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Best Places to Visit in Dominica, Top Attractions
An island that seems to attract more intrepid explorers than all-inclusive holidaymakers, Dominica is a beautiful mountainous Caribbean island nestled between Martinique and Guadeloupe. It’s sometimes known as the “Nature Island” and with good reason, Dominica is covered with lush green tropical rainforests, natural hot springs, gorges, waterfalls, and volcanoes. It’s hardly surprising that Pirates of the Caribbean was shot on Dominica. So many of the place names sound like they have been lifted straight off a pirate map: Boiling Lake, Valley of Desolation, Stinking Hole or Scott’s Head. In fact, these names are nearly always related to natural wonders rather than horrible histories. Dominica does have its fair share of historical hardships, with colonialism and ensuing slavery leaving their mark on many of the places to visit in Dominica. Most of all, there's pure volcanic virtuosity, thanks to nine volcanoes. Whether they are dormant or extinct, they are still burbling with rich rainforest, geysers and gorges, birdlife and misty mountain tops.
#1- Waitukubuli National Trail
Caribbean’s first long distance trail, the WNT spans 185km from Scott’s Head in the south to Cabrits National Park in the north. Completed in 2011, it not only traverses mountainous rainforest, coastal cliffs and stupendous gorges but also meanders through otherwise inaccessible communities.
#2- Trafalgar Falls
Dominica is blessed with so many waterfalls, it is literally falling down with beauty and, at Trafalgar Falls, you get two for the price of one. Named the ‘father’ and ‘mother’ falls, the former has a 65m drop and the latter about half that. The mother is the more welcoming, however, with a large bathing pool open to those who dare to scramble down. The falls are easily accessible after a brief rainforest walk.
#3- Scotts Head
An island like Dominica just has to have a beautiful village on the end of an isthmus. And one that separates the Caribbean from the Atlantic at that. On the SW tip, Scotts Head is wrapped around the foothills of an ancient volcanic crater. This is ‘walk straight into the sea and snorkel’ territory, with no shark attacks, but plenty of snack shack attacks on the beach. The Waitukubuli National Trail starts here.
One of the top beaches, on the Atlantic side of the island, for turtle nesting. Come between end of March until September to watch giant leatherbacks, hawksbill and green turtles laying eggs. Or a few months later to see the hatchlings head down to the water.
#5- Morne Trois Pitons National Park
The supporting cast is made up of other volcanoes, hot springs, boiling mud pools, crater lakes, cloud and rainforest, the Titou Gorge and a chorus of 50 fumaroles. Oh, and a boiling lake. It would have been rude not to award it UNESCO status really. The Waitukubuli National Trail meanders through it, with other trails starting in Laudat.
#6- Morne Diablotin National Park
Dominica's newest national park is home to its highest volcano, Morne Diablotin (1,447m). It was founded in 2000 to protect the habitat of the endemic sisserou (imperial amazon) and Jaco (red-necked) parrots, just a couple of the bevy of beautiful birds in the national park’s Syndicate Rainforest. The Syndicate Nature Trail is perfect for birding, or take on the challenging summit trail to the top of this idyllic world.
#8- Kalinago Barana Autê Cultural Village
The village is the tourist hub, part of the 15km² territory belonging to this 3,400 strong population. A place to get a real sense of human survival on this island as well as its ancient heritage, be it cookery or craft, politics or performances, farming or fishing. They also run Kalinago guided tours into the country’s interior.
#9- Emerald Pool
If you want a stunning waterfall to swim under, this is the one. Located in the Morne Trois Pitons NP, and a magical stop when hiking Segment 5 of the Waitukubuli National Trail. Hard to imagine that part of this trail follows a path built by slaves in 1828, especially when it leads to the most stunning waterfall and exquisitely emerald pool. Get here early morning or evening to avoid cruise ship crowds.
#10- Champagne Reef
One of the few places in the world where gas is actually gorgeous. Not only can you snorkel among lobster, trumpet fish, harlequin bass or even hawksbill turtles, but you also flow through sporadic shots of bubbles emitted from the volcanic depths below. Head to Champagne Beach to rent equipment or go on scuba diving trip for total immersion.
#11- Cabrits National Park
A wild, peninsular national park where, although only 5km², you escape into what feels like microcosm of the island as a whole. With tropical forests, coral reefs and wetlands, lose yourself to nature, be it hiking across it or diving around it. Great for family hikes through rainforest to discover ruins of British Fort Shirley – now thankfully taken over by jungle.
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