Cabrits National Park, Dominica

Photo: Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica

Two volcanoes. An 18th-century fort. Hiking trails that wind around old soldiers’ barracks and rusting cannons. Rare birds and plants. Views of Douglas Bay, Prince Rupert Bay, and the Caribbean Sea. There’s something for everyone in this small national park.

Cabrits National Park is only 1,300 acres. It sits on a peninsula on the northwest coast of Dominica. The small island—it isn’t even as big as Manhattan—lies between Guadeloupe and Martinique. The peninsula used to be a separate island. Dormant volcanoes, East and West Cabrits, filled in the strait a long time ago. The national park, created in 1986, protects its coral reefs, tropical forests, and wetlands. While Fort Shirley, built by the British and expanded by the French, has been completely restored.

Given its location, on Dominica’s northwest coast, Cabrits National Park used to be a day trip. You’d get up early, spend a few hours in the park, and return to your hotel in time for sunset drinks. Not anymore. A new resort, situated right on Douglas Bay, just opened last month.

Photo: Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica

Cabrits Resort & Spa was one of the Caribbean’s most anticipated hotel openings this year. It doesn’t disappoint. You’re impressed as soon as you enter the lobby. The spacious lounge has a wood-beamed ceiling, a long terrace, and an uninterrupted view of the turquoise water. This is where tea is served in the afternoon and cocktails are made with Calibishie cocoa. You can see three-story buildings that house the rooms, some of the pools (there are four), and the long dock from the lobby. The volcanic beach is beckoning you.

Hold on. You’ll have plenty of beach time. Let the excited staff show off their new resort. In addition to the Lobby Lounge, RumFire creates “Barmacy” drinks (medicinal mixtures of Dominica rum, fruit, herbs, and spices) and a swim-up pool bar serves frozen drinks. The restaurants are more sea-to-table than farm-to-table. Cabrits Market feels like a traditional Creole market. Kwéyòl Beach Café goes more casual by the pool. While Kempinski the Spa adds a Dominican mud-treatment experience to the standard spa menu.

You have one more stop before you claim a cabana on the beach. You need to see your room, of course. This isn’t your typical Caribbean suite. Did you really expect bright, loud colors on this island? Nope. Your junior suite is tranquil and understated. Natural colors. Wooden furniture. It’s sleek and luxurious. A glass-walled bathroom. A freestanding bathtub. It’s full of thoughtful amenities. A Nespresso machine. Dominica alkaline water. It’ll feel like home when you return from the beach and the national park. Now your Dominican adventure can begin.

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