This Island in the Caribbean Is Loved by Adventurers?

Part of the reason Dominica is a popular ecotourism destination for outdoor enthusiasts is the 115-mile Waitukubuli trail that runs the whole length of the island. It may be walked in a single day for each of its 14 portions. However, when Maria tore across Dominica in 2017, bringing strong winds and torrential rains that destroyed communities and agriculture as well, the route became inaccessible. Today, island lodgings and tour operators are offering post-hurricane volunteer programs, such as trail restoration, to guests who want to help with the cleanup.

The recently rebuilt Secret Bay resort, which consists of six private villas on the northwest coast of Dominica, served as my home base. I made contact with Annette Peyer Loerner, a Swiss expat who runs the charming Tamarind Tree Hotel with her husband Stefan, via the resort’s concierge. Annette assumed responsible for cleaning and maintaining Segment 11 of the phrazle route after the storm. About one-third of the eight-mile section has been cleared by Annette since construction started. This portion of the route goes through Morne Diablotin National Park, which is home to Morne Diablotin, the highest peak on the island.

Annette and a few other volunteers were waiting at the trailhead when I caught up with her to start my day on the Waitukubuli. We moved down Segment 11’s cleaned path. We hiked for an hour till we came to the end of the work area. Fabian moved into the thick brush and took out power equipment that were hidden behind a tarp. Annette unzipped a backpack containing rakes, scythes, and bulky gloves. Fabian started up the chainsaw as she distributed the tools. While Dylan sliced at a tangle of vines and razor grass, he chopped down fallen trunks and branches that blocked our way farther up the route. The others trailed in our wake, tossing piles of brush and wood into the surrounding forest.

My condo in Secret Bay was a cozy haven when I wasn’t working. Every morning I drank coffee on the veranda with a view of Cabrits National Park, watching while bananaquits perched on the railing and peered at my papaya for breakfast. A wooden stairway down to Tibay Beach, where I saw colorful parrotfish chomp on coral while snorkeling next to a steep ledge.

Gregor Nassief, the proprietor of Secret Bay, is passionate about introducing his visitors to the island’s natural beauty and culture. The resort’s boat skipper, Don Mitchell, speared invasive (and tasty) lionfish for me to eat, and I sipped an infusion of sorrel and ginger. Alongside Fire (real name Patrickson Lockhart), a dreadlocked boatman who pointed out local plants, I floated the Indian River. And alongside local naturalist Bertrand Jno Baptiste, aka Dr. Birdy, I scoured the trees on the Syndicate Nature Trail for parrots.

Leave a Comment