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How a quest to travel to a 100 countries brought me to the tiny island nation of Dominica.

I arrived in Dominica from Barbados. It was the second last stop on my world tour before I made my way back to my motherland. I did not know what to expect from Dominica. It was my first time there, and I had met very few people who had actually been to Dominica for over a day or two. I remember wondering, “What exactly would I do for two weeks on this quiet island somewhere in the Caribbean sea?” But little did I know that I would not have enough time to do all the things I wanted to do in this tropical paradise. The immigration process was more than manageable, which is not something I often say about traveling with a Bangladeshi passport. They simply asked me what I was in Dominica for. That was it – Bangladeshis are allowed visa-free access to Dominica for up to 6 months – this set the tone for the rest of the trip, which was nothing short of delightful.

I was picked up by the resort driver from the airport to take me to my humble abode for the next 2 weeks – Jungle Bay. By the time I got out of the airport – it was already dark, and I could not enjoy the beautiful scenic view through which we drove. I checked in to my villa and fell asleep surrounded by the sounds of the nature that surrounded the wooden villa. I woke up around six to the sound of beautiful birds chirping and the morning light gently peeping at me up through the blinds. I rolled out of bed to fully acknowledge the beauty of the villa. I was staying inbuilt on a mixture of stones and wood. The villa had all the luxury I was looking for but exuded the rustic natural look that one would expect from an eco-resort. Every piece of furniture and accessory ties together a carefully curated look reminiscent of a wooden sanctuary tucked away in nature – far away from the hustle and bustle of a city. But also equipped with amenities expected to feel comfortable such as a super comfy king-sized bed, fast wifi, air conditioning, a rain-head shower, and hot and cold water. 

I walked out to the balcony that painted a postcard view. It was only mildly interrupted by the different moringa, mango, papaya, and pomegranate trees, of the rolling emerald hills that curves out into the tail of Dominica and the Caribbean Sea. I went to the restaurant for breakfast but could not resist a dip into their award-winning infinity pool overlooking the ocean. I am not gonna lie. I did feel a little bit like I was in a movie and living the life of an affluent white woman who holidays in her private jet when life in the city gets too overwhelming. But, once that feeling settled, I strolled around the beautiful property. 

Nestled amidst the lush Green Mountains of Soufriere, Jungle Bay is a tropical paradise. It has been named one of the Top 10 eco-resorts globally. It offers a host of adventure activities, from hiking, and mountaineering, to kayaking, chasing waterfalls, snorkeling, and diving in the Caribbean Sea. But the beauty of jungle bay lies in its ability to balance adventure and wellness. The resort is built on 20 acres of land. Hundreds of different exotic plants and trees thrive – including but not limited to Avocado, soursop, neem, rosemary, hibiscus, moringa, cinnamon, and bay leaf, to name a few. Many of these elements are utilized in wellness. There are offers of serving farm-to-table meals using ingredients available on-site and deriving oils from the medicinal herbs available on site for a holistic spa experience. Thanks for my stay with Jungle Bay! My 2 weeks in Dominica were an experience that touched on equal parts healing, wellness, and adventure – leaving me refreshed and ready for the world.

I went tea tasting on one of the first days I was in Dominica, I had done tea tasting before but this was a bit different. CoI went tea tasting on one of my first days in Dominica. I had done tea tasting before, but this was a bit different. Countless medicinal herbs and plants foraged before our tasting. An expert walked us through how these herbs are incorporated into everyday food and drinks within Dominica to strengthen the immune system and keep us healthy. The manager of the Spa and herb specialist – D’africa, walked us through the different herbs, telling us how each of them has other uses and is essential for our health. She told us the secrets used within the communities in Dominica to draw out the usefulness of these herbs. Thus, it is no surprise that Dominica is home to many centurions. This experience was fascinating because I learned a lot about the herbs and spices available to me growing up in a Bangladeshi household, such as bay leaves, cinnamon leaves, ginger, and moringa. Also, learning how to incorporate them in many ways to help boost my immunity and live a healthier life. We ended the session by making a tea blend for ourselves and learning how to make teas using fresh ingredients foraged nearby. The Spa infuses many of these herbs in their oils. It offers unique massages and treatments that are geared toward your Wellness journey. For example, as a person who suffers from anxiety- an oil using mixtures of lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang soothed the person a tremendous amount. 

I wanted to I have a balance when it came to the tours I picked, as a history enthusiast and nature lover I wanted to ensure that I managed to get a feel of both. I communicated this to the resort and they paired me with a very knowledgeable guide – Wee fee,  who took me around Dominica over the course of my two weeks in the country. I went on the Galion loop hike which is just outside of Soufriere and studded with gorgeous sites. The hike itself is I wanted to have a balance when it came to the tours I picked. As a history enthusiast and nature lover, I wanted to ensure that I managed to get a feel for both. I communicated this to the resort. They paired me with a knowledgeable guide – Wee fee, who took me around Dominica over my two weeks in the country. I went on the Galion loop hike just outside Soufriere and studded with gorgeous sites. The walk is relatively easy and highly knowledgeable when you go with a guide. As we hiked through the trail, I realized why Dominica is known as the food basket and the nature island of the Caribbean. The track thrives with medicinal herbs, banana papaya, mango plantain soursop, and other fruit and vegetable trees. After hiking through lush mountains and green fields, you end up near a hot spring where you can soak yourself in hot waters and enjoy a snack while looking at the gorgeous view. The hike itself was a great reminder of how different Dominica is from the other Caribbean islands – the island strives to preserve every element of its nature reserve. It protects hundreds of years of history, culture, and holistic living secrets. I also loved this hike because the Wee fee comprehensively explained the different indigenous plants. The history of the land we were hiking and the importance of preservation – he even picked up trash he saw on the hike to ensure it was disposed of properly. 

As a fairly well travelled person, it is not an easy task to help me experience something for the first time. However, Dominica managed to do that, more than once, in the short span of 2 weeks. I went snorkeling at champagne beach As a reasonably well-traveled person, it is not an easy task to help me experience something for the first time. However, Dominica managed to do that more than once in the short span of 2 weeks. I went snorkeling at champagne beach and experienced something I had never experienced before… an actual underwater hot spring with volcanic activity. The spot in question is called Champagne beach. Underneath the water, there is a volcanic activity that causes bubbles to rise from the ocean floor – the view, as a result, looks like a glass of champagne with bubbles rising from the bottoms. I remember the experience kayaking to the spot, wondering what the experience would be like. Still, until I got into the water, I was not quite ready for the adventure awaiting me. It was a very clear day with great visibility, but the wildlife underwater was just breathtaking. We snorkeled for a little over an hour through the warm water with bubbles rising through it like a sparkling glass of champagne. I learned that coral reefs don’t do well in warm water. So the wildlife away from the champagne reef was much more beautiful, colorful, and simply put – vivid. The kayak ride back was so gorgeous in its own right, and it felt like we were floating our way back to the beautiful little village. 

Nature has been unfairly biased towards Dominica. Whether it’s underwater or overland. And I learned this further when I went diving with Nature Island Divers in Dominica. You can wake up and decide where you want to dive. You can choose either the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea, with incredible dive spots on either, simply a short boat ride away from Nature Island Dive. I was fortunate because the day was clear as possible, and the visibility was out of the world because of its volcanic topography. It’s not surprising that Dominica has vast, diverse, and colorful underwater life. The divemaster showed us the many beautiful fishes, corals, and other underwater creatures during my dives there. Nature Island Dive does this incredible thing where whenever they take people diving, the divemaster hunts some lionfish. This is very crucial. Because the lionfish is the only fish in the Caribbean that is an invasive species and is applauded by the nature preserve authorities whenever it’s hunted. This fish is then turned into delicious lionfish salad and sandwiches. Some parts are even turned into jewelry. The whole experience of diving with them was so wonderful.

But most importantly, it’s so zen. It’s better than meditation because if you can’t control your breath, you can’t enjoy anything. So simply by that logic, you have to breathe in the beauty surrounding you and breathe out the anxiety. If you’re in Dominica, I highly recommend diving with Nature Island Dive and experiencing the incredible underwater life with their qualified dive instructor. So you, too, can experience these photos coming to life! 😍

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A quest to 100 countries brought me to Dominica, a tiny island nation that’s made me try new things more than once. It took me swimming through canyons, mesmerizing me by seeing bubbles emerge like a glass of champagne from the ocean floor. It left me in awe with its sunsets and sunrises more than once. Its people have warmed my heart with their kindness and openness. I am willing to return as soon as I can.

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