Dominica holiday highlights

Where is Dominica?
Dominica is part of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Its closest neighbours are Guadeloupe and Martinique, while Barbados is a 1-hour flight away.

Dominica is known as the ‘nature island’ and inland is where it comes into its own. Unlike most Caribbean islands where guests might take a token day-trip away from the beach, the impressive mountains, crater lakes and rivers make the interior more of a draw than the coast.

Nearly two-thirds of the island is natural vegetation. Hiking is a big deal and there are over 300 miles of trails across Dominica – many of these have been hand-cleared and made safe by local communities. The most extensive hiking route is the 115-mile Wai’tukubuli National Trail, which is divided into 14 ‘stages’ (you can tackle as many or as few stages as you like).

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is the best known of the island’s protected nature reserves. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, if you need extra confirmation of its dramatic scenery, one of the highlights here is called ‘The Valley of Desolation’ thanks to its bubbling mud pools and steaming rivers. This is where you’ll find the island’s remarkable Boiling Lake.

Visitors are also welcome at the 3700-acre Kalinago Territory to meet the friendly Kalinago people, while the capital, Roseau, is worth a visit for its French colonial houses, Old Market Plaza and tiny Dominica Museum.

Dominica has a very steep drop-off close to its shore, which makes it ideal feeding ground for whales. Head out on a local boat and you can spot sperm whales year-round, as well as pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins from November to March. The best snorkelling and diving is at Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve, which has dramatic reef formations, rainbow-coloured fish and a shipwreck, and at Champagne Beach you can swim through streams of bubbles coming from underwater thermal springs. Dominica has a few sandy beaches along its north coast, but we’d recommend saving your main beach time for Antigua, Barbados or Saint Lucia.

For a lesser-visited island, Dominica is punching above its weight when it comes to conservation and responsible tourism. As well as the aim to become the world’s first ‘climate-resilient’ nation, there are three designated national parks and an indigenous population that plays a big part in eco-tourism. Instead of adding hefty man-made attractions, the latest ‘tourist sight’ to open here was the Wai’tukubuli National Trail.

Getting around
You’ll need to take a taxi or hire a car and driver to explore; guided excursions are the easiest way to get to know your surroundings. Although it’s not a huge island (about twice the size of Barbados), Dominica is mountainous so it can take a little longer to travel around, but that’s all part of the slow-paced charm.

Dominica has two small airports: Douglas-Charles in the north, around an hour from Roseau, and Canefield in the south, 15 minutes from Roseau. There are no direct flights from the UK, but it’s easy to get here via the more popular islands of Antigua, Barbados and Saint Lucia, creating the perfect twin-centre holiday.