I have always loved Dominica’s Mero Beach. My devotion goes back a long way: more than twenty years, in fact.
Storms have constantly altered the shoreline, and businesses have come and gone and been replaced by others. However, the beautiful seaside setting and its charming village remain enchanting and welcoming, even after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Mero was one of the first villages to organize a clean-up campaign after the category 5 cyclone, as the residents take pride in their attractive community and are delighted that visitors always enjoy their time relaxing and dining in this seaside locale.
Along with time well spent in the warm waters, it’s always been the ideal setting to dine by the sea and socialize. On a Saturday afternoon in March, I joined a group of women for a ‘Ladies Night Out’ which was coordinated by Tina Alexander of Lifeline Ministries. We arrived just before sunset at Connie’s Mero Beach Bar, renowned for its views and substantial Dominican-style meals. The staff at Connie’s put on a huge spread: it was a veritable feast, including freshly caught fish, which was enjoyed by all. We traveled there by bus from the Roseau area, allowing opportunities to meet and converse with old friends, as well as exchange views with new ones. During this exceptional and meaningful gathering of some professional women on the Nature Isle, I listened, learned, communed and laughed for several hours that evening. I look forward to joining them again when I return to Dominica!
When I returned to Mero a few days later, I indulged in yet another hearty lunch at Connie’s, then took a sea bath and then lounged in the shade with a glass of freshly squeezed, lightly sweetened lime juice at Indee’s (formerly Romance Cafe) further up the beach. On a normal day in March (peak tourist season) this substantial stretch of sand would likely have been filled with visitors from a cruise ship. But on this beautiful day, six months after Hurricane Maria, with no cruise ships in port, I had the entire beach all to myself to enjoy as I wished! It’s probably the first (and only) time that ever happened to me in my beloved adopted country, or anywhere else! I floated easily in the gentle surf, walked the expansive shoreline, and delighted in watching pelicans as they dove into the sea for their own fish lunches.
By mid-afternoon, I was suitably relaxed and ready for a physiotherapy session with longtime osteopath and friend Martine Varlet, who lives in Mero Heights, above the village. While she worked on some strained muscles caused by the rigors of overseas travel, we caught up on news. I felt completely rejuvenated after the session with her! It couldn’t have been a better finish to my spectacular day spent by the sea at Mero Beach.
Admittedly, I love being beach-side in Dominica almost as much as being in the mountains! Luckily, I did have some other opportunities to be in close proximity to the Caribbean Sea while I was on-island post-Hurricane Maria. I did miss liming (relaxing) on Champagne Beach, which had suffered extensive damage as a result of the cyclone, but I know that I will return there as soon as this sensational eco-site is operational again. You can read about it in my Ti Domnik Tales blog, by clicking here.
As well, the southwestern coast, comprised of the Soufriere /Scotts Head area was not fully recovered from the storm. While I may have been able to enjoy a dip in the changed surroundings, I again decided to wait until next visit, in anticipation of restored facilities and sites that I had enjoyed for many years previously. You can read about my earlier activities in this popular seaside region by clicking here.
As it turned out, I actually spent time “by the sea” in the city of Roseau, comfortably seated and sheltered in the covered dining area at the Fort Young Hotel. Many days, depending on the hour, I ordered what was not readily available elsewhere: passionfruit juice, freshly caught fish, codfish bakes, tempting desserts or the substantial lunch buffet. Some mornings, I just nibbled on toast and sipped coffee while I took advantage of wireless services,(not then available in my neighbourhood post-Maria).
During my ‘day-cations’ at Fort Young, I would conveniently meet and greet friends and associates, dine alone or with company, get updates on renovations-in-progress from General Manager Marvlyn James, prepare for meetings, organize photographs, write letters, formulate drafts of posts for this blog, as well as stroll the length of the seaside terrace in order to enjoy the views and watch the waves when I needed a break from my scrutinizing my tablet.
During the last few days of my post-Maria visit, I ventured to the north of the island, where I caught up with Lise van de Kamp and Hans Schilders, proprietors of Hotel The Champs, located at Picard, just south of the town of Portsmouth.
While I stayed there, I observed and listened to enthusiastic accounts of post-Maria progress from the energetic hoteliers. As well, I further explored the terrain and searched for parrots with Bertrand ‘Dr. Birdy’ Jno Baptiste. Hans and Lise were endeavoring to repair their award-winning establishment in an effort to become the first climate resilient hotel on Dominica. More about their timely project in a subsequent post. The amazing adventure with Dr. Birdy will also be revealed in a forthcoming post.
Of course, quality ‘Caribbean beach time’ was part of my plan in the northwestern region of the island. Actually, there are numerous gorgeous stretches of white, golden or black sand all around the northern tip of the island, including those just beyond Portsmouth, facing the Guadeloupe Channel, and others on the Atlantic coast near Calibishie in the northeast. But I had basically run out of time and those experiences would have to wait until next visit!
As it turned out, sea conditions were not ideal for a ‘sea bath’ during my chosen day to linger on Picard Beach. Instead, I walked as far as I could along the sandy seaside in a southerly direction, completely mesmerized by the sea in its highly agitated state. It was not possible to go the whole distance to Coconut Beach due to the strong surf, which tossed up debris and scattered stones, so I contented myself by lounging on a beach chair in front of the quaint Picard Beach Cottages. From there, I watched the relentless wave action with great fascination. Coincidentally, I had spent a week there during my second visit to Dominica about 21 years earlier and I highly recommend the private beach-side cottages for a genuine seaside experience with a tropical garden in the background.
On my last Sunday in Dominica, having completed the latest adventure with ‘Dr. Birdy’ in the Syndicate Nature Reserve, we lingered over a late lunch at popular Purple Turtle Beach Club in Lagoon, Portsmouth. The place was packed, and the meal was a long time coming. However, while we waited, we discussed bird sightings and post-Maria tourism issues as we looked over this lengthy stretch of sand in Prince Rupert Bay. It was very hot there, especially so since we had been at a much cooler elevation in the foothills of Morne Diablotin, the highest peak in Dominica. That afternoon was steamy at the seaside, and sun seekers sought shade while they waited for the sun to dip a little lower on the horizon!
Dominica may not be a tropical destination that is recognized for its beaches, but I know better. So I am sharing a secret: the Nature Island’s black, white and golden sands and smaller, intimate, often-deserted seaside locales offer authentic Caribbean ‘downtime’ the way it was meant to be!