Many people hop down to the islands for a break, but Dominica is a place far different from the other Caribbean nations. With its lush jungle covering most of the country and its rugged terrain, Dominica is a great weekend jaunt for the more adventurous traveler who doesn’t want to spend their holiday focused on sun, sand, and SPF. We at Somewhere Or Bust, always looking to better the New York Times, bring to you the best things to do in Dominica in 37 Hours.
The Best Things to do in Dominica
Kalinago Barana Aute
A visit to the Kalinago cultural center on the last remaining reservation in the Caribbean is the best way to learn about the people. At KBA, you’ll tour a beautiful trail rich with the herbs and trees the Kalinago had used in their daily life. You can also watch cassava bread (not a bread) be made from scratch and grilled on heliconia leaves. Kalinago guides will tell stories about this warrior nation and introduce the rituals still practiced today. For a more authentic experience, look into their home stay program.
Islet View Restaurant
Great meal. Great views. Great rum. But it’s the rum that’s the real story. Find a designated driver–as Dominica’s roads are difficult even for the most sober–and sip back as many of their 50-plus rums as possible, which stand on shelves packed with the spices, herbs, and produce that flavor them. Avoid the typical and go a bit odd. There is garlic-infused rum and even local concoctions that promote virility, like the Viagraesque Obama Special or nym rum.
The road south has many trailheads toward waterfalls. For a quick jaunt through the forest, head to Emerald Pools. But for a more impressive experience, hike to Victoria Falls, the most voluminous one in the country.
Jungle Bay or Rosalie Bay
Experience comfort and some social responsibility at one of these two properties.
It has the typical offerings of most Caribbean reefs as far as fish and coral and sponges go. But the thing that makes Champagne Reef unique is that gases from the island’s volcano are escaping through the reef and these underwater fumaroles send up slender streams of bubbles and looks as if it’s champagne bubbling in a flute.
Saturday is the day of the week for soup or broth in Dominica and the best place in Roseau for this massive meal is the Orchard on Great George Street. And by George, they’ve cheffed up the tastiest callaloo on the island. Try the pigs feet souse, marinating in a big plastic bucket on the counter, for added fun.
It’s the best 90-minute hike through Dominica’s wonderful jungle and it offers views of the longest waterfall in the country, which spills into a circular pool carved out by the power of Middleham.
Fresh Water Lake
Rest your legs and paddle around the lake to experience some wide open space in the densely forested Dominica. Of course the lake is enveloped by the usual vegetation, but it’s a stunning space that changes as the fog rolls through the mountains.
Fort Young Hotel or South
While a stay in Roseau is most central, after dark the city is uninviting and all the best restaurants are closed. While you can get to Pointe Michel from Roseau and eat at Kimon’s fish restaurant and then party at the four bar kiosks across the road, another option is to stay in the more picturesque towns to the south like Soufriere and Scott’s Head.
Boiling Lake Hike
The Boiling Lake hike is, without a doubt, the most challenging and beautiful day-hike in Dominica. And the highlight of any trip. Through a forest that feels like a food market, with all of its dangling fruits and spiced trees, up peaks that offer incredible panoramas, and down into valleys with bubbling fumaroles and rivers gray from the mixing of sulphur and carbon, the 8-mile Boiling Lake Hike is exclusive to the competent hiker. It’s a journey through mud and a scramble down iron-tinged cliff. But when hikers come to waterfalls flowing into natural hot springs, where it feels as if an oasis had paradoxically appeared in a paradise, or when they reach the ultimate site–the Boiling Lake–they will undoubtedly experience Dominica’s greatest reward.
It’s a refreshing swim when you come to the end of the Boiling Lake hike. Just as the hike is for the competent hiker, swimming the gorge is only for the competent swimmer. The swim through the fifty-meter gorge is dark and cold, and with no handholds and plenty of current, there’s no room for panic. If you do manage to reach the waterfall at the back, climb the first miniature fall to reach the secret pool, where a much larger fall spills. (Don’t attempt to climb that one.)
Tia’s or Screw’s
In the village of Wotten Waven, a pair of independently run hot springs built along the river compete. Screw’s is the more popular of the two austere springs; Tia’s is quieter. Both are entrenched by forest. But if you take time on the Boiling Lake trail to dip into the hot spring between the Valley of Desolation and the lake, then these pools will be distant seconds. (Whatever you do, don’t take a dip in the Boiling Lake, for that bubbles at 200-degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll cook.) The only upside of Tia’s and Screw’s is that after relaxing in the pools, you don’t have another three miles ahead of you.
If you have an early flight the next day and prefer to be closer to the airport, the closest hotel with the most charm is Pagua Bay House. Overlooking the rough waters of the Atlantic, the few villas on property offer a comfortable last night in Dominica.