Fully updated in January 2024
Dominica truly is a hidden gem among Caribbean destinations. Beautiful black sand beaches, impressive waterfalls, great hiking opportunities, unusual natural attractions and a fascinating traditional culture all combine to make this one of my favourite islands in the Lesser Antilles.
Despite the small size, you should spend at least one week on this beautiful and multifaceted island, to see the highlights, get a feel for the place and settle into its special groove. Read on for my personal guide on how to make the best of your stay in this tropical paradise!
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The Perfect One-Week Dominica Itinerary
Day 1: Roseau
Given the number of impressive natural attractions on Dominica, Roseau might not be the most spectacular place on the island, but I found it to have a certain charm and in my opinion it definitely deserves at least a few hours of your time.
For one, there are plenty of pretty historical wooden buildings, especially on King-George-V.-Street and in the French Quarter. Apart from that, Roseau has a some beautiful Botanical Gardens, and if you hike up Morne Bruce, you’ll be treated to an awesome view of the town and the surrounding bay.
Day 2: Soufrière
Soufrière on Dominica’s south-western coast is one of the prettiest villages on the island, with loads of cute brightly-painted houses and a great location near the famous snorkelling destination Champagne Reef.
We came to this part of the island to hike part of the spectacular Waitukubuli National Trail, which starts in nearby Scott’s Head and leads through some attractive landscapes. If you plan on doing the same, Soufrière’s warm sulphur springs are a great way to end your day and relax your aching bones.
Day 3 and 4: Trafalgar and Morne Trois Pitons National Park
In my opinion, Dominica’s lush centre is the best thing about the island, and Morne Trois Pitons National Park is without a doubt the most attractive region of the country. To explore the area, we based ourselves in small Trafalgar, which we found to be the perfect place to linger for a couple of days.
I suggest staying there for at least two nights and using the village as a base for hikes to the surrounding natural attractions, like the unique Boiling Lake and the Valley of Desolation, the cute Titou Gorge, or the atmospheric Freshwater and Boeri Lakes.
Trafalgar itself is also home to a set of impressive waterfalls and is located close to the village of Wotten Waven, which is a great place to recover from a day of strenuous hiking by taking a dip in some of the many warm springs.
Day 5: Rosalie and the Southeast
Next, you should make your way to the wild East Coast of the island, maybe stopping at the enchantingly beautiful Emerald Pool near Pont Cassé on the way. I found the tiny village of Rosalie on the southeastern coast to be the perfect base for exploring the surrounding area.
Must visit attractions in the area are the impressive Victoria Falls, the cute Secret Beach near Riviere Cyrique, as well as Wavine Cyrique, a magnificent waterfall going straight into the ocean, which can only be reached by a very adventurous hike.
During my time here, I stayed at the awesome 3 Rivers Eco Lodge, which is run by British expat Jem and his amazing staff. It’s a super friendly place and Jem is very knowledgeable about the surrounding area. Highly recommended!
Day 6: Calibishie
Make your way up the eastern coast of Dominica. I suggest making a stop at the Kalinago Barana Aute Open Air Museum in Crayfish River, where you can learn about the fascinating culture of the native Kalinago People.
Afterwards, continue to pretty Calibishie Village, where you can check out the impressive Red Rocks, the atmospherically overgrown ruins of an old sugar mill and beautiful Hampstead Beach, which isn’t just my favourite beach on the island, but one of the most amazing black sand beaches I’ve ever visited anywhere in the world.
Day 7: Portsmouth
Dominica’s second city is the perfect place to end your tour of the island. At the historic Fort Shirley, you’ll be able to get a glimpse into the country’s colonial history while exploring the restored main complex and wonderfully overgrown ruins of the officer’s quarters.
Another cool thing to do in Portsmouth is to take a boat tour of the Indian River, which is surrounded by dense vegetation and populated by countless birds, crabs and lizards. It was also used as a filming location for the second Pirates of the Caribbean Movie, and there’s even a small reconstruction of the hut of Tia Dalma from the film.
From Portsmouth, it’s just a short drive down the coast to Roseau, where you can board ferries to the nearby islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe to continue your explorations of the Small Antilles.
If you Have More Time
Ten days or two weeks on Dominica allow you to take a slower approach. You could spend more time in some of the places mentioned above. Trafalgar and Rosalie both make good bases for exploring the respective surroundings and definitely merit an extra day or two.
Otherwise, you could add some additional destinations. Pont Cassé in the centre of the island is a great base for some more adventurous hikes, for example to the top of Morne Trois Pitons and to Jacko Steps, location of a former camp of escaped slaves.
You could also spend a night in Crayfish River instead of just stopping by on your way to Calibishie, giving you more time to get familiar with Kalinago Culture. Most importantly, a couple of additional days give you more time to soak up the unique, relaxed atmosphere of the island.
A Two Week Itinerary for Dominica
If you indeed have two weeks to explore the island, I’d suggest the following itinerary:
- Day 1: Roseau
- Day 2: Hike Section 1 of the Waitukubuli Trail from Scott’s Head to Soufrière
- Day 3: Travel to Trafalgar, Visit Trafalgar Falls and Papillon Gardens
- Day 4: Trafalgar (Hike to Freshwater Lake and Boeri Lake)
- Day 5: Trafalgar (Hike to Boiling Lake and Titou Gorge)
- Day 6: Trafalgar (Middleham Falls and Warm Springs in Wotten Waven)
- Day 7: Travel to Pont Cassé, Visit the Emerald Pool and Spanny Falls
- Day 8: Pont Cassé (Hike to Jacko Steps or Morne Trois Pitons)
- Day 9: Travel to Rosalie, Visit Wavine Cyrique Falls
- Day 10: Rosalie (Visit Victoria Falls)
- Day 11: Travel to Crayfish River, Visit the Kalinago Barana Auté
- Day 12: Travel to Calibishie, Visist the Red Rocks and Hampstead Beach
- Day 13: Travel to Portsmouth, do the Indian River Boat Tour
- Day 14: Explore Fort Shirley National Park and Return to Roseau
This is almost exactly how we spend our time on Dominica and we were very happy with what we managed to see of the island in our two weeks.
If you Have Less Time
If you’re island-hopping and can really only afford a couple of days on Dominica, you can still see some of the essential sights the island has to offer.
For example, if you have three days, I would suggest that you move straight to Trafalgar and spend 2 days exploring the most important natural attractions of Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Boiling Lake, Freshwater and Boeri Lake, Titou Gorge, Middleham and Trafalgar Falls). On the third day, move up to Portsmouth to take a boat trip on the Indian River and explore historic Fort Shirley.
Accommodation on Dominica
If you want to base yourself in one part of the island for your explorations, check out my guide on Where to Stay on Dominica. You can browse for more than the suggested hotels and cottages in the map below: