Most people flock to the Caribbean in search of sun, white sand and calm waters. This is precisely why most tourists don’t bother with the island of Dominica. Its beauty is more rugged than postcard-worthy, due to its black, rocky beaches. As pretty as they are to look at, they’re not ideal for those looking to lie around and work on their tan.
That being said, Dominica is a great place to stop, especially as part of a cruise.
As you approach port, you’re greeted by beautiful green hills framing the island, as white and pastel-coloured buildings dot the landscape.
Ships dock in the capital of Roseau, and from there it’s a quick drive to most landmarks. The main thing Dominica has going for it is that there is lots to see, so try to find a tour that hits all of them, or hire a driver to take you around. We went with the latter option after disembarking the boat, by hopping in a van with a number of other tourists. It only cost us about $20 each for a tour that lasted around five hours!
You’ll likely start with a drive up to Morne Bruce, a popular viewpoint at the top of the island that affords panoramic views of Roseau and the glittering water below. Take a few pictures here then wander over to the Botanical Gardens. The 40 acre site hosts about 50 types of plants and trees, and is also home to Dominica’s national bird—the Sisserou Parrot. The gardens are open every day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Once you’ve gotten your fill, head to Trafalgar Falls, located in Morne Trois Piton National Park. On the drive there you’ll pass lush green hills, banana trees and livestock like goats grazing along the roadway. After arriving at the site, you’ll go on an easy walk through the bright green vegetation which only takes about 15 minutes. One thing you’ll notice is an area featuring 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 the twin falls, simply sit back and take 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. If it’s really hot out, this is a great option!
If you haven’t had your fill of waterfalls just yet, get back in the van and head to another national treasure: the Emerald Pool. This is another site featuring a beautiful waterfall and a big pool at the bottom, which is great for a midday float. That being said, it’s very similar to Trafalgar Falls, so if your time is limited don’t bother visiting both sites.
Before heading back to port, make one last stop at the Champagne Reef. Made up of a pebble-covered beach, tourists can rent snorkelling equipment for about $5 then jump into the water, which ‘bubbles’ just as the name would suggest.
A volcano submerged below the surface pushes gasses up, creating bubbles which make it feel like you’re swimming through a glass of champagne.
Visibility isn’t always great if you’re hoping to see tropical fish, but this stop is all about taking in the bubbles. There aren’t many places you can see that!
If none of this appeals to you, there is one option left: whale watching. Dominica is a haven for sperm whales, which are commonly spotted between November and March. If you’re lucky, you might also spot a pod of dolphins. There are a number of tour operators that offer such excursions, which will set you back about $50 each.
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