Approaching Dominica we understood instantly why we were given a warning about tricky anchoring there. It looks like something prehistoric. The island is so mountainous and steep-to that the coastal waters are mostly too deep to drop the hook anywhere. This is not a land of beaches but is a place to explore the natural wonders both inland and underwater.


We moored up at the capital, Roseau, on the day that kicks off carnival season. Carnival proper happens on February 20th this year but there is a whole series of parties that lead up to this. The carnival opening that happened when we arrived consisted of a parade of stilt-walkers, traditional carib dancers, little girl flag throwers, beauty queens and all kinds of other costume-wearing, booty-shaking revellers dancing through the streets or on floats. James and I liked the dancing stilt-walkers best particularly one very expert girl of about 10 years old. Other highlights were the shaggy looking monsters with Viking horns or the float for the pharmacy-sponsored “Miss plus size and elegant”.


We people-watched and drank Kabuli, the local beer, and wandered the grid of streets. The people of Roseau are nothing if not entrepreneurial as every house is also a bar and a bakery and offers a lawyer’s services. My personal favourite is a shop called ‘Robin’s nest’ which sells electrical items (old keyboards, walkie-talkies, fans and mobile phones) as well as ladies’ lingerie.


Roseau’s normal street activity is dominated by whether or not there is a cruise ship present, which there is 6 days of the week. Because of this, a veritable swarm of taxi drivers and tour guides descend upon anyone white offering their services. We wondered if we should make t-shirts stating “no we are not American and no we are not on a cruise ship”. As they are on holiday, Lis and Paul found themselves a nice tour guide and spent several days with him exploring some of Dominica’s natural wonders.


James and I are not so tour guide minded, nor can we afford tour prices, so we hopped onto the local bus (the same big vans as the taxis but full of people and making several stops). Venturing inland was a bit of a novelty for us. Dominica has 7 active volcanoes so there’s a lot of geological interest across the island: the boiling lake, lots of waterfalls, the Titou gorge etc. We decided to go to Trafalgar falls as we’d heard that the bridge on the road to it was currently being mended so a lot of the cruise lot were going elsewhere. Plus we left early in the morning, to avoid the worst crowds. Our bus dropped us just by the broken bridge, still useable if on foot, and we walked up the steep road through the village of Trafalgar to get to the falls.


Alas, there is another road to get here, and some of the tourist crowds were already getting out of their air-conditioned taxis. The trail to the falls consists of a little walk to a viewing platform. After this the trail gets much wilder and a sign warns that from this point you explore at your own risk as the area is prone to flash floods. Much to our joy the current cruise ship was full of the blue-rinse brigade and a lot of rather overweight, unfit looking people, none of whom had the ability, let alone the desire to go any further than the platform.


James and I rejoiced in getting one of Dominica’s prime sights entirely to ourselves and, as the crowds disappeared back into their vehicles and the trail fell silent, we happily scrambled into the rainforest to play. Trafalgar falls is made up of ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ waterfalls dropping down from a great height down to a series of fresh pools, these are also joined by hot pools from sulphurous springs. The hot pools are the first things you come to after parting from the trail and felt like the most luxurious spa treatment for us two salty sea-dogs. We sat and poached for a bit and then climbed over the rocks towards the freshwater pools at the bottom of the falls. Hot pool, cold pool, hot pool, cold pool, all while relaxing within the heart of the rainforest with just the jumping lizards, fleeting hummingbirds, scurrying crabs and the music of the jungle to keep us company.