What island should I go to in the Caribbean?
That is the most common question I get asked. My answer is always the same, what do you like to do when on island? If the answer to that question is hiking and getting in touch with nature, I point people to Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean.
Dominica remains an unspoiled paradise for divers, hikers, and naturalists. This island is the largest of the Windward Islands and features dramatic volcanic landscapes with the highest mountains in the Eastern Caribbean, lush rainforests, waterfalls, lakes, gorges, rivers, and steamy hot springs. The rugged coastline shelters rustic coastal villages and rocky, black-sand beaches, many of which are good snorkeling or diving spots.
This mountainous landscape with dense rainforests helps make Dominica a great destination for those looking to get muddy and to really enjoy an eco-adventure.
If you are looking to travel to Dominica, here are five must do activities to experience the best the island has to offer.
1. Experience Trafalgar Falls
Trafalgar Falls is located on the west side of the mammoth Morne Trois Pitons National Park. They are two of the most visited sights on the island, not only because they’re impressive; they’re also 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.
2. The Boiling Lake
Prepare yourself, this Dominica landmark takes a little mud and sweat to experience. The Boiling Lake is a volcanic 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.
Seeing the Boiling Lake is a must do, but the journey to get there is a fairly grueling, humid, muddy hike that will take anywhere from three to six hours to complete. And that’s only one-way. The most common starting point is in the town of Laudat, where it should be fairly easy to find a guide who knows the way and is willing to take you to the spot. You can anticipate paying at least $50 one way, per person for the experience. That doesn’t include the admission cost into the national park.
3. Scuba Diving Scotts Head Pinnacle
Scotts Head Pinnacle should be at the top of a diver’s list of Dominica underwater excursions. Scott’s Head is also the name of the town that serves as the jumping off point for the dive. Scotts Head Pinnacle is a demanding dive, so novices shouldn’t tackle it alone. The first part of the dive is an easy-going 35-feet deep underwater seascape of coral and colorful fish, including lots of soldierfish and grunts and a swim-through called “Soldierfish Cave.” This is just a warm-up lap for the big reveal – a 120-foot volcanic wall drop-off.
4. Snorkel Champagne Reef
The prime spot for snorkeling in Dominica is Champagne Reef, which can be accessed directly offshore. There’s no beach to speak off, so it’s a direct launch into the water from the rocky shore. The conditions that make the reef so special are bubbling vents in the sea bottom (hence the name, Champagne Reef). This geothermal activity releases warm gasses that drive the water temperature over the vents up to 90 degrees. Snorkelers will spy a range of sea creatures, including sea horses, squid, and a wealth of colorful fish.
5. Swim in the Emerald Pool
This wonderful waterfall grotto is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Morne Trois Piton National Park. An easy 30-minute hike takes you through magnificent overhanging trees and lush island jungle to the shimmering pool, which appears green in the tree-filtered sunlight. Be sure you bring your bathing suites, you’ll be able to go for a dip, and swim right up to the waterfall!
Have you been to Dominica? What are the top activities you experienced?