We’ve been in the Caribbean for about 4 months now. We were frequently asked what islands we were visiting and we'd always mention that Dominica was our last stop. Without fail, anyone who has been to Dominica raved about it. We knew it was the greenest, most beautiful and fruitful island in the Caribbean. We were very much looking forward to our time there. And it did not disappoint!
Dominica reminded us of Kawaii… maybe 80 years ago. Beautiful volcanic mountains covered in lush greenery. It’s known as the rainbow island, because rainbows are a common, every-day occurrence. Most of the produce in the Caribbean is from Dominica and then shipped to the other islands. The volcanic soil is great for vegetation.
When we arrived, we drove across the island to Roseau to stay at the Fort Young Hotel. Fort Young is right on the water with incredible views of the sunset. We had the perfect location to hop on our boat to see the whales every day. And of course, we love a hotel with a great pool and kids club!
We originally went to Dominica with Keri Wilk and Wildlife Photography Expeditions to experience and document the sperm whales close up. There are over a dozen sperm whale families that are Dominica natives (and many, many more families that pass through) and spotting them is practically guaranteed. We swam with the humpback whales in Tonga and it was a dream. So, we were SO excited to do it again but with sperm whales.
Every day we went out on a boat to look for the whales. We’d drive about 30 minutes off shore and use a hydrophone to hear the whales and then follow the sound. Supposedly, as I mentioned, sperm whales are a very common animal found in the Dominican waters, but we had some BAD LUCK! :( Of the 10 days on the water, we only saw whales 5 of the days. :( :( :( We had some hypothesis as to where the whales went:
1. An earthquake days before shifted something in the ocean and the whales temporarily left.
2. There were false killer whales and pilot whales in the water — both predators to sperm calfs.
Who knows where the whales really went but in about 15 mile radius off the west coast of Dominica, there were hardly any whales! Bad luck. Sigh. Guess we will have to go back!!
However, the 5 days that we did see them, they were extraordinary. Garrett had some incredible experiences with them close up, and even touched a mother’s fluke. Sperm whales were a little different than the humpbacks because they dive much deeper. The humpback mothers and calfs often hover around 40 feet deep and you can spend a long time (30 minutes +) in the water with them. But sperm whales come to the surface for minutes to get air before diving down thousands of feet again.
During some of our waiting and watching days we still saw some incredible wildlife including pilot whales, melon head whales, false killer whales, spinner dolphins, gray dolphins, a giant marlin, squid and man of war (jellyfish). I got in the water with the pilot whales and dolphins and got some great video of that experience.
We loved our time on the expedition and met some great people. We hope to do many more big animal expeditions in the future!
Outside of the water, there’s SO much to do in Dominica. I think that’s why it’s our favorite Caribbean island. The hiking and waterfalls are to die for. We had some time to do some great family-friendly hikes to Titou Gorge and Trafalgar Falls.
Another amazing aspect of Dominica: TURTLES! OMGee! I get giddy thinking about this. I had wanted to watch baby turtles hatch for a while (thank you Miley Cyrus) and I spent some time researching where we could make that happen. Stars aligned perfectly when we found out that 6 different turtle species lay their eggs in Dominica, 3 of which lay on Rosalie Bay. Annnnnnd we were going to be in Dominica during turtle season!
Rosalie Bay is a must-experience place. Besides being a fantastic resort with great staff, perfect rooms and incredible fresh and delicious food, they have the turtles. When you check-in, they ask you if you want “turtle alerts.” Turtles lay their eggs on shore during the night time and you can get a phone call when they come to shore. Of course we wanted notifications! So our first night right as I was laying down for bed, we got that call! I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes and ran down to the beach. There, on the soft, black-sand beach was a GIANT leather back turtle. And when I say GIANT, I mean GIANT. It looked like someone blew up a turtle in a science experiment. I had no idea the could be so big! The turtle comes to shore, digs a hole and then goes into a trance as it lays about 100 eggs. During the trance you are allowed to photograph and even touch the turtles. The turtle then covers its hole and returns to the water. The whole process takes about 3 hours on shore. It was such an incredible experience.
Our last night at Rosalie Bay there were 6 turtles that came up in one night! At one point, we saw 3 leatherbacks at once laying eggs. Two turtles were digging their holes and sabotaging one another as they threw sand into each other holes. It was pretty funny.
We were about a month early to see any hatchings, so if you want to see baby hatchlings, go closer to June!
We also took advantage of their adopt a turtle program. For $50 you can adopt a turtle, name it, and receive a certificate of adoption. We adopted 2-Dorothy & Manilla the Leatherback Turtles! You are updated as your turtle comes to shore and when the eggs hatch. The money goes to support the great turtle program they have at Rosalie Bay.
A highlight for our time in Dominica was when the local soccer team invited Garrett to go train and play a game with them. They held a practice in preparation for a game where Garrett even suited up and played. He loved the guys and of course, playing in such a beautiful environment. THANK YOU Harlem Football Club for letting him join you and especially for the jersey and custom shirts you gave us.
We loved Dominica so much and when we had the opportunity extend and spend a few days at Secret Bay, we jumped at the opportunity. Ahhhh, seriously, I don’t think my words can do Secret Bay justice. Secret Bay is on the north west side of the island and is tucked perfectly away. We stayed in the Zing Zing Villa that smelled like lavender heaven when we arrived. It was the most perfect home away from home place we had been craving after many weeks in hotel rooms. It had a large, well-equipped kitchen that we didn’t even need because you have the option to use their private cooks at the bottom of the hill. That was the BEST. We experienced some of the best food ever while at Secret Bay. We celebrated our 7 year anniversary at heir sunset lookout with an incredible meal. The staff was beyond friendly and so hospitable.
Okay seriously, please put Dominica on your Bucket List. You must go see the sperm whales, you must go see the turtles at Rosalie Bay, and you must experience the beauty and tranquility at Secret Bay.