This post was originally published in May 2013, and updated in April 2018
Most people flock to the Caribbean in search of sun, white sand and calm waters, so Dominica often catches many visitors by surprise. With its black sand beaches and hillsides covered in thick brush, its beauty is more rugged than nearby islands like Saint Lucia and Barbados, where travellers are accustomed to lounging on sun-soaked beaches versus the rocky coastline found in Dominica. However, those who make the trip are rewarded with an adventurous getaway: think hiking, hidden waterfalls and snorkel spots teeming with marine life. Here are some of the best things to do in Dominica, including what to see if you have just one day on the island.
Places to visit in Dominica: Roseau
Cruise ships dock in Roseau, the capital city where white and pastel-hued homes dot the green hillside surrounding it. There are plenty of tour operators set up right at the port ready to whisk tourists away on excursions, and from there it’s a quick drive to many of the major landmarks. One option is to hire a private driver to guide you around the island for a day, which can be a cost-effective way to see most of Dominica’s attractions. Click here to book
Morne Bruce, Dominica
Most tours start by driving up to Morne Bruce, a popular viewpoint at the top of the island that affords panoramic views of Roseau and the glittering Caribbean Sea below.
Snap photos there, then wander over to the Botanical Gardens. The 40 acre site hosts about 50 types of plants and trees, and is home to Dominica’s national bird, the Sisserou Parrot. The gardens are open every day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dominica tours typically stop at Trafalgar Falls next, which is located in Morne Trois Piton National Park. This spot is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its sprawling valleys, hot springs, numerous freshwater lakes and five different volcanoes. En route, there are views of lush green hills, banana trees and livestock like goats grazing along the roadway. Once on site, visitors take an easy walk through the bright green vegetation for about 15 minutes, before arriving at a bubbling sulphur pool. This is common in the country, as Dominica is a volcanic island with a number of hot springs. When you arrive at Trafalger’s twin falls, sit back and soak in the scene, or get adventurous and climb over the boulders at the base of the falls and jump into the pool at their base. Click here to book
For those who haven’t gotten their fill of waterfalls just yet, head over another one of Dominica’s national treasures: the Emerald Pool. This site features a beautiful waterfall that spills into a big pool at the bottom, making it the perfect spot for a midday float.
The final stop before heading back to the port should be the aptly-named Champagne Reef, where a volcano submerged below the surface pushes gasses up, creating bubbles which make it feel like you’re swimming through a glass of champagne.
Tourists can rent snorkelling equipment from vendors on the pebble-covered beach, then explore the reef. Due to the natural phenomenon visibility isn’t always great, but this stop is less about seeing marine life and more about the bubbles. After all, there aren’t many places in the world you can experience that!
Another one of Dominica’s tourist attractions is whale watching, as the country is home to many sperm whales. The mammals are commonly spotted between November and March, which coincides with the timing of many cruises to Dominica. There are a number of tour operators that offer whale watching excursions, and guests might even be lucky enough to spot pods of dolphins.
Best hotels in Dominica
Staying in Dominica for longer than one day? Here are some of the top choices for where to stay in Dominica.
- Beau Rive: This property boasts ocean views and is one of the top-ranked hotels in Dominica. Click here to book
- Pagua Bay House Oceanfront Cabanas: Some suites in this retreat have their own pool, and guests rave about the food. Click here to book
- The Champs: This well-priced property gets top marks for its great service and views. Click here to book
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