Mountainous, green, and endlessly lush, Dominica is an adventure traveler’s paradise. Enjoy cliff jumping from gorges, swimming under waterfalls, and the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean on your hidden island adventure in Dominica. You won’t find many white sand beaches here; instead, you’ll enjoy hidden cove beaches so lovely they were featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
The best things to do in Dominica include exploring the island’s adventurous heart, which offers an exciting new style of Caribbean travel you didn’t know existed.
Planning your own dreamy itinerary to Dominica? These are the most unforgettable things to do in this underrated Caribbean paradise.
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Things To Do in Dominica
1. Visit a Secret Beach
Dominica isn’t known for its miles-long white sand beaches like other Caribbean islands, but don’t count it out if you’re dreaming of days on the beach.
Most beaches in Dominica tend to have darker sand, though white sand beaches can be found if you know where to look. There are even some stunning black-sand beaches in Dominica!
One of the most beautiful white sand beaches on the island is also one of its most hidden. With a name like Secret Beach, would you expect anything else? Just a small cove, this beach has fine sand and ultra-clear waters, hidden from prying eyes by precipitous cliffs on three sides. You’ll feel like you’ve found your own deserted island paradise here.
The beach is accessible via the property at the Secret Bay resort for guests or by swimming or kayaking into the cove from neighboring Tibay Bay. You’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself even if you visit during the height of travel high season, making it one of the best things to do in Dominica.
Read More: 10 Best Beaches in Dominica
2. Hike to Boiling Lake
Dominica is alive – this small Caribbean island of under eight hundred square miles is home to nine live volcanoes! Dominica’s volcanic nature makes it alive with hot springs, bubbling reefs, and even one of the world’s only boiling lakes, one of the most impressive attractions in Dominica.
You won’t want to swim in this lake! Steamy and grey-blue, Boiling Lake is at a constant rolling boil, making it one of the most unexpected natural wonders in the Caribbean. Set among the plunging green mountains of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, it’s even more impressive.
Visiting Boiing Lake is one of the best things to do in Dominica, but don’t underestimate the effort it takes to get here. This is not a trek for every traveler. Just over six miles out and back, the trek is quite a technical journey with boulder jumping, scrambling, and even some use of ropes to get around challenging sections.
It’s a route that requires a local guide (you can book online with Viator). Despite the effort it takes to reach the lake, the trail is a relatively popular one. Gorgeous mountain vistas and lush rainforest flora and fauna make this among naturalists’ favorite things to do in Dominica.
In total, plan for the trek to last about 7 hours in total. If you’re traveling from across the island to reach its starting point near Titou Gorge, it could be an all-day trip.
3. Swim at the Emerald Pool
You’ll see waterfalls, rivers, and hidden swimming holes everywhere you look in Dominica, though it’s hard to imagine any of them being more beautiful than Emerald Pool. Hidden away in the heart of the island, this dreamy swimming hole at the base of a waterfall is just about as close to a jungle oasis as you could ever hope to find.
No strenuous hike is required to reach Emerald Pool. Take a gravel path for a 10-15 minute walk to the viewing platform. Just below, you’ll find a path and steps to help you access the swimming hole. The water is cold but incredibly refreshing!
There’s nothing like taking a swim in this jungle oasis after a hot day under the sun. We visited during the middle of the day and still had this popular destination all to ourselves, which just enhanced the experience. Don’t skip Emerald Pool – this was one of the most memorable parts of our trip.
4. Snorkel in Soufriere
Dominica is known as being one of the best destinations for scuba diving in the world, but there is plenty for snorkelers to enjoy here, too! Head to the charming small town of Soufriere near the south of the island for some of the best snorkeling you’ll find in the entire Caribbean.
Directly off the beaches in Soufriere, you’ll find excellent snorkeling, especially if you head north from the beach towards the legendary Soufriere Pinnacles. If you’re a confident swimmer you can snorkel along the shoreline outside of Soufriere’s bay as well – the colors and marine life are stunning.
Looking to head a bit further offshore? Book a snorkeling excursion with Nature Island Dive in Soufriere for guided excursions to areas like Scotts Head Dropoff and L’Abym. They also organize excellent scuba diving excursions and offer PADI certification classes.
Make sure to stop at Bubble Beach Spa before you depart Soufriere. You can bathe right along the shoreline where volcanic heat warms ocean waters. The natural heating and bubbling effect is even more impressive than what you’ll find at the more well-known Champagne Beach.
Bubble Beach Spa also offers beach chairs for rent and has a nice beach bar, which locals claim serves the best rum punch on the island.
5. Explore Morne Trois Pitons National Park
Morne Trois Pitons National Park is Dominica’s sole UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s an exceedingly impressive one. Home to five of Dominica’s nine volcanoes and some of the island’s most impressive landscapes, it’s a true tropical paradise you won’t want to skip.
Lush rainforest with immense biodiversity, Dominica’s famous Boiling Lake, three different freshwater lakes, and an incredible network of hiking trails make exploring this national park one of the best things to do in Dominica that you’ll find on this list.
One of the park’s most impressive sites is called the Valley of Desolation, where the national park’s lovely lush scenery turns to scrub surrounded by volcanic vents spitting gases and moisture high into the sky.
This is a stop on the way to Boiling Lake, though travelers make the visit here as well even if they don’t continue on to the rest of the arduous hike.
Hiking to the summit of Morne Trois Pitons is one of many popular things to do in Dominica within the park, though climbing the island’s second-highest mountain can be challenging. It is not a technically difficult climb, though it is a long trek. Consider adding this to your Dominica itinerary for a good challenge.
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6. Take a Waterfall Hike
With its mountainous, forested interior, Dominica is home to more plunging waterfalls and cascades than you can count. Whether you’re looking for a quick visit to one of the island’s most impressive waterfalls or are looking to explore some of its more remote gems, it’s easy to add a visit to at least one impressive waterfall to your Dominica itinerary.
Trafalgar Falls is one of the most popular attractions in Dominica, and with good reason. These twin waterfalls plunging into the dramatic gorge below are stunningly beautiful, offering a window into the best of the mountainous landscape Dominica is so well known for.
The falls are easily accessible, just a 10 minutes walk along a gravel trail from the parking lot that heads through the lush forest.
Once you reach the falls you’ll find a beautiful viewing platform perfect for taking photos. You can also scramble over the boulders to swim at the base of either of the falls, which comes highly recommended if you’re looking for an adventure!
Located in the remote southeastern corner of Dominica, Victoria Falls is among the island’s most impressive waterfalls. Its secluded location and the hike to reach it mean this waterfall isn’t as commonly visited as Trafalgar Falls, though it’s just as impressive, if not more so.
The hike to Victoria Falls isn’t a long one but requires navigating around and over rocks along the White River, making it a bit challenging but still quite doable even for beginners. If you have a moderate level of physical fitness and shoes with great grip, you should be more than fine.
Victoria Falls is a tall, plunging cascade well worth the 45-minute hike to visit. While a guide isn’t necessary, it’s a great idea especially as they can help you navigate along the river.
7. Take a Whale-Watching Cruise
Dominica is one of the best places in the entire world to have an up-close-and-personal with whales. Known as the whale-watching capital of the Caribbean, Dominica is the only place in the world where you can see sperm whales year-round. Whale-watching cruises are some of the most popular things to do in Dominica.
Dominica’s steep undersea dropoffs create deep, tranquil bays for whales and babies, especially on the western side of the island. Experienced whale-watching guides use long-held knowledge to create the most sustainable excursions, never baiting or disturbing these gentle giants.
While whales are visible from Dominica year round, it’s easiest to find them in the winter months when the water is the coldest, usually between November and March. Book a whale watching tour ahead of time with a reputable company like PH Whale Watching for a great experience, and of course, the best chance of spotting whales.
8. Swim Through Titou Gorge
One of the most unique attractions on the island of Dominica is Titou Gorge. This tiny slot canyon with a plunging waterfall on one end is impressive – much more impressive than I was expecting! – and makes for a perfect addition to your Dominica itinerary.
Swimming through the calm waters of the gorge is perfectly refreshing on a hot afternoon in Dominica, though if you’re not a great swimmer you can also float through the gorge on an inner tube.
You can have a guide lead you through the gorge if you choose. We thought having a guide was nice, but not overly necessary if you’re a decent swimmer. The gorge isn’t very large, so the entire excursion will probably take 45 minutes to an hour from start to finish.
Titou Gorge is featured prominently in the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 movie, so make sure to ask the guides about it, and they’re likely to show you the clip from the movie before you start the excursion!
Looking for a bit more adventure at the gorge? Just down the river from the most famous part of the gorge you’ll find canyoning excursions that all allow you to repel down waterfalls and hike through the river. This is the most famous adventure excursion in Dominica, so don’t miss it!
9. Explore Cabrits National Park
You’ll have no lack of opportunities for hiking in Dominica, though Cabrits National Park is one of the most accessible and impressive areas for it. Located on a peninsula near the town of Portsmouth, Cabrits is home to 1,313 acres of protected tropical forests and has trails of different levels of difficulty.
Cabrits National Park is also the last stop on the epic 14-segment Waitukubuli hiking trail that cuts across some of the island’s most gorgeous landscapes. To complete the entire trail is a true feat, so if you’re interested in attempting it make sure to go with a guide; hikers have gotten lost along the trail in years past.
Make sure to stop at Fort Shirley while you’re exploring the park. This historic fort was first constructed by the British in 1765 and has been partially restored. It’s a fascinating piece of Dominica’s history and boasts incredible views of the ocean from its hilltop position.
10. Hit the Spa
After a hike in Cabrits National Park, kayaking on Freshwater Lake, or any of the other adventurous things to do in Dominica, unwind at one of the island’s many spas. Even after a day spent soaking in the sun on Dominica’s beaches, visiting the spa is one of the best things to do in Dominica – you deserve it!
Many of the spas in Dominica are built around the island’s natural hot springs. However, if you’re looking for a classic spa experience, there’s no better spa on the island than the open-air Gommier Spa at Secret Bay.
From rooms lifted high above the canopy of the forest, getting a massage or other restorative treatment at Gommier Spa feels like a total immersion in the Nature Island of the Caribbean.
Just a few miles up the coast, InterContinental Dominica Cabrits Resort & Spa also boasts an incredible spa, complete with jacuzzis in private treatment rooms, a sauna and steam rooms, a yoga pavilion, and much more for a total wellness experience in Dominica.
Read More: 5 Best Resorts in Dominica
11. Take a Caribbean Cooking Class
The local flavors of Dominica are second to none. Looking to take some of the memorable Dominica foodie experience home with you? Add a cooking class to your itinerary.
Daria and Michael host one of the most popular cooking classes on the island; for years, travelers have been raving about the delicious cooking and incredible hospitality of this dynamic local duo. Make sure to add their Dominica cooking class to your itinerary – you’ll love it.
We always love to take a cooking class or food tour within the first 24 hours of arriving in a new place. Why? They can be one of the best ways for travelers to get to know local flavors and learn about the cuisine. It will also help you get acquainted with your favorite dishes to help you decipher menus for the rest of your trip, a major plus certain to make your trip even better.
12. Visit Batibou Beach
Spend a day unwinding in Dominica at some of the island’s incredible beaches. From tiny coves to long stretches of sand, Dominica has a wide array of types and styles of beaches, perhaps more than you might think.
Head to fan-favorite Batibou Beach if you’re looking for one of this Dominica’s most impressive beaches. Considered among the best beaches in the Caribbean, this unexpected gem is a highlight for everyone from families to couples and draws locals and visitors alike.
Despite Batibou Beach’s fame as among the island’s most beautiful beaches, it maintains a hidden feel.
Batibou Beach is also home to one of the island’s most unexpectedly impressive restaurants. This is no standard beach bar – two local sisters make delicious local food using inventive ingredients to put a spin on local favorites. They’re true locals, having grown up on the lime plantation that sits just above the beach.
Read More: 10 Best Beaches in Dominica
13. Stay in an Eco-Friendly Resort
Dominica’s emphasis on sustainability has long been one of its main draws for travelers looking for an Earth-positive vacation. With the addition of Coulibri Ridge to the island’s increasingly impressive array of resorts in 2022, Dominica gets that much greener.
Coulibri Ridge is ultra-sustainable, completely off-grid, and self-sufficient in a way that elevates what luxury hotels and resorts consider possible. Its seamless combination of luxury and mission makes for elevated sustainability that few sustainable resorts do so well.
Tucked away on a pristine green hillside on the southern part of the island, Coulibri Ridge offers expansive ocean and mountain views everywhere you turn. You’ll instantly fall in love with this special destination; it’s one well worth traveling for.
Read More: 25 Best Ecolodges Around the World
14. Explore Soufriere
The small village of Soufriere is a great choice for snorkeling and diving excursions, but it’s also one of the most charming towns on the island. Stay at Jungle Bay to be close to town, or stay in one of the simple but comfortable guesthouses you’ll find in town. Beach bars, local restaurants, and welcoming guesthouse hotels abound.
Don’t leave Soufriere without checking out the Bubble Beach Spa with its volcanic waters, and the natural hot springs in the hillside above the mountains. Despite Soufriere’s renown as one of the prettiest spots on the island, you’ll feel like you have the place all to yourself.
Whether you head out on an excursion or just go for a cruise around the island, make sure to take in the view of Soufriere from the water. Colorful homes clinging to the sides of the soaring mountains, covered in lush greenery, make the views of the town look straight out of a postcard.
Dominica is impressive from every angle, but viewing Soufriere from the water is one of the most special perspectives you’ll find of “The Nature Island.”
Read More: Jungle Bay Resort: Complete Hotel Review
15. Dive at the Scotts Head Pinnacles
With its incredible volcanic foundations extending below the waves, Dominica is a beloved destination for both snorkelers and divers alike. In fact, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) ranks it among the top ten best spots for diving in the entire world.
While there are what seem like countless incredible dive destinations around this small island, one of the most remarkable spots for scuba diving is Scotts Head Pinnacle, considered to offer one of the richest, most diverse dive experiences of any site around the island.
This dive site is located along the edge of an underwater volcanic crater, making it totally a unique experience for most divers. Sections of impressive walls descend deep, and caverns and swim-throughs abound throughout the site.
Lobsters, sea turtles, swarms of fish, and even the occasional ray abound here, as well as sponges and corals.
Diving Scotts Head Pinnacle is generally for divers who have some experience, though it’s not an overly challenging dive. Make sure to check with guides beforehand to make this dive is right for you before booking any specific experiences. We used Nature Island Dive in Soufriere and had a great experience!
16. Visit Pirates of the Caribbean Filming Locations
It doesn’t take a travel expert to see why this natural, unspoiled gem of an island can make visitors feel like they’re journeying back in time to the Caribbean of ages ago. Producers for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies agreed, featuring the island heavily in the second and third installments of the franchise.
If you’re a fan of the movies, make sure to check out some of these famous filming locations while you explore Dominica:
- Titou Gorge: This stunning, narrow canyon served as the site of the movie’s gorge scenes where the main characters (including Orlando Bloom) crash into the gorge after escaping angry natives.
- Number One Beach, also known as Hampstead Beach: This dark sandy beach was the filming location where a group of natives chased Johnny Depp’s characters down the beach.
- Indian River: A gorgeous area on the northern part of the island where the main characters visit a voodoo priestess.
As you explore Dominica, you’ll be sure to hear other stories of filming locations, where the cast and crew spent their time while filming, and more. Whether you’ve seen the movies or not, it simply adds to the mystique and appeal of Dominica.
17. Visit Pointe Baptiste’s Red Rocks
Lining the waves along Dominica’s northern coast, the island’s red rocks are one of its most unique geological features. This outcropping of bright red rocks looks like it’s straight out of the Grand Canyon, offering an incredible spot from which to get great ocean views. It’s totally unique in the Caribbean.
From the small parking area, you’ll find a short and easy walk toward the rocks and water, making this a generally accessible destination for most travelers.
While you’re in the area, make sure to stop by the gorgeous Point Baptiste Beach. This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and is mostly empty despite having some good beach amenities.
At the inn at Pointe Baptiste, you’ll find a family-owned chocolate shop, definitely worth adding to your itinerary for a day spent in the area. Taste tests and connecting with the owners of this small family business make for a delicious end to an exciting day in Dominica.
18. Bathe in Dominica’s Hot Springs
With Dominica’s countless volcanoes, bubbling reefs, and boiling lake, it’s no wonder that the island is peppered with natural hot springs. Visiting these natural wonders is one of the most popular things to do in Dominica.
The small town of Wotten Waven in the heart of the rainforest is one of the most popular destinations for travelers looking to experience Dominica’s hot springs firsthand. You’ll find a number of local spas here with hot spring pools where you can bathe.
We spent an afternoon at Screw’s Sulphur Spa and had a great time – we’d definitely recommend this spot! There are a number of pools that channel the water from the hot springs into pools of different temperatures. Mineral-rich mud is on hand for mud baths, and a small changing room is also available at this local favorite destination.
Make sure to bring your own travel towel or grab a towel from your resort before your visit, as there aren’t any available here.
19. Celebrate Carnival
If you’re looking for a taste of Dominica’s history and culture, there is no better time to visit the island than during Carnival. While many Caribbean islands celebrate Carnival, Dominica’s celebration, known as Mas Domnik and “Real Mas”, is unique in its incredible celebrations, feasts, costumes, and experiences.
An opening parade and celebration about a month before the date of Carnival is the official start of the festive season, which includes a number of different celebrations visitors will love. However, the Monday and Tuesday before Lent are the biggest days of celebration on the island, and the real highlight of a visit to Dominica during this time.
Celebrating Carnival in Dominica is easily one of the best things to do in Dominica if you can time your trip to coincide with this festival! Don’t skip this one-of-a-kind celebratory season – it’s one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the island’s culture and traditions.
20. Hike and Kayak At Freshwater Lake
High among the mountains and enveloped in the clouds, Freshwater Lake is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Dominica. Surrounded by forested mountains and peaks, the lake is incredibly picturesque and offers plenty of opportunities to get close to one of Dominica’s most beautiful and untouched landscapes in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
Most visitors embark on the loop hike along the edge of the lake. The hike around the lake is relatively easy and only takes about an hour to complete. After your hike, consider kayaking across the lake after you finish to take in the lake from a different angle. We loved getting out on the water here and considered it a highlight of an adventurous day in Dominica.
For an added adventure, visit nearby Boeri Lake as well. A 45-minute hike from the main road, it’s a less-visited but equally impressive destination you’re likely to have all to yourself.
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.