Unlike many Caribbean islands, Dominica is blessed with several lakes, Freshwater Lake is the largest of Dominica’s four lakes. It is located at just over 2,500 ft above sea level and is the natural source of the Roseau River. The lake has been dammed to provide water to generate electricity. This body of water forms part of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the largest lake on the island, and the second deepest after nearby Boeri Lake. The lake and surrounding area can be mysteriously shrouded in mist or gleaming in full sunshine, often changing between these climates within minutes.
A hike along the Freshwater Lake Trail provides an opportunity to study Dominica’s higher forests. Montane forest, which can be recognized by its short, thin trees and open canopy, covers the majority of the area surrounding the lake. The shallow soils and strong winds do not permit the luxuriant growth that is so characteristic of the rain forest. The Freshwater Lake hike requires a steep climb but the views are worth it. It is a beautiful spot in which to cool off since it’s at a higher elevation.
You have to take your way towards the path by the hydro-electric building (to the right of the parking lot when facing the lake). A few minutes further along, you plant your feet on carefully constructed steps as you make your way to the top of the ridge on the eastern side of the lake. As you make your way along the ridge, you will admire the views of the lake, abundant wildflowers, birds, verdant precipices and the mighty Atlantic in the distance.
The circuitous groomed track around Freshwater Lake takes an hour on average, or a little more if you wish to admire the spectacular views and/or catch your breath!
You can combine this hike with a hike to Boeri Lake or a visit to Middleham Falls to enjoy your day in the nature to the fullest…..
Every year, from March to October, Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles nest and hatch at Rosalie Bay. The endangered gentle giants can travel great distances, as far away as Canada, Europe and Africa, to Dominica to nest on our protected black sand beach.
To protect these creatures for future generations Dominica has founded the sea turtle conservation program. The program engages locals and guests in opportunities to help in the recovery of sea turtles on the island and throughout the Caribbean. Efforts include night patrol during nesting season, clean up on nesting beaches, education programs and data collection. Their trained guides tell you all about the turtles!
From witnessing a 1,000-pound Leatherback turtle crawling ashore to holding a hatchling that is smaller than a baby’s footprint, turtle season offers a vacation experience that is unforgettable and simply magical. We went to see the hatching this time…..
A magical moment is when the tiny hatchlings emerge from their nest for their initial journey to sea. Some nests hatch naturally, while others have a scheduled assisted release in the evening to increase their chances of survival. The odds are not in their favor –about 1,000 to one–as hungry predators and dehydration take their toll.
Rosalie Bay is about 1,5 hour drive from Hotel The Champs, but worth the stunning drive. This time there were as many as 32 small turtles finding their way to the ocean!
A nice walk in ‘the backyard of The Champs’ is to the viewpoint over looking the bay in Portsmouth and Cabrits. You can just start your walk at The Champs and walk up the hill, before the water tank you go left on a small trail. If you are lucky you can spot parrots here!
After about 10 minutes you will reach a gravel road, take this road up to the banana plantation. Each banana plant has one bunch of bananas covered in a blue plastic bag. The bunches are covered with plastic bags for three reasons: to provide a suitable microclimate for the bananas to ripen more quickly, to protect the bananas (at least to some degree) from insects and other pests and to prevent the bananas from being bruised when it is windy and leaves may brush against the bunch. If you are interested you can take a look at the shelter were they sort the banana’s before taken to the market.
Just before the shelter on your left hand side you’ll find a small path winding down through the banana plantation (marked Waitukubuli trail). This path will lead you to the Picard Bridge where you can go swimming in the river or just continue hiking along the trail. This is part of the Waitukubuli trail, which spans 115 miles across the island of Dominica and the Picard Bridge is just a tiny portion of it. The bridge is a little unstable, so be careful when crossing it.
You will follow your way up, some parts are quite steep, there are ropes to help you up. After about 45 minutes you will reach the viewpoint. There is a small shelter to enjoy the view or have a picknick break. From here you can just take the same route down and back to Hotel The Champs where we wait for you with a nice cold beer or cocktail……
If you would like to visit a waterfall in the Northern part of Dominica, check out Bwa Nef Falls! The trailhead to Bwa Nef can be found off of the Northern Link Road between Lower Penville and En Bas/Vielle Case, about 30 minutes drive from Hotel The Champs. There is a sign marking the trail from the main road.
To start the hike, you walk from the main road down towards the river. There you will see the upstream river trail that leads the way to Bwa Nef. During the hike you will be walking around mud, water, rocks, tree roots, foliage etc. so be sure to have appropriate shoes.
It takes about 35 minutes to hike to the waterfall. You will pass banana plantations and thick jungle where you can spot land crabs. The tall waterfall is in a small canyon, tucked away from view until you are right below it. The cascade is almost hidden behind these towering rock walls. Beams of light, coming around boulders wedged between the rock walls above you, shine down through the water. It’s glorious! There is a small little area to ‘swim’ in if you want.
A nice stop on the way could be the cold Sulphur Springs; Unlike most of the springs on Dominica and other Caribbean islands, these are characterized by very cold water which comes as a surprise considering that they are located just next to the active volcano. But apparently, magma layer lies too deep under the ground to heat the water.
Dominica is geologically a very young island and geothermal activity is still present here. Cold Sulphur Springs is one of many sites that confirms it- you can see how water is bubbling not only in the main pool but also in the numerous geysers of different size. It’s just a few hundred meters from the main road and reachable by a well- prepared path.
Batibou Beach is an expansive and secluded soft-sand beach in the North-East of the island. This beach is known as one of the best beaches of Dominica. It is about half an hour drive from Hotel The Champs on the way to Calibishie.
On arrival you can park along the road near the entrance path or you can attempt the drive down on a road filled with potholes if you have a 4×4. It is nice to take the leisurely walk down through the forest full of palm trees. If you are lucky you can spot hummingbirds here.
The majority of the walk is in the jungle until you find yourself in an open spot overlooking Batibou Beach and several cliffside villages that speckle the north coast. The view makes you want to move faster and go down to this piece of paradise. The water is turquoise with splashing waves onto the gold sand. The beach is bordered by tall palm trees and the surrounding jungle makes it even more serene. If you have completed the walk down to the beach, there are two security guys who collect a 13 EC ($5 US) per person fee. This is for crossing the private acces road to the and for security on the beach.
There is enough space on the beach to find yourself a nice spot in the sun to let the sun and salt soak into your skin until you want to take a swim. The Atlantic Ocean here is calm enough for swimming and a gently sloping sea bed means you can wade out a good distance.
On the beach there is a small beach shack where you can have a drink or order lunch. You can use this beach as a nice stop for you (half) day trip to the north, but you can easily spend more than a few hours here. Just bring your hammock (there are perfectly placed palm trees here) and a good book and let the scenery do the rest……