dominica island

Dominica Travel Guide: How to Explore Dominica, The Nature Island of the Caribbean [in 2024]

Known as the “Nature Island” of the Caribbean, Dominica is unlike any other Caribbean island you’ve ever visited. With soaring mountains, plunging waterfalls, volcanic craters, and even a boiling lake, this largely beachless island is a haven for adventure and wellness travel

We spoke with local experts from top resorts in Dominica, like Jungle Bay and the newly-rebranded InterContinential, as well as seasoned tour guides to create the ultimate travel guide to the island of Dominica. Whether you’re looking forward to unwinding at a jungle resort or beach-hopping along the island’s rugged coast, you’ll love what you find in Dominica.

visit dominica
Courtesy of Discover Dominica

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No, this isn’t the Dominican Republic – the island of Dominica is an independent country located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. Incredibly lush and mountainous, Dominica is largely untouched, despite a recent flurry of travel awards bringing some much-deserved attention to this island paradise.

Off-shore volcanic craters and mountains have made Dominica island one of the world’s best destinations for diving, according to the experts at PADI. Certification courses in sleepy fishing villages like Soufriere are also incredibly affordable; plenty of visitors travel from across the world to experience these reefs for the first time.

In addition to its underwater treasures, the island has an incredible array of things to do for an adventurous trip. Repel down a waterfall, hike to a boiling lake, and kayak across a freshwater lagoon hidden among the mountains, all before retiring to one of the plush hotels in Dominica that are elevating the stay experience here.

While Dominica has so much to see and do, the most intoxicating part of a visit to the island is relishing the laid-back atmosphere and untouched natural beauty. So much of the Caribbean nowadays is far too built-up and touristy, but you won’t find an ounce of that in Dominica. We had many of the most popular attractions of Dominica totally to ourselves.

Read More: 20 Best Things To Do in Dominica

Why is Dominica Called the Nature Island?

Dominica is widely known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean,” and it’s easy to see why! From mountains covered with rainforest to dramatic volcanoes and plunging waterfalls, this tiny island has an impressive array of geological and ecological features that make it a true gem for adventurous travelers.

While nearby Antigua is known for having 365 beaches, Dominica boasts 365 rivers. You could spend a month or more exploring the island’s numerous waterfalls, green gorges, and winding waterways and still feel like you haven’t seen it all.

Best Time To Visit Dominica

Most travelers visit Dominica between December and April, during the drier months that coincide with winter for many North American travelers. While the island is busier during these months, it’s never crowded.

  • High Season: December – April
  • Shoulder Season: May – June
  • Low Season: July – November

We traveled to Dominica in May, and it was an ideal time to enjoy the island. The busier tourist season had passed, cruise ships were done taking over Roseau, and the island generally had a laid-back, uncrowded feel. If you can plan a visit for May, I’d recommend it!

dominica itinerary

Getting to Dominica

It’s easier than ever to access Dominica, regardless of where you’re traveling from. The island’s growing fame as a new Caribbean travel hotspot has caused an increase in flights and ferries alike.

Flights to Dominica

New flights directly from the United States to Dominica have opened the island to more U.S.-based travelers than ever. Flights connecting Miami and Dominica directly began with great success at the beginning of 2023, recently increasing in frequency to serve the influx of travelers to the island.

Dominica’s two airports also receive flights from a number of neighboring islands, including St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico. You can find a number of frequent flights to Dominica island from any of these neighboring islands throughout the week.

Ferries to Dominica

Dominica is also accessible from its Caribbean neighbors via frequent ferry access. Islands including Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia are just a short ferry ride away, making this a great option for travelers looking to experience several Caribbean islands in one trip.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

things to do in dominica
Courtesy of Discover Dominica

Best Things To Do in Dominica

You’ll be amazed at the incredible array of things to do in Dominica, especially considering that the island is just under 800 square miles in size. These are some of the island’s highlights you can’t miss:

1. Explore Dominica’s Reefs

Dominica is one of the best destinations for diving in the world. Its underwater volcanic canyons, craters, and pinnacles make it a haven for an incredible array of fish, corals, and sponges abound around the island. You can even get the chance to swim with whales in Dominica!

The island has plenty of dive shops for all your rentals and even diving classes for beginners. Nature Island Dive is a well-respected favorite; we loved getting out on the water with them to explore the dive sites near Soufriere.

Scuba divers can depart from Soufriere and head to incredible destinations like L’Abym or Scotts Head Pinnacles, home to marine life like octopus, eels, rays, and even sharks. Nearby Soufriere Pinnacles is even considered by some to offer the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Accessible directly from the beach, it’s a great choice for a self-guided snorkeling expedition.

2. Go Whale Watching

Dominica is one of the only places in the world where you can spot sperm whales year-round, making this island the whale-watching capital of the Caribbean. With the island’s plunging volcanic walls extending deep below the waves, it’s the perfect sanctuary for mother whales and their babies.

Whales are most frequently spotted off the island’s west coast between November and May, though experienced local guides can often spot them on whale-watching tours year-round. Book a tour ahead of time with an experienced company like PH Whale Watching for a great experience and the best chance of spotting whales.

Reviews and Bookings: Whale Watch & Dolphin Cruise in Dominica

trafalgar falls

3. Visit Trafalgar Falls

The twin Trafalgar Falls are one of the most important attractions in Dominica, with rivers cutting a dramatic path through the jungle before dropping into the gorge below. You can view the falls from a viewing platform before scrambling over the rocks to swim below the falls.

No strenuous hike is needed to visit this gorgeous spot – it’s just a 10-minute walk from the parking area, making it quite accessible and an easy addition to your Dominica itinerary. Even better, pair your visit with a stop for lunch at River Rock Cafe; this was my favorite meal in my time in Dominica, and the views are stunning.

Read More: 20 Best Things To Do in Dominica

caribbean food in dominica

4. Taste Authentic Caribbean Food

Don’t be content sticking to resort food and international favorites on your visit to Dominica – you won’t want to miss the local dishes unique to this Caribbean island. Local favorites heavily feature tropical fruits and vegetables, seafood, rice, coconut milk, and lots of great flavor.

You can also take a cooking class or a food tour to get an even better appreciation for Dominica’s Caribbean cuisine. Daria and Michael offer one of the most well-respected cooking classes in Dominica for travelers – make sure to book ahead for this true local experience!

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from SafetyWing or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

batibou beach
Courtesy of Discover Dominica

Best Beaches in Dominica

Dominica has nothing on beachy destinations like nearby Antigua or the Dominican Republic. However, if you just can’t fathom a Caribbean island vacation without the beach, these are some of the best beaches in Dominica to add to your itinerary:

1. Batibou Beach

Among one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, Batibou Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. White sand, gentle waves, and a generally uncrowded, unhurried atmosphere make this a favorite with sunseekers and families alike.

2. Secret Beach

Hidden along a rocky shoreline just below Secret Bay resort, Secret Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Dominica. Only accessible via Secret Bay’s property or by swimming or kayaking from neighboring Tibay Bay, you’re almost guaranteed to have this gorgeous cove beach all to yourself when you visit.

Read More: 5 Best Resorts in Dominica

3. Mero Beach

One of the island’s most popular and easily-accessible beaches, Mero Beach has long been a favorite with cruise ship travelers and families visiting Dominica island. It boasts perfectly peaceful, clear water and plenty of beach amenities to make for a great day on the water.

4. Woodford Hills Beach

The white sand Woodford Hills Beach is among the best beaches on the island. You won’t find many amenities available here, but it’s worth a visit if you’re exploring the island’s wild and remote northern coast, home to some of its most beautiful spots.

where to stay in dominica
Courtesy of Coulibri Ridge

Where To Stay in Dominica

Dominica has an incredible range of resorts and hotels, offering everything from high-end resorts to budget-friendly Caribbean-style hotels throughout the island’s many tiny villages.

Most travelers opt for one of the resorts on the island’s western coast, as these are often the most accessible for travelers looking to enjoy all the things to do in Dominica. Don’t count out some of the island’s more remote eco-lodges and eco-resorts, which bring the Nature Island to life for travelers. You’ll find sustainable places to stay on every budget here.

Jungle Bay

Perched on a hillside above the fishing village of Soufriere, Jungle Bay is a boutique resort that feels plucked straight from the rainforest. When you visit the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Jungle Bay is just the type of place you’d want to stay: somewhere that highlights the lush landscape and spectacular scenery of the island, with an eco-friendly twist.

Jungle Bay boasts sixty rooms and private villas scattered across the expansive property. The views from every angle of the property are stunning, with Scotts Head and the Caribbean Sea neatly framed between green hillsides. This was our favorite resort in Dominica by far – check out our complete review before booking!

Reviews and Bookings: Jungle Bay

Secret Bay

With unparalleled luxury and even more impressive natural surroundings, Secret Bay is a favorite among the best resorts in Dominica. It was even named the best resort in the entire Caribbean by Travel + Leisure.

Perched on a cliffside above one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, it boasts incredible ocean views and unrivaled amenities from every room. Secret Bay’s all-villa layout makes it a favorite for honeymooners seeking solitude. Each villa is complete with a private terrace and plunge pool.

Reviews and Bookings: Secret Bay

Coulibri Ridge

The newest resort on the island of Dominica is Coulibri Ridge, an eco-friendly destination pushing the bounds of both sustainability and luxury on Dominica. Coulibri Ridge is ultra-sustainable and totally off-grid, providing for all of its own power and water needs through green methods.

Eco-friendly certainly doesn’t equate to roughing it at Coulibri Ridge. You’d never guess this impressive resort is off-grid from the luxurious installations of the property. Five three-story villas house penthouses and suites welcome visitors, complete with gorgeous infinity pools, expansive terraces, and more.

Reviews and Bookings: Coulibri Ridge

pointe baptiste
Courtesy of Discover Dominica

Dominica Travel Tips

1. Get a Weekly Site Pass and Save

Most of Dominica’s top attractions are part of the nation’s Site Pass. This pass includes everything from the Boiling Lake hike and Freshwater Lake to some of the island’s marine reserves popular with snorkeling and diving excursions.

While a one-site pass costs $5 USD, a week-long pass to the island’s top attraction is just $12 USD and allows unlimited access to all the destinations it includes. Even if you’re just visiting for one day as part of a cruise or only have a few days to explore the island, purchasing the week-long pass will likely save you money!

2. Use Dominica’s Ferries to Explore the Caribbean (For Cheap!)

Dominica is connected to nearby islands like Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia by ferries from the island’s capital, Roseau. This makes for an easy and relatively affordable way to explore multiple Caribbean islands in just one trip!

You’ll need to book tickets ahead and plan using the ferry schedule, as not all ferries run between every destination every day. However, they’re a great way to explore the Caribbean, offering the benefit of taking in the beauty of the island by water at the same time.

3. Pack Wisely!

Dominica is all about adventure travel, so make sure you pack comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes for all the exciting things you’ll be able to do here. A few key recommendations as you pack include the following:

I wore Tevas every day of our trip – they’re the perfect shoes for hiking to the island’s different waterfalls, getting on and off kayaks and dive boats, and more. If you have yet to jump on the Tevas / Chacos train, now the is time.

4. Cut Down on Transportation Time

While Dominica is a relatively small island, it’s extremely mountainous, meaning that what should be a quick drive can take much longer than you might expect. Take some time to plan your Dominica itinerary around the activities you’d like to do on the island based on their location. You’ll save hours and hours of travel time!

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.