Highlighting some of the many outstanding natural features of this unique island
Dominica boasts a remarkable range of natural habitats, with a huge variety of trees, orchids and other plant life. This is a wonderful island for bird watching and the endangered Imperial and Red-necked Parrots, known locally as Sisserou and Jaco are only found here. Hikers will be attracted by the stunning scenery, with plenty of jungle trails that invariably seem to end in cascading waterfalls or superb views, while divers will relish in the equally gorgeous ocean depths. This is also one of the best places in the Caribbean to spot whales and dolphins all year round.
Our Dominica Nature Holiday is a suggested itinerary that has been created to highlight some of the many outstanding natural features of this unique island, as well as focusing on quality and value. The island is still recovering after the devastation caused by the hurricane in September 2017, but the island is now ready to welcome visitors. The holiday includes all flights, accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis and transfers, but all guided tours as described are just suggestions at this stage and are subject to availability and additional cost.
Day 1: Fly to Dominica from the UK via Antigua
On arrival in Dominica you will be met by your Dominica guide, who will transfer you to The Champs, a delightful small boutique hotel where you will be staying for the next six nights. Located in the village of Picard in the North-West of Dominica, over-looking the Caribbean Sea. Set on a hill, the hotel offers a stunning view over Prince Rupert Bay, the hills of Cabrits, Portsmouth and its’ surroundings, and on a clear day you can see the island of Guadeloupe. Because all the rooms and the bar are facing West, on most days you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. A tasteful rum-punch or a Kubuli (the local beer) make this a great moment to relax at the end of the day. This is not only an optimal location to discover the North of the island, but it is also a great starting point for trips all over Dominica.
Day 2: Tour to Cabrits, Fort Shirley and Indian River
Accompanied by your very knowledgeable guide, this will be a first easy day to acclimatize and explore the scenic and historic area and the north. The first stop will be Morne Aux Diables Crater, a drive through volcano where you can do a 10 minute easy hike to a cloud sulphur spring. You can also get a wonderful view of the nearby French islands from this vantage point. Then Cabrits National Park, which occupies 1,313 acres and protects tropical forests, coral reefs and wetlands. It is located on a peninsula on the north of the island, just beyond the town of Portsmouth. There will also be a chance to visit nearby Fort Shirley, the former British garrison which once housed 600 soldiers. The day will finish with a trip on Indian River, when you will be transported in a hand-rowed river boat up the slow-moving river at a leisurely pace, so that you can appreciate the many types of wild life and plants along the mangrove-lined river bank. See for yourself where scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. You can also visit the renowned ‘Bush Bar’ and try the signature rum drink, smoked fish and a variety of other drinks, juices and tasty local cuisine.
Day 3: Guided Birdwatching at Syndicate Forest
Nestled on the foothills of Dominica’s tallest mountain, Morne Diablotin, and close to the Picard River Gorge, is the Syndicate Nature Trail. Today you will visit this National Park, with your specialist birding guide, Dr Birdy, who is the very best on the island. Syndicate is home to Dominica’s two indigenous birds, the Sisserou or Imperial Parrot which is the national bird of the island, and the Jaco or Red Necked Parrot. Thanks to their protected status, and the efforts of The Parrot Research in Roseau, the population is recovering and spreading further south. The Syndicate area is popular for bird watching, as it is a sanctuary for some of the 170 other bird species in Dominica.
Day 4: Batibou Beach – Calibishie – Pagua Bay – Kalinago Territory
This is a Complete North East Coast tour. A discovery drive along the North coast to the famous Batibou Beach, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, then on to the village of Calibishie and its red rocks. Continuing along the East coast and Pagua Bay, you will then travel through the scenic Kalinago territory. Before the Europeans, the island was inhabited by various peoples who came over from the American continent, of whom the best known were the Kalinago, whom the Europeans referred to as Caribs. With rather more appreciation of our island’s uniqueness than Columbus, they called it Waitukubuli – “tall is her body” – an elegant image of this mountainous and fertile land. Dominica is home to the last remaining community of Kalinago in the West Indies, a population of a little over 2,000 living in a 3,700 acre territory on the north-western side of the island. set aside for them at the beginning of the last century. There will be a stop to visit the Kalinago Barana Aute and to enjoy their arts and craft and maybe some cassava bread, returning in the after-noon, after an exciting and informative day.
Day 5: Transfer to Roseau and Fort Young Hotel
Travel south along the coast road to Dominica’s charming capital, Roseau, where your second hotel is located on the quayside, within the original Fort Young. This was the major military installation of Dominica, built in 1770 and named after the first British Governor, William Young. The hotel looks out over the Caribbean Sea and has every modern convenience, along with an old-world charm. It is ideally located to explore the town and the rest of the island and on-site there are restaurants, a bar, an infinity swimming pool, spa and dive centre.
Roseau’s streets are lined with historic stone-and-wood buildings in states ranging from ramshackle to elegant. In between some newer buildings, you will spot French, Spanish and English Colonial architectural elements like porticoes, louvers, hurricane shutters and verandahs, beneath a backdrop of Dominica’s lush green mountains.
The rest of the day will be free to explore the town, which is best done on foot, especially as many of the most interesting sights are clustered around your hotel. You should also visit the Botanical Gardens, where you will see a glorious gallery of different plants, trees and flowers that are native to or grow on the island. For an overview of the town, you can hike to “The Morne” for a great viewpoint.
Day 6: Whale and Dolphin Watching
At around 1.00 pm, depart for an exciting boat trip to see whales and dolphins, which are sighted so frequently that Dominica is widely considered to be one of the best areas in the Caribbean for encounters with these fascinating creatures. All year round, an abundance of resident and visiting cetaceans, pods of Spinner and Spotted Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales, False Orcas and at least a dozen other species can be found in these waters.
Day 7: Roseau Valley, Freshwater Lake and Trafalgar Falls
Venturing up the Roseau Valley to the Freshwater Lake, where you can do a fairly easy hike around the serene and tranquil lake. Due to the weather and location, the area around the lake is a combination of upper montane and cloud forest. The vegetation is fairly low growing, consisting of ferns, mosses and mountain palms. Bromeliads, colourful gingers, heliconias and orchids can also be found growing around the lake trail. It is also possible to kayak on the lake.
After this, you could visit Trafalgar Falls, which are located nearby and are stunning with a deep pool and small hot water springs nearby. The source for the Falls is a river that runs from the Freshwater Lake via Titou Gorge in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. It will be possible to swim at Trafalgar falls, then have lunch in the valley, and in the after-noon stop for a hot sulphur bath at Wotten Waven. If you are feeling adventurous, you might prefer to attempt the trek to Middleham Falls, which leads you into the heart of the primary rainforest. You can then go on to Titou Gorge, which means “Little Throat” in the Kalinago language, where you can swim from the base of a waterfall and through a series of natural rooms and ponds formed by high cliff walls, canopied by interlaced trees. Or the very fit, could even choose to attempt the challenging hike to Boiling Lake.
Day 8: Snorkel Champagne Reef, Soufriere and Scott’s Head
Travel south of Roseau, where there is a spectacular undersea crater with a unique underwater hot spring at Champagne. This is where you can snorkel amongst the bubbles formed from volcanic gases just offshore. Your snorkelling experience begins directly from the shore, when your guide will walk with you down the beach and assist you with your gear and then lead you into the water. You will see how the underwater geothermal springs vent gasses in the form of thousands of warm bubbles, creating a feeling of swimming through a giant glass of Caribbean Sea champagne. This phenomenon was created after molten lava solidified on entering the sea and gases were trapped, during the volcanic era when this island was formed. The reef provides vibrantly coloured corals and sponges as well as tropical fish, lobster and is a permanent habitat for Hawksbill turtles, you may even spot seahorses. After snorkelling, travel a short 15-minutes to discover another example of Dominica’s rich volcanic history at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs. There is a network of trails you can explore or simply soak in the relaxing, warm and rejuvenating Sulphur water in one of the pools fed from the volcanic activity in the Soufriere hills. The springs are renowned for their reported ability to reduce stress, cure rheumatism, and other ailments. More importantly, they just feel good! The pretty town of Soufriere is worth a visit and you will also make a stop at Bubble Beach, where you can have a drink or snack and splash about in the rudimentary hot pools that have been fashioned out of rocks where the river meets the sea. Then continue on to Scott’s Head peninsula, a narrow isthmus that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, where you can hike up to take advantage of the most incredible views.
Day 9: Depart Dominica and fly back to the UK via Antigua
A last day to enjoy Dominica, when you can choose to be as active or as peaceful as you wish, before leaving for the airport in the early afternoon.
Arrive home to the UK or you could extend your holiday with a few days in Antigua, St Lucia or Barbados.