The Caribbean's Nature Island is once more welcoming divers
On a path to recovery, Dominica is offering special stay-and-dive packages with the promise of underwater treasures waiting to be discovered.
Rebuilding for the Better
In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria roared across the island of Dominica, stripping trees bare, removing roofs and damaging the island's infrastructure. It was a natural disaster that rendered the destination known as the Nature Island temporarily unable to welcome visitors. But strong winds are a sometimes fact of life in the Caribbean, and within weeks of the storm's passing; the island's resilient residents were clearing debris and rebuilding.
By the spring of 2018, Dominica was open for business and welcoming visitors once again. Some early arrivals came to assist with restoration efforts, while an increasing number have come to rediscover the revival of the island's natural landscapes, both above and below the water. The towering hills and hidden valleys that dominate the island's vistas give evidence to what waits below. It is an undersea realm of dramatic drop-offs, sheer walls, pinnacles, and labyrinths of submarine canyons. The nation's commitment to conservation is evident in the wealth of marine life and healthy hard and soft corals that thrive within a trio of marine reserves.
ReDiscovering Diving in Dominica
When divers first returned to the waters of Dominica, they noted the effects of the storm-driven waves on a number of shallow sites. Just as the island's forests were stripped of leaves, the shallow reefs saw an expected loss of sponge and soft coral growth. And as the leaves have returned to the trees, so too have these sites regenerated their colorful coatings. In contrast, almost all of the island's iconic dives sites at depths below 30 feet saw little to no effect from the storm. This too is typical of passing hurricanes and the reason why divers will often find the larger sponges and sea fans at greater depths, where they are immune to surface turbulence. Fish populations are also thriving, and Dominica remains one of the premier destinations in the Caribbean to observe and photograph a wide variety of marine life and macro subjects.
Diving and water sports providers in key areas of Dominica returned to daily operation in late spring of 2018, with seven companies offering dive charters on sites from North to South. To help spread the message that Dominica is still the place for divers, a promotional campaign known as ReDiscover Dominica was launched, offering special incentives on hotel stays, along with added perks for timely bookings for travel through the fall of 2018.
Fort Young Hotel
On the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, a historic fortress that once protected the port of Roseau now houses guests in the country's best-known luxury hotel. In addition to modern rooms tucked into the fort's historic walls, Fort Young Hotel includes an additional wing of ocean-view rooms. Amenities include two onsite restaurants, a spa, gym and daily yoga sessions, and all the attractions of the downtown waterfront are just a short stroll away. On-site is Dive Dominica, which includes retail and teaching facilities, gear rooms, showers and immediate access to dive boats.