a street in Roseau
Caribbean, Dominica

Dominica Cruise Port • Exploring Roseau, Dominica

Dominica cruise port, in the little capital city of Roseau, is one of my favourite ports in the Caribbean. The city is compact but beautiful, the people are super friendly, and whether you stick to the city limits or head out to explore the incredible nature of this island, there is so much to see and do.

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Skip to the best excursions from Dominica cruise port.

What makes Dominica a great destination?

Dominica is different from most other Caribbean islands. Other destinations like the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda and Aruba, are known for their stunning picture-perfect beaches, but Dominica doesn’t have so many of these. What it does have, is thick rainforests, dramatic gorges and bubbling hot springs, stunning volcanic peaks- nine volcanos, to be exact- and some incredible diving spots. This is the perfect ecotourism destination, and what’s more, the fact that its tourism industry has developed at a much slower rate than its island neighbours has helped Dominica to stay authentic, holding on to its unique culture and quiet way of life.

I bloomin’ love it here.

And although, like almost every Caribbean island, Dominica’s history is intertwined with colonialism and slavery, it’s also home to the only community of direct descendants of the indigenous Caribbean people. There are over 2000 Kalinago people living within the Kalinago territory on the east coast of Dominica, upholding centuries-old traditions and a way of life which is intrinsically linked with the forest.

Book a visit to a Kalinago village here.

Where is Dominica cruise port?

Dominica cruise port is right in the centre of Roseau, the capital city. It’s a scenic spot, with the colourful houses of the city directly in front of the pier, and a stunning mountainous backdrop directly behind that. You can walk directly from the ship to the city in mere minutes, and there are always plenty of taxis waiting at the end of the pier, as well as a collection of little souvenir stalls along the waterfront.

There’s a good supermarket with a pharmacy upstairs just two minutes from the cruise pier, and there’s free wifi in port.

The best things to do in Roseau

Explore Roseau on foot

Roseau is very easy to explore on foot, and my personal opinion is that you’d be missing out if you didn’t spend an hour or so exploring the colourful architecture of this pretty city’s streets. Wooden Creole buildings with beautiful balconies and latticework, brightly coloured concrete structures designed to withstand the frequent hurricanes that roll on through, and the colonial influence of France and England, all melt together in a cocktail of colour. It won’t take long to explore, but it sure is pretty.

Visit the Botanical Garden

To be completely honest, Dominica Botanic Garden feels more like a lovely park than a classic botanical garden- so if you want a full touristy botanical experience, you’re better off heading to somewhere like Martinique’s Jardin de Balata (if your cruise docks there.)

But if you want some fresh air, a peaceful walk in green surroundings, and the chance to see some wonderful tropical trees up close and personal, this is the place for you. The gardens are just a ten to fifteen minute walk from the cruise pier, at the foot of Morne Bruce hill, and they’re free to visit. Spot the baobab tree which was felled by a hurricane in the 70s, crushing a yellow school bus in the process (luckily there was nobody inside). The gardens are used as much by the locals as by curious tourists, and once in a while you might spot a cricket match taking place here.

Plenty of island tours make a few stops inside the botanical gardens, but I definitely preferred visiting under my own steam so that I didn’t feel like I was on a time limit.

Hike up Morne Bruce

Morne Bruce is a big old hill overlooking Roseau, and if you haven’t got time to get out of the city, a hike up here makes a great thing to do while docked in Dominica cruise port. The hill was once home to a fortress which protected Roseau, and there are ruins and cannons dotted about the hilltop.

You can either hike up Jack’s Walk, a super-steep pathway which winds up and away from the back of the Botanic Gardens, or head there by road (either on foot or by car/taxi.) I made a loop up Jack’s Walk and then back down the road, and I’m telling you it was all together glorious. The views from the top are stunning, and it was lovely to head down through the outskirts of the city back to the harbour.

One thing I’d definitely recommend, if you’re planning on hiking, is not wearing sandals like I did. I hadn’t actually planned on doing this hike at all, but once I was halfway up the hill I was in too deep and definitely had a few hairy moments with crumbly ground and not a lot of grip.

You live and you learn, pals.

Diving in Dominica cruise port

The water in Dominica is crystal clear and vivid turquoise all at once, and it’s highly likely you’ll spot plenty of fish and corals just walking along the pier from the ship to the road. So just imagine what you’ll see inside the actual water!?

There are many, many diving spots around the island; but you don’t have to go far to find the closest one. Fort Young Hotel is a gorgeous hotel right next to the cruise pier; you can see its wooden verandah to the right of the ship as you look at the land, and the hotel has a big dive centre. From here, Fort Young Dive sends excursions out into the beautiful Caribbean waters which are rich with life- either by taking divers out on a boat to one of the island’s dive sites, or directly from the shore. Inquire directly with Fort Young Dive for details.

Discover the Best Caribbean Island for Snorkelling

Eating and drinking in Roseau

There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from in Dominica, but alas- for our most recent Caribbean season, we always docked in Roseau on a Sunday when the city was much, much quieter than usual.

However- the Ruins Rock Cafe is a lively bar and restaurant right in the centre of town; this place always seems to be open and there’s often live music playing as well.

But my favourite place for eating and drinking near Dominica cruise port is undoubtedly the Fort Young Hotel. The vibe here is much quieter than some of the more tourist-focused places (although admittedly on the days we were in port, it was only the tourist-focused places that were open, so we were somewhat restricted compared to normal days), and the view along the coastline from the pretty verandah is an absolute stunner.

The food in the Palisades Restaurant overlooking the sea is delicious, and even if you don’t fancy a big meal I deffo recommend a plate of accra, which are fried fish fritters super popular in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean.

The best excursions from Dominica Cruise Port

My absolute number one favourite excursion from Dominica cruise port, was to Titou Gorge. (Such a true favourite that I visited more than once.) The incredible gorge is high up in the mountains, and involves a steep drive uphill, and then a freezing cold swim to a waterfall at the end of the gorge. This breathtaking location was used as a filming location for Pirates of the Caribbean, so you can also live all your Jack Sparrow dreams here.

There’s no official entrance fee for Titou Gorge, however if you’re visiting on your own you will have to pay to hire a life vest (which is mandatory). You can get a taxi from the port in about half an hour, although the price will differ depending on how many people are in your group.

If time is on your side, it’s definitely worth booking a tour which involves other stops. One of the most highly-rated tours out there will take you to Titou Gorge for a swim, as well as for a 45 minute to Middleham Falls, the tallest waterfall in the Caribbean. (Where you can also have a dip.)

Book a half day tour to Middleham Falls and Titou Gorge.

Underwater-enthusiasts should head to Champagne Beach. The beach itself is very rocky, with patches of black sand, but it’s the snorkelling opportunities that people come here for, not the sunbathing. So-called because of the tiny bubbles that rise to the surface from the volcanic floor, Champagne is one of the most popular snorkelling spots in Dominica.

This tour takes you to Champagne Beach, then on to Scott’s Head, another downright superb snorkelling spot- where sea turtles are often seen.

For bigger adrenaline-junkies (although don’t worry, you don’t need experience and there’s always a guide present.), head to the Canyon Experience at Extreme Dominica. During this four and a half hour trip, you’ll hike, rappel and simply just jump down rainforest canyons and rivers. This is a tour which I missed out on last time I was in Dominica but would love the chance to do when I go again.

For something a bit more chilled, because I fully appreciate that hurling yourself down rapids and into ravines might not be everybody’s cup of tea, make sure you spend time at one of the island’s hot springs. Dominica is a hotbed of geothermal activity- it’s all those volcanos, in the style of a tropical Iceland– so the island is teeming with hot springs and mud baths. Apparently they’re renowned for their healing minerals, and they truly are relaxing, however be prepared for the pungent sulphur pong that rises with the tufts of steam from the water.

Head to hot springs, Titou Gorge, Trafalgar Falls and the Freshwater Lake.

And for something completely different, and involving absolutely zero water at all, this cooking class with local chef Daria is resoundingly popular. Learn how to cook a Dominican meal from scratch under Daria’s guidance, in the stunning setting of her mountain home. This is another experience that I was desperate to book in Dominica, but either never had the time to do, or it was booked up when I was free. But it was so well-recommended to me that I’d book it up in an instant when I return.

Take a Dominican cooking class.

Whether I stayed near to Dominica cruise port, or travelled further inland, I never had a bad day in Dominica. This island might just be my favourite Caribbean nation, thanks to its super-friendly people, relaxed vibe, and utterly captivating and wild scenery. It’s definitely a place that I’d love to explore at my own pace, without the time restrictions of living and working on a cruise ship; but for now, this is a downright brilliant start.

Logistical Statisticals

  • The official currency in Dominica is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, although US dollars are also widely accepted. It’s possible to pay with card, but you’d be wise to carry some cash with you just in case.
  • I never had any problem venturing out solo, and felt safe walking around Roseau and the surrounding areas alone. (Although one concerned local did once insist on showing me what he considered was the safest pathway back to the ship, which I thought was very kind of him.)

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