Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. The second largest actively boiling lake in the world, the ethereal (and aptly named) Boiling Lake is well worth the six hour round hike required to reach it. Veiled in a ghostly shroud of steam, it fizzes and bubbles inside a deep cauldron and is a simultaneously spectacular and surreal sight.
2. Admire the beautiful flora and fauna, thick tropical vegetation and cascading waterfalls of the rainforest from above, in a serene gondola ride through the canopy on the Rainforest Ariel Tram. Be sure to call and book in advanced, as the park is only open when organised tours have been prearranged.
3. With volcanic vents and dramatically plunging sea walls making fascinating additions to the already diverse marine life and spectacularly colourful coral reef, it quickly becomes obvious to new visitors why Dominica is so often billed as one of the worlds top diving destinations. A number of excellent diving companies operate across the island, and gladly cater to all levels of ability.
4. Hailed as the whale watching capital of the Caribbean, Dominica enjoys frequent sightings of whales and dolphins all year round. Hop aboard a whale watching tour and keep your eyes peeled for several species of whale including sperm, false killer and humpback whale, as well as playful pods of dolphins leaping from the water and swimming alongside the boat.
5. Dominica is nothing short of a hiker’s paradise, with endless trails leading you high and low through the islands pristine environment, encompassing gorges and valleys, rivers, waterfalls, mountain peaks and tangled stretches of tropical rainforest.
6. To the north of Roseau lie the sprawling grounds of the stunning, 40-acre botanic gardens, which date back to 1889. A beautiful setting for a wander and a lazy afternoon picnic, it features a plethora of tropical plants, shrubs and trees, as well as a Parrot Conservation and Research centre, an aviary housing rare Sisserou and Jaco parrots, and a surreal yet evocative memorial to Hurricane David in the form of a rusted out yellow school bus trapped beneath a majestic African baobab tree.
7. The Kalingo Barana Aute is a fascinating recreation of a traditional Kalingo village, and an excellent place to discover more about Kalingo history and culture. Take a short tour that includes a visit to a ‘karbet’ (mens house), a ten foot long dugout canoe carved from a single tree, and a visit to a gift shop, where Kalingo women weave intricate baskets.
8. The islands capital of Roseau is the backdrop to two atmospheric markets; the bustling riverfront market is at its busiest on Friday night and Saturday morning, and is a great place to come for fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as an array of spices and fish caught straight from the river. The Old Market take place in the endearing cobblestone plaza that serves as the towns hub, and is a haven for souvenirs, handicrafts, rum and all things Rastafarian!
9. A picturesque hour-long loop through the Syndicate Rainforest (located on the western slopes of Morne Diablotin) provides an unrivalled chance to see Dominica’s endemic, endangered parrots, the Jaco and the Sisserou, in their natural habitat. The best time to spot them is early morning or late afternoon – be sure to also keep an eye out for four local varieties of hummingbird!
10. At 200 feet, Middleham Falls is one of Dominica’s highest waterfalls, and a truly awe-inspiring sight. The trail that leads towards it is also gorgeously scenic, and can usually be completed without a guide.
Culture in Dominica
Dominica’s rich culture reflects its diverse array of inhabitants – a varied blend of French, British, African and native Carib (Kalingo) people. Music and dance are important aspects of the islands culture, and since 1997 Dominica has played host to various Creole festivals including Creole in the Park and the World Creole Music Festival. The style of dress on the island is traditionally colourful, with garments wearing plaid and batik-inspired patterns.
Dominica is also the only Caribbean island with a remaining population of indigenous Carib Indians; over 2000 of them live on the northwestern side of the island, where it is possible to gain a fascinating glimpse into their ancestral roots through their traditional craft, especially canoe building, basket weaving and traditional culinary activity.