Exploring Nature’s Island

June 17, 2014 No Comments

Cruise ships dock at Bayfront Pier in Roseau, a charming coastal village on the west coast of Dominica. The Dominica Museum and Old Market Plaza are just steps from the pier. The city’s 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 island in the Caribbean. Six different types of tropical rain forests blanket 60 percent of the island, where some 1,200 different plant species have been recorded. Dominica is reminiscent of a time when the Caribbean region was full of uncharted islands and rebel pirates.

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. The park includes numerous attractions that appeal to all ages and fitness levels.

One of the favorite 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. Notice the warm springs that flow across the trail; the water’s orange hue comes from the iron compounds in the clay, not from sulfur as some believe.

Dominica’s Boiling Lake is the second-largest boiling lake in the world. The 200-foot-wide streaming basin reaches temperatures of 198 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s believed to be a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from below the earth’s surface. A hike to the lake is quite strenuous, but well worth the effort.

For a less arduous outdoor adventure, head to the Emerald Pool, Dominica’s most accessible waterfall. An easy, 15-minute walk through the rainforest along a wooden pathway leads to the base of this 40-foot-high tumbling stream surrounded by lush rainforest. The pool below is perfect for swimming and boasts remarkably clear water.

At the Sulphur Springs in Wotten Waven, you can soak in multiple pools that contain mineral deposits thought to have therapeutic healing properties. When active, the springs come alive in an impressive bubbling motion, spewing volcano-warmed water into the air.

Bubbles are a recurring theme on this island; however, the ones at Champagne Beach are not intense. Effervescent waters create a fizzing effect, and swimming through the bubbles is akin to bathing in an ocean of sparkling wine.

Just off Dominica’s shores, approximately 200 endangered sperm whales roam the waters. Dominica is the only place in the world where the species can be spotted year-round.

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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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