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Dear Fellow Diver,
After a clumsy giant stride off the Nature Island Divers catamaran, I drifted down to 90 feet in clear 82-degree water at the edge of a submerged volcanic crater. Following the divemaster, I began a gradual upward spiral around the Scott's Head Pinnacle, its near-vertical pillar covered with colorful corals, tube sponges, sea fans, and wire corals. Sunlight penetrating the clear water produced bright and sometimes iridescent colors on the pinnacle. I was awed by a school of large barracuda that surrounded me, and as I rounded the pinnacle, a huge school of horse-eyed jacks warily eyed me from just feet away. Farther along, swarms of Creole wrasse and blue tangs fluttered past, and in the crevices, I spotted lobsters, anemones hosting tiny shrimp, and cleaning stations crewed by yellow wrasses. As I wound upward, an octopus scooted between crevices and a large green turtle ambled past. Near the surface, a large pelagic darted past so fast I couldn't tell if it was a mackerel or a wahoo. After an hour underwater, my fellow divers and I raved about this world-class Caribbean dive.
Mountainous, rainforest-clad Dominica is perhaps the most beautiful Caribbean island. Unlike most others, it sports few beaches, mostly modest hotels, sometimes cloudy weather, and no nonstop air service. It's only blemish:
the cruise ships. It's been called the Nature
Island, carefully protected by its government
and citizens long before ecotourism became a
Diving here is different. Nature Island
Divers' operation is in the caldera of a dormant
volcano, with signs of volcanic activity
scattered around the island, such as hot water
springs, bubbles rising from the seafloor in
several places, hot water dives, a hot water
spa of sorts, and several fuming craters.
The informal Nature Island dive shop is
just what you might expect on such an undeveloped
island, with its sideline of lionfish jewelry and other souvenirs, a kitchen
selling lionfish burgers (it has been said that to render a wild animal extinct
just make it a popular food) as well as snacks, beer, and booze. Their backyard
doubles as a place to enjoy your burger and rinse and store your gear while snoozing
dogs keep an open eye on you....
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