Best Things To Do in Dominica
Dominica is an eco-traveler's paradise, thanks a relatively unspoiled, lush landscape. But to the surprise of many first-time visitors, this island has relatively few beaches. Scuba diving and snorkeling are still popular activities off of the rocky coastlines, as are canoeing and kayaking in the many rivers. Meanwhile, the interior terrain is a vast playground for adventurous travelers. We recommend exploring one of the many trails found in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
Updated April 6, 2018
- #1View all Photos#1 in DominicaHiking, Natural Wonders, Swimming/PoolsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHiking, Natural Wonders, Swimming/PoolsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located on the west side of Morne Trois Pitons National Park (around 6 miles from Roseau), the jaw-dropping Trafalgar Falls are two of the most-visited sights on the island. In addition to being incredibly impressive, they're also easily accessible for the most amateur hikers and adventure seekers. The upper waterfall (colloquially referred to as "Father") cascades dramatically from the Trois Pitons River, across the Titou Gorge and empties into hot sulfur springs, while the lower waterfall ("Mother") flows gently from the river into a natural swimming pool.
The park has standard facilities, including bathrooms and a parking lot. Sometimes, young locals loiter around the park entrance or at the base of the falls, offering to assist you on your tour of the area. Keep in mind that taking them up on their offer will cost you more than the meager entrance fee to the park, and in the case of the Trafalgar Falls, is probably not necessary. The trek to the waterfalls is only a short walk. If you do decide to purchase a guided tour, be sure to remember to negotiate a fee for the tour before agreeing to one.
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It sounds amazing, and it is. The Boiling Lake is a fumarole, or an opening in the Earth's crust that releases steam and gas, and it's flooded with hot bubbling water that rises into a cloud of vapor. The site is approximately 200 feet wide, it's located in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, and it's a must-see attraction.
The downside is that this broiling body of water can only be reached after a fairly grueling, humid and muddy trek that will take anywhere from three to six hours to complete. And that's only one-way. Experts and recent travelers agree that you shouldn't attempt this trip by yourself. The most common starting point is in the town of Laudat, where it should be fairly easy to find a local guide (just ask around town) who knows the way and is willing to take you to the spot. Keep in mind that this is an intensive and lengthy hike, so you should expect to pay at least EC$135 (around $50) one-way, per person for the experience. That doesn't include the admission cost into the Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
- #3View all Photos#3 in DominicaParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you traveled to Dominica in hopes of catching a glimpse of rare plants or wildlife, look no further than the Papillote Tropical Gardens. Spread across 14 acres, the gardens are located just before the trailhead to Trafalgar Falls, making them an easy stop on the way to or from this popular attraction.
After arriving, guests have the option of meandering the garden themselves or taking a guided tour. Past visitors insisted the best way to experience the gardens is by eating an outdoor lunch at the nearby restaurant before embarking on the guided tour. If you have extra time, take a dip in the hot pools that punctuate the property.
- #4View all PhotosfreeDominica Beaches#4 in DominicaBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Though Dominica is known as a hiker's paradise, it's also home to a handful of must-see beaches. While the coastline is often rocky, Dominica makes up for this by having unique black sand beaches.
Mero Beach is probably the island's most popular spot, thanks to its fine, black sand. Conveniently located near the capital of Roseau, Mero Beach draws both tourists and locals hoping to bask in the sun. If you visit, you'll want to bring sandals – recent tourists warned that the black sand makes the beach exceptionally hot.
- #5View all Photos#5 in DominicaNatural Wonders, SportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, SportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If Dominica calls out to eco-tourists around the world, then it practically screams for scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Volcanic activity, clear water and relatively few tourists make Dominica's coast particularly ideal for underwater expeditioners.
Champagne Reef, located on Dominica's southwestern coast, is the island's most popular spot for underwater exploration. Snorkelers and divers have reported seeing everything from seahorses to squid to dolphins at this particularly active spot. Even on a slow day, visitors can explore the old shipwreck, which is only 25 feet underwater. Past visitors claimed that it's best to explore the area early in the day and when cruise ships aren't docked to avoid potential crowds.
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The Cabrits National Park shelters a few swamps, coral reefs and wetlands near the town of Portsmouth. The park is best known as the site of Fort Shirley though, an 18th-century stronghold with spectacular views down to the Prince Rupert Bay and the remains of a volcanic crater on Dominica's northwest coast. Fort Shirley also holds the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique history, which includes a mutiny of African slave soldiers. Recent visitors said that Fort Shirley has signs explaining its history, but they still recommend talking with one of the on-site guides who are around the site (although they are sometimes difficult to find, according to visitors).
Most people who visit Dominica do so for the intensive adventure activities, but if you need a down day or have a history enthusiast in your group, consider taking a trip to the site. The park and namely, Fort Shirley, have been undergoing restorations for the past couple years. For a minimal cost of around EC$14 ($5) you can tour the improved grounds and enjoy the scenery. Keep in mind: Fort Shirley is 30 miles north of Roseau, so the taxi ride there can be a bit expensive.
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According to recent visitors, the 15-minute long Emerald Pool Nature Trail in Morne Trois Pitons National Park is perfect for amateur hikers. The trail consists of a slightly rocky downhill trek to a clearing, waterfall and an extraordinarily chilly swimming area. Emerald Pool's easy access increases its popularity (the path is also somewhat narrow), so recent visitors suggest scheduling an early morning visit.
Visiting Emerald Pool costs around EC$14 (or approximately $5) per person. Travelers can also purchase a week pass to gain access to all of Dominica's national park sites for around EC$33 (about $12) per person. The trailhead is around 14 miles northwest of Roseau. The best way to access the trailhead is to hire a taxi, but the trail is short enough that hiring a guide is unnecessary, according to past visitors.
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