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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

whale watching in DominicaPhotos by chrissie64 via flickr

Dominica is a very unique place; its nature is absolutely ravishing. Every human being who’s been given an opportunity to visit the island remains impressed for years.

One extra reason for that is the fact Dominica is the number one whale watching destination. It’s known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean” actually. Why is that? Well, the chance of seeing a whale and other animals that belong to the Cetacea order is absolutely great, greater than elsewhere. So, it’s no wonder they call it this way.

Dominica’s bays are formed by picturesque cliffs. They are good shelters for whales and dolphins, because the animals can find there all the nutrients they need. Sperm whales seem to love the places best, because they are the most frequent guests there. The other frequent species are humpback and pilot whales. Beside whales, the sea is teemed with bottlenose and spinner dolphins. These are known for their outstanding friendliness towards humans; some scientists think they might be as intelligent as us. Less frequent but still present are 17 more Cetacea species. That is, Dominica is a shelter and home for 22 species, which is two thirds of all existing cetaceans.

Sperm whales are present in Dominica all year long. They reside at Layou, Roseau, Scotts Head, and Point Round. In other places of the world, there are periods when these whales are missing. This is what never happens to the bays of Dominica. Constant presence of the females and young males helps to monitor specific whale families and discover their social life. It is possible to learn the difference between whales in a single family, and that’s what scientists only can do in Dominica. Thanks to those researches, they know how the whales distribute their care and time.

whale watching in Dominica

Wherever there are whales, there also are people who’d like to watch them and people who can make this possible. If you’re thirsty for whale watching, all you have to do is to get yourself a commercial tour. Commercial whale watching started back in 1988. Those days, some people would prefer to see the whales hunted, not prosper. Letting them be free would rather be considered a great waste. However, that changed quickly, because it was discovered that people who took fishing tours liked to watch the whales even more than to pull their fish out of the water. Of course, the guys who were giving these tours could not but pay attention to that. Thanks to their attention and wit, many of those who thought a whale can only be a prey got involved in the newly started whale watching tours. Nowadays, the tours are being conducted on the regular basis, and the common attitude to the whales is good.

The tour operators know everything about whales’ habits and mores, so they would find them fast. Besides, they use hydrophones to locate the animals. One more thing about these devices, they may be given to the tourists so they could listen to the beautiful performance of the sperm whales. Everyone must have heard whales can sing, and every tourist discovers that’s true.

Each operator follows the code which claims no luring and minimal disturbance to the whales; you may be calm about whether you are going to cause any kind of discomfort to them or not. You aren’t. Whales like communicating to people. A good evidence of that is the guy known as the Whale Whisperer (actual name Andrew Armour), who’s become famous because of his ability to “talk” to sperm whales. When he dives, he’s humming and making clicks, and the noise is always the same. The whales can hear and recognize it, so they come to him.

Interestingly, whales understand humans are able to stroke them. When both people and whales swim together, the whales may turn over so people could rub their bellies. A whale never attacks a man except for self-defense, but even in danger most of them would rather try and get away, unless protecting the calves.

Image of a sperm whale of the coast of dominica

If you’re fond of sperm whales, Dominica will become the first place in your ‘to-visit’ list. Whether you’re on a whale watching tour or making a trip or just diving or fishing, you can always come across a sperm whale. Sure, there is the period when the chances of encountering whales are the highest–from November to March. It is when the adult male whales are back. Also, this is the time when you can watch the other species, which are not present there in summer.

As of now, sperm whales number to 360,000 specimens. Comparing that datum to their former number (which is 1.1 million), you understand what a terrible effect the extensive whaling caused. Now, it is forbidden to hunt whales, but poachers don’t respect the laws and don’t care about consequences. Fortunately, the patrollers won’t let poachers feel tranquil about killing whales; and nevertheless the whale Andrew Armour met first was a wounded whale calf.

If you’re about to get yourself a tour; consider this: It’s not actually seeing whales you will pay for, it is the trip itself and the mere possibility to see them. The odds of encountering a whale are good, but they still are the odds, not guarantees. So, you have to be aware of your whale watching tour possibly becoming a plain journey, yet expensive one. That happens not too often, though, because the average tour lasts up to 4 hours. It must be quite enough to come across at least one whale. But even if you don’t, the cheerful dolphins will compensate your disappointment. Seeing sea animals in the wild is something you will never forget, even if those are not whales.

In fact, you have two options. On one hand, it’s the tours. They are well organized and comfortable. But most likely you won’t be let swim with whales. Imagine every tourist doing that, it’s exactly what an operator would call disturbance to the whales. On the other hand, you can take no tour and meet divers who like whales (you’re not going to dive alone, are you?) and get yourself equipped. In this case, you’d have all the benefits a friendly whale can give to people… But forget about organization. You are going to resolve a lot of problems by yourself.

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Which one would you pick?

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Image for Emerald Pooll

The Emerald pool is with out doubt one of the most popular attractions, and is perhaps one of Dominica’s most photographed natural site.

Emerald pool as its name suggest is also known as ‘Crystal Pool. This small waterfall and natural pool is located on the northern edge of the Morne Trois National Park, is filled with glistening clear spring water.

Buses pass the Emerald Pool on their way to the villages of Castle Bruce and Carib Territory, and can be caught be the west outbound bridge in Roseau. Bus fare:EC$6.50 adults and children EC$3.25.

If traveling by car, once at the Pont Casse roundabout take the road to Castle Bruce and Carib Territory. Lookout for the road sign on the left-hand side of the road at the junction.

 image for the-emerald-pool-dominica

Take a short stroll through the rainforest along a easy track, which takes you through magnificent overhanging trees and lush vegetation. Midway of the hike there’s a spectacular overhead view of the pool to the right.

Emerald Pool Plants

Some steps up and then eventually down, lead to the waterfalls. Be careful, the rocks around the pool can be very slippery – use your hands to maintain your balance and follow the signs.

Emerald Pool

On warm and sunny days the crystal water turn greenish blue and turns pale green in the evening. Bring along your swimming suit and a towel because you’re going to be utterly seduced by the intensity of the pool’s turquoise colored water, and taking a cool refreshing swim is a definitely a must. Beware that the water is quite chilly, but once you are in, it is quite a good experience. 😀

See our video of the Emerald Pool:

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Dominica mountain view

Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park can be described as a Luxuriant natural tropical forest in harmony with volcanic features of high scenic appeal and scientific interest.

The park is also known for its diverse flora with endemic species of vascular plants, its volcanoes, rivers and waterfalls, illustrating ongoing geo-morphological processes with high scenic value.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park was also the first designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Caribbean in 1997.

It was also the first of the islands’ National Parks to be legally established, in July of 1975, by an act of parliament.The Park is 13.4 km long by an average of 5 km across and covers the southern end of the mountain backbone of the island.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park was named after its highest point – a 1,437m volcanic stub, includes large tracts of the most extensive undisturbed tropical forest in the Lesser Antilles and the headwaters of most of the major streams and rivers of southern part of Dominica.

Dominica River

Its range of five volcanoes contains a rare combination of precipitous slopes and deeply incised valleys, the richest biodiversity in the Lesser Antilles with freshwater lakes, 50 fumaroles, hot springs, a boiling lake, and spectacular scenery.

Dominica vegetation

Other outstanding features of the site include the Emerald Pool fed by the Middleham Falls, Stinking Hole, a lava tube in the middle of the forest; The Boiling Lake, a 200-foot-wide flooded fumarole with grey-blue water that bubbles; Titou Gorge, a small waterfall located in a water-filled Gorge near the boiling lake, and the Freshwater and Boeri Lakes, separated by Morne Macaque.

Dominica's Boiling Lake

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is by no doubt, one the most highly scenic tracts of undisturbed tropical forest in the Lesser Antilles. Its no wonder Tourist numbers are increasing every year. Approximately 10,000-15,000 visitors a year walk to the Emerald Pool, and another 2000 make the 6 km hike to the Boiling Lake from Laudat village.

Morne Trois Pitons Trail

Come explore Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park, and you will discover a number of ancient trails or footpaths, cross the Park roughly east-west between mountains or north-south along ridges. Some of which were used in the recent past before roads to the east were completed in 1960 for access to Roseau and by hunters. Now used for sightseeing such as to the Valley of Desolation, for trekking, cycling and riding. Canyoning and much more.

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