Extracting value from a cruise line is like extracting value from a casino. It is possible, but you will have to do some research and put some effort into getting what you want. Additionally, Dominica is a nature island, hence there will be quite a lot of hiking, if you’re into that. Hiking requires time, so generally you’re going to get one hike within 8 hours, so attractions have to be easily accessible via road or a short hike.
When we get into Dominica, I’m trying to come up with a high level plan to see how we can optimize our shore excursion, have a local experience and meet someone who will just show us the highlights of the island without trying to sell me anything. Sound like a day in the park … but the first thing is to find a decent local tour guide. That will take some contacts with the Dominica Tourist Board. (I’ll let you know how this works out)
So my high level day plan for Dominica is as follows :
- Get the Dominica Site Pass (Since we intend to see 3 or more things while we’re there in 8 hours)
- Leave boat and head out to Scott’s Head for the view and stop off at Champagne Beach, Fort Cachacrou and Soufriere Church and Sulphur Springs – since everyone will be going to Trafalgar Falls first in the day.
- The Scott’s Head ~ Soufriere Marine Reserve (SSMR) is located on the south-western tip of the island. It encompasses the villages of Scott’s Head and Soufrière up to Anse Bateau, near the village of Pointe Michel. It is the most picturesque bay on the island, both below and above the water. During the islands turbulent past the headland was home to a battalion of Scots Guards, who used to fire warning cannon when fleets from Martinique approached. There is still an old gun emplacement there with a commanding view across the bay to Roseau, and across the channel to Martinique.
- Trafalgar Falls : This is about a 20 minute from Roseau.We can easily walk on our own to the visitors center, take our pictures from the viewing platform, then hike up to find the hot springs of the tallest falls. As the most famous waterfall here and a tourist stop for the cruise ships, we won’t need a guide. In fact, most blogs tell you that a guide not required.
- Emerald Pool : The famous grotto is a short walk into the rainforest in the centre of the island (on the road to Castle Bruce). Since this will be swarming on our cruise ship day; we have to figure out when the tours from the cruise boat will be over, and then head over there at that time.
- Wotten Waven : Many ‘bubbling pots’ and hot water pools make this an great spot. We’ll probably head over to Tia’s Bamboo Cottages or Ti Kwen have created pools when you can bathe in the hot waters to end the day.
What you should not attempt on a 8 hour day trip
After spending a couple hours perusing things to do in Dominica, I realized that there are some activities that should be left for a week long stay over in Dominica. Some of those include any hikes with a 3-4 hour round trip duration.
- Boiling Lake : I love almost anything with some type of waterfall or geothermal activity, but after hiking in many other parts of the world, I know my body … and after seeing the hike journey here and reading about it here – it was enough to kill that idea. It seemed exactly like hiking up to Mount Pinatubo … and that wasn’t bad but it wasn’t easy either.
- Boeri Lake : Again … swimming in a crater lake seems awesome to me, just not within an 8 hour window.
- Ti Tou Gorge : Why? Because it’s the perfect place after the Boiling Lake. See above 😀
- Other attractions : You can visit Virtual Dominica’s Top 10 list here … and figure out your plan.
For those looking for the distance of certain points from Roseau as a rough guide to plan …
- Catholic Cathedral, Botanical Garden, Dominica Museum and Windsor Park ( All < 2 km / 1.3 mi away)
- Champagne Beach 4.5 km / 2.8 mi
- Soufriere Church 6.1 km / 3.8 mi
- Trafalgar Falls 6.2 km / 3.8 mi
- Scotts Head Beach 8 km / 5 mi
- Middleham Falls 8.1 km / 5 mi
- Morne Trois Pitons National Park 9.6 km / 6 mi
- Morne Diablotin National Park 23.9 km / 14.9 mi
- Watch out for:
- High rainfall can cause flash-flooding of even small streams.
- The dense rainforest can get dark quickly in the late afternoon
- Hikes often cross rivers – watch out for slippy rocks!
- What to take:
- Waterproof camera gear with a towel and dry cloth for your camera (a poncho will also protect camera gear)
- Insect repellent (but don’t worry, we’ve no poisonious creatures!)
- Slip proof sandals or sneakers or (waterproof) hiking boots
Resources to help your planning