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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Archive for August, 2011


What is one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in the Caribbean Sea? What is a perfect place to enjoy beauty of nature and to get wonderful emotions? What is a good place to make a marriage proposal and not to be turned down?

And, at last but not the least, what is an appropriate place to choose for making the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Dead Man’s Chest”? No two minds think alike.

No matter how many people answer these questions, they give different answers. But think about all those “whats” at once – there is only one place that totally corresponds all of those features.

This is the Indian River, which along with Glanvillia Swamp borders the southern edge of Portsmouth.


Photo Credit

Gore Verbinski, who created “The Dead Man’s Chest”, made a perfect choice while thinking about the place which would be appropriate scenery for an episode of the movie. Remember mysterious and sacred river, which led to the hut of Tia Dalma? Captain Jack Sparrow floated down this river with his friends in a small boat. They passed huge trees with massive trunks and roots which went down into the waters of the Indian River. The waters of the river looked dark and full of unknown dangers, trees and bushes seemed to be a hide-out of mysterious beasts or local tribes.

Captain Jack Sparrow floated down this river with his friends in a small boat

In real life, the Indian River is a very popular tourist attraction. The Indian River National Park occupies 58 acre (23 hectares). This wetland is a perfect area for rich flora and fauna (such as herons and egrets, ducks, and waders). Such trees as bwa mang (Pterocarpus officinalis) and yellow-flowered maho dou (Hibiscus pernambucensis) grow along both banks of the Indian River. Such fauna representatives as small spotted black crabs with red legs and whitish pincers – “red legs” or “zagaya swamp” (Goniopsis cruentata) and large white crabs or kobo (Cardisoma guanhumi) are common inhabitants of the Indian River National park.

Indian River, Dominica

The required site price for a trip along the Indian River is rather low – $17. However, the impression will be worthy much more. The boat tour along the Indian River usually begins near the Indian River Bridge and goes down the south of Portsmouth on Michael Douglas Boulevard. Tourists usually travel one mile along the river in small boats that belong to the local people, who also work as their guides. A boat can carry no more than eight people. The Indian River is rather deep (from 4.5 inches to ten feet); it lies below the sea level, so this is the only river on Dominica Island that is accessible by boat. Large buttress roots feed everyone’s imaginations. They are enormous, and fanciful matting of roots makes people believe and imagine themselves to be in wild jungles where the foot of man has never stepped. These roots belong to the blood-wood trees (mangrove). The Indian River is also a breeding area for such birds as the green heron, the mangrove cuckoo, the kingfisher, the common moorhen and the Caribbean coot.

Huge trees with massive trunks and roots which went down into the waters of the Indian River

The Indian River is very beautiful, unique and green nook of nature on Dominica and in the whole Caribbean region. There are not many places on Earth that are full of wild life and are not spoiled by people. The Indian River National Park is also a very romantic place. Anyone who makes a marriage proposal here, in a small cozy boat, in the atmosphere of rich greenery and almost silent splashes of water, will be never turned down, because there is no woman in the world who is able to resist such beauty and romance.

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If you are one of numerous fans of the Hollywood blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” you might be interested in visiting one of the places where the film was made. It’s one of the most picturesque and beautiful beaches of Dominica island.

A 500-yard-long Hampstead beach was chosen by Gore Verbinski for the “Dead Man’s Chest” due to its perfect match with his vision of a pirate island in the Caribbean Sea.

The beach fringed by coconut trees, white mangrove, wild almond, and sea grape, is as well a popular place for picnic. An interesting fact is that some species of turtles, mainly green turtle, hawksbill and leatherback, chose the beach for nesting. They come ashore at night to lay their eggs. Nesting season lasts from April till June.

photo: hampstead Beach in Dominica
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All in all, while having rest at this beautiful place, you can feel the atmosphere of your favorite movie and try to imagine that you are either Captain Jack Sparrow of Will Turner. Wearing the pirates’ clothes is welcome!

Hampstead Beach: natural arch on the east
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The Black shimmering sand of Hampstead beach can be found to the west of Calibishie village on the main road along the north-east coast. The photo above shows the stone arch at the eastern end of beach, which is closest to the turn in the track from the main road. If you pass through the coconut grove heading west you will reach the broad and beautiful and perfect for bathing Hampstead River at the beach’s western end.

The Hampstead beach can be reached by following the main road west of Calibishie. There is a “Welcome to Calibishie” sign at a sharp bend within 100 feet of the Wind Blow ridge road. You will get to beach without any difficulties. The road is not bad at all. However you may meet some challenges when the weather is rainy and wet. The road then turns into mud. The beach can be accessed by taking a turn to the left and driving along the shore. The road here is very picturesque as it curves among the numerous coconut trees. All the way to the Hampstead beach you can see these trees at the west end of the beach. Sometimes this beauty can be dangerous. Just remember not to park or sunbathe under coconut trees as sometimes nuts fall and thus can cause you damage.

To see more photos of Hampstead Beach in Dominica.

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Dominica’s whales are being featured on BBC1 throughout the Month of August.

Three episodes of Ocean Giants – a nature documentary narrated by Stephen Fry and filmed by two of the worlds top underwater cameramen, Doug Allan (Plant Earth’s polar specialist) and Didier Noirot (Cousteau’s front-line cameraman) will be aired on BBC1 this month.

Ocean Giants grants a unique and privileged access into the magical world of whales and dolphins, uncovering the secrets of their lives as never before.

The Section featuring Dominica was filmed in the open water off the Dominican coast, in September 2010, with Scientist Shane Gero, an experienced whale expert, and local guides, Andrew Armour and Pernell Francis.

whale watching in DominicaPhotos by chrissie64 via flickr

The series gives us an insight to this group of animals which evoke such strong emotions, demonstrate a level of intelligence second only to us, and humble us with their gigantic presence. OCEAN GIANTS is expected to blow the audience away with its extraordinary revelations and dramatic encounters, from fighting humpback whales to alien-like talking river dolphins.

Do not miss this wonderful Documentary Series which airs on Sunday August 14, 21 and 28th on BBC1 at 9pm. For repeats please check bbc.co.uk/nature

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