The best Dominica beaches and where to stay

An untamed Caribbean island where volcanic action and indigenous Kalinago heritage bubbles enticingly from its depths, Dominica is a nation that’ll keep you guessing. From the brightly coloured wooden houses in Dominica’s chief town of Roseau to the mountainous rainforests surrounding, Dominica allures with its cultural and natural charms. Like any self-respecting Caribbean nation, Dominica also has a great many beautiful beaches, covered in both black and white sands and backed by lush green interiors and red-rock cliffs. While waterfall hunting and wildlife spotting in the mountains may take priority, today is a beach day and we lounge on 12 of the best Beaches in Dominica, outlined below.

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Photo: Secret Bay, Dominica

1. Purple Turtle Beach

With a name as intriguing as Purple Turtle Beach, you might have high hopes for this northern offering, conveniently located near Portsmouth town. Nor does this black-speckled beach disappoint, seeing nesting turtles proliferate on the more isolated Turtle Bay, a little way off the main Purple Bay. On Purple Bay itself, there’s plenty to do, including volleyball and various water sports (jet skiing or kayaking and wind surfing). Regular reggae and soca concerts keep the mood up for dancing into the night, but on quieter days the bars and restaurants that run parallel – such as the casual Beach Club or the elegant Sailor Man’s Club – can offer up authentic Dominican cuisine over peachy sunsets. Cabrits National Park lies north of Purple Turtle Beach, with over nine more beaches to explore or, otherwise, there’s the option to gain insight into the island’s history at Fort Shirley.

2. Toucari Beach

A top black-sand beach near Portsmouth is Toucari Beach where the sunsets have serious game. Travel just 15 minutes outside of town to get seduced by Toucari’s calm waters and wreck diving adventures, refilling on authentic Dominica food at Keepin’ It Real Beach Bar thereafter or exploring the small fishing village surrounding. Underwater at this Dominica coral bay you’ll find lobster, squid and moray eels among various types of coral and swim-through tunnels starting just 40 feet from the shore. Even after dark, Toucari Bay remains popular among night divers, particularly those keen on seeing the German WWI shipwreck from a different perspective.

Photo: Jonnas Duarte

Photo: Abbs Johnson

3. Douglas Bay

Another top consideration on your vacation to Dominica is Douglas Bay within Cabrits National Park. Thanks to its remote northwest location near Fort Shirley, Douglas Bay remains relatively low-key all year-round, and is all but deserted in the off-season. If you can handle the lack of facilities, make the journey towards Capuchin from Portsmouth, finding untouched white sands on a small bay along the Waitukubuli National Trail (Segment 14).

Of the nearby Dominica resorts, Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski is a clear winner for its luxury villas and rooms with access to four pools, two tennis courts and a full-service spa designed to fit seamlessly within the natural beauty of the bay.

4. Coconut Beach

The aptly named Coconut Beach is next in our list of top Dominica beaches, a site that stretches along the northern coast near Portsmouth’s Ross University as the longest beach on the island. Strewn with coconut palm trees and surrounded by the trees of Picard estate, Coconut Beach is great for sheltering from the midday sun, and strolling upon gray, black, pink and brown sands in view of neighbouring islands, namely Les Saintes and Marie Galante. To reach these outposts, visitors can catch a ferry of charter a yacht from the beach, or otherwise fly from one of two Dominica airports. Also in the area and accessible via boat or kayak is the award-winning Secret Bay resort on Secret Beach.

Photo: Secret Bay

5. Batibou Beach

Batibou Beach (also known as Hampstead Beach) is another sheltered gem facing the northeast, bordering the small fishing village of Calibishie. One of the lesser-known beaches of dominica with minimal facilities, Batibou Beach is perfect for getting away from it all, relaxing on dark sands underneath leaning coconut palms, but you should always check that conditions are safe before going for a swim. Batibou once served as a filming location for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean due to its desert island feel, remaining very much the same today. To access the beach, you’ll have to pay $5 (USD) for parking (pulling off the road between Calibishie and Anse de Mai) and tackling the poorly maintained 1.5-kilometre trail by 4X4 vehicle or on foot through the jungle. If you don’t fancy paying the fee, consider the completely free Number One Beach, a lookalike located east of Batibou at the mouth of the Hampstead River.

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Once a pirate hangout, Pointe Baptiste has an intriguing history to its name, as well as close access to the Pointe Baptiste Chocolate factory, another historical site worth seeing

6. Pointe Baptiste

Adding to the never-ending options on the north coast is Pointe Baptiste, a shaded beauty cut into the red rocks around Woodford Hill near Calibishie. Pointe Baptiste offers both white and black sand on a remote part of the island, with pretty views over Guadeloupe as a bonus. Once a pirate hangout, Pointe Baptiste has an intriguing history to its name, as well as close access to the Pointe Baptiste Chocolate factory, another heritage site worth seeing. Despite its many draws, the area remains relatively uncrowded due to rough waters that are off limits to inexperienced swimmers. The dirt road also makes for tricky access, sometimes too muddy to drive on after rain, at which time, visitors must walk for 10 minutes, keeping alert for falling coconuts.

Photo: Alexander Savchuk

Photo: Isaw Company

7. Woodford Hill Beach

Not far from Pointe Baptiste is the golden stretch of Woodford Hill Beach, a rare finding on an island largely covered in black sands. Its unique colour is a result of coral reefs in the area, eroded to form brown, pink and white sands over thousands of years. Woodford Hill has fewer crowds than the beaches around Portsmouth, allowing for a Dominica vacation retreat away from the masses. Nevertheless, Woodford Hill Beach is as exciting as the rest, offering snorkelling, kayaking and beach tubing on shallow waters, and land sports such as volleyball and horse riding. When diving in the area, keep an eye out for tropical species such as starfish, turtles and blowfish, as well as dolphins that venture into the area’s lagoon-like waters. Back on land, verdant rainforest and jagged cliffs provide the perfect backdrop, forming a number of intimate coves and bays just waiting to be explored.

8. Mero Beach

Found just west of the village of Mero, close to Dominica’s capital city of Roseau, Mero Beach is an ever-popular spot, well-kept and packed with plenty to see and do. The bars, restaurants and music venues that line the shore ensure there are enough Dominica vibes to go around, while the calm waters and good facilities make for a great beach day in proximity to leading all-inclusive resorts. While the rest of Dominica’s beaches are somewhat rocky, Mero beach is a nice exception, lined in its entirety with soft black sands, a result of volcanic erosion. Be savvy about when to visit Mero Beach, coming early or on a weekday to find fewer crowds, avoiding cruise ship days if you can.

Photo: Shelby Cohron

9. Champagne Beach

Lying above hot springs on the edge of Point Michele is the uniquely stunning Champagne Beach, not far from Roseau. Though stony, Champagne Beach is a favourite among travellers for its bubbling warm waters, the result of volcanic action on the ocean floor. Besides bathing, these clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and diving, with marine life protected under the Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve and land creatures such as iguanas, endemic lizards, bats and birds also resident onshore. Come at midday for the best snorkelling or late afternoon for sunsets to die for, accessing the beach by driving south past Point Michele and parking beside the Irie Safari café-bar, to enter the beach along a paved walkway.

Those looking for accommodation in the area can consider the historical Fort Young Hotel, 1.2 kilometres from Roseau. The hotel comes carved out of volcanic stone and paved with 18th-century cobbles to create an enchanting setting on the sea edge, offering al fresco dining and diving lessons close to attractions such as Trafalgar Falls and Titou Gorge.

10. Soufriere Bay

Some twenty minutes outside of Roseau just south of Champagne Beach, Soufriere Bay also competes for visitors with its own spa offering. Here you’ll find makeshift pools of hot water on the shorefront, bordered by rocks that trap the geothermal heat. The beach itself is a little rocky but scuba diving and blissful sunset watching from the warm water more than make up for that. Also backing the beach, Bubble Beach Spa waves the Dominica flag for laid-back bar service, serving up tasty local drinks and snacks in view of the bay.

Jungle Bay Dominica is a fine place to stay in Soufriere, a boutique wellness hotel well placed for adventure in the region, near to the Boiling Lake hiking trail and Champagne Reef. The hotel can help organise excursions, as well as daily activities such as Caribbean cooking classes, sunset yoga and aromatherapy massage.

Photo: Paul Weaver

Photo: Jono Hirst

11. Scott’s Head

A worthy finale for all Dominica vacations is Scott’s Head, a small peninsula jutting from the southwest coast to overlook Soufriere Bay. Besides proximity to the island’s best diving and snorkelling sites, Scott’s Head is great for hikers and those seeking wilderness landscapes, just one hour from Roseau. Hike to the highest point of the peninsula for spectacular views all the way to Martinique, continuing along the Waitukubuli National Trail for more of a challenge. For divers, it’s the Swiss Cheese rock formation that gets the most attention, home of the Soldierfish Cave reef passage and shoals of tropical fish. Every summer, the Scott’s Head village community organises a feast in honour of Saint Peter, a great way to learn of local culture and see historical landmarks in the village.

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