With three cruise ships in port the day we visited, I had waited too long to book the most highly recommended tour guide on the Cruisecritic.com boards Bumpiing Tours but I found another recommendation for Reyno Tours. They don't have a website but they are easily reachable by email. They wrote me back very quickly and suggested that we take a group tour instead of a private tour and that they would hit the most popular locations on the island. The cost was $40 per person plus we had to pay the $5 admission to both Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls bringing the cost per person to $50. They didn't provide any drinks or a snack but we did stop at Mr. Nice's fruit stand where we could sample some fruit and all of the stops had vendors selling drinks.
Reyno wasn't our guide as he was doing another tour, I can't remember the name of our guide but she was knowledgable about the island, just not very enthusiastic. Our tour was in an air conditioned van with 13 people in total. We started with a visit to Trafalgar Falls, a very brief stop to see a sulfur spring at Wotten Waven, a drive through the Botanic Gardens, a visit to Mr. Nice's fruit stand and the final stop of the day was the Emerald Pool. We were going to continue on to Champagne Reef but our guide didn't seem very enthusiastic about it and quite frankly I had been disappointed in the other stops on the tour so we ended up just heading back to the ship early. When the driver called back to Reyno, he seemed genuinely disappointed that we didn't go to Champagne Reef as did the driver but the guide certainly didn't seem disappointed.
In the northeast of Dominica you will find the so called Carib Territory. This is an area where some of the last original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands live: the Caribs. As soon as Christopher Columbus landed on Dominica in 1493, the Caribs where treated brutally as slaves or were just being killed when they had no further value for the colonialists. The Spanish, the British and the French all had this same way of treating these Indians.
This mistreatment was so severe that the Caribs almost reached a state of extinction, and today only 3.000 of them are left, most of them living in the Carib Territory. This is where they can still practise their own culture: the houses are different, the language they speak is different, they have their own handicraft, their own dances, and they look different. In the faces on this part of the island you can clearly see the Indian/Asian roots that you don't see in the black population of the island.
The Carib Territory is mainly interesting because of this culture, but apart from that it's just a wonderful area with beautiful nature, great view over the inland of the island and over the ocean, and with exciting curvy roads that lead you all the way from Castle Bruce to Marigot, straight through the Territory.
Right in the heart of the island, there is a natural pool hidden in the green forest. This pool is called the Emerald Pool, and it's a very nice place to visit during a tour around the island.
When arriving at the parking lot it takes a ten minutes walk to get to the pool. This walk leads you through the fantastic environment in this part of Dominica. The tropical forest has natural surprises every ten metres and even without the Emerald Pool this walk is a great trip already.
But then, at the bottom of the path, you end up at the pool itself. The water here is very, very cold, but still there are lots of people to take a swim here. I tried it too, but really this temperature is nothing for me... :) The view over here is amazing too though.
Absolutely the most spectacular site I've been to on Dominica are the Trafalgar Falls. At a 40-minutes from Roseau, high in the Dominican mountains, you'll find these twin-falls in a lush, tropical forest. And as if the beautiful sight of the falls is not enough, these are some natural hot springs with wonderfully warm water too!
When you arrive at the visitors centre it is only a short walk to the viewpoint from where you have a nice view of the falls. A satisfying view you would say, but when you go further down from here, past the "at own risk" sign, the beauty opens up even further. After a few minutes of descending you arrive at a small stream where the water is yellow. These are the natural hot springs. Pay attention when getting in (the rocks are slippery) and enjoy the wonderful water of this natural jacuzzi!
And go a little bit further and you'll end up at the river at the base of the waterfalls. Here the water is much, much colder, but the views are fantastic! View of the Falls, and views of the valley down below.
At the visitors station they will offer you a guide for the walk to and around the Falls, but I don't think that is necessary. The path of pretty clear and not too difficult to walk, so you'd better keep that money in your pocket...
The first place you'll probably see after arriving on Dominica, is the capital Roseau. Although it is only a small town, with not more then 20.000 inhabitants, it is a busy city, with a packed centre.
Roseau has no big, famous sights, but it's still a very interesting place to visit. What is most striking are the big amount of old, stone building. These are left behind by the British and they look like they will be there in the streets for at least another 100.000 years. But just as the many wooden buildings that you'll find here, these British buildings are slowly turning into Caribbean buildings. The way they are painted, the sounds that come out of them, the smells that surround them. In the streets of Roseau you really see that the Dominicans are slowly taking over their island after the British left here in 1980.
Some interesting places to see in Roseau are the old Cathedral uptown, the markets, the Botanical Gardens (also uptown) and of course the almost daily cruiseship at the dock. When a cruiseship comes in, this immediately is the biggest and tallest building on the island.
And besides that Roseau has some nice places to go to in the evening to drink a Kubuli, it has some fine restaurants, and it pretty much is the only place on the island where you can find a selection of cheaper places to sleep.
Known as the island of waterfalls, Dominica is as green as it is unspoilt. Fairly off the tourist trail, this exotic isle is a paradise for nature lovers. In fact, it’s one of the Caribbean hotspots for scuba-diving, rainforest trekking and whale-watching. And of course, it’s got some superb beaches. Not the snow-white variety you’d expect, but dramatic volcanic sweeps like the secluded and seductive Mero Beach. Have your camera at the ready…
• Make your way through the rainforest of canopied ferns and soaring trees in Canefield and you’ll arrive at the Emerald Pool. A sparkling grotto at the foot of a 12-metre waterfall, it’s the perfect place for a cooling dip.
• Don’t miss the chance to go whale-watching – it’s one of the Caribbean’s best spots for seeing these gentle giants. Sperm whales seem to favour the waters here, but look out for pilot and humpback whales as well as spotted and spinner dolphins.
• Wander through the quiet backstreets of Roseau and you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Pop your head in the stone and wood-built shops. Take a look at the baskets of fresh produce in the market. Or simply stroll along the new promenade.
Trafalger Falls & Emerald Pool
It’s not for nothing that Dominica is often called the ‘Nature Island’ of the Caribbean. Its tropical forests are so packed with rivers, waterfalls and hot springs that it’d be impossible to see them all on one trip. So we’ve picked some of the best for you. The day kicks off with a visit to the famous Trafalgar Falls. These twin falls – the bigger one is known as the father and the smaller one the mother – crash down a 220-foot rock face into a deep blue pool of water. It’s a 20-minute walk to the top, but your efforts will be rewarded with some great views. Next up is a journey into the heart of the rainforest. A short walk will take you to the secluded Emerald Pool – a small basin at the foot of a little waterfall. Here, you can explore the lush surroundings of the forest or jump in for a refreshing dip before heading back to the docks. Just so you know… Comfortable footwear is recommended. £32.00 (4.5 hrs)
Perched on the edge of a submerged volcano, Champagne Reef is more than just your average coral reef. It got its name from the bubbles that rise through the seabed to the ocean’s surface and as you swim through it, you’ll actually feel bursts of hot water from the volcano jetting past you. The reef itself is Dominica’s number one snorkelling hotspot, so you know you’re in for something special. It’s home to great clouds of tropical fish like blackbar, parrot and soldier fish. It’s not unusual to catch a glimpse of seahorses and frogfish either. And don’t worry if you have trouble spotting the different types of sea creatures – a guide will swim alongside you, letting you know what’s what. As well as fish, the waters here are packed with corals and sponges. In fact, the reef has some of the biggest brain corals in the world. £34.00 (2.5 hrs)
Trafalgar Falls & Sulphur Spa
If it’s a bit of pampering you’re after, look no further – this sightseeing and spa trip is sure to leave you feeling ultra relaxed. In the morning, a visit to the beautiful Trafalgar Falls is in store. Here, you’ll take a gentle hike through a forest of ginger plants and vanilla orchids before reaching the top. After you’ve admired the views, it’s time to really slow the pace down. Cue Papillote Wilderness Retreat. The New York Times has hailed this place as “heavenly”, and it’s not hard to see why. Set in lush botanical gardens with flowing streams and hot mineral pools, the inn is every inch an idyllic hideaway. The hot pools are fed by a stream of volcanic water that flows from the springs near the top of the mountains – perfect for washing your worries away. Make sure you check out the gardens, too. As well as being packed with tropical flowers, they’re home to 30 kinds of birds and more than 19 species of butterfly. As the day draws to an end, you’ll be treated to a meal at the retreat’s Rainforest Restaurant. Dine on freshly-caught fish and sample the island-brewed Kubuli beer or the special Papillote rum punch. So go on, spoil yourself. After all, you’re on holiday. £36.00 (4 hrs)
Emerald Pool & Mero Beach
This trip is all about taking a closer look at the things Dominica does best – rainforests, waterfalls and beaches. After being picked up from the port, you’ll be taken on a tour of the west coast and dropped off at the edge of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Then you’ll make your way along the forest trail by foot, passing giant trees and colourful flowers as you go. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, Emerald Pool will appear. All gushing water and leafy surroundings, it’s a great spot for a quick swim. Later, you’ll swap waterfalls for waves as you spend the afternoon at Mero Beach. Its volcanic grey sands and warm waters offer something for everyone. Enjoy a spot of sunbathing, take a swim, or try your hand at watersports like snorkelling or windsurfing. Later, check out the shops and restaurants before heading back to the ship. Just so you know… Closed footwear is recommended. £30.00 (5 hrs)
Indian River Rowboat
This trip is all about sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the views. As a guide rows you up the mangrove-lined Indian River, taking you deeper into the rainforest, you’ll find yourself surrounded on all sides by lush plants and tropical flowers. Think ferns, lianas and reeds clustered between the trees. The forest is full of wildlife, too – keep an eye out for iguanas, kingfishers and swarms of beady-eyed crabs. After about half an hour, you’ll arrive at Bush Bar, a hidden-away watering hole and restaurant. You’ll get to sample some fresh-from-the-jungle fruit juices as well as the special, and rather strong, homemade rum punch. Later, climb back aboard for the ride back downstream. £36.00 (5 hrs)
Get ready for a wet and wild adventure along Dominica’s largest river. You’ll take your seat in a rubber tube ready to battle the currents, rocks and rapids of River Layou. Feel the cool mountain breeze as you spin and twirl downstream, passing spectacular mountain ranges and hanging valleys. A guide will be with you the whole time, and half-way through the adventure you’ll stop at a natural pool to wait for the others to catch up. This thrilling ride definitely isn’t one for the faint-hearted. Just so you know… Tubing lasts approximately one hour. £36.00 (3 hrs)
Rainforest Aerial Tram
Explore Dominica’s rainforest VIP-style on this exclusive aerial tram tour. It’s the only one of its kind outside of Central America and comes complete with a great bird’s eye view of the Mome Trois Piton rainforest. As you glide through the trees, a guide will be on hand to tell you the history of the area and point out what’s what. Keep your eyes on the ground and you’ll see hundreds of different coloured plants and flowers. Look further up and you’re likely to spot some of the forest’s 172 species of bird. There are even two types of endangered parrots hiding among the trees here. And on top of all that, fantastic views of mountains, lakes and the Caribbean Sea are all in store. Once the 70-minute trip comes to an end, you’ll return to the ground where you’ll be served a drink of local juice. Then there’s just enough time to shop for some souvenirs before you’re taken back to the ship. £59.00 (3.5 hrs)
visit the private garden the waterfall and the hot water tubs of ti kwn glo cho
near Wotten Woven
henry & june george
- private hot water tub
-sulphur mud pool
Morne bruce (an area where you can see the entire city of Roseau from the top of a hill) great for photos. Ask a driver to take you to this great photo op place. There are vendors there as well for souvenier shopping.
You must go to Emerald Pool in Dominica! This place is AWESOME. Go early so you can beat the crowds. Pictures do not do this place justice. It was simply amazing.
The hike down was easy enough for kids too, you should be in good physical condition for the hike down and back up. A few older folks were a little winded, but it is easy enough to do. About a 10 - 15 min walk each way.
At the base of a gentle 40-foot waterfall, Emerald Pool is one of Dominica’s most popular tourist destinations. Reached via an easy 0.3 mile walk through the rainforest, the pool is particular popular with cruise ship passengers (try to arrive early or late in the afternoon before or after the cruise ship folks have visited).
From a tourist standpoint, there isn’t much to see in Dominica’s capital, Roseau. Home to nearly a third of Dominica’s 75,000 residents, Roseau at times feels much larger and at other times much smaller than it is. During the day, it seems like all of Dominica descends upon the town. The streets are alive and bustling and driving is near impossible. At night, nearly everything closes up and the streets are empty. Walking the backstreets and taking in the architecture, which ranges from veritable lean-tos to charming balconied gingerbread style cottages, will take less than a couple hours. Additional places to take in are a couple rather uninspiring churches, a small public market, and the tourist-driven waterfront. One of the best things to do while in Roseau is head to the Botanical Gardens (in and of itself rather unimpressive, but you can see both of Dominica’s endemic parrots in an aviary) and take Jack’s Walk up the hill to Morne Bruce. The wooded hillside is home to several species of birds and the trail full of lizards, and the view of Roseau from Morne Bruce is difficult to beat.
The drive from Portsmouth to Pagua Bay along Dominica’s north coast is perhaps the best drive on the entire island. Snaking through the mountainous jungle, the drive takes in many of Dominica’s varying landscapes including, a drive through volcano, stunning ocean vistas, and lush, green hills and valleys.
Located on a small peninsula north of Portsmouth, Cabrits National Park is a good place to spend a morning or afternoon. For most visitors, the highlight of a visit will be Fort Shirley, a refurbished 18th century British garrison overlooking Prince Rupert Bay and Portsmouth. For the more adventurous, there are several reasonably short trails through dry scrub that lead to various stone ruins. The dry scrub forest is home to numerous species of birds, and hermit crabs and lizards are frequently encountered on the trails.
The Northern Forest Reserve covers 22,000 acres of the north-central section of the island. Largely inaccessible, the reserve features Dominica’s highest mountain, Morne Diablotins, and is the last stronghold for both of Dominica’s endangered parrots. There is a short trail – the Syndicate Trail – that leads to an opening in a ravine where both parrots are known to roost. In addition to this spot, which is particularly good for the more difficult to find Imperial Parrot (locally called Sisserou), it is worth watching for the birds in the trees and flying around the fruit farms along the road leading to the visitor center. Along the same road you can find the trailhead for the Morne Diablotins Trail, an imposing climb best attempted with guide. Even if you strike out on the parrots, the area is worth visiting to see the Dominican rainforest at its best.
As home to two endangered endemic parrots, seventeen Caribbean endemics, and nine species nearly endemic to the Caribbean, Dominica offers perhaps the best birding of any island in the Eastern Caribbean. The two endemic parrots (Red-necked Parrot or Jaco and Imperial Parrot or Sisserou) are understandably the most highly sought species. Both of these birds, plus several of the other Caribbean endemics – including Lesser Antillean Swift, Purple-throated Carib, Green-throated Carib, Blue-headed Hummingbird, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Lesser Antillean Pewee, Brown Trembler, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, Forest Thrush, Rufous-throated Solitaire, Plumbeous Warbler, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch – can be found in the Northern Forest Reserve and the surrounding fruit farms. Even though this is one of the better Eastern Caribbean islands for birding, it will be a challenge to see more than 50 species even on an extended visit.
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