Dominica is a land of unspoiled rainforests, volcanic hot springs, wild rivers and waterfalls. More than 60 percent of the island is covered in lush tropical vegetation, and protected within three national parks, including the Morne Trois Piton National Park, a World Heritage Site.
1 Big Views
From any point on the island, you’ll never be without the sights of a mountain peak. There are five major mountains on the island, the highest rising to 4,000. Roads and trails lead to scenic high points that provide sweeping views of the ocean. Some of the most dramatic vistas can be found within the 17,000-acre expanse of Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
2 River Runs
The island boasts 365 rivers. In reality there are around 200 that actually qualify for the title, but if you count every stream and creek you could indeed find a different flow of water for every day of the year. While the list of named waterways is long, there are actually still some waiting to be identified. The longest is the Layou River, popular for tubing and kayak tours. The mangrove- lined Indian River was featured in Pirates of the Caribbean, while the sulfur-tinged waters of the White River are said to be therapeutic to bathers.
3 The Last of the Caribs
In a remote valley on Dominica’s eastern shore, descendants of a pre-Columbian culture continue a way of life that dates back more than a thousand years. The Kalinago people live on a 3,700-acre reservation in small villages and farms that could only be reached by torturous mountain trails well into the latter 20th century. Now accessible by roads and a short hike, the tribe welcomes visitors who come to discover the old ways, which are shared through stories and demonstrations of artisanal skills, and celebrated in song and dance. Be sure to try the cassava bread, shop for wooden and woven arts and don’t pass up on any ceremony open to the outside.
4 Whale Watching
Dominica has earned a reputation as the whale watching capital of the Caribbean. Sperm whales can be seen in the waters of Dominica through the year, with prime viewing months between November to March, when mothers arrive to nurse their calves. Other marine mammals often seen in the same area include pilot, humpback, and false killer whales, plus spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphin.
The cascade at Emerald Pool gets all of the ink due to its easy access and convenience to the town of Roseau, but the entire island is loaded with waterfalls, some easy to reach, others requiring some vigorous hiking. An easy 20-minute walk through the forest leads to Trafalgar Falls, while you’ll have to devote three hours for a round-trip to Middleham Falls. Hikers willing to do some scrambling over rocks and across river beds can discover Sari Sari Falls or the island’s grandest, 165-foot Victoria Falls, which is fed by the waters of Boiling Lake.
6 Natural Spas
At locations across the island, natural sulphur pools and hot springs well up from the island’s interior. Some are hidden in the woods, while others have been enhanced by enterprising islanders, who charge a small fee for soaks in pools set within landscaped gardens. A favorite is Screw’s Sulphur Springs, where pools range from hot to warm to cool and refreshing. Also popular are the baths and waterfalls at Ti Kwen Glo Cho and the Papillote Wilderness Retreat which combines sulphur soaks with yoga and massage.
The underwater landscape of Dominica is the most dramatic and varied in the Caribbean. It is also among the healthiest. The island is ringed by coral reefs that begin close to shore, and the calm western coast of the island includes more than two dozen prime diving and snorkeling sites that lie within a trio of marine reserves.
8 For the Birds
More than 175 species of birds can be found in the forests of Dominica, including 4 types of native humming bird. Other noteworthy sightings include two species of endemic parrot, the Sisserou and Jacquot, along with blue-hooded euphonias, mountain whistlers and broad winged hawks. A prime birding area is the Syndicate Forest on the western slopes of the Morne Diablotin National Park, and also popular is a boat ride up the shaded Indian River to search for the giant ringed kingfisher.
9 The Longest Path
The Waitukubuli National Trail is the Caribbean’s longest hike and took years to complete. It stretches 115 miles across the mountainous backbone of Dominica, and runs south from Scott’s Head to the Cabrits National Park in the north. Along the way it leads through national parks, villages, coastal areas, and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trail is broken into 14 individual segments, giving day hikers plenty of options.
10 Eco-minded Hotels
You won’t find any large hotel chains on Dominica, as accommodations tend toward boutique properties with an edge toward environmentally sound operations. Rosalie Bay is a 28- room enclave built to resemble a traditional village, overlooking a black sand beach on the island’s surf-washed eastern shore. Powered by solar and wind energy, the resort serves organic foods harvested fresh from their farm, and sponsors a turtle protection program that is followed island wide. Even more secluded is Secret Bay, an eco luxury resort of just eight bungalows and villas, all nestled into a hillside overlooking Prince Rupert Bay, and one of the longest and less-visited beaches.