Ever considered trekking in the Caribbean? For many travellers, the Caribbean is a destination that conjures images of all-inclusive resorts and mega cruise ships, not trekking. However, venture beyond the bars and touristy beaches, and you might be surprised at what you find...
Not the Caribbean most know it to be. In fact, trekking in the Caribbean is a far cry from lounging by the poolside in a resort and offers some of the most tranquil tropical surrounds in Central America. So where is this marvellous trail of untamed lush rainforest, breathtaking views and pristine beaches? Introducing the Caribbeans best kept secret - Dominica!
Dominica - the Caribbeans Best Kept Secret
Not to be confused with the nearby Dominican Republic, there is an excellent reason this tiny Commonwealth nation is known as 'the nature island'. A true hidden gem and home to the famous Waitukubuli National Trail, this is our pick as the perfect destination trekking in the Caribbean for travellers who prefer to get off the beaten path.
It is the Caribbeans' first and only long-distance walking trail and crosses through the Morne Trios Pitons National Park, the world's second-largest boiling lake and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Without the tourist masses, trekking the Waitukubuli National Trail is the perfect way to experience the true natural beauty of the Caribbean.
Trekking in the Caribbean - Waitukubuli National Trail
Dominica's Waitukubuli National Trail is the longest trekking trail in the Caribbean, spanning 115 miles (185 kms) and winding through the island's lush volcanic interior from the southern end of the island to its northernmost tip.
After years of stalled development due to the remote nature of the area, the Waitukubuli National Trail was officially opened to hikers in 2012. The trail winds through virgin rainforest past spectacular waterfalls, old plantations, dramatic gorges and along coastal cliffs.
Stopping in small villages along the way, hikers gain plenty of opportunities to experience authentic island culture far away from the usual tourist cliches. The trail runs from the southern village of Scott' Head to the Cabrits National Park in the North.
In 2014, our very own itinerary along the trail was selected by the editors of National Geographic Traveller as one of the 50 Tours of a Lifetime.
What else can you do in Dominica?
Beyond trekking in the Caribbean, Dominica is a great destination for active water-based activities such as kayaking and river tubing, with a rumoured 365 rivers on the island - one for each day of the year! Dominica is also one of the best diving destinations in the world, and holds the longest-running diving festival in the Caribbean every summer.
Whale watching is another popular activity, and day-cruises offer an almost 100% success rate. Waters south of the island are very warm and more than 20 whale and dolphin species can be found year-round. Back on land, there are no dangerous animals on the island and it's a haven for bird watching and turtle hatchlings.
There are abundant natural hot springs all over the island due to its volcanic origin. Try snorkelling on Champagne Reef (the water is bubbling!) near Scott’s Head, where the trail begins.
Dominica is the only island in the Caribbean with an indigenous Carib Indian population (around 3000), known as the Kalinagos. Many reside on the eastern side of the island in the Carib territory, which can be visited when trekking the Waitukubuli National Trail.
Getting to Dominica
Dominica can be accessed via domestic flights or ferries from neighbouring islands.
The main airport in Dominica is Dougles-Charles Airport (formally known as the Melville Hall Airport). The airport is located on the Northeast coast of Dominica and is a 45-minute drive from Portsmouth and about a 90 minute drive from Dominica's capital, Roseau. The airport is not an international airport and connecting flights can be caught from St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, Antigua or St. Martin.
The airlines that currently service Dominica include Seaborne Airlines, LIAT, Win Air, Air Sunshine and Hummingbird Air.
There are ferries that operate between Dominica and neighbouring islands including St. Lucia, Marinique and Guadelope.
Find out more information about trekking in the Carribean on the Waitukubuli National Trail with World Expeditions here.