As American ex-pats living in Anguilla, my husband Scott and I have visited Dominica before, and I wrote in Cruiseable about our Hike to the Boiling Lake. Today I'd like to tell you about two far more accessible, must-do visitor attractions in Dominica: Trafalgar Falls and the Emerald Pool.
We decided on a do-it-yourself day trip rather than booking a tour, so we rented a car, a two-door RAV4 with 220,000 miles on it, and we set off, map in hand and iPhone compass at the ready to help us explore the island.
I had read tales about the potholes in Dominica’s roads being big enough to swallow a small goat. That’s only a slight exaggeration. The roads are windy and narrow, and dodging the potholes is like playing a game of Mario Kart. Throw in left-hand driving with a right hand drive car and exploring solo suddenly seems intimidating. Still, there are so few cars on the road that it's not that bad. Plus, you get to explore much more of what island offers.
I had created a list of places I'd dubbed a priority for sightseeing in Dominica. Trafalgar Falls was one of those must-dos. After looking at a map, we decided to head west from Jungle Bay, past Grand Bay, through the capital of Roseau and off to Trafalgar Falls, nearly an hour and a half drive in total. We chose to purchase a weeklong multisite pass for $12 per person in lieu of the $5 site fee that’s traditionally imposed for a single site. If you’re planning to visit at least three sites — such as Trafalgar Falls, the Emerald Pool, the Boiling Lake, Boeri Falls, Sari Sari Falls, Soufriere Hot Springs and others — this is totally worth it.
For a first-time visitor to Dominica, Trafalgar Falls is about as easy as it gets. From the parking lot, it's a 10-minute walk to reach the twin falls of Trafalgar, dubbed the father and the mother. The mother is about 75 feet tall and the father stands 125 feet tall, making a pretty captivating duo. Both falls pool into a stunning rocky enclave that visitors can explore by foot. About 5 minutes into the hike, there’s a great viewing platform where you can capture both falls in one photo.
Note about Trafalgar Falls: We both wore sandals, which turned out to be fine. Hiking shoes aren’t needed and even a less active person can reach Trafalgar easily, regardless of your fitness level.
After our time at Trafalgar Falls, we headed north by way of Roseau, and up to Mero Beach, where we had lunch in one of Dominica’s seaside towns. In many ways it reminded us of a small surf town in Southern California: a narrow road, salt-blasted wooden buildings and palm trees lining the beach. After surveying the landscape, we headed to Romance Café just a few steps down the beach. The vibe was perfect, the food was good and the service was exceptionally friendly.
After a stop at the Macoucherie Rum Factory, we headed to the Emerald Pool, one of the other locales on my must-see list. Looking at a map, the Emerald Pool is at the top of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a long drive from Trafalgar Falls. When we headed off on our drive in the morning, I had my doubts that we would be able to fit all of these sites in during a single day, but we ended up timing our day out perfectly. (Your mileage may vary, depending on where your cruise ship docks.)
From Roseau, we drove down a main road toward Rosalie Bay, taking a small, well-marked turnoff for the Emerald Pool. We were one of the last groups to gain entrance before they closed their doors for the night at slightly before 4 pm.
This was another simple walk, about 15 minutes through mostly flat, forested land before running into the Emerald Pool. The shallow pool reflected with a touch of emerald green from the flora and fauna overhead. It was the picture of paradise — untouched, a waterfall draping into the shallow pool, and greenery and vines hanging down from above. Just like Trafalgar Falls, this is a great hike for even the less mobile/active traveler. The walk is simple— we saw parents with young children walking in — and the end result is breathtaking.
We drove back to Jungle Bay, our first day’s adventures mostly behind us, and began prepping for the rest of our stay in "the Nature Island" of the Caribbean.
Have you been to Dominica? Which sites do you think are must-sees for visitors to the island?