I slammed shut the door to our black 4×4 and gazed at the quaint little cottage that stood before me. The sunlight dazzled me for a moment before I took in the brilliant white walls and orange roof of our bungalow.
It stood surrounded by beautiful gardens which sloped gently down until they reached a line of forest trees. Beyond that was a steep drop down to the valley below.
From my spot beside our car, which was parked in front of our cottage, I rested my eyes on the fantastic vista that lay beyond the cottage and gasped.
The cottage was perched upon the side of a cliff, giving it the most fantastic views of what lay below: the ocean, an untouched stretch of beach and behind that a glorious palm forest. It was spectacular, untouched wilderness.
Jutting out to sea were several small islets which were a tumble of vibrant orange rocks. Some had trees growing from them.
“Let me show you the cottage.” Gwyneth, who would be giving us the keys to the studio cottage, interjected my thoughts.
I nodded eagerly but couldn’t quite find the words. I turned to Lewis who looked giddy with excitement for the first time since we left the UK.
We followed Gwyneth through the perfectly-trimmed lawn and towards the stone steps which led up to our villa. Being perched on a hillside, the villa was on white concrete stilts and needed a flight of steps to reach the balcony at the front of the cottage.
From the balcony, the view was even more amazing.
To the left of the panorama was the blue ocean dotted with islands. Waves lapped gently against a swathe of black-sand. A cyan river fed into the ocean before snaking through a forest of lush palms and disappearing from view. To the right was endless jungle and in the far distance we could see the jagged green peaks of the Northern Forest Reserve.
“The view is amazing.” Lewis gushed. “Incredible!”
He couldn’t wipe the ecstatic smile from his face.
Gwyneth smiled before giving us a tour of our cottage.
It was small but everything we needed. Inside we were greeted with beige tiles and traditional Caribbean décor. To the left there was a double-bed, and behind it was the door to the bathroom. On the right of the room there was a wooden table which seated two chairs and behind it was the fully-equipped kitchen.
I felt grateful to be in self-catering accommodation after spending five nights without this freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I love having food prepared to me. It’s my wallet that complains.
Our cottage was part of a collection of cottages called ‘Sea Cliff Cottages’. There are 5 cottages in total and we were staying in the studio cottage.
I squealed with excitement when Gwyneth handed us the key and said her goodbyes. I couldn’t believe we were spending 2 nights here!
I made my way back over to the balcony to see palm valley below, the trees fringed with gold from the late afternoon sun. I heard the distant crashing of waves against the shore and the beautiful melody of hundreds of forest birds.
“I can’t believe it.” Lewis breathed as he stood on the balcony beside me. “What a view! I just…wow.”
“You like it?” I asked.
“Like it?” He spun to me, his brown eyes shimmering. “This is the best birthday present ever.”
It was indeed Lewis’ birthday and I could only feel waves of relief to know that this special day, at least, had gone to plan. A far cry from the rest of the trip.
And so we lazed on the balcony and strolled through the lush tropical gardens. The chirping of the insects of the night came in to play, drowning out the birds and the ocean below. Our cottage and its beautiful gardens were drenched in orange light as the sun began to creep down over the horizon.
We could have basked in the evening light till darkness came. But we had bellies and fridges to fill.
It was a half an hour stroll from our cottage down to the local village of Calibishie. But I’m hopelessly lazy and had a car so indulged in a 4 minute car ride instead.
Calibishie was a laid-back village perched along Dominica’s coastline. The main restaurant and shop was called the ‘Coral Reef’ and had been recommended by just about everyone we had met so far.
The front of the Coral Reef was a grocery store and if you walked round the back you could find outdoor seating on a balcony overlooking a thin stretch of beach and the beautiful ocean. This was the restaurant.
Reggae music was blasting as we sat down on the balcony, the ocean’s waves lapping at the shore just a couple of metres away.
“Cheers!” I held up my Kubuli beer and clinked it against Lewis’. “To your birthday and a great day in paradise.”
We ordered the fresh catch of the day which was mahi-mahi and it came with an array of sides including dasheen (a vegetable which is similar in texture to potatoes) and rice. The portion was hearty so was easy for Lewis and I to share.
It was delicious. So good, in fact, that we decided that we must come back here the following night to try another dish.
The ambiance, view and food were all great. To top it all off, the staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming which left us feeling happy and relaxed.
The sun sunk below the distant mountains, turning the sky a beautiful orange colour before we were gradually engulfed by darkness, leaving the restaurant’s vibrant and colourful lighting to illuminate the beach.
A group of young boys sat beside the sea, putting bait from a bucket onto the hooks end of fishing rods before swinging them into the shallows. I was impressed when almost immediately one of the boys yanked his rod out of the water and a silver fish flapped at the other end of it. He placed it on the ground beside him before dispatching of it and trying for another fish. Perhaps they were hoping to build up a collection to eat tonight.
Before retreating back to our villa, be paid a visit to the Coral Reef grocery store. Tea bags and milk were absolute essentials. We also purchased bread, cheese and an avocado for breakfast. The shop came to $21 Eastern Caribbean dollars which equates to roughly £6.
Whilst it may not seem cheap compared to some countries, after living the last few days in high-end accommodation with expensive food, £6 for 2 morning’s worth of breakfast for 2 people seemed reasonable. That works out at £1.50 per meal per person.
My first impressions of Calibishie had been fantastic. The village provided everything we needed: delicious yet reasonably priced restaurants, friendly locals, gorgeous beaches and a positive, laid-back vibe. I was just disappointed that we would only be staying here for 2 nights.
Crickets and frogs hummed in my ears as we made our way back to our hilltop cottage, the perfect vista now concealed behind a blanket of darkness. I could not wait to explore the area more tomorrow.