Dominica: Nature Island
An abundance of natural attractions awaits within Dominica’s 290 square miles: two-thirds of the island is covered in rainforest. Extensive geothermal activity occurs above and below sea level.
The Commonwealth of Dominica—not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, and pronounced Dom-in-EE-ka—is an active volcanic isle blanketed by tropical rainforests in which untold numbers of species flourish. From afar, the mountains that tower 4,000 feet above the surrounding sea appear to touch the sky.
Approximately 70,000 people inhabit Dominica’s 290 square miles, with about 15,000 living in and around Roseau. The Dominica Museum and Old Market Plaza are just steps from the pier. The narrow alleyways are home to various art galleries, craft vendors, and well-preserved French-colonial architecture.
It wasn’t until 1715 that the French established a permanent settlement on Dominica, making it the last Caribbean island to be colonized. As a result, it’s one of the most unspoiled islands in the region. Six different types of tropical rainforests make up 60 percent of the island, where some 1,200 different plant species have been recorded.
In 1997, Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park became the first natural site in the Eastern Caribbean to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of its top attractions is Trafalgar Falls, where twin waterfalls tumble side by side: the “father falls” on the left drop from 125 feet, and the “mother falls” on the right flow down from 75 feet. The orange hue of the water that trickles across the trail comes from the iron compounds in the clay, not from sulfur, as some believe.
Dominica’s Boiling Lake is the second-largest in the world. The 200-foot-wide steaming basin reaches 198 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s believed to be a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from below the earth’s surface. Hiking to the lake can be strenuous, but worth the effort. For a less arduous adventure, head to the Emerald Pool, Dominica’s most accessible waterfall. An easy, 20-minute walk through the rainforest along a wooden path leads to the base of this 40-foot-high waterfall surrounded by lush rainforest. The pool below has remarkably clear water—perfect for swimming.
At Sulphur Springs in Wotten Waven, soak in pools with mineral deposits thought to have therapeutic healing properties. And just off Dominica’s shores, about 200 endangered sperm whales roam the waters—Dominica is the only place in the world where the species can be spotted year-round.
Visit two of Dominica’s most popular attractions: Trafalgar Falls and Emerald Pool. Enjoy a 15-minute hike through the rainforest to the viewing platform for spectacular views of the waterfalls. Spot rare national birds like the sisserou and jaco parrots shaded by exotic tall trees.
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