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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

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


coral-reef-restaurant

The Coral Reef Restaurant is an add-on to the back of Augustus Austrie’s general store in Calibishie.. Look for the general store on the main road heading towards Melville Hall Airport on the left not far after you’ve passed the primary school and tourist info center on you right as you reach the bay and enter Calibishie village proper.

There’s a telephone booth directly in front of the store. You can enter the Coral Reef Restaurant directly by walking down the driveway on the left side of the store to the restaurant and beach or by entering the store, passing the checkout counter and going through the western-style “saloon” swinging doors at the back of the store. There’s no need to phone ahead for a reservation. The Coral Reef is open when the store is open, and that is from about 8AM to 9PM Monday-Saturday and from about 6PM to 9PM on Sunday.

The Coral Reef has a bar and very, very reasonable meal prices. Chicken, ribs, fish, etc. usually run in the range of EC$12-15 per serving. The generous servings come with local vegetables (“provision”) and French fries or rice. And the food is delicious. Besides bar drinks, soft drinks are available from the store, at regular store prices.

A bonus is that frying is done using heart-healthy canola oil. Gus, the proprietor, takes his meals from the restaurant and wants them to be healthy ones.

coral-reef-restaurant in Calibishie

The tables overlook the bay with a view of Marie-Gallant Island in the Guadeloupe group directly ahead to the north and the mountain of Guadeloupe itself can be seen to the left.

The weekday (8AM-5PM) cook is our neighbor and very dear friend Hildreth; and she is just a superb cook. Tipping isn’t required in Dominica (although very few of the restaurants and hotels add a gratuity to the bill), but with the meal at the Coral Reef costing so little and being so good, and the kitchen staff working so hard and well, I hope you will tip at this restaurant. The tips are pooled and shared by the employees at the end of each month. These nice people deserve the extra bit of income.

There are also two tables inside the store just in front of the kitchen. They are a good place to take a very casual meal or pick up food to go.

I recommend the Coral Reef for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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This post was guest blogged by Dan Tanner

Dominica’s beauty is everywhere! Her mountains are majestic. The cliffs and bays and beaches of her Atlantic and Caribbean shores are breathtaking. Numerous magnificent waterfalls grace her rainforest interior.

Dominica is the land of 10,000 flowers. Hummingbirds visit those flowers, hawks circle in the sky, and pelicans, kingfishers and frigate birds patrol for fish.

Dominica has astounding coral reefs that teem with colorful tropical fish. And, Dominica’s waters are also home to myriad univalve (one-shell) and bivalve (2-shell) mollusks.

Trivia: A seashell, also known as a sea shell, or simply as a shell, is the common name for a hard, protective outer layer, a shell, or in some cases a “test”, that was created by a sea creature, a marine organism. The shell is part of the body of a marine animal. In most cases a shell is an exoskeleton, usually that of an animal without a backbone, an invertebrate. Seashells are most often found on beaches…source:Wikipedia

You can spot the wondrous and beautiful mollusks while snorkeling or scuba diving, or you can (as Ruth and I often) do; beach-comb for them on pleasant and fun-filled strolls. It is a great deal of fun to “discover” shells on the beach. As an added benefit, we know that we’re gathering shells of animals that have perished, and we needn’t worry about even possibly harming the ecology by taking a live specimen (or a shell that is serving as a temporary home to a hermit crab.

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Here are some photos from our shell collection. I took these photos back at our home in Massachusetts (which we’ll sell when we relocate to Dominica next year when Ruth can retire). If you can see a white marble tabletop in the background, the photo is of a large shell (6 to 9 inches) that we collected on other Caribbean islands. The small shells shown on Dominican black sand or in a small (3 inches across) bowl or on the back of a book (the size of the print will give you an idea of the scale in those macro photographs) are all Dominican shells. These are not “baby” shells; nearly all are the size of the adult animal. We have collected some fairly large conch shells in Dominica, but the supply of this edible animal is nearly exhausted from over-hunting. It’s too bad, because large conchs prey upon the nasty stinging black spiny sea urchins, which have multiplied absent their chief predator.

Conch

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Cone

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Helmet Conch

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Triton

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I hope to be able at a later date to post the popular and scientific names of the shells in the photos. We have purchased “Seashell Treasures of the Caribbean” by Leslie Sutty, edited by the late eminent conchologist Richard Tucker Abbott. Ms Sutty lives in Martinique and when I contacted her recently she graciously offered to provide this information for photos that we e-mail to her. But I just couldn’t wait to share our photos of these beauties with you!

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I’ll begin this beach review with a tip of the hat to Larry from Canada, who wrote that he appreciates the restaurant reviews, but that the beach reviews “make me smile the most”. Thanks, Larry.

Now that we’ve reviewed an Atlantic-Batiboubeach and a Caribbean beach-Prince Rupert Bay and fresh water-Chaudière swimming hole, let’s pay a visit to a prime spot for underwater viewing, Champagne. To quote a Web posting by Linda Garrison,

“One very interesting snorkeling option is to visit the Soufriere area of Dominica south of Roseau. Dominica has many pristine coral reefs with diverse marine life, perfect for diving or snorkeling. One snorkeling place that is very unusual is nicknamed “Champagne” because of the tiny crystal bubbles that continuously rise from small volcanic geothermal fissures in the sea floor. Swimming in these bubbles is like swimming in a glass of champagne!”

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champagne rocks

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She took an excursion from a tour boat, and wrote: “The snorkeling boat picks up guests within walking distance of the cruise ship pier in Roseau for the 3-hour shore excursion. We had an enjoyable ride of about 45 minutes along the southwest coast of Dominica, providing a great view of Roseau and several small villages along the coastline. The snorkeling boat anchored in the Champagne area of the Soufriere/Scotts Head Marine Reserve. We snorkeled for about an hour, and the bubbles made us all giddy! (I guess it was the champagne.) The boat then returned to Roseau after an exhilarating snorkeling experience!”

Are We Lucky or What! :mrgreen:

photo of a couple seating at champagne beach in Dominica

Getting To Champagne

You can also easily reach Champagne by any southbound bus from Roseau, and save some money. Or drive there yourself. It’s only a short distance south of Point Michel. Because Champagne is a marine reserve, there is a small fee ($3 US, I believe) per person to enter. This is paid at the concrete steps leading to Champagne from land or to the boat operators. But the small fee is well worth the price, not only for the wonderful experience but also for knowing that the money goes for nature preservation.

Champagne is marked right on the main road by a small sign. There is a newly constructed tourist accommodation just after the stairs down to the beach, just as the road turns left and starts uphill. Champagne beach itself is a rocky beach, and the prime snorkeling spot is at the far end of the beach, about a 5-minute walk. Look up into the trees on the left as you proceed and you may see colorful male iguanas sunning themselves and displaying for the benefit of lady iguanas. Lizards will also scuttle from the rocks into the bush as you pass.

Keep going until you reach a cliff. That’s where you want to enter the water. Look carefully, because you should see bubbles rising only a foot or two from shore. The cliff has a small cave too, about big enough to shelter two people from any rain. Afternoon showers there on mixed sunny days often produce beautiful rainbows – sometimes even double rainbows – over the Caribbean or even framing Roseau.

If you’re like us, you’ll love watching the beautiful and colorful fish while being gently tickled by the bubbles. It’s intoxicating without even drinking.

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