Let’s face it… you’ve probably never heard of Dominica. No, I’m not talking about the Dominican Republic. I don’t blame you – I hadn’t heard of it either before.
Dominica is a small leeward island in the Eastern Caribbean. It’s tucked between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Though Dominica is small, it’s packed with the most insanely gorgeous nature of all the Caribbean – and is known for having nine volcanos on one small island!
What makes Dominica different
Unlike the nearby French island territories, Dominica (pronounced DOM-in-ee-ka, not doh-MIN-ih-ka) is the last Caribbean island with a community of indigenous Carib Kalinagos. Their population stands around 3000, and they are doing their best to maintain their community against all outside efforts.
Dominica is like an antidote to some other Caribbean islands when it comes to getting it right. There aren’t any high-rise mega resorts. There is just a strong local community and pure nature – including 3 national parks and a hiking path from one end of the island to the other.
Dominica’s insane raw beauty, rich history, and indigenous people make it by far my favorite Caribbean island.
You should read: Mt Liamuiga, St Kitts: An Epic Caribbean Volcano Hike
What to Do in Dominica
There’s no shortage of activities in Dominica – from whale watching to canyoning to bathing under waterfalls, you could spend months here and still have things to see.
Bathing in the Cold, Warm, and Hot Falls of Trafalgar
These famous twin waterfalls are only a 20-minute drive from downtown Roseau, which makes them a common stop for tourists. Along the 15 minute walk, you can stop to bathe in a warm spring or continue to the hot springs of the tallest fall.
Watching and Swimming with Sperm Whales!
A little-known fact about Dominica is that it’s actually the whale-watching capital of the Caribbean. Dominica’s sheer underwater drop-offs along its western coastline offer deep shelter bays.
These double as feeding grounds for the six different species of cetaceans you can see on a regular basis here, including sperm whales.
Snorkeling In Champagne Bubbles Under the Sea
Champagne Reef, named for its bubbling waters rising from volcanic thermal springs on the ocean floor, houses a dazzling explosion of colorful sea life. While you’re here, you’ll see octopus, colored sponges, rays, turtles, eels, and all kinds of fish.
(Not) Swimming in Dominica’s Boiling Lake
Dominica’s boiling lake is actually the second largest flooded fumarole found in the entire world. It’s a great place if you have a lot of pasta to cook.
You can only access Dominica’s boiling lake after walking 3-4 hours through jungle from the cute little village of Laudat. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Deep Sea Fishing
If you enjoy fishing, Dominica offers everything you could ask for. Catch Marlin, Tuna, Dorado, Kingfish, Skip Jacks, Wahoo, Snapper and runners just a few miles off the coast.
Swimming in the Narrows of Titou Gorge
Titou Gorge, famous as a filming location for “Pirates of the Caribbean”, is paradise. It was formed by volcanic lava which cooled and split open, leaving a natural cave. You can swim in crystal-clear water between cliffs to find a gushing waterfall, sparkling with light filtered from the forest canopy above.
Kayaking on a Huge Freshwater Lake
This huge freshwater lake is literally located in the middle of the island. Pretty impressive if you ask me! The coolest thing about the lake is actually the hike – you’ll see hundreds of hummingbirds zipping along as you make your way.
Imagine hiking down through the rainforest to a secret waterfall that drops off into a hidden canyon far beneath the sunlit forest canopy. Jump in hidden pools with crystal clear water beneath the rainforest and descent into deep gorges in rock carved from thousands of years of rainfall.
This is the #1 rated activity on TripAdvisor. Indeed, it is raw nature at its finest.
Visiting Indigenous Carib/Arawak Villages
Last but not least, visiting the indigenous Kalinago people is an essential part of your journey. Dominica is actually the only Caribbean island with a thriving indigenous population.
An interesting fact about the Kalinago people is that they have survived hundreds of years of invasions by the Spanish, French and British. Long before that, they originally came from South America, where they battled with Arawak Indians for land.
Out of respect, I recommend visiting these people after you receive your second PCR-test results.
How to Get to Dominica
Dominica is in the process of building an international airport, but that’s being finished on island time. Until that’s complete, you’ll have to settle for taking a fun inter-island flight on a small turboprop.
You can get to Dominica on a daily basis from Barbados between Caribbean Airlines, InterCaribbean, and Air Antilles. You can also fly:
- From St. Maarten on WinAir, Monday and Friday
- From Antigua on LIAT and WinAir, most days of the week
- From St. Lucia everyday between InterCaribbean and Air Antilles
- From St. Thomas on Air Sunshine, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- From San Juan on Silver Airways, Tuesday, Thursday, and Weekends
Keep in mind that these airlines typically only list their fares on their own website, so your normal travel tools won’t work here.
In normal (non-COVID) times, there is also a ferry from Guadeloupe and Martinique. You can fly to both of these islands from Miami on Air France and American Airlines.