Waitukubuli - A paradise not only for scuba divers

Do not try to look up the name in your world map - because you will never find it. Waitikubuli is the old Indian name for the island, situated right between Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The real name of the island is Commonwealth of Dominica or just Dominica. The Indian name means "tall is her body" and that is very appropriate since all along the coastline tall mountains covered with rainforest raises up to above 3.000 feet above the water.

A new world appears
It was on this island in November 1996 that I was first fascinated by scuba diving. Along with my partner I was on a two weeks vacation in the Caribbean and we had spent the first week on Guadeloupe. I had never tried scuba diving before and my experiences on snorkling was very limited. But a snorkling trip around Pigeon Island on Guadeloupe had made me curios.

Upon arrival I discovered that there was a dive center at the hotel. I learned that I could do snorkling trips, take a "Discover Scuba Diving" course, which would let me dive with an instructor for two weeks or I could take a real "Open Water" certification.  I quickly decided to try the Discover Scuba diving.

Two days later Maureen from Canada and I had approximately one hour theory lesson about the pressure under water, the equipment, communicating under water etc. Then we got our dive gear to try the most common skills like hand signals, emptying your mask, buddy breathing etc. That afternoon I made my first real dive with my instructor and another more experienced diver. It was great!!! A fantastic new world suddenly appeared, soft and hard corals and fish in bright colors, sea cucumbers etc. I did not know - and still do not know - most of the species we saw. The local divers said visibility was poor while I was there, but not having anything to compare with I just found it a wonderful experience.
Back to top

The certification.
Coming home from the great vacation I immediately started to investigate the possibilities to take my Padi Open Water certificate in Denmark. In my mind the diving was still on Dominica, so I decided to look into the possibilities to go back and take the certification in wellknown surroundings - on Dominica.

I contacted several different travel agencies. Some of them tried to send me to Santo Domingo, and I had to tell them that Santo Domingo is in the "Dominican Republic" and that the airport was supposed to be Melville Hall or Canefield. The hotel and dive center was contacted and I was able to get a reasonable price for both the diving and lodging.

Thursday February 27th was the day I was leaving. I do not usually suffer from travel feber, but this time I did. The trip though went as planned except that the plane from Antigua did not land at Cane Field as planned but on Melville Hall, which is far up north on the island. That cost me another 2 hours of transportation, but it felt nice to be back on the hotel and see familiar faces.

The morning after was my first theory lesson. I had read the "PADI Open Water Manual" from home. I then took the confined water sessions and then the open water sessions. The confined water sessions were done outside the beach right in front of the dive center and between the tests we enjoyed the schools of small fish passing by. After I completed my Open Water my divemaster suggested that I continue with an Advanced Open Water course and so I did. The Advanced Open Water course included a nightdive, underwater navigation and a deep dive. Beside I took an underwater naturalist dive and a drift dive. I liked all of it, but learning about the species on the underwater naturalist dive and the bright colors on the night dive was something extraordinary.

All the dives were boat dives outside the west coast of the island. Castaways Reef, Rinas Hole, Coral Garden and Rodneys Rock were some of the reefs we dove. We dove all depths from 10 to 30 meters, with most of the dives between 14 and 18 m. The most common corals were the Brain Coral, Mustard Hill Coral, Finger Corals and Pencil Corals and some real pretty purple corals that no one knew the name of. We met some very curious Barracudas, Mackarells, Angelfish, Moray Eels and Eel Snakes. Sea cucumbers and spines were everywhere and we also saw some Spanish Lobsters.

The island has a lot more great dive sites than I had time to see while I was there. Among the most popular is "Scotts Head" down south which is right by an underwater vulcano and the Canefield Tug which is a very well kept 19 m long wreck on 25-30 m of water. Also snorkling is very convenient on Dominica, especially around Scotts Head.

All in all I logged 11 dives from my first dive trip. Very appropriate, because I also wanted to save some time for other activities while I was on the island, because on Dominica the activities and experiences are not at all limited to scuba diving.
Back to top

Above the surface.
The island is not only a paradise to scuba divers, but for everyone who loves nature and an active form of vacation. Almost the whole island is covered with rain forest and hiking trails on all levels are almost unlimited. The vegetation is fantastic. For someone living in the cold north it was fantastic to see our potted plants in giant versions all over the island.

There are fruit trees everywhere. On a guided hiking trip you may have the luck of a guide picking a guava or grape fruit for you. And after a long and hot hike it is simply great to throw yourself in the pool beneath the waterfall. And the beautiful Emerald Pool bids a refreshing swim and a gorgeous sight.

If you get up early you may have the luck of meeting Jacko and Sisserou - two species of parrots, of which the population fortunately is in growth. In the Cabrits National Park you can see Fort Shirly - a reminiscens from the colonies build to defend the beautiful Price Ruperts Bay. The english planted a Silk Cotton Tree - possibly because of its land horizontal branches, which were excellent to hang the French.

If you are in a good shape you can take the three hour long hike (each way) to the Boiling Lake, which is the worlds second largest hot lake. Do not expect to take a swim here - the water is warm enough to boil an egg. Are you not in shape for the long hike you can always go see Sulphur Springs, where you can both see and smell the hot water.

On the shores of the Indian River the Mangrove Trees are numerous. A trip on the river in some of the colorful row boats is an experience - especially if your guide borrows an umbrella on the local bar and hold it over you while your friend Rice or his friend Chicken rows you up the river.

The inhabitants are so friendly and kind. English is the main language mixed with some Creole. The island is not overpopulated with tourists except on Wednesdays when a cruise ship arrives and 500 people wants to see the island in three hours. You drive on the left side and the road are small and in a bad condition. I recommend that you hire a local guide - it is not much more expensive than hiring your own car - and it is far more interesting.

Back to top

Fort Shirley


...the pool beneath 
the Middleham Fall...

On the diveboat...

Underwater adventures

The Boiling Lake

Up the Indian River