7 Unique Adventures in Dominica

There are plenty of islands in the Caribbean where you can go zip lining, offroading or parasailing. But there aren't many places like Dominica. Here, adventure takes on a whole new meaning, and there's a full roster of unique experiences awaiting. Here are seven once-in-a-lifetime activities to add to your bucket list.

1. Hot Water the Hard Way

A hiker surveys the volcanic-heated waters of Boiling Lake.
A hiker surveys the volcanic-heated waters of Boiling Lake.

Dominica is home to the world's second-largest hot spring, but don't plan on taking a soak. The waters of Boiling Lake boil and bubble at 212 degrees-plus and fill the valley with a cloud of steam. To witness this natural wonder, you'll have to pay some dues, as the only way to reach the lake is by a demanding four-mile trail that climbs 3,000 feet, traverses a narrow ridgeline, and passes through a volcanic landscape of smoking fumaroles known as the Valley of Desolation. And plan on getting a bit dirty and sweaty as you scramble over boulder piles and negotiate muddy slopes. The reward for all this effort is a rare glimpse at one of the planet's most intriguing phenomenon’s, and the satisfaction of knowing you've completed an adventure that only a few will experience.

2. On the Reservation

A Kalinago girl wearing traditional ornamentation.
A Kalinago girl wearing traditional ornamentation.

In a remote valley on Dominica’s eastern coast, the Kalinago people follow a way of life that dates back more than a thousand years. These direct descendants of pre-Columbian tribes live in small villages set within a 3,700-acre reservation that until recently could only be reached by narrow mountain trails. You can now get there by road, but will still need to do a bit of walking to visit the villages. Visitors who make the trek are welcomed and immersed in the daily life of the Kalinago. It's a chance to observe traditional cooking methods, watch artisanal craftsmen at work and take part in celebrations of song and dance. Be sure to barter for one of the hand-woven Larouma baskets that are a signature work of the Kalinago.

3. Whale Tales

A pod of sperm whales diving in the waters of Dominica.
A pod of sperm whales diving in the waters of Dominica.

Dominica is one of the only places in the world where you can swim with sperm whales. Here tall peaks provide sheltered from wind and waves, giving the whales calm waters to rear their young and rest between deep dives for giant octopus. From February through May, the population swells as the island's resident females y are joined by males taking a break from their open ocean rovings to stop by for courtship and breeding. Whale watching tours are conducted year-round, but the period from October through March is considered prime season, as this is the best time to find not only the sperm whales but also migrating species such as humpbacks and large pods of bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins.

4. Cool Pools and Warm Soaks

The Emerald Pool is one of Dominica's most popular waterfalls.
The Emerald Pool is one of Dominica's most popular waterfalls.

Who hasn't dreamed of splashing in a cool pool at the base of a tropical waterfall? With 365 rivers spilling from volcanic peaks, Dominica gives you lots of chances to take a dip. Two of the most popular places to cool off are at the pools below Trafalgar Falls and the Emerald Pool, both of which can be reached by an easy 20-minute walk. For a challenge, take it up a notch with an hour-plus climb to the base of Middleham Falls, or get off the beaten track at one of the dozens of lesser-known cascades tucked into the rainforest slopes. If you'd rather take a relaxing warm soak instead of a cooling plunge, there's places for that as well. This volcanic island is loaded with natural sulfur pools and hot springs, some of which are developed with changing rooms and showers, others which are wild and sequestered away from the tour groups.

5. A Pathway to Paradise

The Perdu trail follows the White River before climbing into the mountains.
The Perdu trail follows the White River before climbing into the mountains.

The historic Perdu Temps Trail meanders through river valleys, farms and rainforests before ascending into the highlands of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. It would take all day to traverse the entire trail, but your destination isn't a distant mountain top, it's an off-grid farm located about 90 minutes into the walk. Here, the Pump family welcomes visitors with a luncheon of fresh produce from the organic gardens and groves that surround their home. As an appetizer, guests are encouraged to wander the grounds and help themselves to the savory array of fruits growing in the yard while their hosts describe the garden's various medicinal plants and herbs. It is a setting that many have described as a tropical version of the Garden of Eden.

6. Dark Water Drift

Colorful rowboats sit ready to ferry visitors on the Indian River.
Colorful rowboats sit ready to ferry visitors on the Indian River.

Dominica has lots of streams and rivers flowing from its mountain slopes, but only a few that will float a boat. To explore the island's wild waterways, you can hire a guide for a paddle trip up the Indian River. The slow-flowing lower section of the river meanders through the northern edge of the Glanvilla Swamp. You'll pass flower-lined banks and traverse marshlands that are home to wading birds and iguanas. The most dramatic scenery comes when you enter a shaded channel where the banks are lined by overhanging vines and the protruding buttress roots of bloodwood trees. If this almost spooky setting reminds you of a scene from a movie, you're right. The Indian River was the setting for witch's hut in the film Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest.

7. Hoofs on the Beach

Horse and rider cool off in the waters of Douglas Bay.
Horse and rider cool off in the waters of Douglas Bay.

Forget tour buses. One of the best ways to discover Dominica is on horseback. Outfitters offer a range of guided rides. Some stick to village backroads and farm fields, while others head for rainforests and wooded mountain slopes crisscrossed with riding trails. Some of the best routes follow the Waitukubuli Trail, which is a 115-mile wilderness path that stretches from one end of the island to the other. Some sections cross mountain highlands, but one of the most popular rides leads through wetlands that are prime habitat for native and migratory birds, then continues to the black sand beach at Douglas Bay. Another signature ride brings riders to Purple Turtle Beach for a unique chance to take your horse for a bareback swim in the ocean.

Ready to add some adventure to your next Dominica Dive Vacation? Our agents can make arrangements to include any or all of these activities in a dive package or vacation stay. To get started, just give us a call at 800-329-9989 or send a note to sales@caradonna.com.