have been recommended to me by the Tourist Board and travel colleagues and I was charmed from the moment I arrived.
Some of the top guests houses are still in the process of being completed and while they look like they will be fabulous, they are still a work in progress.That’s is why it’s important that you book your holiday through a reputable travel company who go out and see the places they send their clients to and experience the reality behind the brochure.
Here are our top picks for staying in Dominica:
Owned and managed by the vivacious Jen Hyland, Zandoli Inn is the epitome of charm and warmth.
Dinner is always ‘Plat du Jour’ ensuring delicious fresh food using the best quality produce and made with a generous splash of love.
The views of the bay are just perfect and best enjoyed with a sundowner or crisp cold beer. Whales can be spotted bringing their young into the bay to practice swimming skills in the sheltered waters.
Just round the corner from Zandoli is the studio of Ellingworth Moses – a celebrated Dominican artist whose works are even more special when viewed in situ with the backdrop of stunning scenery, which can’t help but inspire.The only warning is that the steep steps to the beach are not for those with walking difficulties.
Rosalie has 28 suites and rooms and as you can see from my snaps below, the standard of decor is excellent.
The hotel has the Rosalie River running past on one side and wild black sand beaches on the other. We recommend swimming in the cool river as the beaches can get quite rough.
Rosalie Bay is excatly how I pictured a small hotel in Dominica, simple, understated and surrounded by the most beautiful tropical flora and fauna. Turtles even lay their eggs on the beach here, so unspoilt and no signs of that changing any time soon.
The trip advisor reviews say it all, hospitality at it’s best. The owners Rick and Alicia look after all their guests as if they were long lost friends and with just 5 rooms at the moment, you are never just a room number.
Pagua is still in the process of being created and I am really pleased we visited so we can talk with confidence about the fact they are not yet completed but are still wonderful to visit.
The vision of the owners is impressive, they are using industrial materials to create a unique guests house including using polished concrete to create marvelous sinks which wouldn’t look out of place in a homes magazine.
It really is an exciting project and fascinating to watch unfold. In total there will be 8 rooms and this boutique retreat will be wonderful for couples and honeymooners looking for a funky Caribbean retreat to unwind.