Dominica stakes its claim as Adventure Capital of the Caribbean
Already known as the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’ and ‘Whale-Watching Capital’, the pristine and protected island of Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-ee-ka) is staking its claim as the region’s authentic Adventure Capital.
The adventure activities offered in Dominica allow visitors to discover the island on foot; from the air; by road; above or below the surface of the water; or even whilst hanging on an abseil rope. Visitors to Dominica can easily enjoy a different experience each day of a fortnight-long trip – potentially without even visiting one beach.
Over 300 hiking trails exist on the island, ranging from a ten-minute stroll through rainforest landscape to the base of the twin Trafalgar Falls waterfalls; to six- to seven-hour hikes taking in sites including the world’s second largest Boiling Lake and Morne Diablotin (Devil’s Mountain) – the highest peak in the Eastern Caribbean at 4,747 feet. A national hiking trail that will traverse the entire length of Dominica is currently under development. The trail will be known as The Wai’tukubuli Trail after the Carib Indian name for the island, meaning ‘tall is her body’. It will cover an estimated 185km and take around ten days to complete.
Water lovers will be in their element in Dominica. With enough rivers to visit a different one each day of the year, along with numerous waterfalls and natural hot springs resulting from the islandâ€™s volcanic nature, a lot of bathing and swimming in Dominica takes place in fresh water. Other options include kayaking on the ocean, in rivers or at an inland lake; floating downriver on an inflatable river tube; or taking a trip in a rowing boat along the atmospheric Indian River, one of the filming locations for Pirates of the Caribbean II.
For scuba divers and snorkellers, there is a lot more of Dominica waiting to be discovered underwater. The Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve, off Dominica’s southwest shore, contains the gigantic rim of an extinct volcanic crater; underwater hot springs which bubble up through shallow waters; and waters that plunge to depths of 6,000 feet, making this an optimum location for whale watching.
Dominica’s dive sites include shallow sloping reefs and steep wall dives, but all are noted for their diverse marine life and healthy conditions. By law, all shore and boat dives in Dominica must be accompanied by a government-registered dive master, to promote responsible diving.
Travellers looking for a more unusual experience might enjoy the new canyoning tours in Dominica, which involve jumping into pools, wading and swimming through rivers, climbing and scrambling over log jambs and rappelling through waterfalls. The company provides safety equipment including life jackets, helmets and wetsuits and the certified guides can lead expeditions for people of all experience levels.
Two thirds of Dominica is pristine, tropical rainforest, as you would expect from the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’. Get right into the rainforest canopy on a ride in the Rainforest Aerial Tram, or whilst experiencing the network of zip lines, ‘Tarzan swings’ and rope bridges that make up the Wacky Rollers adventure park. Back on the ground, travel through the forest by horse-back, on an ATV or in an open-backed Jeep.
Sample adventure packages
Papillote Wilderness Retreat (www.papillote.dm) Papillote, recently shortlisted in the small hotel category of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, offers various adventure packages. Seven-night packages, including an adventure supplement OR garden supplement, cost from US$1,560 per person. The adventure supplement includes 12 guided trips and the garden supplement includes 11 guided trips, plus half-board accommodation and airport transfers.
Calibishie Lodges (www.calibishie-lodges.com) 14 days / 13 nights US$995 per person (approx: £509) based on a minimum of two travelling. This prices includes half-board accommodation and four excursions – Syndicate Nature Walk (day trip); hiking Chaudiere Pool (half day trip); Indian River (half day trip); Batibou Beach (half day trip). Flights are not included.
Hibiscus Valley Inn (www.hibiscusvalley.com) Seven night Adventure Packages start from US$590 per person (approx: £302). This includes full-board accommodation, airport transfers and a selection of five tours. Options include a full-day hike to the Boiling Lake; a whale/dolphin watching and snorkel trip; and a River Tubing excursion and Rasta Man hike. Flights are not included.
Travel information There are no direct flights from the UK to Dominica. Fly to Antigua, Barbados or St Lucia, from where regional connections are available with LIAT.