Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997, Morne Trois Pitons National Park is the jewel of Dominica. Encompassing much of the island's mountainous interior, the park is primordial rainforest – from thick jungle, with giant ferns and wild orchids, to the stunted cloud forest on the upper slopes of 1,424-meter Morne Trois Pitons. Highlights of the 17,000-acre include beautiful lakes, like Boiling Lake and mist-shrouded Boeri Lake, and many of the most picturesque waterfalls in Dominica also lie in this lush park, including Victoria Waterfall, Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, and Middleham Falls. The park has another surprise: the steaming Valley of Desolation is an area of boiling mud ponds, brightly-colored hot springs, and mini-geysers. At Titou Gorge, you can swim in a crisp jade-green pool through the narrow canyon to a beautiful waterfall. One of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was filmed in this magical spot.
Boiling Lake is one of the most popular attractions in Morne Trois Pitons National Park. This eerie-looking pool of bubbling, grey-green water lies at the end of a strenuous, three-hour hike through thick forest. But it's worth it. Geologists believe the 63-meter-wide actively boiling lake, the world's second largest, is a flooded fumarole, a crack in the earth allowing hot gases to vent from the molten lava below. The temperature at the edge of the lake ranges from 82-92 degrees Celsius and is at boiling point in the center.
One of the most impressive and photogenic waterfalls on the island, Victoria Falls, in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, is formed by the White River cascading over a cliff into a warm pool below. Minerals give the water a milky-white color. The approximately 40-minute hike involves river crossings and boulder scrambling, but these beautiful falls and the river itself are worth seeing. You can relax at the end with a dip in the warm pool.
Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2015, Morne Diablotins National Park is a national park in the northern mountain ranges of the island. The park covers 8,242 acres, and was established in 2000, primarily to protect the habitat of the endangered Sisserou Parrot, the national symbol of Dominica. The park is home to 4,747 foot Morne Diablotins, the tallest mountain on the island and the second highest mountain in the Lesser Antilles.
The hike to Trafalgar Falls, is one of the most popular things to do in Dominica. Known as Mother and Father, these twin falls lie at the end of an easy 10- to-15-minute hike through a forest of ginger plants and vanilla orchids. The cool main stream of Trafalgar Falls originates in the mountains and is joined near the bottom by a hot mineral spring. You can take a dip in the hot and cold pools amid the sulphur-dyed rocks at the base of the falls.
Most visitors choose a vacation in Dominica for hiking and nature, but you can still find some pretty slices of coast on this lush Caribbean island. Dominica beaches are mostly volcanic black-sand beauties, although the sand can actually look grey, depending on the light. Mero Beach is one of the most popular stretches of coast. About a 25-minute drive from the capital, Roseau, it's a favorite place to visit for the cruise ship crowd. You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas and purchase snacks and drinks from funky bamboo shacks along the shoreline. If you're looking for things to do in Portsmouth, Dominica's second largest town, head to Purple Turtle Beach. This is another lovely palm-studded stretch of beige-hued sand, with a popular namesake restaurant along its edge. Vying for the most beautiful slice of coast on Dominica is wild and remote Batibou Beach on the island's far north coast. Accessing the beach is an adventure – 4WD vehicles are required on the rocky rutted track, or you can park up the top and opt for a workout walking down to the shore. Once you make it to Batibou, it's worth it! Thick forests of coconut palms fringe the sand, and the headland curves around in a cosy embrace, with green peaks rippling in the distance. No wonder this ravishing beach was a location for one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Champagne Beach sees many tourists, mainly because it provides access to one of Dominica's famous tourist attractions: Champagne Reef, with its bubbly geothermal activity and warm waters.
Framed by lush peaks, Dominica's capital of Roseau is a colorful jumble of West Indian cottages and busy market stalls, with a cool vibe. Unlike other Caribbean capitals, you won't find any glitzy shops or chain stores here, just locally owned stores and a friendly, local vibe. Roseau's waterfront features a seaside promenade and cruise ship dock, which is crowded with visitors during the busy winter season. Near the dock, in the center of town, the Old Market sells fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, herbs, baskets, and coconut-shell souvenirs. St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, a 19th-century Gothic-Romanesque-style church, is one of the city's major landmarks. Other popular things to do in Roseau, Dominica include strolling around the Dominica Botanic Gardens and exploring the island's history at the compact Dominica Museum. Many visitors also take the short drive to historic Morne Bruce for panoramic views of the city.
Dominica's most famous dive and snorkel site, Champagne Reef lies in a marine reserve off the country's southwest coast. Geothermal activity causes thousands of bubbles to emerge from beneath the rocks, a few feet from shore. Batfish, sea horses, barracuda, rays, squid, and trumpetfish are just some of the species found in the warm waters here.
Dominica has the largest remaining tribe of Kalinago people (Carib Indians) in the Caribbean. If you want to learn a little about their fascinating culture, you can visit Kalinago Barana Autê, a model village, on the northeast coast, about 20 miles from Roseau. Nestled amid banana and breadfruit trees, the village is a cluster of traditional wooden buildings. You can wander around the village and watch the Carib Indians carving dugout canoes, weaving baskets and mats, and sharing their knowledge of medicinal plants. The Caribs survive through fishing and agriculture, as well as the crafts they sell to visitors. The village is a little off the beaten track, but it adds interesting cultural insight to this fascinating country and is one of the more unusual things to do in Dominica.
Calibishie is the main village on the scenic north coast of Dominica. Home to a dramatic mosaic of steep cliffs, red rocks, and rivers gushing down from the mountains, this ancient fishing village offers you a sleepy and slow-paced spot to unwind and relax. Its coast cradles palm-fringed beaches and offers a variety of places to stay — from simple guesthouses to cliff-side cottages overlooking the sea to a private villa perched on a mountainside. Laying alongside the only barrier reef on the island, Calibishie takes its name from the Arawakan words meaning “net of reefs”. The reef and the surrounding lands provided the Kalinago — Dominica's indigenous people — with an ideal setting for fishing, farming, and materials to build thatched homes and canoes. Beyond the beach, you’ll find freshwater rivers with secluded bathing pools, tumbling waterfalls, and the tranquillity that only a tropical rainforest with its exotic birds and lush vegetation can provide.
In northwest Dominica, Cabrits National Park preserves lush rainforest, swampland, black-sand beaches, and thriving coral reefs. This scenic peninsula reveals panoramic views from its highest point, and the reefs offer some excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. The park is also home to one of the most interesting historical sites in Dominica. Here, you can visit the remains of Fort Shirley, an 18th-century British garrison with beautiful views of Prince Rupert Bay. A little museum at the entry sheds light on Dominica's colonial history. Hiking trails take you through some of the jungle terrain past the ruins of the garrison and to viewpoints with sweeping vistas of the town of Portsmouth, the lush mountains, and the blue sea beyond. Benches pepper the area, providing picturesque places to stop and rest.
Be transported in minutes from the urban environment of the town of Portsmouth to the warm embrace of nature by taking a tour up the scenic Indian River. The Indian River got its name because Kalinago (Carib Indian) lived along its banks and used it as an access route to the Caribbean Sea. The river was important to their livelihood as they used it to transport goods for trade with sailors and along the island chain. With its coastal wetland dominated by the spectacular buttressed Bwa Mang trees, the Indian River is among the most picturesque of Dominica’s 365 rivers. Experienced boatmen in hand-oared river boats will take you silently past many types of wild life and plant life along the swampy river bank.