Many Americans are unfamiliar with the beautiful country of Dominica, and may not to know what there is to do there. Dominica is, I dare say, the hiking capital of the Caribbean (and if it isn’t, it should be). And there is far more to do here besides wandering about in nature, because the island also has some beautiful places to snorkel and learn about the history of the country and the Caribbean. Cabrits and Scott’s Head are two great places to do just that.
After a morning spent driving through Morne Trois, we headed down to Scott’s Head on the southern end of the island. Between there and Roseau, we stopped at Champagne Beach, which is named for the ribbons of bubbles that stream up from the sea floor here. These are a sign of Dominica’s active volcanic nature, as well as a good reason to snorkel in the bay.
You have to pay for a ticket to go down on the beach, regardless of whether or not you are snorkeling, and once you have your ticket there is a nice place to rent gear, change, or just relax. I was unprepared to swim when I visited, so while I think this would be a great place to visit based on other people’s experiences, it isn’t a great place to go if you aren’t going to get in the water. The beach is very narrow and rocky, and there are some better locations for relaxing near the water.
Scott’s Head is a colorful little town on the southern tip of Dominica. We weren’t able to spend a lot of time here, but it made for some beautiful pictures, due to the thin peninsula that arches off the main beach. If you take the time to hike the hill at the end of this peninsula there are some wonderful views of the town, and both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic. Interestingly enough, the difference between the two water bodies was apparent at a glance here. The Caribbean side being a calm, welcoming blue, while the Atlantic side was choppy and grey.
Cabrits National Park in Portsmouth was the last major place that I was able to visit on my trip. The main attraction here is Fort Shirley, but the park actually protects a wide range of environments as well, including forests, wetlands, and some marine areas. I spent most of my time here exploring the old English fort, which has been beautifully restored by none other than Dominica’s resident historian, Lennox Honychurch (I would highly suggest looking up some of his books). The restored section of Fort Shirley looks out over the bay and Portsmouth. It really is an idyllic place, and significant in its representation of the Caribbean’s history.
For people looking to do some more exploring, there are also a variety of trails in the park, and a few of these showcase what the fort looked like before Honychurch revived the main portion. In disrepair, most of these remnants look more like ancient ruins than a strong gesture of English power. Juxtaposed with the forest, however, they were beautiful relics of the past, and certainly spoke to the knowledge and passion that went into restoring some of the buildings.
If you would like to learn more about what to do in Dominica, please visit Nightborn Travel’s Guide to Dominica.