If you plan to visit the Caribbean’s Nature Island, you’re probably in search of ideas to make sure you make the most of your trip. Dominica’s true beauty lies in its untouched qualities that demonstrate why the island is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, from natural hot springs and mud pools to hiking trails and tropical forests. So, keep reading to find out more about the best things to do in Dominica.
Dominica, the Caribbean's Nature Island
Dominica is a highly coveted destination due largely to its rainforests teeming with wildlife, bubbling natural hot springs, assorted hiking trails, and an ocean full of fluorescent-colored marine life. In fact, the island has received many accolades over the years and was recently voted the Number 1 island Caribbean destination in Travel and Leisure’s 2023 World’s Best Awards.
Unlike other popular holiday spots, the city center and mountainside villages aren’t overcrowded with tourists, meaning visitors can explore the island as they please without fear of missing out. The island also boasts a wide selection of lodgings for all types of travelers – honeymooners, families, solo travelers, etc. – to slow down and enjoy the laidback atmosphere, such as mountainside luxury retreats and eco-friendly resorts committed to sustainability.
When to Visit Dominica
The best time to visit Dominica is during the cooler, drier season, which falls between January and May. Temperatures and humidity begin to increase from mid-May, with June seeing the beginning of the rainy season. From June to September, the island experiences its rainy and hurricane seasons, especially between late August and early September.
Natural Attractions in Dominica
Dominica’s Boiling Lake
The Boiling Lake in Dominica is the second largest of its kind in the world and arguably one of the best experiences on the island. It’s no surprise, then, that it is a widely visited attraction.
The lake is a flooded fumarole – a ground opening that emits steam and gases from volcanic activity – in the Valley of Desolation. The lake is often described as resembling a cauldron full of bubbling grey-blue water and surrounded by clouds of swirling vapor.
The hike to the lake – the Boiling Lake Trail – starts in the small village of Laudat and typically spans two to four hours, depending on your hiking expertise. The trail can become tricky to navigate due to the muddy, rugged terrain and precarious ridge, so it may be a good idea to head there with an experienced guide.
Waitukubuli National Trail
The Waitukubuli National Trail is an iconic hike and an adventure you should not miss when you visit Dominica. The trek spans more than 180 km (114 miles), snaking from the northernmost Scott’s Head and through the island’s dramatic mountainous landscape and dense rainforest to Cabrits National Park.
Waitukubuli National Trail is the only long-distance hiking trail in the Caribbean, with the entire route taking about two weeks to complete. However, each of its 14 segments presents its own unique challenges and level of difficulty. So, whether you’re looking for a (relatively) quick and easy, family-friendly trail or something more challenging, you have plenty of options to choose from.
There are 365 rivers that wind across the island, meaning you’re likely to encounter one during your hike and use it as a chance to cool off. The best way to enjoy this ultimate scenic excursion – where you can make your way through waterfalls, rivers, Kalinago villages, Maroon passages, and other natural sites – is with a group or guide.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to swim in the bubbling waters of the ocean fed by volcanic thermal springs? Look no further than Champagne Reef, where you can do just that.
Champagne Reef on the west coast is one of Dominica’s most popular snorkeling locations. The reef is flat, extending from the shoreline and ending with a drop. These plummeting cliffs and towering volcanic formations perfectly match the enormous mountains and gorges found in Dominica. If you’d like to snorkel with hawksbill turtles, parrotfish, sergeant majors, and blue tangs, then Champagne Reef is the perfect experience for you to do just that.
The Twin Trafalgar Falls
The Trafalgar Falls are famous twin waterfalls just a 20-minute drive from the capital city of Roseau. Known locally as Papa (the waterfall to the left) and Mama (the waterfall to the right), the waterfalls each have distinct features that can be enjoyed from a viewing platform. Mama is a smaller fall that offers refreshing water for the more daring swimmers. If you prefer to swim in warmer waters, look for the hot springs fed by the taller Papa.
If you want to hike the falls, it is advisable to do so with a seasoned guide. This is because the boulders are quite slippery from the water, making the climb slightly more challenging for those unfamiliar with the route. You will also want to start as early as possible to ensure the lighting is optimal.
The Emerald Pool
Located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, the path to Emerald Pool starts in the small village of Pont Cassé. The pool is fed by a 40-foot waterfall, with its waters appearing emerald green in the leafy, filtered sunlight.
This unique color and drama have resulted in Emerald Pool being the backdrop of weddings and several movies, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
If you’re in search of more unique things to do in the Caribbean, check out the sulphur springs and mud pools at Wotten Waven in Dominica’s Roseau Valley.
Fun Dominica Activities
Stay in an eco-friendly luxury resort
If you’re an eco-conscious tourist, Dominica should be high on your list of places to visit. In recent years, Dominica has focused on ecotourism by investing in eco-resorts and sustainable practices. For example, many of the hotels and resorts run on solar power, use eco-friendly crockery, cutlery, and glassware, and employ a zero-waste policy.
Jungle Bay Resort
Located in Soufrière, Jungle Bay is designed harmoniously with the landscape and handcrafted from local materials. Surrounded by the rainforest, the resort’s design and operations align with responsible tourism and environmental awareness. A stay here guarantees unmatched views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding jungle.
Sanctuary Rainforest Eco Resort & Spa
Sanctuary Rainforest Eco Resort and Spa is a government-approved real estate project under the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program. The resort is nestled in the rainforest of Laudat, Roseau Valley, which is also home to the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The resort consists of 72 environmentally friendly villas, organic food restaurants, and a variety of facilities, such as a heated pool and pool bar.
Found in southern Dominica, Coulibri Ridge is made up of four luxury studios and duplexes that overlook the island of Martinique. Power is provided by solar energy and wind turbines, and rainwater is gathered, purified, and used to fill the resort’s two large main swimming pools and its private pools.
Additionally, the eco-resort and its owner founded two non-profit organizations on the island, one of which is Resilient Dominica (REZDM). Resilient Dominica supports local and self-sustainable projects and initially focused on work in response to Hurricane Maria and the damage it caused to the island’s infrastructure in 2017.
Located in Portsmouth, this six-star, award-winning resort offers a variety of luxury residences to visitors. It is a Green Globe-certified resort composed entirely of sustainably sourced materials such as tropical hardwood. Secret Bay is committed to maintaining the land in the pristine condition it was founded in, employing people from neighboring communities, buying local produce, and supporting local artisans and businesses.
Tour Dominica by taste
There are many food and drink tours available in Dominica that are highly recommended.
Dominica Chocolate Factory Tour and Taste
The Dominica Chocolate Factory Tour is the only place in Dominica where you can see chocolate making year-round. Here, you can learn all about the process of making chocolate and enjoy a unique tasting of locally grown beans.
The Art of Dominican Cooking in Roseau
Through this tour, you will experience the vibrant and delicious flavors of Dominica’s cuisine, learn about the different herbs, spices, and products used in Dominican Creole cuisine, learn how to cook traditional dishes, and even explore the capital city of Roseau.
The central part of this tour revolves around a visit to a local home where a skilled chef will teach you about the history and cultural significance of local dishes, such as mofongo, sancocho, and arroz con Pollo, as well as how to cook them. You will get to sit down and enjoy the delicious meal you have cooked.
Take a boat ride along the Indian River
A relaxing boat ride along the Indian River is a great way to enjoy the island’s natural environment. Along the way, you’ll be able to spot birds, iguanas, and more of Dominica’s wildlife.
If you’re a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, this is one of the best Dominica activities for you, as the colorful wooden rowboats and knowledgeable guides take you through the jungle hideaway of Tia Dalma, also known as Calypso.
Late afternoon is a nice time to go, especially if cruise ships are visiting. You just might catch the start of a stunning Dominica sunset while enjoying a dynamite punch at the Indian River Bar.
If you’re a fan of the water, you may also enjoy hopping on a cruise ship or catamaran and venturing out to some of Dominica’s neighboring islands.
Try your hand at canyoning
As we mentioned above, there are about 365 rivers flowing across Dominica, many of which run through deep, narrow canyons. One of these canyons connects Titou Gorge to Trafalgar Falls and is where expert operators run canyoning trips.
Canyoning refers to the act of navigating down a fast-flowing mountain stream in a gorge and is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Dominica. No experience is necessary, as experts will guide you through the process of what to do, but you should be comfortable with heights and a decent swimmer.
The required rappelling gear is provided and relatively easy to operate. You can build your confidence on the practice wall before moving on to the real thing. The most popular canyoning route, which is suitable for most people, involves rappelling down multiple waterfalls and bounding into deep river pools before ending in the gorgeous Cathedral Canyon.
Scuba dive in the Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve
The steep cliffs, colossal mountains, and lush forest of Dominica’s interior are echoed in the sudden drops and lively coral reefs of its coastal waters. Scuba diving is a popular activity offered by many operators along the island’s sheltered west coast. A scuba diving adventure provides the chance to Dominica’s wide range of reef fish, turtles, corals, and colorful sponges.
One of Dominica’s great attractions is that it is so well-preserved, and its coral reefs are no different. The cool, deep waters of the ocean have protected them from the kind of bleaching damage experienced elsewhere, leaving the formations in a pretty healthy condition. The majority of divers favor the protected Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve, where sites such as Swiss Cheese and Cachacrou attract photographers of all kinds.
Immerse Yourself in Dominica's Culture
Explore the streets of Roseau
You can explore the streets of the island’s capital city, Roseau, through walking tours. During the tour, you will hear stories about the city’s history, architecture, and culture and visit places such as:
- The Dominica Museum
- Pebble’s Park
- Our Lady of Fairhaven Cathedral
- The Botanical Gardens
- Morne Bruce
- The city’s old slave market
Many agree that walking is the best way to explore a new place, and Dominica – with its lush rainforest, hot springs, stunning landscape, and friendly people – is an ideal Caribbean island to do just that.
Take part in Dominica’s festivals
There are several cultural festivals that take place in Dominica. Things kick off in February with Mas Dominik, a celebration also known as Carnival. The month-long festivities include street parades, calypso competitions, and fetes (parties) that showcase the cultural traditions of the island’s African heritage.
In April, the Jazz ‘N Creole music festival celebrates the island’s rich Creole traditions. This is a family-friendly event that has been held for more than a decade and takes place each year at Fort Shirley in Cabrits National Park.
From April to June, you will encounter DOMFESTA (Dominica Festival of Arts), which showcases concerts, theatrical and dance performances, and artistic workshops aimed at developing local artistic expressions.
In July, you’ve got Dive Fest, an annual event held by the Dominica Watersports Association. The event provides whale-watching deals, special dive packages, snorkeling picnics, canoe racing, and marine educational tours and is the perfect experience for dive enthusiasts.
If you enjoy attending these types of festivals, it may be worth researching the different festivals that happen and planning your Dominica visit around them.
13. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is Dominica’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dominican government recognized the area as a national park in 1975 – the first one in the country – and the park was officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park boasts a variety of exceptional natural wonders, highlighted by the Emerald Pool, Middleham Falls, Titou Gorge, and Boiling Lake. The park’s key attractions include the Valley of Desolation, the Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge, Freshwater Lake, Boeri Lake, Emerald Pool, Middleham Falls, Morne Anglaise, Morne Watt, and Morne Micotrin (Morne Macque).
Explore the Kalinago Territory
A great way to connect with the history of Dominica is to visit the Kalinago Territory, which is home to the Kalinago (previously known as the Caribs). Descendants of the island’s original people, the Kalinago are always welcoming to guests
A day trip through the territory provides the perfect opportunity to experience Kalinago culture and tradition. For example, baskets are woven from river reeds, canoes are created from the trunks of giant gommier trees, and cassava bread is baked on open fires and hot plates.
Tours of the Kalinago Territory are offered by Kalinago guides and include hikes along the Asulukati River and its waterfall and climbs to the peak of Kabet.
Explore Roseau Old Market
The Roseau Old Market can be found on King George V Street in the old part of Dominica’s capital city, Roseau. The market is easily accessible on foot, being only a short distance from the cruise ship terminal and any other landmark in town.
Situated in a cobblestone plaza, the busy market is frequented by locals and foreign visitors who love to snap photos and explore the wooden stalls filled with tropical fruits, spices, coffee, leather goods, woven baskets, and various trinkets.
As you explore the vibrant tapestry of experiences that Dominica has to offer, from the enchanting Trafalgar Falls to the awe-inspiring Boiling Lake, you’ll discover a destination that captivates the heart and soul. With its lush landscapes, warm hospitality, and a myriad of adventures waiting around every corner, Dominica truly stands out as a gem of the Caribbean.
Whether you enjoy spending your day on the beach, swimming in the hot water of volcanic springs, or hiking through the island’s lush and untouched vegetation, there’s so much to uncover. You’re sure to find a wealth of things to do in Dominica, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or someone simply seeking a tranquil escape.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Things to Do in Dominica
What are the must-visit natural attractions in Dominica?
Dominica is particularly attractive because of its untouched natural landscape. The must-see attractions include the Emerald Pool, the Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge, the Champagne Reef, and Trafalgar Falls.
What are the best activities for adventure enthusiasts in Dominica?
The best activities for adventure enthusiasts in Dominica include boat rides along the Indian River, hikes in the national parks, scuba diving and snorkeling in the ocean, and canyoning.
What cultural experiences can I have in Dominica?
There are many ways to experience Dominica’s culture, such as local food and drink tours, street tours, visiting cultural landmarks and museums, and doing a guided tour of the Kalinago Territory. It is worth visiting for an immersive cultural experience.
Can I go river tubing in Dominica?
Yes, you can go river tubing in Dominica at Hibiscus Eco-Village. You can also visit sulphur springs, a national park (e.g., Morne Trois Pitons and Cabrits National Park), historical sites (e.g., Fort Shirley), a World Heritage Site (Morne Trois Pitons National Park), a marine reserve (Scotts Head), and more.