Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Dominica
Titou ‘Little Throat’ Gorge is a marvellous swimming spot surrounded by natural caves of molten volcanic lava. You can swim inside the gorge to find a powerful cataract amidst the darkness of the vine-clad rocks. Just 30 minutes away from Roseau, this ethereal spot is one of the locations where Pirates of the Caribbean was shot.
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park surrounds Dominica’s second highest mountain, Morne Trois Pitons. The lush 16,936-acre (6,857-hectare) park protects six vegetation zones, from low-lying woodlands to mature rainforest, and is home to the giant guinea pig known as the agouti, along with bats, frogs, parrots and hummingbirds.
Take an expedition into the coastal wetlands of northern Dominica along the Indian River. This mangrove river meets the ocean at Portsmouth, and from here you can hook up with a boat and a guide who can row you up-river—no motors are allowed in the preserve—into the tangle of bwa mang trees. The clear, brackish water is a mix of salt and fresh that serves as a vital nursery for many of Dominica’s reef fish. Look closely among the mangrove roots to spot juvenile barracuda shading themselves beneath the trees. Above the water, you’ll pass vibrantly colored birds and wildflowers along the banks as your guide regales you with stories and knowledge about the local flora and fauna. At the far reaches of the river, you’ll make landfall at makeshift jungle bar where you can have lunch, drinks and take a short hike on the surrounding trails before heading back downriver.
The Dominica Botanic Gardens are a beloved area of green space in the capital of Roseau. Established by the British in 1890, it was originally planted to maintain reserves of the various crops farmers grew on the island. Today the gardens comprise 40 acres along the south edge of the city, situated at the base of Morne Bruce. You can explore an oasis of tropical flora and fauna that is home to more than 50 types of native plants and imported trees. While here, keep your eyes open for the Sisserou Parrot, Dominica’s national bird. In 1979 Hurricane David did considerable damage to the gardens, and you can still see some of the carnage in the form of a bus that was crushed beneath a baobab tree.
Located inside the UNESCO-listed Morne Trois Piton National Park, this tranquil grotto in Dominica’s dense rainforest offers a refreshing waterfall cascading into a gorgeous emerald green pool. Cool down here after a long hike through the jungle.
Dominica is a volcanic island, which means much of the shoreline is rocky, and there are fewer sandy beaches than visitors might be accustomed to in other parts of the Caribbean. Mero Beach is the closest beach to the capital Roseau, and also one of only a few beaches on the island that has food, drinks, bathrooms, showers and other amenities nearby. With sandy beaches few and far between, Mero Beach is a particularly popular spot among visitors and locals alike, especially on the weekends. And because Mero has warm, protected waters for swimming and public restrooms and showers nearby, it’s an ideal place for families to spend a day playing in the sun and sand. And just a quarter mile from Mero Beach, you’ll find the Wacky Roller Adventure Park where you can climb across rope bridges, ride ziplines and go river tubing.
The twin Trafalgar Falls are a star attraction in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, an expansive and pristine UNESCO World Heritage Site on Dominica. Surrounded by thick rainforest vegetation, the falls tumble into pools, offering a refreshing opportunity to swim and cool down from the humidity.
You know the way that bubbles rise from the bottom of a glass of champagne? That’s exactly what the water looks like when snorkeling Champagne Reef. Thanks to small, volcanic vents in Dominica’s ocean floor, powerful streams of miniature bubbles emerge from cracks between the rocks and dance their way to the surface. Place your hand on the ocean floor, and it’s even possible to feel the burst of air bubbling up from the Earth. Add in a wealth of colorful marine life and the turquoise, tropical waters, and it’s little wonder why Champagne Reef is one of Dominica’s most popular destinations to explore with mask and snorkel.
Atop a mountain within the UNESCO-listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park, thisxa0enchanted lake is the second largest body of hot water on the planet. Formed from a flooded volcanic fumarole, the crater is filled with grey-blue water shrouded in mist. Look past the whirling mass of steam and you’ll see the lake’s bubbling water surrounded by steep cliffs.
On the southeast edge of Dominica’s capital Roseau, the small mountain Morne Bruce rises from the backside of the Dominica Botanical Gardens. From the top of Morne Bruce you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Roseau and western coastline, with the islands signature steep, verdant slopes plunging into the blue Caribbean Sea. It’s a relatively short, through steep, walk to the top of the small mountain, but it’s also accessible by car if you’re unable to make the hike. A trip up Morne Bruce in the late afternoon is the perfect way to cap off a day in Dominica. You can sit near the cross that adorns the hilltop and watch the sun dip slowly into the sea.
More Things to Do in Dominica
Located in the north-western shores of Dominica, Portsmouth is the island’s second largest city after Roseau. It's a quaint port town with all the amenities. Whale-watching and diving are the town’s other main outdoor drawcards, along with the unspoiled nature within Cabrits National Park on the northern fringe.
Take a whitewater adventure down Dominica’s longest river. The Layou River runs down the interior mountains near the Central Forest Reserve, eventually spilling into the ocean just south of Mero Beach. Fueled by abundant rains the river has cut a deep gorge through the landscape, making the Layou River Valley one of the more picturesque parts of the island. River tubing tours take you far up the valley, where you and your fellow river runners can climb into oversize inner tubes for a guided run downriver. You’ll make stops along the 1.5-hour trip to swim in the cool, fresh waters and sample local fruits along the way. If you’d like to take a swim in the Layou River without the tubing, you can explore along the river banks just south of St. Joseph.
This fun family-friendly park in the rainforest will give you an authentic taste of Caribbean adventure. Easily reached from the port in Dominica, Wacky Rollers offers thrilling zip lines over rivers, an extreme challenge course through the jungle, seemingly treacherous rope walks over narrow footbridges, raft and tube rides over flowing rapids.
Tucked away in a corner of the northern peninsula in Dominica, a little garrison called Fort Shirley sits on the protected national park of Cabrits Surrounded by pristine Caribbean wildlife, tropical forests and coral reefs, Fort Shirley is a prime example of Caribbean fortresses built in the 18th century and makes for some of the easiest and most scenic hikes on the island of Dominica.
Originally erected by the British to defend against invading forces like the French and Dutch, the garrison was later abandoned and then restored to its Colonial prime in 1989. Today, visitors can hike the lush lawns, see the panoramic vistas of the harbor from the cannon walls and experience the history of the Caribbean and its colonial roots firsthand on a guided tour.
Among the myriad natural and geological wonders you’ll find in Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park is Freshwater Lake, also known as Warmae Letang. This water-filled volcanic crater sits at around 2,500 feet above sea level, and it’s surrounded by moss, ferns and lush vegetation of Dominca’s interior rainforest, making it great place to spot the elusive Carib hummingbird. As the island’s largest lake, it’s the headwaters of the Roseau River, and a hydroelectric dam at the riverhead provides power to the island. In recent years the lake has become a popular eco-tourism destination with boating and kayaking trips available on the lake itself, and an easy hiking trail that circumnavigates the lake, which takes an hour or two to complete. From Freshwater Lake you can also continue hiking another mile to explore nearby Boeri Lake, which is the island’s deepest.
Laudat is a tiny village of about 300 people in the interior of Dominica. Because it sits just at the edge of the boundary of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Laudat is considered the gateway to the park, and it is the jumping off point for many tours and attractions in and around the park, including the boiling lake, Titou Gorge, the Valley of Desolation, Middleham Falls and much more. At 1,200 feet above sea level, Laudat is one of the island’s wettest areas, getting about 350 inches of rain per year. It has a cool, misty atmosphere, nestled deep into the Dominican rainforest.
Although Roseau is the largest city in the island nation of Dominica, it is still small by most international standards. Visiting this capital city provides both a charming retreat into cozy island life and a peek into the bustling culture that is life in Dominica’s main city.
Activity in Roseau centers on its French Quarter, where the French-Caribbean meets West Indian architecture in splendid fashion. Visitors stroll through the cobblestone streets, which are far from idle and instead active places of bartering, conversation and regular social gatherings. You can spend your time visiting the Old Town Market to haggle for handmade goods, learning at the Historical Museum or hiking up into Roseau’s splendid backdrop: the lush Caribbean mountaintops that make Dominica famous.
Known as one of Dominica’s most beautiful stretches of white sand, this Caribbean beach lies just three miles north of the town of Portsmouth. Lined with a colorful smattering of beachfront bars and restaurants serving everything from locally caught fish to deep-fried conch fritters, Purple Turtle Beach serves as a relaxing spot for locals and tourists alike.
Visitors can opt to hit the sand for some waterfront fun or grab a mai-tai at the local watering hole. As a beach that is rarely crowded with easy-to-find parking along the coastal road, visitors would be sorry to miss this Dominican slice of pristine beauty.
At the northern tip of Dominica, the Cabrits Headland juts westward into the Caribbean. To the north is Douglas Bay, and to the south, the charming town of Portsmouth. Canvassing the entire peninsula is Cabrits National Park, a 1,313-acre (531-hectare) area of pristine tropical jungles, wetlands, and coral reefs.
Deep in the Roseau Valley, Wotten Waven is a small town where you’ll find geothermal hot springs that have attracted travelers with their muscle-soothing minerals for centuries. These unique features can be found here because the town sits atop the Wotten Waven Caldera, one of nine active volcanoes on the island. Today the town has become something of a natural spa retreat, with a variety of establishments offering hot water and mud baths fueled by the natural hot springs. A day tour of the community includes a hike along the sulphur river, where the rocks are stained yellow from the mineral and vents steam and bubble with volcanic mud. After a local lunch you can take soak in one of the community pools and relax amid the peaceful rainforest backdrop.
Located behind the Dominica Museum in Roseau, this atmospheric covered market along the seafront sells fresh fruits, spices, handmade knickknacks, and typical tourist souvenirs and t-shirts. Carrying a history of over 300 years, the market was the setting for important political meetings, the center of the island’s colonial slave trade, and where executions were carried out.
Roseau Cruise Port is the gateway to both the capital city Roseau and wider Dominica, a lesser visited Caribbean island situated between Martinique and Guadaloupe. Known for its natural attractions, such as lush rain forests, hot springs, and tumbling rivers, Dominica is an excellent destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike.