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Surrounded by ocean and dotted with rivers, waterfalls, lakes and volcanic hot springs, Dominica in the Lesser Antilles is dubbed the nature island of the Caribbean for good reason.
The island of Dominica is jam-packed with water-centric activities, surrounded as it is by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and 365 rivers, meaning one river for every day of the year and one of the highest river densities on earth. Just don’t try to step foot into the Boiling Lake – the second-largest hot lake on earth which reaches temperatures of up to 197ºF (91ºC). The island, which is the youngest in the Caribbean, is also dotted with 16 volcanoes, nine of which are active – the highest concentration of active volcanoes in the world. Dominica is primarily covered by rainforest and isn’t known for its beaches, but Hurricane Maria unveiled more sandy areas around the island and there are several gorgeous beaches to enjoy. Beyond those sandy stretches, these are Dominica’s best places to get wet.
With so much volcanic activity on the small island, it’s no surprise that Dominica has some of the best natural hot springs in the Caribbean. Wotten Waven is located in a hilly valley just outside the capital city of Roseau and is home to several natural hot springs. The locally owned Ti Kwen Glo Cho offers numerous dipping pools and rustic copper tubs filled with natural hot water at various temperatures, as well as a natural sulfur mud pool.
Leave your valuables behind, as you’ll be carrying your belongings with you from one heated pool to the next through muddy paths. While the charming outdoor spa has all the makings of a tourist hotspot, it’s most frequently visited by locals, making it a truly authentic Dominican experience. Visit just before dusk to take in the incredible surroundings of the waterfall and lush floral gardens, and stay after sunset to soak in the healing waters as the stars begin to twinkle in the night sky.
Dominica’s mountainous topography also makes it the perfect landscape for seemingly endless waterfalls. Some of the island’s most exciting water-centric adventures can be experienced at various cascades. Rappel down waterfalls in a verdant canyon in the Titou Gorges with Extreme Dominica. These gorges formed after thousands of years of rainfall carved away the rocks. On the beginner’s canyoneering course, you’ll hike in the jungle before jumping and rappelling down waterfalls into swimming holes for four hours. Take a 25-foot (eight-meter) jump down a waterfall for the ultimate adrenaline-inducing thrill. Book a half-day tour, which includes equipment and a local guide.
If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, you can experience Dominica’s waterfalls by taking a walk on a set path to the Emerald Pool in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. You can swim in the natural swimming pool beneath the waterfall and take in the incredible emerald color of the spring water. The Emerald Pool is about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot.
One of the easiest waterfalls to reach in Dominica is Trafalgar Falls in Roseau Valley. A series of stairs transports you from a parking lot up to the stunning twin waterfalls. The larger of the two is known as Father Falls, and the smaller the Mother Falls. The walk to the falls is quite easy, just up a set of stairs surrounded by lush nature with more than 180 types of ferns and flowers. The powerful cascades can be viewed from a wooden gazebo. At the base of the falls there’s a natural pool where you can go for a swim.
Other majestic waterfalls in Dominica to visit include Victoria Falls on the east coast of the island. To reach the huge cascade, you’ll have to trek through rough terrain including crossing rivers and climbing over rocks. Middleham Falls in Morne Trois National Park can be reached via several natural paths that offer moderate to strenuous hikes. To reach Wavine Cyrique waterfall, you’ll have to rappel down a cliff on a system of ropes and tree roots before you reach the cascade that falls into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s only a half-mile (one-kilometer) hike to Sari Sari falls on the east coast of the island, but the path is quite strenuous and takes up to an hour and a half each way. The Dominica National Park entrance fee is minimal and offers a choice between a per site pass or a week-long unlimited pass. The pass includes Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls and more.
Some of the best places to snorkel in Dominica are in Soufrière Bay. Have the unique experience of snorkeling above a volcano at the Champagne Reef. The volcanic geothermal activity releases small, underwater gas bubbles that you can paddle through. Swimming through effervescent waters is a rare experience that you’re sure to cherish. Nearby is another popular snorkeling spot, Scott’s Head Cannon peninsula, where vibrantly colored coral and marine life thrive at the exact point where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet. You may see schools of squid, octopus and scorpionfish, and sea turtles. Nature Island Dive organizes snorkeling trips to both snorkel sites. Snorkel tours are affordable and include equipment, Marine Park fees and a trained guide who will point out the aquatic life. After the snorkel excursion, walk over to Bubble Beach Spa on the shore – the natural thermal saltwater releases bubbles, similar to Champagne Reef. Soothe your muscles here for a while after all of your incredible water-centric adventures.