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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

window view of Calibishie in Dominica

Once you’ve selected Dominica (or any other country) as your place of residence, you must decide where in it you wish to live. Do you like the city or the countryside? We prefer the latter and were willing to forego ability to pop in quickly and easily to shop, attend an event, etc. But we also noticed that people who had nicer houses and things living near a city had to fence their yard; have guard dogs, etc. That’s not for us.

You also have to choose between the interior (mountains, possibly cooler and wetter if in the east, or hotter and dry on the west side), or the coast. And if it’s to be the coast, Atlantic or Caribbean (you can have both in Scott’s Head or Capuchin). We prefer the views of waves against rocks, so we chose Calibishie in Dominica’s northeast Atlantic coast.

The first thing you must do when shopping for land in a village is let it be known that you won’t even speak with anyone who can’t show you the title document for the land. That’s because any deal for non-titled land will probably break down once the caveat is published and people come out of the woodwork to lay claim to the land or its prospective sale proceeds.

Then you have other decision points:

  • How good will your view be? Remember to consider how it will be if anyone builds nearby.
  • What is the lay of the land? Is it too steep? (Think about landslides, erosion and strenuous walking about.) Is it too low by the sea? (Think about storm surge danger.) Is it in a river valley? (Think about flash flooding.)
  • What is the soil like? Is it sand, clay, or rocky?
  • Is it on a road?
  • Is it on or near electrical power? (You’ll want an emergency power source anyhow. I could – and later may – write an article about electricity issues.) Note that if it’s not on or near power, land-line telephone, cable TV, and high-speed Internet access won’t be available either. Or, are you prepared to go with solar or wind, or hydro power of your own, and cell-phone Internet?
  • Is it on the “pipe water” line? (You should have an alternate water source. A rain cistern is a must. Proper planning will provide water pressure at least at some taps in the house, or you must have an electric pump – see the point above.) Or, are you prepared to live with only cistern or river water?
  • Will you live among other expats, or become a villager? There are huge social consequences.
  • Will you have the requisite personal and building security?
  • Can your building have the right layout? At 15.5 degrees north latitude the sun passes north of vertical from May through August, and south of vertical the rest of the year, and the trade wind normally blows in from an easterly direction; and controls the slant of driving rain.

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OK, beach fans, back to the south we go this week, for a review of Scott’s Head beach. In fact, this beach is the southernmost in Dominica. As you can see in the photograph, taken from Scott’s Head itself looking back toward the village of Scott’s Head, the Atlantic Ocean is on the right and on the left a boatload of tourist SCUBA divers and snorkelers is departing Scott’s Head Bay,which opens to the Caribbean Sea.

On the narrow isthmus connecting Scott’s Head to the village of the same name, one can stand in the bay and easily throw a stone from the Caribbean to the Atlantic. The next landfall to the south is Martinique, about 35 miles away, and only faintly visible with binoculars in perfect conditions from the Head or the village’s highlands. To the north, only about 4 miles, is Roseau and one can easily see the city, the harbor, and visiting cruise ships.

 photo of scottshead beach in the south of Dominica island

Snorkeling in one of the main reasons to visit this beach, because the beach itself is small. To reach the beach, simply follow the main road. You can drive over the isthmus and park where the hill begins, then walk along the bay to the beach at the rock cliff face. It is a small sandy beach. The bottom straight out is also sandy. There’s a natural arch at the left end of the beach (photo below) that a snorkeler can easily pass through.

photo of scotts head beach arch

There’s always a small school of 3-inch-long shiny silver “hatchet fish” below the arch that make a pretty sight. Snorkel out from the beach (into the Bay; I’d beware of the Gulf Stream’s Martinique Channel current out toward the ocean) and you will see spires of coral and many beautiful tropical fish species. At the village’s rocky beach the snorkeler will be likely to spot beautiful multicolor eels, no two alike. You never know what will be in the Bay; we once saw a humpback whale enter the bay and stay and play for a day.

If you’re adventurous and have the time, inquire at the waterfront and you should find a boatman who, for a reasonable fee, will take you to a beach reachable only by boat (or daredevil cliff climbers) a short distance to the north. Be sure to bring some water and possible a snack with you; you’ll have nothing else until the boat returns.




Two more great things about Scott’s Head Beach are the wonderful place to eat, Roger’s, and to stay, Ocean View. You simply can’t get a better dinner anywhere in Dominica than at Roger’s and the bill won’t pinch your wallet. The Ocean View is clean and airy, and has outstanding gardens. It also has a lookout over the Martinique Channel. One evening we saw hundreds of spinner dolphins leaping as they traversed the channel just before sundown. By the way, a climb up Scott’s Head is fun. This is one of the few places in Dominica from which you can see both the sunrise and sunset from and into the sea.

I hesitate to conclude on a negative note, but Chris told me not to pull any punches in my reviews, so I’ll say this: The amount of litter at the beach is upsetting to me. I realize that Dominica has scant budget and resources for cleanup, and that cultural changes come about slowly, but I certainly hope that cleanup comes and with it ecological awareness – because Scott’s Head is a treasure of the Nature Island, and must be safeguarded and cherished. Also, if you drive to Scott’s Head, be aware that in places the main shore road is only one lane wide, and the road has several deep rain runoff dips in villages that must be crossed only at very low speed.

BTW-There is a spot on the main road on your way where, if you look carefully, you can see where a suspension bridge was built for the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men’s Chest” film, and also the “Cannibal” village. It may be possible to ascent up the steps to the filming site.

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