Home Caribbean 13 AWESOME Things To Do In Dominica – The Caribbean’s Nature Island

13 AWESOME Things To Do In Dominica – The Caribbean’s Nature Island

by Chloe Gunning
View approaching Roseau, Dominica, Caribbean
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From stunning waterfalls and delicious food, to whale watching and diving, these are the best things to do in Dominica in the Caribbean.

Let me introduce you to my new favourite island in the Caribbean! Before visiting Dominica, I’d spent time in Barbados, Antigua, St Kitts and St Martin. I’m way off being Caribbean expert, but I was starting to get a feel for what makes each island special.

When I stepped foot on Dominica, I was surprised by just how different it was from all of the others I’d visited. With its volcanic landscapes and lush forests, it reminded me more of Hawaii mixed with Costa Rica!

With 365 rivers, 18 named waterfalls, and natural pools which will have you reaching for your bikini, Dominica is a place to immerse yourself in nature. The beaches in Dominica aren’t the main attraction, although the black and silver sands make a change from the bright white sands of neighbouring islands.

The beautiful landscapes of Dominica

The beautiful landscapes of Dominica

Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Activities on the island are more adventurous than most too, with canyoning, river tubing, hikes to the island’s ‘boiling lake’ and scuba diving all popular choices.

Temperatures remain warm all year round, but it’s worth remembering there’s a hurricane season across the Caribbean (August – September). Tragically the island was struck by Hurricane Maria just a few years ago, and while there is still evidence to be seen, the island has bounced back with incredible strength and positivity. The forests are starting to regrow, and on several occasions I spotted trees full of mangos, papaya, and huge avocados. 

Avocado trees in Dominica

Avocado trees in Dominica

Pineapple fields in Dominica

Pineapple fields in Dominica

So, whether you’re visiting Dominica on a cruise ship (they dock in the capital Roseau regularly between October – May/June) or fancy a Caribbean break with a twist, here’s my guide to the best things to do in Dominica.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN DOMINICA

Visit The Emerald Pool, Dominica

You’re never far from a waterfall in Dominica, but there’s a reason this one is extra special! After trekking for around ten minutes, you’ll be met by incredible views of a 40-foot waterfall cascading into an emerald green pool.

Trekking to the Emerald Pool, Dominica

Trekking to the Emerald Pool, Dominica

The colours are enhanced by the tropical surroundings, with dappled sunlight passing through the trees and illuminating the pool. After a humid walk down, you’ll be dying to dive in! Be warned, it’s ‘refreshing’, but the cooling waters were just what I needed, and as I splashed around, I could see why it’s one of the island’s top attractions.

If you want to book your ticket in advance, you can check the latest prices here, plus read more about visiting the Emerald Pool here

Emerald Pool, Dominica

Emerald Pool, Dominica

Scuba Dive In Dominica

If you’ve got your PADI then scuba diving HAS to be on your list of activities in Dominica! It’s regarded as one of the top diving destinations in the world, partly due to the 20 species of whale that enjoy the waters around the island. There’s also plenty of coral, along with octopus, eels, rays, trumpet fish, parrotfish, hawksbill turtles and seahorses. To add to the fun, the island’s volcanic origins create some special formations, including Champagne Reef – where you can dive or snorkel over the bubbles! Read more about scuba diving in Dominica.

Learn About The Kalinago People

Dominica still has a small group of direct descendants of the indigenous Kalinago people, who inhabited several of the Caribbean islands before they were colonised. To learn more, I visited Kalinago Barana Autê, a cultural heritage centre set within the 3,700 acre Kalinago territory. It was interesting to learn not only about the past, but also about their lives on the island today. While they are active members of Dominica’s society (with voting rights) they also have their own Chief who is elected every five years. We enjoyed a guided tour of the site, then watched traditional basket weaving, visited a beach and stopped for a drink. 

Find out more about visiting Kalinago Barana Autê.

TOP TIP: If you don’t have a car, it might be simpler to book a tour like this one.

Kalinago Barana Autê, Dominica

Kalinago Barana Autê, Dominica

Enjoy a Caribbean Cooking Class

I always say my favourite way to get to know a destination is through its cuisine, so what better way to start my trip through Dominica than with a cooking class at a local’s house! We headed to the hills and met Daria – a super-fun foodie, with a passion for sharing her love of Creole cuisine.

Fresh ingredients for our Dominica cooking class

We spent the morning cooking up a huge feast of delicious Dominican dishes, created from locally sourced ingredients (some picked from the fields next to her house!) After a starter of tasty titiri fish cakes, we learned how to make Creole tuna (with the most incredible marinade!) plus a few sorts of plantain and a flavoursome coconut rice and beans.

After a rum-infused interlude, we sat outside on the terrace, sharing the feast we’d created and listening to Daria’s incredible stories about life in Dominica. This was a huge highlight of my trip, and I’d definitely recommend a visit to Daria’s cooking school if you have time!

Find out more about Daria’s Caribbean cooking classes here.

Our meal at our Dominica cooking class

Our meal at our Dominica cooking class

Proud of the meal we cooked at our Dominica cooking class

Proud of the meal we cooked at our Dominica cooking class

Visit Trafalgar Falls  

Trafalgar Falls are the most visited waterfalls in Dominica. There are actually two waterfalls side by side – one at 85m and the other 40m. After stopping by the visitor centre, it’s around a ten-minute walk down a picturesque rainforest path, complete with butterflies and crabs, to reach the viewing platform. From there you can enjoy the impressive cascades, or venture closer and take a dip!

If you fancy visiting Trafalgar Falls and the Emerald Pool – you could book onto a day trip like this one which takes you to both. Check latest prices and availability now.

Visiting Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Visiting Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Go Canyoning In Dominica  

I mentioned that Dominica has a handful of extreme activities on offer, perfect for adrenaline junkies. A few of my friends went canyoning and absolutely loved the experience! With the help of experienced guides, they rapelled, climbed, jumped and ziplined around the epic scenery of the island. 

Check latest prices and availability now.

Canyoning in Dominica (credit: Macca Sherifi)

Canyoning in Dominica (credit: Macca Sherifi)

Go Dolphin And Whale Watching In Dominica

One of the top reasons to visit Dominica is to see whales in their natural habitat. Over 20 species of whale have been spotted in the waters around the island, with the most common including short-fin pilot whales, false killer whales, melon head whales, pygmy sperm whales, and humpbacks. The big draw though is the pod of sperm whales which inhabits Dominica’s waters. The whale watching tours  use hydrophone technology (a bit like an underwater microphone with a 7km range) to track their location, and while sightings on these tours aren’t 100% guaranteed, they’re pretty common!

Whale watching tour, Dominica

Whale watching tour, Dominica

On our trip, we spotted three sperm whales – an incredible moment I’ll never forget! We were then treated to a show by a huge pod of dolphins which seemed to ‘escort’ us back to land! This tour was another highlight of my trip, and I’d say a whale watching tour is an absolute must do if you’re visiting Dominica!

Find out more about whale watching in Dominica, plus check prices and availability here

Dolphins in Dominica

Dolphins in Dominica

Cruise Along Dominica’s Indian River

Dominica is known for its diverse landscapes, but even with that in mind, the views along the Indian River (close to Portsmouth) were surprising! Getting its name from the fact the Kalinago (Carib Indian) people lived along its banks, and used it as a means of transport, the river is one of 365 rivers on the island. It’s so picturesque, with trees forming a canopy over the water, and leaving some magical mirror reflections.

We hopped on a boat tour along the waters to yet another surprise – a Bush Bar! We hopped out and enjoyed some local rum punch, before venturing back along the waters.

Indian River Safari, Dominica

Indian River Safari, Dominica

Bush bar on our Indian River Safari, Dominica

Bush bar on our Indian River Safari, Dominica

Visit Roseau’s Market  

Wondering what to do in Dominica for a real flavour of local life? While it’s open every day of the week, Dominica’s colourful capital is at its liveliest on Fridays and Saturdays, when the city’s market is in full swing. Selling everything from fresh mangos and spices, to clothing and gifts, it’s a real insight into life on the island. If you’re looking for things to do in Dominica’s cruise port – make this your first stop.

Roseau Market, Dominica

Roseau Market, Dominica

Exploring colourful Roseau, Dominica

Exploring colourful Roseau, Dominica

Learn About Dominica’s Nature

With several different microclimates, Dominica is home to plenty of interesting creatures. As I wandered along a beach road near Portsmouth I spotted several of the island’s speedy ground lizards (known as abòlò). A few of my friends went on a half day tour with the island’s legendary ornithologist Dr Birdy. They learned more about the flora and fauna, and spotted some of the island’s rarest species of bird.

You can contact Dr Birdy directly to arrange a tour.

Dominican ground lizard

Dominican ground lizard

Check Out The Islands Best Views 

One of my favourite parts of my trip through Dominica, were the breath-taking views we spotted as we drove aound the island (accompanied by a commentary by our passionate local guides and drivers!) My favourites were:

– Overlooking Roseau and the Botanical Gardens, where you can see the sprawling, colourful capital..

– From Islet View (bar and restaurant) which boasts beautiful views over the bay at Castle Bruce on Dominca’s east coast.

– Volcano views of Unesco World Heritage Site Morne Trois Pitons National Park, in the centre of the island.

View over Roseau, Dominica

View over Roseau, Dominica

Sunrise in Dominica, Caribbean

Sunrise in Dominica, Caribbean

View over Castle Bruce from Islet View, Dominica

View over Castle Bruce from Islet View, Dominica

Search For Pirates In Dominica

Incase you didn’t know, some scenes from the Hollywood movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest were filmed in Dominica. As you travel around the island, you’re guaranteed to hear stories about it! Several of the guides we met were involved in the film, from being location scouts, to make-up artists and playing extras! It boosted Dominica’s economy, provided plenty of jobs, and created a legacy that still lives on.

Several scenes were filmed at locations including Titou Gorge, Indian River, Morne Trois Pitons National Park and Hampstead Beach. When I checked into Picard Beach Cottages, my room had a plaque above the door saying producer Jerry Bruckheimer had stayed there! 

Lush views in Dominica

Lush views in Dominica

Relax At Wotten Waven Hot Springs

After visiting Trafalgar Falls, we headed for a dip in the healing sulphur waters at Wotten Waven. There are several natural hot sulphur springs and mud pools located around the villag. I’d recommend having a look around before you decide which to visit, as some are more inviting than others! I wouldn’t say the hot springs here had the appeal of the relaxing onsen in Japan, but it was nice to see what the hype was about.

Wotten Waven hot springs, Dominica

Wotten Waven hot springs, Dominica

Marvel At The Transformation Of Fort Shirley

Set in Cabrits National Park, on the iconic mountainous peninsula close to Portsmouth, Fort Shirley was used during international conflicts between Britain and France in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a beautiful site, with incredible views, impressive cannons, and several hiking trails.

We explored the site with Lennox Honychurch, a historian who has dedicated his life to rebuilding the fort, and sharing stories about its history. He’s the most wonderful guide you could ask for, with endless engaging stories not only about the history, but also what it’s really like to live in Dominica. 

Find out more about visiting Fort Shirley or arrange a tour with Lennox Honychurch.

Fort Shirley, Dominica

Fort Shirley, Dominica

Where To Stay In Dominica

I’ll post more about this soon, but if you’re spending one week in Dominica, I’d recommend dividing your time between two areas.

Fort Young Hotel, Roseau

We started our trip at this four-star hotel in Dominica’s capital. It’s one of the smartest hotels on the island, with a pool, jacuzzi and sun-loungers for those wanting to relax, plus a choice of casual and fine dining restaurants. All rooms have incredible sea views – something I loved when my jet lag woke me up earlier than desired! It’s in a great location, close to shops, restaurants, Dominica cruise and ferry port, plus for those wishing to scuba dive, the hotel has its own dive store.

Check availability and prices at Fort Young Hotel here

Fort Young Hotel, Roseau, Dominica

Fort Young Hotel, Roseau, Dominica

Picard Beach Cottages, Portsmouth

I adored this accommodation close to Portsmouth. Waking up and walking straight out onto the beach is a special experience, as is falling asleep to the sound of the waves lapping on the shire! The beach huts give you the option to self-cater your holiday, or eat at the restaurant just a few moments away. They’re in a great location, just a few minutes from the centre of Portsmouth (Dominica’s second city), plus close to the Indian River and Fort Shirley. The cottage I was in slept three people, which would make this perfect for families, or those visiting Dominica on a budget. 

Check availability and prices at Picard Beach Cottages here

Picard Beach Cottages, Dominica (credit: Picard Beach Cottages)

Picard Beach Cottages, Dominica (credit: Picard Beach Cottages)

Plenty more blogs to come about my time on the beautiful island of Dominica. I was invited to explore the island by Discover Dominica, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Top Things To Do In Dominica


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