In the heart of the Lesser Antilles emerges the enchanting Dominica Island, a natural paradise for tourists who never cease to be amazed by its extraordinary unspoiled beauty. Located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, the island acquires a unique beauty precisely because it is lapped on one side by the Caribbean Sea and on the other from the rushing waters of theAtlantic Ocean.
Dominica Island is a perfect destination for holidays. Despite being very small – with its 750 square kilometres of surface area – the area is equipped for seaside life and offers a series of unmissable attractions and natural points of interest including volcanoes, underwater landscapes and thermal waters. Dominica has 9 volcanoes, which is the highest concentration of active craters compared to any other place on earth. Its beauty is rugged yet lush: be amazed by the thousand wonders of this island that has seen so much.
Part of the Northern Windward Islands, Dominica was one of the last bastions of Caribbean resistance to European invasion forces. The Caribe people resisted strenuously before conceding their territory, and to this day still live on the island. Called Dominica as it was discovered on a Sunday, and for accuracy in the year 1493, the island was subsequently overwhelmed by the struggles between the French and the British. This was until 1978, when Dominica Island declared itself independent. English and a Creole language are still spoken on the island.
Welcome to Dominica, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in the Caribbean. In this guide we offer you some spectacular itineraries to make every moment of your visit to this magnificent land useful, in the hope that you can experience a truly unforgettable journey.
- Boiling Lake
- Morne Trois Pitons National Park
- Trafalgar Falls
- Ti Tou Gorge
- Cabrits National Park
- Emerald Pool
- Middleham Falls
- Botanical Gardens
- Fort Shirley
- Kalinago Barana Aute
- Sari Sari Waterfall
- Old Mill Cultural Centre
- Red Rocks, In
- The Cathedral of Our Lady
One of Dominica's most important attractions and, perhaps of the, Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The Boiling Lake is a somewhat ghostly looking place where the grey-green natural waters of a lake are constantly bubbling, spreading a phantasmagoric vapour for the entire surrounding area.
It takes about 3 hours of climbing to get to this unique location in the world, but it's worth it. This unique reservoir, about 63 metres wide, is the second largest boiling lake in the world. Geologists have established the nature of the phenomenon: it is actually a flooded volcanic fumarola, that is, a rift in the earth that allows the very hot gases of the volcano to discharge into the atmosphere. Needless to say, it is absolutely forbidden to bathe here, as temperatures at the ends of the basin hover around the 80-90 DEGREES C. Those who decide to tackle this path within the park should do so in the company of a guide, who will be able to provide all the necessary information to reach the location safely.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park
Along Dominica's mountainous spine is the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a rough natural paradise made of canyons and muttering volcanoes. With its 6,800 hectares, it occupies about 9% of the island. The park owes its name to Morne Trois Pitons, one of the five active volcanoes located inside it. The scenic beauty of this territory is made even more breathtaking by the presence of tropical forests of various species and natural lakes, including the boiling lake, the Boeri and the Freshwater. There's no shortage of locations to be missed within this extraordinary park.
Let's take for example the great solfataras of the Valley of Desolation . This area, a giant natural amphitheatre, shows marked volcanic activity thanks to the presence of fumaroles that produce intense and very hot coloured vapours, thermal waters and mud pools muttering. It is in this place that Boiling Lake rises, as mentioned above, with its very high temperatures. Morne Trois Pitons has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Heritage site and it is worth every single minute of your visit.
Put on comfortable shoes, take a guide and a camera: You will return home probably exhausted, but as happy as ever to have embarked on such an adventure.
A 20-minute drive from Roseau, the capital, majestic twin waterfalls known around the world with the name of Trafalgar Falls. From the parking lot, it takes about 10-15 minutes to walk along a well-preserved path to reach one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, most exciting tourist locations on Dominica Island. Trafalgar Falls is accessible and can be photographed from a walkway that offers a privileged view of this small natural masterpiece. As you travel the distance that separates you from one of the most beautiful photos of your life, take a few moments for savour the heat of the air, made even more magical by the presence of warm thermal waters that emerge from the ground.
Located in the picturesque village of Trafalgar, these waterfalls were once even more beautiful and welcoming. Unfortunately, in 1995 there was a small earthquake that almost completely submerged some of the natural thermal pools that lined this fantastic location with stones. The highest waterfall was the one on the left, the "Papa Falls". The smaller, and more impetuous, one is known by name of "Mama Falls". In addition to the rocks and beautiful plants that embellish it, pay attention to the presence of the small crabs that live in these magnificent waters.
Those who decide to take a day to see the falls will be faced with a natural attraction that is also well equipped for tourists. The visitor centre provides a large parking lot, bathrooms, souvenir shops and food to spend a day in full comfort. The area is also equipped with a series of exhibition rooms that offer some examples of the flora and fauna of the place. Who wants, here can also agree on a guided tour leading up to the slopes of the falls, so you can enjoy even more of the beauty of the place.
Ti Tou Gorge
We are close to Laudat, a small village on Dominica Island located within Morne Trois Pitons National Park. From here we have to make a small diversion to get to Ti Tou Gorge, one of the most beautiful and interesting locations in the place. In addition to being the perfect point for starting your own excursion to Boiling Lake, talked about above, it is in fact a magnificent place for a dip that is different from all the others.
Ti Tou Gorge, "little gorge", must be crossed by swimming to be really understood: it is a short route of pure water that enters between the steep surrounding volcanic walls, which make it almost dark. Those who walk through it all can reach a beautiful waterfall, the reward of this small adventure. Ti Tou Gorge is beautiful at all times of the day, but those who arrive at peak times might find it quite crowded. We recommend a late afternoon visit to fully enjoy this magical location without worrying too much about the crowds.
Cabrits National Park
North of Portsmouth, on the small peninsula at the upper end of Dominica, we find Cabrits National Park, a beautiful area of unspoiled nature where flora and fauna reign supreme. The park protects a beautiful tropical forest, coral reef and some swampy areas. The park takes its name from Cabrits, the now inactive volcano that once formed an island in its own right and – following the eruptions – turned into an extension of Dominica. "Cabrits" also means "goat", an indigenous animal that was brought here by sailors to thrive independently, becoming a possible source of food.
Cabrits is not only visited for itsbiodiversity that you can admire along the trails, but above all for the spectacular routes and excursions, many of which are well maintained and easy to travel. It is advisable to go to the visitor centre of Cabrits, where you can find shops, bathrooms and restaurants, and from there continue for your desired destination. Don't miss the visit to Fort Shirley. Although these are relatively easy routes, it is advisable to bring plenty of water and be careful, as much of the trails stay in the sun the whole day.
Whether you've decided to stay in Dominica just a few hours or for a few dayst, you have to for have to make a trip to Emerald Pool. Along with Trafalgar Falls, it's one of the sights you just can't miss. Fed by the transparent waters coming from the mountain, the "emerald pool" is a beautiful reservoir surrounded by large round boulders, shrubs and leafy trees fed by a magnificent waterfall that emerges from the green rock. Sunlight hits the slightly murky waters of this natural pool and creates a magnificent play of shadows, making it the perfect location for your next Instagram photograph. And not only that: Emerald Pool was also the scenario of several films and luxurious weddings.
Emerald Pool is perhaps one of Dominica's most popular attractions, and this also makes it very crowded. However, it's worth it. Especially if you go there with the right awareness. This beautiful area is located atop Morne Trois Pitons National Park and is easily accessible, unlike, for example, Boiling Lake. Those who come here can only do one thing: take a dip. The water is rather cold, but the location makes up for any lack in temperature.
You arrive at Emerald Pool after a 45-minute drive from Portsmouth. The windy road to the visitor centre is in perfect condition and ends with a large car park that will take you almost to your destination. You'll want to rent a car and arrive here early in the morning, possibly at dawn. With a bit of luck, you'll be amongst the first to reach Emerald Pool and you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of the place when the dew still bathes the leaves. At that time, experiencing the massage of the waterfall while it rains down on you is priceless!
When the first plans for the construction of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park were put in place, around the early 1970s, John Archbold, owner of the Middleham estate and an American millionaire, donated part of the land to the World Wildlife Fund project to encourage the creation of a pristine reserve of natural beauty.
The four hundred acres in possession of this illustrious character became the property of Dominica, whose government later decided to dedicate some of the waterfalls of the place to him. Middleham offers a variety of tropical forest that will take your breath away and, with a bit of luck, you'll also be able to see some magnificent specimens of the Jaco Parrot, endemic in the Amazon. To get to Middleham Falls you have to walk a relatively easy path that skirts the villages of Cochrane and Laudat, and it takes about an hour to walk if you start from the latter.
Those departing from Cochrane will find themselves in front of a less steep and slightly longer side. The route is also part of the Wai'tukubuli National Trail and it requires, however you face it, to wade through a small river and various streams. Once you've reached your destination, you'll be rewarded for the effort of the hike: Middleham Falls is one of Dominica's most beautiful locations and is home to the highest waterfalls on the island. The pool at the base is equally immense and deep, and it's worth reaching it for cool off in its beautiful waters – taking care, however. Middleham Falls is beautiful in all seasons, but offers a different show at every time of year. In dry periods, for example, the water flow is weak and mild. In the wetter periods, however, the waterfall offers an impetuous spectacle that sprays steam and water clouds along all the surrounding areas, creating a fairy-tale landscape.
You've just arrived at Roseau after a long, exhausting journey. You've left your bags and you're considering what to do. Without thinking twice, immediately go to the Botanical Gardens, in the west of the city at the foot of Morne Bruce. This is the perfect destination for a refreshing walk in contact not only with the local biodiversity, but also with some of Dominica's most beautiful natural wonders. The Gardens have become a landmark not only for local tourism, but also for residents, who love to stroll through the trails during the hot weekend afternoons.
The British Crown began to mature the idea of this botanical garden as early as 1889. The initial goal was to provide a rich variety of seeds to local farmers so that they could grow freely. For this purpose, much of the garden is dotted with sugar cane, one of the first crops started as early as 1890. In addition, the location was also favourable for the growth of ornamental plants, particularly appreciated by the local population.
The area soon became more than just a site of cultivation and was set up as a real garden: wrought iron gates, fountains and decorations of all kinds offer a real spectacle for the eyes of those who visit even today. During the colonial period of Dominica, several London gardeners and botanists spent time here to contribute to this magnificent project, bringing hundreds of non-native species into the magnificent setting. The result is what we can admire today: the Botanical Gardens of Dominica, or almost. Unfortunately, in 1979 the area was devastated by Hurricane David. After much effort and extensive reconstruction work, the gardens have been reopened to the public and offer a magnificent spectacle to the population.
Among the park's most interesting attractions is an old yellow bus that was completely crushed by the fall of a baobab which, however, did not stop on crashing and instead continued to grow on the sheets. The Botanical Gardens also include a big aviary hosting Sisserou parrots, the national birds of Dominica that have now become an endangered species.
The Botanical Gardens are also a great location for bird watchers, who with a bit of luck can see small visitors to the park that every day slip into the leafy trees in search of food, such as hummingbirds.
This location also includes a path that reaches Morne Bruce, where you can reach a truly breathtaking scenic area. The route is steep and tiring, but rewards the tenacious traveller with great views of Roseau and its coastal areas.
Come to Dominica for its natural beauty and you will be overwhelmed by its priceless historical value. In the heart of Cabrits National Park – an incredible peninsula north of Portsmouth – stands the enchanting Fort Shirley. This fortified place, within walking distance of the park's visitor centre, became famous in 1802, following the terrible African slave revolt that, in 1807, led to their complete liberation.
Fort Shirley was built on a volcanic crater at a very strategic point of the island, perfect for defence along the line of the Lesser Antilles. It was Fort Shirley that made Dominica one of the highlights of the battles between the French and the British during the colonial period, and although the weather was not particularly lenient with the location, much of the fort is still visited by tourists. While every year the tropical forest swallows up a part of the ruins, Fort Shirley is and will still remain for a while one of the most important centres in island history. The tourist part has in fact been rebuilt and allows you to have a general idea of what that place could have been like almost two hundred years ago. Take some time to climb the walls and browse the rows of cannons, imagining the enemy ships emerging from the horizon, with menacing action.
The reconstruction was thanks to Dr. Lennox Honychurch, a well-known Dominican historian and anthropologist who invested great efforts to restore Fort Shirley to its former glory. The officers' area has been completely renovated and is now a popular venue for weddings, receptions, concerts and other events. Fort Shirley offers prime views of Prince Rupert's Bay, surrounding beaches and mountains in the heart of Dominica.
Kalinago Barana Aute
The village of Kalinago Barana Aute offers a unique experience on the island of Dominica, that is to live in touch with the history and tradition of the Kalinago people, the first local inhabitants. It is a tourist attraction and a faithful reproduction of an ancient village of the Kalinago people, where colours, models, bridges and paths perfectly reconstruct a fragment of the culture of this ethnicity that, today, counts only 2000 survivors. Immerse yourself in the beauty of ajoupas, the small huts that dot the whole site, until you get to the main Karbet which frequently hosts performances and musical events. Each of the huts is intended to house a small element of Kalinago culture, showing the various techniques of survival and adaptation. Take, for example, the one dedicated to the construction of canoes, the processing of cassava, the weaving of baskets or the preparation of herbs and medicines. Practical demonstrations of activities take place daily from October to April, every year.
This unique location plays a crucial role in promoting the socio-economic development of the Kalinago people in Dominica. Kalinago Barana Aute offers a dual source of livelihood to the resident population, job opportunities and the possibility of managing small local craft shops sold exclusively in the village area.
Sari Sari Waterfall
The Sari Sari Waterfalls are a respectable reward for those who have enough breath and determination to embark on the long slippery path that runs along the river and goes all the way up to the falls. It's a challenging hike which, however, ends in great satisfaction for the whole family.
More than a climb, sometimes, you'll feel like you're swimming, with some mischievous currents that can make you slide back several metres. Sari Sari is a protected area and little frequented by tourists that does not offer great recreational facilities, but only the peace of nature and unspoiled beauty. Those looking for a restaurant will have to move towards the Riverside Café, where they will find all the comfort food they need for get back on their feet.
Old Mill Cultural Centre
Officially founded in 1985, the Old Mill cultural centre offers facilities for the culture and arts of Dominica Island. The intention is to create a meeting point for artists, tourists and residents where they can meet and exchange ideas and techniques for the creation of works of art. In addition to being a spectacular building reminiscent of the colonial architecture of the times, Old Mill has become a museum, a research centre, a sculpture workshop and a dance gym.
Initially, Old Mill was nothing more than an old mill built by the British pioneers between the 18th and 19th centuries, where sugar, rum and molasses were produced. After the collapse of the sugar industry in the 20th century, the owner of the land, Andrew Green, redeveloped the area into a lime plantation. In 1964 the area, called Canefield, was then sold to the Government of Dominica, which offered its spaces for a more artistic and creative use.
Over the centuries, we must imagine Dominica as a territory constantly reshaped by the whims of the active volcanoes that are dotted around it. These lava craters have made the island an incredibly fertile soil for the growth of beautiful plants and, in other places, have given birth to the famous Red Rocks.
Along the north coast, for example, large bodies of glowing lava threw themselves into the sea making a clean slate of everything found in the surrounding areas. The result was huge blocks of basalt, rich in iron, which have consolidated to form soft round cliffs. Over time, the iron has oxidised and turned to rust, obtaining that particular reddish colouring that makes up the Red Rocks that we can admire today. Those who come off the trails to venture into these magnificent locations will have the impression of having landed on Mars. Smoothed by the perennial winds of the ocean, the ochre-coloured rocks plunge headlong into the sea and offer a landscape unlike any other that can be admired in Dominica, enriching it in variety.
The Red Rocks can be visited at any time of day and are a perfect location for a picnic and some Instagram-worthy snaps. You can drive to Calibishie, then continue east from the city centre.
The Cathedral of Our Lady
Depart for Dominica with Costa Cruises
Take advantage of a fantastic Costa Cruise to explore the island of Dominica. Don't miss the natural wonders of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Boiling Lake and the many waterfalls that make this island a paradise on earth. Also check out the capital Roseau and immerse yourself in the local culture. The Caribbean Sea awaits you, for a holiday of fun and relaxation!