The best hiking in the Caribbean
The island of Dominica has a special place in the heart of us here at Hike Caribbean. So much so that one of our owner’s, Rob Davies, chose it as the middle name for his young daughter Lily. He hopes to take her there one day. After two years of rebuilding post Hurricane Maria, we are delighted that Dominica is now open for tourism and we thought we should tell you a little bit about it.
Unlike all the other islands we feature, Dominica wasn’t part of the sugar trade and there is no history of slavery on the island. The coast of Dominica rises steeply from the ocean on all sides and sugar cane production wasn’t feasible. In fact, the islands original Carib inhabitants name for the island is ‘Waitukubuli’ which means as ‘tall is her body’. There is still a native Carib community on the island, even though it has been established as a British colony since 1805, and they have a settlement in the east of the island.
The geography of Dominica has created a natural paradise of rivers, rainforest, waterfalls and ocean. It is said there are 365 rivers in Dominica one for each day of the year and it is also known as the ‘Nature Isle’. The bio-diversity on Dominica is staggering for a relatively small island and its lush and varied flora and fauna are protected by an extensive natural park system. Visitors can witness four types of hummingbird and two types of parrot which can be seen nowhere else in the world. It is also thought that Dominica has the densest reptile population in the World, comprising numerous lizard species and four snake species including a boa constrictor.
The hiking opportunities on the island are rich and varied. Whereas on most other Caribbean islands two or three days is sufficient to trek a significant part of the island, Dominica has a 14-day hiking trail from North to South. In the North, the Waitukubuli National Trail traverses through the highest point on the island Morne Diabolotin which at 4,747 feet is the highest second highest peak in the Leeward islands after La Soufriere in Guadeloupe. Here you may be able to see the endemic Jaco and Sisserou parrots whose image adorns the national flag. In the southern part of the island, the trial goes through the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a renowned World Heritage Site. The park includes the second largest boiling lake in the World which sits beneath an active volcano as well as the Titou Gorge where you can bath in pools and waterfalls within a steep river gorge. Indeed, the gorge, as well as other parts of the islands, were used extensively in the shooting of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
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In Dominica are recommended accommodation is either side of the main hike region the Morne Trois Pitons National Park which includes the famous Boiling lake, the Freshwater Lake, Titou Gorge and the Trafalgar and Middleham waterfalls.
Jungle Bay features tastefully designed stone and hardwood villas overlooking the marine sanctuary of Scotts Head and Soufriere. The resort is nestled within beautiful forests of tropical trees, banana plants and flowers, and in harmony with nature. Villas are spacious, luxurious, featuring luxury furnishings. Access the units through footpaths allowing you to explore the tropical plant life along the way to your private villa.
Jungle Bay was built and is operated in alignment with international Geotourism and Ecotourism guidelines. As an alternative to traditional Caribbean tourism, the focus is on enjoyable nature-based activities and wellness of guests with quality service.
Jungle Bay also has its own spa and runs its own daily program of yoga, hikes and other adventures, such as diving and bird-watching. Our packages include full board options and access to all the facilities in the resort.
3 Rivers eco-lodge
3Rivers eco-lodge is more basic but a real authentic ‘off-grid’ jungle experience. Situated in the lush Rosalie rainforest valley, surrounded by rivers and mountains, in natural and unspoiled eastern Dominica. Offering a unique nature & Eco adventure vacation experience, in a remote location, respecting our surroundings, together with our community.
ACCESS To the lodge is the first part of your adventure! It is necessary to zip line across, or walk through two shallow rivers, with a rope to hold on to and a pulley for your bags, making it fun, adventurous, and not too difficult.
After a 5-10 minute walk you will find a choice of private villas as well as a communal hostel. Our packages include meals which are shared with other guests and we work with the team to provide a range of hiking and adventure options for you.
With some many hiking options in Dominica we don’t really have the space to do it all justice but here are some of our favourites!
Long / difficult
This is the classic Dominica hike. In our opinion, the best hike in the Caribbean and one of the best in the World. We start by the Titou gorge where you can swim up though the waterfalls pretending your in Pirates of the Caribbean (some of which was shot here).
Next up is the steep climb through primary rainforest across babbling streams then you traverse two peaks with views back down to the ocean. After another steep climb you reach the Valley of Desolation where you navigate through volcanic fumeroles or cover yourself in volcanic rock. Finally, it’s up again to the massive, seething cauldron that is the Boiling Lake. With an active volcano beneath a huge inland lake you can imagine it is quite a site. Affter this the downhill is relative easy and you can take another plunge in the gorge before heading off!
Short / medium difficulty
Retrace the footsteps of Dominica’s “maroons” (run-away slaves). This hike is part of the historic Perdu Temps trail and takes about one and a half hour through secondary forest, mainly flat terrain and some river crossings. It gets steep and narrow as you approach the end and opens up to an area often described as “paradise” or “the Garden of Eden”! Pick fresh fruits off the trees, explore Pump’s isolated organic farm with a huge variety of exotic fruits and vegetables and tour Pump’s “healing garden” with an assortment of healing plants/natural medicine. Pump’s and his family warmly welcome you to their home, which they kindly open to Jungle Bay and Hike Caribbean guests, due to the close relationship they have with Sam – the Owner of Jungle Bay
Middleham and Trafalgar Falls
Short / medium difficulty
Explore the misty mountain trail to Middleham Falls taking in the lush rainforest vegetation along the way. Jaco parrots are occasionally heard or spotted along this trail. The end of the hike becomes a little steeper as you scramble your way down to the waterfall pool for a refreshing splash.
Did you know that swimming in waterfalls exposes you to negative ions which are a purification to help counteract stress and strengthen your immune system? After hiking back, we will venture to Trafalgar twin waterfalls for a short walk (approx. 15 minutes) and another therapeutic swim. Packed lunch is provided.
Galion Loop Hike
Medium length / medium difficulty
The hike starts at Jungle Bay, goes down to the village of Soufriere and then connects to part of the Waitukubuli Trail (Segment 1). From Soufriere there is a scenic small track through the bush and local farmlands to a paved road.
This road connects the Village of Soufriere and Galion; the mountain village which is home to the talented stone masons who helped to develop both Jungle Bay as well as the stone walls you will see along the roadside. Keep your eyes open for star fruit, wild cashews, mango and more. From this scenic village Galion a steeper downhill hike meanders back towards the bay of Soufriere.
Chemain De L’Etang
Medium length / Medium difficulty
The Freshwater Lake, Dominica’s largest lake, located 2,500 feet above sea level, is about a three hour hike from the eco lodge, with truly spectacular views across the mountains back down to Rosalie Bay, and down to the west coast.
The hike begins at in Roaslie and first you will pass the village of Grand Fond, then you will weave across the middle of the island, meandering between the majestic mountains, with stunning views of the island, and even both Oceans at the same time; The Atlantic and the Caribbean. When you reach the lake, you will get the opportunity to follow the trails around it, taking in some of the best views Dominica has to offer.