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!
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……
Cabrits is the name of two steep block-like summits that are the remnants of a large collapsed volcano. Despite their elevation, the two Cabrits, West and East both provide fine views and they rise directly out of the ocean in a rather spectacular manner.
From Hotel the Champs it’s only a 20 minute ride to the entrance of the park which is located north of Portsmouth. Once you get to the park there is a $5 (US)/ $13 (EC) entrance fee. Turn right at the main entrance and you’ll take a path up to the trailheads. To the left and up the hill is Fort Shirley and the West Cabrits Trail. To the right is a trail that leads to the Commandant’s Quarters and the Douglas Bay Battery on the East Cabrits Trail. Both are well graded and only moderately steep.
Fort Shirley is a large 18th-century British garrison which once housed 600 soldiers. The Officer’s Quarters has undergone a major renovation. The Fort is now used for various functions such as Weddings, Receptions, Concerts and other events on the island. From here you have a gorgeous view of Prince Rupert Bay.
After a visit to Fort Shirley you can continue on one of the trails. You can walk them both easily in half a day and discover the old ruins covered in vines in this small jungle. Wildlife is abundant on the trails you can see many land crabs, hermit crabs, lizards, snakes, iguana and many birds. Although the area is heavily forested, this is probably one of the driest areas of Dominica. While the higher mountains to the east are bathed in almost perpetual cloud cover, often the Cabrits stay bright and sunny.
After your visit to the park you can decide to walk back to Hotel the Champs (if your legs are still fine) or to take a taxi ride. If you are going to walk you will pass Purple Turtle Beach, a nice sandy beach were you can take a swim or stop for a drink. After this relaxing break you will pass the small city of Portsmouth and will arrive at Hotel the Champs after another 30 minutes’ walk……
The second part of this daytrip includes the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site – Emerald Falls – but lets not forget from last week that after the hike to Salton Falls lunch is now in order.
Turn right out of Salton Falls and after about 2 minutes driving a straight road you will arrive at Pond Casse roundabout. You take the second exit/go straight across it and after about another 3 minutes you will see Zeb Zepis Bistro on your right.
Zeb Zepis Bistro
We’re big fans of this restaurant – a mixture of French and Creole influences; some really delicious and creative locally sourced food. Cash or local cheques only. Closed Mondays.
After lunch you can turn right out of the restaurant and head towards Emerald Falls; you will see a road that turns to your left and the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Emeralf Falls is after on your left, well signposted. But before you get there you will come across a vegetable and fruit stall on the left side of the road known as the Farmacy, the proprietor of which will no doubt introduce you to a fruit or vegetable you’ve never heard of.
Emerald Falls is part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. You can buy a one time entrance ticket for $14ECD or $5USD of pay for a week’s pass to many other sites on the island for $33ECD or about $12USD. The path is well paved and walks gently round and down to the beautiful pool and fall of about 50 feet/15 feet.
Emerald Falls and pool
The approach to Emerald Falls
There are a few curio shops at the entrance you may want to check out on your way out. You simply drive back the way you came to The Champs Hotel. We will be waiting to hear all about it. You may wish to stop at the beautiful Mero Beach on your way home if you have time and fancy another swim (you can swim in both Emerald and Salton pools), or just wait for a swim at our pool with a cocktail from the bar.
We can tell you about Mero beach in another blog sometime…