An hour flight away from Canouan (Grenadines) and we landed in Dominica island. Both nature islands and very unspoilt compared to Caribbean neighbours, but worlds apart. Canouan white sands and rather small, a beautiful expensive dot in the Grenadines. Dominica island, green, lush, mountainous and mostly black volcanic beaches – a little charming country bruised by historical conflict and underinvestment. Not to be confounded with Dominican Republic and quite the antithesis of the Caribbean holiday cliché. Best things to do in Dominica island, best beaches and where to stay?
For a week we went around exploring & enjoying the variety of landscapes. The island as a destination not recommended for the heart fainted or the sun seekers keen to lie on a white sandy beach. Also I wouldn’t classify it as a typical baby-moon destination, but wanderlust on the adventurous & explorer side, very active & probably best to be done rather early, let’s say by 4/5 months far in a pregnancy.
Renting a car is a must for going round. Keeping safe and careful should be also always on the back of your mind. This is an island where hotel managers have been shot in their resorts (Pagua hotel ) and teenagers have been raped in front of their parents (Batibou beach).
Do I still recommend going knowing these facts? Well, statistically, crime is still low compared to US and Caribbean in general. Being sensible and respectful to the locals should not get you in trouble; the locals that we met (hitch-hikers we took in our car, people guiding us to waterfalls in remote places, little villages) – were curious, open minded and friendly. This is not a mass tourism destination, so there will be many unique and beautiful engaging moments.
Our Dominica island trips:
L’escalier tete chien – natural staircase to the Atlantic ; believed to be the path left from an enormous boa constrictor. On the Carib territories. Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus the Kalinagos /Caribs were self-reliant, i.e. fished, hunted, and farmed. They also have their own language and currently survive in very small communities.
Emerald pool is definetely on the best things to do in Dominica list and I’d say a must see. UNESCO World Heritage Site of Morne Trois Piton National Park, a 30-minute hike through overhanging trees and lush vegetation to the pools. You can go for a dip in the green looking tree-filtered sunlight.
Trafalgar falls and very private sulphur pools – I’d also put it on the best things to do in Dominica list. You could pick a 15 minute walk on a relatively well-maintained path to the visitor reception area. Or be more adventurous and explore round, including finding your own very private sulphur pools. Have loved the treks and indulged with feet in the sulphur pools – as pregnancy wise full immersion was somehow not advisable.
Morne trois pitons and Titou gorge – amidst the best things to do in Dominica . World heritage site: stunning pastiche of lakes, fumaroles, volcanoes, hot springs and dense tropical forest. The hike through Titou Gorge is actually a short swim from the base of a waterfall through a series of natural “rooms and ponds” formed by high cliff walls canopied by interlaced trees. The undulating sides of this deep, narrow gorge were formed as molten lava cooled and split apart. A 10 min swim with light filtering down the mountainside within the gorge – spectacular. A hot spring tumbles down a short wall just outside the entrance of the gorge, which feels wonderful after the cool waters of the falls.
Cabrits park. National par, site of Fort Shirley, a large 18th-century British garrison which once housed 600 soldiers. The Fort is now used for various functions including weddings and concerts. Great views of Prince Rupert Bay from the Officer’s Quarters. Some stone ruins remain half-hidden in the jungle and are fun to explore.
Red rock heaven & Escape beach bar. Our favourite beach bar & area to hang around. Also wished we booked hotel in here instead of Calibishie Cove, which was cool and eco but missed the beach bar and felt a bit lifeless. Above Pointe Baptise Beach and surrounded by lush landscape, the huts are wooden, stone, bamboo and also have laddered lofts for the kids. Each room has an elegant bathroom and a patio with a spectacular view. We visited Escape Beach Bar for juices, lunch, dinner & drinks – cool and chilled, the best we came across in Dominica.
Batibou beach. North-East of the island. Stunning and famous for very wrong reasons (rape in 2012 and few robbery incidents in 2013 and 2014). Expansive and secluded soft-sand beach in the; the Atlantic here is calm enough for swimming, with a gently sloping sea bed. There’s a basic but cool beach bar serving rum punch and some snacks.
Pagua bay house & restaurant. We went for dinner one evening – deserted. The two of us, some security and a couple of waiters. How bizarre we thought for such a nice place. Thereafter we found online the stories of the hotel manager murdered some time ago on the same grounds…Hehe our friends were more sensible and declined on this occasion.
Roseau is Dominica’s capital, on the southwest coast. We spent an afternoon around its cobblestone old market (formerly a slave auction site) and admiring 18th-century Creole architecture. There’s also a Dominica Museum, with exhibits on the country’s natural and cultural history plus Dominica Botanic Gardens with tropical flora and native Sisserou parrots.
Hodges beach. A dark, natural beach, much less crowded than its neighbours. Free of any development and separated from the road by a colony of trees, very close to Calibishie Cove.
Chaudiere pool. Located at the foot of Morne Daiblotin Mountain, Dominica tallest Mountain. We drove up through the village of Bense on a very poor condition track. Luckily we got one guy happy to guide us as the the access to the pools is via the first river. It was also rather muddy and slippery, too much rain in the preceding days. We have not seen any parrots that day but understand they are around J
Where to stay in Dominica? We tested Calibishie Cove. Charming eco retreat, unfortunately we’ve been quite unlucky with the weather, beginning of January being very windy & rainy season. The property has lots of blinds but no windows, so we did struggle to sleep and many evenings the sea howling and wind moving everything around on balcony felt quite creepy. The breakfasts were served into the room to our heart desire, great pancakes, granola & jams.
We travelled with friends. They have been more into Dominica island at the very beginning; luggage lost with Liat (typical Caribbean story) and after 3 days and many trips to the airport and unhelpful service, felt less enthusiastic about Dominica people. With weather on the rainy side and many stories unfolding as we got to know the places and read the stories, they felt even less keen. They shortened their trip to 5 days and flew back to Barbados, to overbuilt but white and golden beaches. We missed them in the last 2 days but we stuck to our 1 week itinerary to explore more of this gorgeous little known country bruised by historical conflict and underinvestment .
For more babymoon ideas and inspiration, head to our Wanderlust & Pregnancy section – few articles from volunteering with rescued kangaroos in Australia, to the white sand beaches of Barbados or stunning Fiji, enjoying culture and friends in Melbourne. For a babymoon with a toddler check our article dedicated to Dalaman Coast Turkey or with 2 kids in the Caribbean, check our Nevis post. Enjoy!