Our trip to Secret Bay Resort in Dominica
Last month, Tommy and I spent a few days in Dominica and I wanted to share more about our visit since there is only so much that Instagram posts can show and the resort should be at the top of your list!
As always, we used Heather Christopher Travel to help plan our trip. (We will literally NEVER plan a big trip without her, especially international.) We reached out to her last September and let her know that we wanted to plan and anniversary trip. Our anniversary is in October, but we told her we wanted to travel somewhere in January or February to get a little escape from winter.
This post goes more into details about her travel planning process. In short, she sent us a few different options and she told us that based on what she knows about us and what we were looking for, her top recommendation was Secret Bay in Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). I trust Heather completely after booking multiple trips with her (including our honeymoon and Ireland) so we booked our trip and then I promptly started the process of renewing my passport! 😉
We flew from Charlotte to San Juan, Puerto Rico and then to Dominica on a very small plane, which I HATE but I made it (thanks to CBD). I’ve been to three Caribbean airports and I absolutely love how tiny they are. They just feel so special!
While we’re on the topic of airports, San Juan did NOT have good food options, so pack snacks or a sandwich if you have a layover there. I ate the clementines I packed and bought a bag of $9 trail mix. Tommy got Domino’s pizza and the cheese…did not look like cheese.
It was one of my favorite meals of the trip! It’s not fancy but it was GOOD.
From the airport, we had about an hour drive to the resort and Heather had arranged for a driver for us. It was a beautiful drive (even though it was dark for the last 30 minutes) and we loved chatting with our driver, who was born and raised in Dominica and shared so much with us about the island and its history. Thankfully, even though the roads are windy, I didn’t get carsick.
When we got to the resort, we went through a security gate and then were taken to the welcome center. It’s a large, open air building that’s absolutely beautiful. We sat on swinging chairs while the concierge got us some water and cool towels and then a golf cart took us to our villa.
Secret Bay is a very small resort, and it was recently voted the #1 resort in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure. There are only 12 villas so it never feels crowded; they are selling some additional villas as private residences, but I haven’t gotten Tommy on board yet. 😉 The resort is small enough that you can walk everywhere if you don’t mind hills, but the hill to our villa was quite steep. And since we had short rain showers most afternoons or because I was heels to dinner, we usually opted for the golf cart (which we got by texting our host or the concierge).
Even though the resort was fully booked when we were there, we never saw more than 6 people on the beach or more than 4 people at the pool. The only time we saw more than 6 people at all was at dinner! And even then, the restaurant wasn’t full.
You can read more about Secret Bay here, but its goals are privacy, embracing nature, sustainability and an unrivaled luxurious experience. I’d say they’re nailing it. We even chatted the resort owner one day (we saw him every day so it’s obvious he’s very involved in the resort) and he was incredibly kind and down to earth. And turns out his mom lived in Boone for 7 years, which is where Tommy is from. What a small world.
Our villa had with a full kitchen, a large living space, two bathrooms and a large upstairs bedroom. There was a large screened-in patio and a private plunge pool and lounging deck. When we arrived, they gave us an iPhone to use while we were there to keep in touch with the Concierge and our Villa Host for absolutely anything we needed.
Each villa has a villa host, and we absolutely adored ours! Amika (or Kiki as we learned her friends call her!) is a Dominican native and so kind and funny. You can request that she’s your host, so take note when you book!
Each night she’d text us to see what we wanted for breakfast the next morning and what time we wanted it. While we stayed in bed and drank coffee (the best coffee and espresso ever from the DeLonghi that’s in the kitchen!), she made breakfast for us and then called up the stairs, “Breakfast is ready!” It was seriously so luxurious.
When we left the villa to go to the beach, the pool or the spa, she would come make our bed and do laundry for us, if needed. She also helped us with dinner reservations each evening.
We typically asked for pancakes, eggs and bacon and then whatever local fruit was on hand. She also brought us local, fresh juice as well and made us hot lattes to have with our breakfast. Then, she cleaned up the kitchen while we ate outside.
We booked our trip for four nights and were planning to have massages two days and maybe do outings for two days, but then decided that we were so fried from the holidays and sickness that we didn’t want any plans, other than massages.
After our first day’s massages were so good, we decided we wanted massages everyday. Two days we had massages in the spa (a small, open air building, right next to the ocean) and then one night, we had massages in our screened-in patio.
We both agreed that we preferred massages at the spa itself, since the ocean sound was just the best. We could hear the road when we had the massages in our villa, which wasn’t as relaxing. I’m sure part of that was the time of day (5pm) and the location of our specific villa.
I also had a facial one day, tacked onto a massage, but I wouldn’t book that again. Go for the massages for sure!
The beach is small and so peaceful. There were four sets of lounge chairs and many times we were the only people on the beach! It has black sand, since Dominica is a volcanic island. We spent most of our afternoons at the beach reading or wading in the water.
One afternoon, the watersports and beach host, Johnny, opened up coconuts for us to have coconut water on the beach.
Another afternoon, we kayaked to the neighboring beach (about a 10 minute paddle) and then snorkeled over there, where the water was calmer. We were over there for over an hour and never saw anyone else.
We came to the pool for lunch and cocktails everyday before heading down to the beach to read, swim and kayak. The lunch menu was light but delicious, with local fish, a variety of sandwiches and a few salads. But their cocktails are really the star of the show. And the employees. We loved hanging out with the bartenders and cook at the pool bar – they all had such interesting backgrounds and were honestly just SO fun. I was sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip. The pool was also a perfect spot to hang out during afternoon rain showers!
If you go to Secret Bay, be sure to ask for the Triple Passenger, even if it’s not on the cocktail list. It’s a gingery cocktail and the I have EVER had. Thanks to the Triple Passenger, I fell in love with ginger-infused rum and it became a joke among us and the bartenders because I sipped a ginger shot one day (rather than shooting it quickly). One of the guys met us on the day we left the resort with a ginger rum shot for us, ha!
The resort only has one restaurant for dinner – Zing Zing. If you don’t want to eat at the restaurant, the other options are in-room dining (with a slightly different menu) or going off site. We enjoyed the open-air ambiance of Zing Zing, but didn’t love the food every night, although it was fun to try new things. The chef was incredibly kind and came over to say hi each night and we got to see our buddies who worked at the pool bar; we just wished it was a little more laid back.
If there was something you absolutely didn’t want, they did provide another option. One night, the entree was lamb, which neither of us like, and they did fish for us instead. Lucky for us, it was lionfish and it was absolutely incredible! My favorite fish ever.
We did in-villa dining on our first night, but it took almost 1.5 hours to get our food and it was cold by the time we got it, so it just wasn’t a great experience after traveling all day. But, in their defense, there was an insane storm and the golf carts couldn’t safely get up the hill, so it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but just the nature of the situation (nature, heh). After that we went to Zing Zing each night. Plus, we liked getting out of the villa by the night’s end.
We got dressed up because it was fun but others were in very casual clothes so anything really goes there.
If (actually, WHEN) we go back, we’ll plan to go off-site for dinner at least once. Everyone kept telling us to go to Keepin’ It Real, a local restaurant, but we were just so lazy on this trip that we never planned far enough in advance to go.
It was a short-ish trip and we were both so fried from work, life, fertility treatments, the holidays, everything, that we didn’t feel like venturing out much. We did walk around the resort a bit (there are paths connecting the wellness building, the spa, the restaurant and the beach) so that was a fun, easy exploring option.
We will definitely go back and want to explore the island more. Here’s we’ll do for sure next time:
Lionfish Hunting: They offer lionfish hunts (about 3 hours round-trip) where they take you out on a boat and local guides will spear the fish, which helps control the fish population (which is important for the ecosystem there since lionfish isn’t native to Dominica and has no natural predators). After the fish hunting, they’ll cook the fish for you in your villa.
Hiking: Dominica is the most beautiful Caribbean island I’ve been to! I don’t have a huge sample size — only St. Lucia and St. John — but Dominica is my favorite so far. It’s so lush and much more mountainous and I imagine the hiking is incredible.
Explore Portsmouth: We drove past Portsmouth on the way to the resort and it looked like a beautiful town. I’d like to walk around and meet more locals.
Night Snorkeling: I’m not a water person (details here) but I’d love to get brave enough to try this!
Secret Bay was one of our favorite trips, EVER. It’s tied with Ireland! If you want a relaxing trip, you can’t beat this option.