Nose Reef, Dominica
Seldom am I ever alone on a dive boat. But here I was, me and the divemaster. Both of us luxuriating with the space we had as we cruised down the Caribbean coast of Dominica, just south of the Village of Coulibistrie. We passed a few fishermen and the island rose behind them lush and green.
The briefing came quick and short. We moored over a site called Nose Reef, slightly south of the Coulibistrie. The wall sloped down to about 130 feet and featured two ledges that looked like noses protruding from the reef.
And off we went.
Now, I'd been in Dominica for about week. And with each successive dive, I kept wondering, probably even out loud to myself, why Dominica wasn't brimming with divers. I'd explored one pristine and crowded reef after another. And, I'd crossed paths with one other diver. Which I certainly didn't object to, but it left me scratching my head.
So, we quickly descended to the first "nose" at about 70 feet. All along the route to the nose, we cruised over giant barrel and tube sponges, orange elephant ear sponges and a host of tropical fish. The reefs were almost crushed with life and the first nose dripped with black corals and sponges. I finned away from the slope and sure enough, the overhang looked like a fairly prominent olfactory machine.
We slipped a little deeper, to around 100 feet to the second nose, this one, however, looked little more like Pinochio's nose. It jutted straight out from the reef, a bright orange sponge covered protuberance. I thought that if Pinochio became a wino and kept up with the lies, this is the path his nose would have taken. Except for maybe the group of banded coral shrimp that moved about in its shadow.
On the way back to the boat, we slowly explored one coral garden after another, with great stands of tube sponges, all looking like frozen explosions from the seafloor.
A little off most divers' radar, Dominica left one great impression after another on me, both topside and underwater. There are no giant hotels, no Marriots, the people smile genuinely and the amazing collection put together by mother-nature rules as the marquee attraction. A true, primal, raw, wonderfully authentic and incredibly interesting island.
Editor, Sport Diver magazine
Editor-at-Large ISLANDS magazine