Adventure Sports in Dominica
Extreme Dominica. Rappel alongside waterfalls, jump into clear pools, explore canyons in Dominica's lush rainforests or hike to Boiling Lake. Extreme Dominica will pick you up from Roseau, supply the necessary equipment and offer a short training session before setting out on your wet adventure. All levels of experience can be accommodated. Prices begin at $75 per person for Boiling Lake to $160 per person for canyoning tours. Cocoa Cottages, Trafalgar. 767/295–7272 or 767/295–6828. www.extremedominica.com.
Wacky Rollers. Wacky Rollers will make you feel as if you are training for the marines as you swing on a Tarzan-style rope and grab onto a vertical rope ladder, rappel across zip lines, and traverse suspended log bridges, a net bridge, and four monkey bridges (rope loops). Including transportation, it costs $60 pp for the adult course and should take from 1½ to 3½ hours to conquer the 28 "games." There is also an abbreviated kids' course for $25 (kids 10 and under). Wacky Rollers also organizes adventure tours around the island plus kayak and tubing trips. Although the office is in Roseau, the park itself is in Hillsborough Estate, about 20 to 25 minutes north of Roseau. Office, Front St., Roseau. 767/440–4386. www.wackyrollers.com.
Cyclists find Dominica's rugged terrain to be an exhilarating challenge, and there are routes suitable for all levels of bikers.
Nature Island Dive. Nature Island Dive has a fleet of bikes in good condition. You can rent a mountain bike for $25, which includes a helmet, but if your group prefers a knowledgeable guide to lead you through specific areas, the cost ranges from $65 for a half day to $96 for a full day, which includes lunch, snacks, and drinks. Soufrière. 767/449–8181.
Diving and Snorkeling
Not only is Dominica considered one of the top 10 dive destinations in the world by Skin Diver and Rodale's Scuba Diving magazines, but it has won many other awards for its underwater sites. They are truly memorable. The west coast of the island has awesome sites, but the best are those in the southwest—within and around Soufrière/Scotts Head Marine Reserve. This bay is a submerged volcanic crater. The Dominica Watersports Association has worked along with the Fisheries Division for years to establish this reserve and has set stringent regulations to prevent the degradation of the ecosystem. Within ½ mile (¾ km) of the shore there are vertical drops from 800 feet to more than 1,500 feet, with visibility frequently extending to 100 feet. Shoals of boga fish, Creole wrasse, and blue cromis are common, and you might even see a spotted moray eel or a honeycomb cowfish. Crinoids (rare elsewhere) are also abundant here, as are giant barrel sponges. There is a $2 fee per person to dive, snorkel, or kayak in the reserve. Other noteworthy dive sites include Salisbury Falls, Nose Reef, Brain Coral Garden, and—even farther north—Cabrits Drop-Off and Toucari Reef. The conditions for underwater photography, particularly macrophotography, are unparalleled. Rates start at about $55 for a single-tank dive and about $90 for a two-tank dive or from about $75 for a resort course with one open-water dive. All scuba-diving operators also offer snorkeling. Equipment rents for $10 to $25 a day; trips with gear range from $15 to $35. A 10% tax is not included.
Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center. The Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center has two dive boats that can take you out day or night. It also offers PADI instruction (all skill levels), snorkeling and whale-watching trips, and shore diving. It has many of the same trips as Dive Dominica. Anchorage Hotel, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2638; 888/790–5264 in U.S. www.anchoragehotel.dm.
Cabrits Dive Center. Cabrits Dive Center is the only PADI five-star dive center in Dominica. Nitrox courses are also available for $250. Since Cabrits is the sole operator on the northwest coast, its dive boats have the pristine reefs almost to themselves, unlike other operations, whose underwater territories may overlap. Picard Estate, Portsmouth. 767/445–3010. www.cabritsdive.com.
Dive Dominica. Dive Dominica, one of the island's dive pioneers, conducts PADI courses as well as Nitrox certification courses. With four boats, it offers diving, snorkeling, and whale-watching trips and packages, including accommodation at the Castle Comfort Lodge. Its trips are similar to Anchorage's. Castle Comfort Lodge, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2188; 646/502–6800 in U.S. www.divedominica.com.
Fort Young Dive Centre. Fort Young Dive Centre conducts snorkeling, diving, and whale-watching trips that depart from the hotel's private dock. Fort Young Hotel, Victoria St., Roseau. 767/448–5000 Ext. 333. www.fortyounghotel.com/activities/diving.
Irie Safari. Irie Safari takes snorkelers to Champagne and the nearby tall grasses, where turtles like to hang out. Soufrière/Scotts Head Marine Reserve, Soufrière. 767/440–5085.
Nature Island Dive. Nature Island Dive is run by an enthusiastic crew who offer diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and mountain biking as well as resort and full PADI courses. Some of the island's best dive sites are right outside its door. Dive prices are $84 for a two-tank dive and US$100 for a two-tank dive with BC vest and regulator. Soufrière. 767/449–8181. www.natureislanddive.com.
Anchorage Hotel. Contact the Anchorage Hotel for information about fishing excursions. Fees are $550 for a half-day trip and $1050 for a full day. Castle Comfort. 767/448–2638; 888/790 Ext. 5264 in U.S.; 0800/7297 Ext. 2900 in U.K. www.anchoragehotel.com.
Because Dominica is such a nature-centered destination, there's no shortage of certified guides, as well as numerous tour and taxi companies. Ask the staff at your hotel for a recommendation. Generally tours start off in the Roseau area, but most operators will arrange convenient pickups. Prices range between $35 and $75 per person, depending on the duration and the destination, amenities provided, and the number of people on the excursion.
Dominica Tours. Dominica Tours is one of the island's largest tour companies, offering a range of hikes and bird-watching trips. 767/448–2638. www.experience-dominica.com.
Ken's Hinterland Adventure Tours & Taxi Service. Ken's Hinterland Adventure Tours & Taxi Service offers a range of island tours and guided hikes, including some specifically for families with children. Fort Young Hotel, Victoria St., Roseau. 767/448–4850; 767/448–1660; 866/880–0508 in U.S. www.khattstours.com.
Dominica's majestic mountains, clear rivers, and lush vegetation conspire to create adventurous hiking trails. The island is crisscrossed by ancient footpaths of the Arawak and Carib Indians and of the Nègres Maroons, escaped slaves who established camps in the mountains. Existing trails range from easygoing to arduous. To make the most of your excursion, you'll need sturdy hiking boots, insect repellent, a change of clothes (kept dry), and a guide. Hikes and tours run $25 to $80 per person, depending on destinations and duration. A poncho or light raincoat is recommended. Some of the natural attractions within the island's national parks require visitors to purchase a site pass. These are sold for varying numbers of visits. A single-entry site pass costs $5, and a week pass $12. The Discover Dominica Authority's information offices at the Bayfront (Dame Charles Boulevard) can recommend guides.
Bertrand Jno Baptiste. Local bird and forestry expert Bertrand Jno Baptiste leads hikes up Morne Diablotin and along the Syndicate Nature Trail; if he's not available, ask him to recommend another guide. 767/245–4768.
Forestry Division. The Forestry Division, which is responsible for the management of forests and wildlife, has numerous publications on Dominica as well as a wealth of information on reputable guides. Dominica Botanical Gardens, between Bath Rd. and Valley Rd., Roseau. 767/266–5856 or 767/266–5853.
Dominica has a couple of kayak outfitters that give tours and rent equipment, with rates of about $50 to $70 for guided excursions, and half-day rentals for about $55. If you want to go it alone, figure about $10 an hour for kayak rental.
Nature Island Dive. Nature Island Dive gives kayaking tours around the Soufrière/Scotts Head Marine Reserve. Kayaks rent for US$10 an hour, which doesn't include a guide. Soufrière. 767/449–8181 or 767/276–1505. www.natureislanddive.com.
Wacky Rollers. Wacky Rollers offers kayaking trips around island waters. Hillsborough Estate. 767/440–4386. www.wackyrollers.com.
Dominica records the highest species counts of resident cetaceans in the southern Caribbean region, so it's not surprising that tour companies claim 90% sighting success for their excursions. Humpback whales, false killer whales, minke, and orcas are all occasionally seen, as are several species of dolphin. But the resident sperm whales (they calve in Dominica's 3,000-foot-deep waters) are truly the stars of the show. During your 3½-hour expedition, which costs about $55 plus tax, you may be asked to assist in recording sightings, data that can be shared with local and international organizations. Although there are resident whale and dolphin populations, more species can be observed from November through February. Turtle-watching trips are also popular.
Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center. The Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center can arrange whale-watching trips. Anchorage Hotel, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2638. www.anchoragehotel.dm.
Dive Dominica. Dive Dominica is a major whale-watching operator. Castle Comfort Lodge, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2188. www.divedominica.com.
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