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Dive Review of Nature Island Dive/Gallette Cottages in
Dominica/Soufriere

Nature Island Dive/Gallette Cottages, Apr, 2010,

by Suzanne Leeson, David Vickery,, NJ, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 5616.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Florida, Caribbean, California, Central America, Mexico, Hawaii, Fiji, Palau, Yap, Australia, Maldives, PNG, Bikini Atoll
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions After the fist dive, the staff let us do our thing. If there were a lot of people from the cruise ships, they separated us into two groups: experienced and noobs.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments Ask for a rinse bucket on-board, and watch your gear, there is no photo table. Electric is 240 volts with outlets similar those in the UK.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations N/A Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Through some deft packing, my dive bag weighed 47 lbs. when we checked in at Continental EWR, & there was no extra baggage charge. When we checked in with LIAT in Antigua, it had magically gained 8 lbs. and we had to argue with them to get it aboard without charge. In 23 years of diving, they are flat out the worst airline we ever encountered.

We took the later flight and didn't arrive in Dominica until 5:00. Another hour to retrieve gear, rent jeep, and we were off on the 27 mile but two hour drive over twisty mountain roads with no lights, to Soufriere. Wed stopped to buy provisions at supermarket outside of Roseau, would have done better downtown, but it was dark, and there's a lot of one-way streets in Roseau.

The little villages lining the coast are, ummm, "quaint". The two-way roads are 12 feet wide and the national sport is playing chicken with anything that looks like a rental car.

As we arrived in Soufriere, the Easter weekend celebrations were in full roar. Reggae & island-hop echoed off the mountainside from the rented PA. Locals danced in the street, and if there was a sign for Nature Island Dive, we couldn't see it. So two bleary-eyed travelers staggered around with bleary-eyed locals until we found Weefy Jules, an instructor from NID, who got the lady in charge of the cottage and we trundled the last 1/4 mile to our home away from home right on the water.

We stayed at the cottage (there's a small picture of it on the NID website) because of Undercurrent reviews that said the hotels near Roseau like Castle Comfort, had noise issues, unlike our cottage where we could still hear the aforementioned PA. The local eateries are in Scots head, a 2 mile drive, and there was no way we were getting back in the jeep, so we dined alfresco on chips, salsa, and plastic goat cheese.

The cottage was, ummm, "quaint". We were in the lower unit of two. No A/C, TV, internet, or phone, and the oven didn't work. There were two rotating fans, one of which was kaput, and no ceiling fan. A mosquito net over the queen size bed kept the bugs out. The locals were very concerned that we felt part of the festivities, so every half hour or so they drove by with mobile PA's to be sure we could hear the music. That continued until 3AM, when the second shift was taken by the hounds across the street who barked at anything that moved. One of the things that moved was my partner who arose to gaze at the moon and reported, at high decibel, a crab the size of a Volkswagen in the shower. This was followed by a series of undecipherable shrieks that explained her Native American name: Swims with Sharks, Runs from Spiders.

The following morning, looking and feeling our best, we arrived at Nature Island Dive at 8:30, checked in, and waited until 9:45 while 3 guys from the cruise ship sorted out their rental gear. Weefy and Tony filled the AL 80s to 3,000psi (no Nitrox) and humped them and our gear across the street to the boat. The 10-15 minute ride across the protected bay took us to Dangleben's North. We took a stride and descended to a granite ridge covered with whip coral, lots of sponges and no algae. At 95 a large hawksbill turtle munched a tube sponge, oblivious to our presence.

If you want to fill your log with all the critters you havent seen elsewhere, Champagne is the site for you. Dont overlook tiny coral heads. We dove it twice, and were blown away by the sea horses, several species of frog fish, snake eels, golden spotted snake eels, jawfish, squid, pipe blennies, a magnificent sea urchin, octopods, morays, and turtles, all within a small area with a depth of 10-50 feet.

But for us the signature spot is Scots Head, with sites like Craters Edge. The edge forms a wall to the east, dropping to 150 or more. Large Boulders ring the site, and are covered with outrageously healthy yellow coral, luminous azure vase sponges, forests of elephant ears and barrel sponges like Volkswagens. Schools of chromis and silver streamers swarm the upright rock while a large crack in its north side is home to a school of black margates.

The staff will carry your gear back and rinse it, but youd best check the tank and fill it with fresh water. Over all, they were great, and loaned my partner a safe second at no cost when hers developed a leak.

When the cruisers made for a late departure, we didnt get back from the 2nd dive til 1:00, so after rinsing & changing there was a mad dash for lunch, which we frequently did not finish til 3:00. We complained, and when there were no cruisers, we left right at 8:30. One such day we roared through the rainforest to Papillote Wilderness Retreat, arrived between tour buses, got the table at the balconys edge and dined on brilliant pumpkin soup, garlicky kingfish in banana leaves, and home-made ice cream. Later we walked the retreats nature trail and up to Trafalgar Falls, basking on the rocks near a family of friendly German tourists.

Back at the shack we moved to the upper unit which had a better breeze, two working fans, a nicer kitchen and an oven that didnt work. In the mornings we watched local fishermen seine for bait. We also watched smoke from forest swirl around the ridge. Bored teenagers set fires to annoy the world and scar the hillsides.

We waited until Thursday to ask for a guide to go to the Boiling Lake, and got skunked. You guys puffing out your chests and thinking, Wussy. I dont need no guide. Yes, you do, and grammar lessons as well. We opted for a hike to the 200 foot high Sari Sari Falls just outside of La Plaine. Locals would not direct us until we hired a guide and after haggling from $60 to $50, provided two 14 year old boys. So we got screwed, right? Wrong. After two stream crossings, a swim through a pool, clambering up & down over slick rocks and slimy twisted roots (which the kids did barefoot) we got to the Falls. Well worth the journey, but if you go without a guide and twist an ankle, youre done. In 2006 a tourist on a guided trek died in the rain-engorged stream. Wear Tivas.

The Emerald Pool walk is a trifle more sedate with groomed trails, and hand rails. Early or late arrivals may have the place to themselves.

The last night we stayed at Jungle Bay Resort, within earshot of the Atlantic, in a hillside cottage with king size bed. No A/C but we didnt miss it with the constant ocean breeze. Excellent restaurant, great seafood, and a decent wine list. Creole dancers entertain on the weekends. Theyll take you to Sari Sari or the Boiling Lake. I went for a massage at the Spa and opted for the Tres Forte treatment. They sent me back to the room in a pillow case.

Returning to the airport, we were the first to check in with LIAT and had to pay $125 for overweight bags and check our carry-ons. The passengers who arrived later were not charged and were allowed to board with their wheelies.

Then the rains came and we waited for LIAT. And waited. Three hours later the flight arrived and the LIAT staff, in assisting a disembarking wheel-chair bound little old island lady, dumped her out on the tarmac in the pouring rain. Suffice it to say that when we finally got to Antigua we ran off the plane and literally waved good-bye to the Newark-bound Continental flight. The next available CoAir flight was Tuesday. They put us on standby because we were on free tickets. Delta was happy to accommodate us for the next day (into JFK, not EWR), so we headed off to the Blue Waters Resort. They had quoted us a $500 rack rate for garden view room, but my MBA partner got them down to a $298 corporate rate. The place was full of friendly Brits and MDs at a conference, all of whom were on all-inclusive packages. It was easier for the staff to assume we were on the same package than to charge us for drinks, though I certainly didnt look medical in the only clean clothes I had left, Grateful Dead board shorts and a T-shirt that said Bite Me.

Some of the issues we had were first time blues. OK, the cottage was Spartan and the dives left a little late. But the diving is pristine in the south, and we paid 940 bucks for the cottage and the diving, for both of us.

Wed definitely go back, and make sure we got to the Boiling Lake. Next time wed try to arrive earlier, take the American Eagle flight out of San Juan instead of LIAT, maybe stay the first night on the north end at Calabishie Cottages, then head to Soufriere the following morning. Wed stay at the Zandoli Inn perched on a cliff above a bay on the Atlantic side and hump the 45 minute drive to the dive shop. Hey, the boat dont leave til 9:00 anyway.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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