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Adventures in the Caribbean: Canyoning in Dominica

Updated: 21st July 2019

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Thirty feet below in a dark pool of refreshing water, Berani’s voice echoed through the canyon as he counted me down.

‘3, 2, 1, jump!’ 

I didn’t flinch, my legs glued to the moss-covered rock edge I was peering over, the only disturbance a bright orange land crab scuttling by my foot. Canyoning in Dominica was not starting well.

Come to the Caribbean, I thought. Relax on the beaches, I thought. Have a rum punch, I thought. But no, Dominica had other ideas for me – and likely for you too! The first was throwing myself off this canyon edge into the crystal-clear cyan waters, now beautifully illuminated by the sun.

‘No cocktails, no lying on the beach here, no-no. Strap your boots on and go dive in some pools,’ Marvin, our hiking guide yesterday, hadn’t been lying.

I shut my eyes, screamed profanity into the dark stone of the canyon around me, and leapt off the edge, crashing into the perfectly fresh and refreshing water below. OH YEAH, this island nation was something special.

Just remember not to use the c-word here; Dominicans don’t like to call their waters cold; they prefer to call them refreshing. And perhaps the most refreshing start to a day is to throw yourself, quite literally, into them.

While I was way too busy having fun to get many photos, I hope this video will give you a quick overview. Shoutout to my pal Macca for some of the clips.

It’s no secret that I fell in love with Dominica, and it quickly became one of my best islands to visit – especially true for those who want a little more than sandy feet and cocktails by the beach. While I enjoyed my R&R time in both Antigua and Aruba, this Caribbean island felt utterly different – canyoning in Dominica was all part of the experience!

Dominica is packed with some of the geological gods’ most exceptional work. These impressive canyons and water pools are prime examples.

I’m not going to lie; I was pretty nervous about going canyoning in Dominica for the first – or anywhere in the world, in fact. But the team at Extreme Dominica looked after me well.

Dominica isn’t the only place to go canyoning in the Caribbean; you can do so in the Dominican Republic (which, to clear up straight away, is a different country) and a couple of nearby islands. But given Dominica is affectionately known as the nature island, you know you won’t be disappointed with the experience here. 

The canyon and rappel tours run by the team here, of which we had Berani and Benny as our guides, are suitable for a vast array of ages.

From seven-year-olds to those in their eighties, Benny told me of the countless people who have thrown, jumped, and bathed in these Canyons, one of the filming spots for Pirates of the Caribbean.

In 2017, the deadly Hurricane Maria tore through Dominica, leaving destruction in its path. Maria cleared the canopy covering the gorge, which allowed sunlight through, which is why the rocky walls are now a moss-covered green.

The setting couldn’t have been any more perfect for my first canyoning experience. We started our half-day tour by getting kitted out and some essential training before driving to the starting point near Ti Tou Gorge.

Ti Tou Gorge is an excellent spot for those who don’t want to canyoning in Dominica but without doing the extreme options. Here you can enter into the refreshing waters and swim for about five minutes through the gorge until you reach a small waterfall. No equipment, except perhaps a life jacket, is required for this short stretch.

This half-day tour was an ideal introduction for those wanting a little more adrenaline. Dominica has no shortage of rivers, waterfalls and gorges, so those who seek a more advanced option will be served with full-day options and huge waterfall rappels.

Although I had been pretty reluctant on my first jump, by the time the final zip-line was set up, I was gutted that this fantastic day was ending. It indeed was an exhilarating and beautiful experience.

As I’ve mentioned in my Dominica Travel Guide, I visited in the off-season, so no cruise ships were coming into the dock. Without the vessels, the island is far quieter and more comfortable to enjoy. If you are visiting Dominica on a cruise ship, though, this is one of the most exciting Dominica cruise day-trip activities you can do on the island, and you’ll be picked up straight from the port.

Would I recommend canyoning in the Caribbean? Absolutely. If you love adventure, nature and an unspoilt slice of paradise, Dominica is calling your name!

Traflagar Falls Waterfall in Dominica
Waterfalls in Dominica

Other adventure activities in Dominica

Dominica isn’t an island to shy away from adventure activities, though. If you want an adrenaline buzz or just some outside sports, there is plenty more to keep you entertained.

Scuba diving is epic in the Caribbean, thanks to the excellent visibility, shipwrecks and warm waters. Dominica is no exception; there are a few different dive outlets here that can get you out in the water. Read more about scuba diving in Dominica.

Epic hiking through rainforests and to incredible waterfalls. Trafalgar Falls, that beauty above, is just around an hour’s hike that starts near Ti Tou Gorge, so it’s a great one to add on. For super experienced Canyoning fans, you can rappel down it too.

Watching Sperm Whales is a more relaxed but epic activity in Dominica as the country has a resident population, so sightings are guaranteed. Read more about watching sperm whales in the Caribbean.

The Boiling Lake is one of the most challenging hikes in the country, and I heard various quotes on hiking lengths from 4 to 6 hours. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with one of a few boiling lakes on this side of the world, some 200+ feet long!

Swimming in the Emerald Pool is one of the most popular things to do, even if not precisely an adventure activity. Read more about how to visit the Dominica Emerald Pool.

The Waitukubuli Trail links up Dominica’s hiking and walking trails and spans the country, taking about two weeks to complete all the stages.

Read more: Discovering the wild isle of Dominica

1 reply
  1. Ameliajames says:

    From the Boiling Lake and sulfur springs, to the cool reviving streams and cascades, and the glorious submerged sights for swimmers and scuba jumpers, Dominica’s regular fortunes are ample.

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