Hiking & Adventure in Dominica
Dubbed the “hiker’s paradise”, Dominica does indeed provide the keen hiker with a mighty array of fantastic opportunities. The island’s vast unspoiled rainforest, its countless rivers and its amazing boiling lake are some of the island’s on-land attractions. But while it may be the hiker’s dream-come-true, many avid divers have found it equally appealing for its gorgeous underwater world. Reputed to be the finest place in the Caribbean to see whales and dolphins, Dominica also offers fine snorkelling around beautiful reefs where marine life is abundant. And since Dominica goes undiscovered by many tourists, it allows the traveller to have a unique and personal
Titou Gorge – The short swim through the gorge from the base of a waterfall through a series of natural “rooms” and ponds is not to be missed. High cliff walls interlaced with trees create a canopy through which light filters down from above. Known as Little Throat Gorge in Carib, its depth varies depending on rainfall amounts. A hot spring tumbles down a short wall just outside the entrance of the gorge, excellent to warm up in after paddling in the cool waters of the gorge.
Trafalgar Falls – Considered Dominica’s most popular natural attraction, these two major falls cascading side by side are both located on tributaries of the Roseau River. The taller “father” falls is to the left at about 125 ft and the shorter “mother” falls to the right is about 75ft. From the road and visitor reception area a brief walk along a well-maintained path brings guests to a platform for viewing and photographing both falls. Guests can also take a side path leading to the base of the falls. Exploring the father is not advised, but feel free to step into the pool at the base of the mother.
Boiling Lake – Dominica has half of the Eastern Caribbean’s 20 active volcanoes. Although none have erupted in more than 1000 years, bubbling sulfur springs, fumaroles and the massive boiling lake indicates underlying volcanic activity. Second in size only to New Zealand’s Frying Pan Lake, Dominica’s Boiling Lake is 200 ft wide and is considered one of the most amazing geothermal features on earth. It is located five miles from the city at the heart of the Morne Trois Piton National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Wacky Rollers Adventure Park – Utilizing the natural landscape of Dominica, visitors can experience the beauty of the country in various fun ways at this park. Travel on foot along the trail, advance from tree to tree via suspended platforms and zip lines, and indulge in a Tarzan jump before the course ends with a zip across the Layou River and back. A kid’s park for children four years and up and at least two metres tall complements the adult section, making it an excellent family experience. Riving tubing, jeep tours and kayak tours are also offered.
Diving/snorkelling at Champagne Reef – The dive itself usually consists of a circuit around Champagne Reef followed by a stop exploring the hot springs and bubbles from which it got its name. The dive is ideal for all levels, with calm water and light to no currents. It is not unusual to find seahorses and frogfish here, and flying gurnards are common over the shallow sandy areas. The best time to see this site in all its glory is at night, when the reef explodes with life. This site is easily accessible from shore and many people snorkel here.
River tubing – With 365 rivers, crystal-clear water flows plentifully on Dominica and is a part of everyday life and recreation. Travellers, too, can experience river tubing along the Layou River, Dominica’s longest, located 40 minutes from Roseau. After instructions, guides equip tubers with a life jacket and paddles, help them into a large boarded-base tube and guide them downstream, offering navigational support along the way. Throughout the hour-long trip, the river unveils spectacular vistas of soaring cliffs and enchanting rainforests. After the trip, many riders welcome a dip in the clean, fresh water at the mouth of the river.
Kayaking at high altitude – Kayaking at high altitude on the Freshwater and Boeri lakes is a unique experience and testifies to the island’s hypnotic charm. Freshwater Lake and Boeri Lake, which is a very short distance from main activities, are located high in Dominica’s Morne Trois Piton National Park. The area offers guided hikes around the lake and tops it off with freshly brewed coffee and local foods from its Visitor’s Centre.
Whale-watching – Dominica’s sheer walls disappear under the sea, creating deep sheltered bays along its western coastline – a haven for sperm whales, which love this type of habitat. A short boat ride brings visitors into contact with these whales, the world’s largest toothed animal. They are often seen at Scotts Head, Roseau, Layou and Point Round. Dominica is the only country in the world where sperm whales reside all year long, with most sightings between November and March. Whale-watching operators follow strict codes of conduct on their excursions. They do not lure the whales and minimize any disturbance. On a rare trip, the whales may be elusive, but such disappointment is usually compensated by acrobatic performances from hundreds of dolphins.
Rain forest aerial tram
Rain forest aerial tram – Just 30 minutes from Roseau, passengers in a comfortably-sized tram gondola soar over the rain forest’s treetops, gaining a unique perspective on the island’s flora and fauna. During the leisurely 90-minute ride, naturalist guides talk about the landscape and point out various distinctive features. In addition, a suspension bridge spans the beautiful Breakfast River Gorge, where cloud-shrouded mountains create a mystical backdrop for palms, tree ferns, giant bromeliads and cascading waterfalls.
The Soufriere Sulfur Springs
The Soufriere Sulfur Springs – Dominica is graced by numerous hot water springs and these are a favourite for tourism recreation. Located just a few miles south of Champagne in the village of Soufriere, the pools collect the natural flow of a hot stream allowing patrons to frolic in the therapeutic water, reputed to have healing benefits. A gazebo, change rooms and a restaurant make the spot more comfortable and convenient for locals and visitors alike.
Kalinago Barana Aute
Kalinago Barana Aute – Just opened in 2006, a typical visit to Kalinago Barana Aute includes learning traditional basket weaving, catching crayfish using traditional methods and learning how the Kalinago Indians (better known as the Caribs) used the trunk of the gigantic gommier tree to construct their most valuable possession, the canoe. Visitors are also entertained by cultural performances, calabash art, story telling, face painting and a Kalinago lecture. Guests can also obtain a spiritual cleansing, visit the on-site herbal garden and even purchase herbal medicine at the conclusion of the tour. Dominica is the last Caribbean island to have Carib Indians in continual residence.
Known as “The Nature Island” and located between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean, the independent nation of Dominica (pronounced “Dom-in-eek-a”) is the largest and most mountainous of the Windward Islands, encompassing an area of nearly 290 square miles. Of volcanic origins with mountains reaching heights of nearly 5000 feet, rain forests that are considered among the last true oceanic rain forests in the world, more than 365 rivers, waterfalls, boiling lakes and pristine coral reefs, Dominica’s natural diversity is truly unique. Dominica is also home to the last remaining settlement of the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean – the Carib Indians. A place where man and nature live in harmony, adventurers and nature lovers alike will revel in the island’s ecotourism options, which include scuba diving, snorkelling, mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding, nature tours, hiking/trekking, sailing, fishing and whale-, dolphin- and birdwatching.
Dominica continues to be recognized for its attributes and sustainable tourism efforts, including being the first country in the world to receive Benchmarking designation from the prestigious ecotourism organization Green Globe 21 and ranking as the only Caribbean destination in the top five happiest countries on earth in the Happy Planet Index (compiled by Britain’s New Economics Foundation).
Other Adventure sites:
Fresh Water Lake
Cabrits National Park
Morne Diablotin National Park