Scott's Head, Dominica

DominicaTravel Guide

DOMINICA carries, perhaps, the aptest nickname of all the sandy shores that comprise the West Indies — The Nature Island. With amazing waterfalls, diving, hiking, mountain biking, exotic flora and fauna, and even whale watching, the island probably has more to offer per each of its 290 square miles than any other island in the Caribbean.

Dominica’s interior is rife with towering peaks reaching as high as 4,747 feet (1,447 meters). The result is intrepid hikers are rewarded with views that are nothing short of jaw-dropping.

One of the region’s newest and most fantastic hiking adventures, the Waitukubuli National Trail, winds its way through this region. A trans-island route running the entire south-north length of the island, the trail covers 115 miles (184 km) in 14 segments. It takes between 10 and 14 days to complete the whole thing, necessitating some serious refreshment once completed.

Dominica vs Dominican Republic

Let’s get something clear from the beginning: Dominica is not the Dominican Republic! In fact, Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, is about 600 miles from Roseau, the capital of Dominica.

These are two very different destinations that provide wildly different experiences to visitors—from language (Spanish vs. English/Creole) to food to topography to music, arts, people, history, and everything in between. These names don’t even refer to the same types of thing. Dominica is an island nation. The Dominican Republic is a country on the island of Hispañola.

If you were confused about this fact, you’re not alone. We’ve had to explain this many times to people throughout the years. But now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s explore one-of-a-kind Dominica!

How to Get to Dominica

Flying here from the United States can take a little more effort than some other islands in the Lesser Antilles, but choosing to fly instead of hopping on a cruise ship is well worth the connections! (Honestly, we never recommend cruise ship travel. Our Caribbean destinations are worth more time and attention and care than that means of transportation provides.)

When planning your flights, expect to take multiple airlines to make the trip. It could be with Frontier, Silver Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and more. As I said, it can take a little more effort, but luckily Dominica more than makes up for the planning with the uncommon experience of your dreams.

A truly novel way to get to Dominica is via the ferry from Guadeloupe. While it’s not for the faint of heart, making the crossing during the day can be pleasant.

I wouldn’t recommend taking the ferry during the night, however. You can expect ferry goers jockeying for prime positions on the top deck to soak up the sun during the day. At night you can count on ferry goers jockeying for positions as far away from their fellow seasick travelers.

Volcanic Past

Thanks to the island’s nine (yes, nine!) volcanoes, unique geological elements pop up almost everywhere you look. Be sure to check out the Valley of Desolation, Boiling Lake, and Red Rocks up north in Calibishie. Even the capital city of Roseau sits atop the remains of an ancient pyroclastic flow.

For those seeking a little refreshment, The Nature Island obliges with spectacular waterfalls. One of the most popular, Trafalgar Falls, towers just outside the capital city of Roseau. At these twin falls, those who dare to venture beyond the viewing platform can enjoy not only a cold dip but also a muscle-melting soak in a hot springs-fed bath.

That’s refreshing, to say the least. But with 365 rivers, there are many waterfalls not to be missed. Emerald Pool, Middleham Falls, Sari-Sari Waterfall, and Victoria Falls, to name a few.

Trafalgar Falls, Dominica - Climbing all the way to the top

Dominica Beaches

No, beaches may not be the primary draw to Dominica since it’s hard to compete with the towering waterfalls and incredible hikes. But if you thought the island was a slouch in the sand department, you’d be wrong. Some of the most stunning black sand beaches in the entire Caribbean can be found on the island, thanks again to all that volcanic activity. And there are even some surprise white sand beaches to be enjoyed, too!

Bubble Beach at Sunset
Bubble Beach at Sunset

Bubble Beach

While Champagne Reef may get a lot of the travel writer ink, we absolutely love Bubble Beach for a spa-like experience. Here, like at Champagne Reef, seawater is naturally heated to hot tub temperatures and blessed with bubbles.

Even better, there’s a bar. Dale the bartender serves up solid rum punches and more adventurous cocktails for his guests. It’s a rustic, unique stop that shouldn’t be missed.

Batibou Bay

Found in the north of the island, Batibou Bay offers up scenic and serene surroundings. The bay is absolutely gorgeous. A great spot to linger and enjoy the fruits of the Macoucherie Rum Distillery.

Purple Turtle Beach

My favorite thing about most beaches in Dominica is that you can find locals enjoying the sands just as much as visitors. My last visit to Purple Turtle Beach was no exception. Wrapped in a sprawling bay that acts as one of the island’s best anchorages for sailors, you can expect swimming, pier jumping, and a solid beach bar with good food with the Purple Turtle Beach Bar.

Coconut Beach, Dominica
Coconut Beach, Dominica

Coconut Beach

This was my beach on my last visit to Dominica. Thanks to spending a week at Picard Beach Cottages, this stretch of ebony sand was one step off my veranda. Starting your day with a swim, followed by a stop at Le Flambeau Restaurant & Bar for some breakfast johnny cakes was a daily slice of West Indian heaven.

Mero Beach

We can’t talk about beaches in Dominica and not talk about Mero Beach. One of Dominica’s most popular beaches, you can always find a crowd and something going on along its black sands.

Looking for a Dominica white sand beach?

If you’re looking for something a little more uncommon on Dominica, consider hunting for a white sand beach! Yes, they’re found all over the Caribbean, but in Dominica, they’re rare. Still, we’ve got you covered.

Just head follow our guide to Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate Factory. Right at the entrance is a little sign that says White Beach with an arrow. Just follow the sign and enjoy! 

Excellent diving

The island’s mountainous terrain continues beyond the coast as divers can visit an underwater volcanic crater. The area around Soufriere, at the southern tip of the island, is considered the best for diving and is now protected, so the many reefs and walls are kept in excellent condition.

Just to the north of Soufriere is the aptly named Champagne Reef snorkeling and dive site. Here underwater explorers can enjoy one of the region’s most unique undersea adventures. Volcanic activity here causes thousands of bubbles to emerge from beneath rocks just a few yards offshore, giving the impression of swimming in a glass of champagne.

Dominica after Hurricane Maria

Since taking a devastating blow from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the island has rebounded. Roads have been cleared, luxury stays like Secret Bay reopening better than ever, local restaurants once again dishing out incredible West Indian delights, and the natural wonders of the island returning to their former magnificence. It’s a true testament to the strength of this Caribbean community.

Dominica Currency

The Commonwealth of Dominica is a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Therefore, it uses the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, which hovers around 3 EC (properly written as XCD) to 1 USD.

Dominica Map

Last updated by Patrick Bennett on .

Know Before You Go

DOM
English
Left
electrical outlet type
Get a travel adapter
XCD
Eastern Caribbean Dollar commonly called "EC"
EC $2.7
equals US $1
767
Roseau

Where to stay on Dominica

Picard Beach Cottages

Picard Beach Cottages

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Secret Bay Dominica

Secret Bay, Dominica

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Things to do in Dominica

Mama at Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Trafalgar Falls

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Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate Factory

Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate Factory

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Coral Reef Restaurant

Coral Reef Restaurant

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Red Rocks Dominica

Red Rocks

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Scotts Head and Soufrière Bay

Scotts Head

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Sunset Bay Dominica

Sunset Bay

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