Uniquely Dominica: The Batibou Experience
October 19, 2020
Driving the northern coast of Dominica, you might spot a wooden sign tacked to a tree on the edge of the road, and painted in blue are the words “Batibou Beach.” In smaller letters, it’ll say entrance is $5 a person, and you’ll pay it—because Batibou Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, much less solely on the tiny island of Dominica.
But the beach is just one part of the “Batibou Experience,” and for that we have to back up and zoom out. The beach sits on Hampstead Estate, once a lime plantation, now a family-owned plot of land owned by the Douglas family. Jacqueline and Irma—two of 14 kids—run the Batibou area, and you’ll get to know them well as you tube the Hampstead River, set up shop on the beach, and dine on one of Irma’s Michelin-esque meals.
Let’s start with floating down the Hampstead River. The Douglasses will hook you up with an inner tube and a guide—likely Adenauer or one of the other family members—and get you floating between bwa mang trees, lines of egrets, coconut palms, and all the way out to the edge of the Atlantic along Number One Beach. If you’ve never seen a jungle river run into the ocean before, get ready to feel educated. The sweeping back-and-forth of river current versus wave is an endless battle on the edge of two fronts, land and ocean, waged on the spongy sand.
From here, you’ll make a short trek back inland, where you’ll get picked up and dropped off again at Batibou. Trek or drive down the short rocky “road” to the sand, pay the beach attendant, and pull up a seat at the Batibou Beach Bar & Grille, a simple wooden hut that blends in with the surrounding scenery. Order a coconut punch—don’t worry about the rest of the drink menu, as this is a deserved Batibou icon—and the mango-whiskey snapper with fresh crabmeat stuffing and local chimichurri sauces. Grab the Batibou Road Greek Frozen Yogurt for dessert, a combination of bananas, local cacao, hints of ginger and coffee, and whole roasted cashews rolled in cajeta (representing the rocks on the road). Irma, the “beach chef,” received culinary training in the States, and her 28 years in New York has made her and her dishes a force to be reckoned with. Only in Dominica would an affordable five-star meal come to you at a picnic table.
Then, it’s as you wish. The beach stretches for ages, as does the jungle. Picnic tables (and little else) line the sand, and coconut palms provide ample shade. If you fall in love with this untouched stretch of the Caribbean, consider camping on nearby Number One Beach (for a small fee)—Irma can hook you up with Emeril-level meals just outside your tent at your request, or you can cook out like the locals. The beach is even more striking come nightfall, no crowds to distract you from the ocean and stars.
Tips & Details
For the ride on the Hampstead River, bring plenty of sunscreen or a hat, breathable shoes that can handle both water and a bit of walking, a towel, and a waterproof camera, if you like. The trek takes around an hour; life jackets are not provided. The river current is quicker in some parts than others, and you will get wet.
Back on Batibou, the $5 fee goes toward beach maintenance—attendants can be found at the bottom of the only road that leads to the sand. Bring a towel, water, cash, and whatever gear you see fit. Bathrooms and showers are available behind the bar. With a website in the works, direct all questions to Jacqueline and Irma at firstname.lastname@example.org
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