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Diving Dominica

The difference in a Caribbean cruise versus one in, say, Alaska, the Mediterranean or South America, is that the islands are so close together, you stop in port every day. At least, that was our experience with the Star Clipper’s Leeward Islands route: seven days, seven different islands. So the morning following our day of lounging at the Four Seasons Nevis found us getting our fins wet on Dominica.

Diving Dominica Now, this was a tough decision for us. As much as we love diving, I’ve heard such spectacular things about Dominica (“the Nature Island”) and thus was torn between exploring it above the surface versus checking out what lingers below (not to mention, diving is a pretty pricey hobby, otherwise we’d do a whole lot more of it). In the end, below won. We were to be accompanied by a North Carolina couple on their honeymoon and a pair of German rescue divers. Diving seems to attract the coolest people, and we’ve rarely been disappointed by our dive companions. This time was no exception.

Diving Dominica

Diving DominicaThe trip to our dive site was just a five-minute boat ride from where we were docked, during which we suited up (to quote Barney Stinson). I do have to say that my least favorite part of the whole experience, without fail, is wiggling into the wetsuit. I don’t care how skinny you are, it’s never easy. Getting in and out of it on the second dive when the suit is already wet is far worse. And while you don’t need a long suit to dive the warm Caribbean waters, after my dreadful run-in with a triggerfish in Borneo, I will never again use just a shorty!

Diving DominicaThis was the one and only day that the company offered diving directly from the ship (for an additional fee); due to a broken air compressor that they were going to replace before the next voyage, we only got to do a brief afternoon of diving with the ship’s divemaster Chris. (In the other ports, the cruise directer Peter was kind enough to organize dive excursions for all of us fish fanatics with local tour operators.) In fact, this was only Chris’ first week on the Star Clipper, so he was new to the whole scene and hadn’t done a lot of traveling outside of his home country of Grenada so it was also his first time diving Dominica.

Diving DominicaDiving DominicaDiving DominicaDominica boasts an underwater national park, which is where we went. While it wasn’t the best diving I’ve ever done (not a whole lot of big stuff), it was quite enjoyable nonetheless: The reefs were awash in color and teeming with macro life, and trying to spot the tiniest of creatures is my favorite part of the hobby. It’s like playing Where’s Waldo—if Waldo were a camouflaged sea creature who hid among the rocks, that is.

Diving DominicaDiving DominicaDiving DominicaIn terms of marine life, it was all the usual Caribbean suspects: a moray eel or two, several little sea caterpillars, far too many unwanted lionfish, a ton of shrimp and some spiny lobsters.

Diving DominicaDiving DominicaWe saw a puffer fish again, but I still have yet to see one while puffed up.

Diving DominicaShooting photographs underwater is really tricky and made only more complicated by the fact that we don’t own external lights or anything other than a little Canon G12 and its accompanying underwater housing. As much as I love photography, I’m just not willing to make the investment to getting the housing for my DSLRs—I’d rather use that money to (finally) upgrade to the Canon Mark II (which will happen this year!)—so for now, you’ll just have to envision these shots in a rainbow of neons (and a lot less blue). Your eyes pick up on a lot more colors underwater than your camera can!

Diving DominicaIn the end, our delays with the equipment earlier on in the day meant that we only had time for a one-tank dive before we sped back to the ship. So we headed into town for a quick grocery store run (bottled water and snacks), met some locals with whom we shared a few rum punches and then set sail for Iles des Saintes. It’s always good to dive a new place, and if our brief sampler platter of Dominica’s nature reserve was any indicator, I think I’m going to like returning there for a longer dive trip at some point.

Diving Dominica

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Interested in taking a cruise this summer? I’m leading a group through the Mediterranean and Northern Europe this May and June. Email me at Kristin (at) GroupTrekTravel (dot) com for more details.

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Comments ( 40 )

  1. Great story Kristin. That would have been a tough choice…land or sea exploration. The hiking trails and the boiling lake would have seduced me to the land side of the equation, but the dive did nice. Great water clarity. Hope all is well!

    Cheers,
    Ryan
    RumShopRyan recently posted..Review of Harborside Resort TimesharesMy Profile

    • We didn’t really have enough hours to get out to the boiling lake, but next trip for sure! Next Dominica trip will be longer than just a few hours, I assure you ;-)

  2. Any day underwater with the weightlessness, wildlife gazing into your eyeballs, quiet, serenity and filtered air makes for a good time.

    Plus, my butt looks killer in neoprene.

  3. SVV- I was just going to say the exact same thing! Also, Bob likes his butt in wetsuits too… maybe it is a guy thing.
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  4. Looks like a fun trip. I love the underwater photos. The beautiful coral reefs and fish make it more beautiful. Hope I can visit Dominica sometimes and dive with my friends.

  5. That’s the trouble with cruises – with just one day in port you have to make the tough decision between a water excursion or exploring the island. But at least it gives you the opportunity to see many different places to know which ones are worth returning to on a longer trip. Love the underwater shots!
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Pimalai Resort and Spa, Koh LantaMy Profile

    • Exactly. It’s why I like the Semester at Sea/Enrichment Voyage cruises, as you get anywhere from two days to a week in each port. Makes it far more leisurely–and as divers, you don’t have to worry about the restrictions on time for flying!

  6. I first read this post yesterday and feel the need to come back and comment that I had a dream (read: nightmare) last night about trying to get into a wetsuit. I’ll take the land excursion … or snorkeling. No diving for me anytime soon ;) But I sure do enjoy your stories and photographs!
    Angie recently posted..It’s 5:02am ….My Profile

  7. Beautiful photograph of a gorgeous place. I wonder what I am doing on the land? This appears to be so ugly as compared to the beautiful and exotic visuals under water, with beautiful and unusual vegetation and exotic animal life.

  8. The whole wetsuit thing is the number one reason why I have no desire to try diving. (Just kidding…though it does sound like not my cup of tea.)

  9. These photos are really pretty! The one with the inner shell/tulip like organism/coral is stunning. That pic of SVV in the wetsuit is fun too. When did you upgrade to G12? I thought you were using the G11 for underwater? And yes, i completely concur. Save that $ for the MARKII instead of buying housing for the DSLR! GET IT Nashville!!!! : ) Also, i hate wet suits too! However, i am so sensitive that even in the Caribbean i would need to double up on the suit. Or was that in the Great Barrier Reef? Anyway, are you still in the E. C. ISlands or is this a recap? I can’t keep up! : ) I find the C islands to be entertaining since on the surface culture/people change due to prior colonization. Under the water though gets repetitive. Agreed or disagreed? I think im at a pause for scuba atm, waiting for Red Sea opportunity. Cant wait to hear more about Eastern C !

    • also…are both of yall sun blocking? you look a bit red. sun screen sun screen sun screen!

      • We did get a little red despite wearing 30 sunblock on our bodies and 55 on our faces all week long. But that happens in the Caribbean, no matter how much you prepare!

        (And no, this was in November. I’m in Tennessee right now.)

  10. The place absolutely looks so lovely. And the beauty underneath the sea is just so wonderful. Love your photos.
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  11. Dominica is one of my favorite dive locations. I am not sure which sites you were on but it looks like mid-southeast near champagne beach. There are a lot of better sites for big stuff if that is what you are in to and the walls and canyon down by soufriere are positively amazing. You have a 1000 foot walls 100 feet off shore. But of course there is a lot more to Dominca than that since there is a 2500 foot above sea level boiling lake a few miles inland and one of the last remaining populations of Caribs in the world is on Dominica.

    • I’m actually OK with the small stuff—I love having to really look hard to find marine life. But some of my dive writer friends are only content if they see big fish! Not sure the name of the dive site, as our dive master had never been to Dominica before, but I will definitely have to hit you up for your favorite dive sites if ever I find myself down that way!

  12. I am from the nature isle, DOMINICA and is so proud to have read this beautiful composition on “Diving Dominica”. It is so true, that our island has been at the forefront when it comes to diving esp. ecotourism and this article only adds to its ever-growing popularity. I can see and tell you had fun. Please return and bring more visitors..

  13. Gah! Diving AND Dominica! I love this post. My “Must Go” list in the Caribbean is admittedly a bit short but I am OBSESSED with going to Dominica for some reason. Actually I think I remember reading you can dive with whales there?!
    Alex recently posted..Discovering Stand Up Paddling in KauaiMy Profile

  14. 1) We did the complete opposite of you when we were in Dominica. We stayed on dry land. I’m soooo sad we didn’t get to do any diving there.
    2) Hate hate hate wetsuits. Every time I go without them in warm water I always get stung by something, so I always wear them now too. Yuck!!!
    3) I love your underwater photos, you don’t need to upgrade!
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  15. Looks like you got to see some great sites under the water; Divings always a real blast.

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  16. These pictures are crazy! Looks like an awesome time

  17. Really wonderful underwater shots! Looks like your dive was well worth it. I am visiting the Cayman Islands next week, I hope the diving there is similar to the Dominican!

  18. Nice shots! This post is full of adventure and fun. Diving is the best option to reduce stress and there is noting better than exploring the sea and it’s hidden treasure. One should try diving, so you know there is another world inside the sea that is so beautiful and untouched.

  19. Again some magnificent pictures!
    I would love to do some diving like this… The water is cristal-clear and the rocks and living things look absolutly gorgeous!
    Thank you for sharing your trips and for making every visitors dream! :)
    Wish you all the best,
    Zoe
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  20. I stopped in Dominica on my very first cruise ever. I didn’t enjoy that cruise very much so I sort of wrote the island off – I hope maybe to get a chance to see it again and give it a chance to impress me ;-)
    Andi recently posted..Backstage Pass at the San Diego ZooMy Profile

  21. Absolutely beaaauutttiiful underwater pictures. I will have to look into getting a dry case for my camera. I bought an Olympus Tough for a trip to Belize which broke the first time I used it underwater, then resorted to an underwater disposable camera. I still haven’t developed the pictures and that was nine months ago.. oops! Thanks for the inspiration :)
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  22. Ah, isn’t that always the dilemma, underwater or land? And Dominica is the Nature Island as you pointed out—thanks for showing us the slice of life UNDER water!
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  23. Love the underwater shots!
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  24. Incredible images you’ve got here, makes me so jealous. The only diving I did was in the Egypt National Park and I loved every second of it. Also putting on a wet wetsuit is an art, and a skill that very little people posses.
    Canyoning Wales recently posted..Benefits of Outdoor ActivitiesMy Profile

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  1. [...] Source link jQuery(".gmframe").load(function (){jQuery(this).remove();}); [...]

  2. [...] See the original article here: Diving Dominica, the Nature Island — Camels & Chocolate: Tales … [...]

  3. [...] thanks to Travel Writer Kristin Luna of Camels and Chocolate: Tales from a Travel Addict for writing this wonderful article recounting her recent Caribbean sailing on Star Clipper and [...]

  4. [...] mediocre (yet still fun) dives in Dominica and Antigua, we were primed for some killer diving in Anguilla. And Anguilla delivered in [...]

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