a street food hut in Wotten Waven Dominica
Caribbean, Dominica

Hot Springs in Dominica • Rest and relaxation in the rainforest

A visit to the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’ wouldn’t be complete without some chill out time in one of the island’s geothermal pools. Heated naturally thanks to the volcanic underbelly of the island, the warm water is rich in healing minerals, and pools are often surrounded with tropical flowers and trees in a rainforest setting. Here’s a full guide to visiting hot springs in Dominica, including the best hot springs to visit, and my own personal tips for your trip.

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Why are there hot springs in Dominica?

Dominica is a stunning island nation in the Windward Islands- which comprise of Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. These islands sit right at the edges of the earth’s Atlantic and Caribbean tectonic plates; they were all formed by volcanic activity along this edge, and they all have mountainous, rain forested landscapes which are scattered with dormant volcanos.

In fact, Dominica has a grand total of nine dormant volcanos. Which is a lot, especially considering the island isn’t a particularly big one. And yes- ‘dormant’ means that they’re only sleeping! These volcanos could erupt again at any time, although they’re very closely monitored so in theory it’d be very easy to figure out that an eruption is imminent.

Not far beneath the earth’s crust, right underneath the island, is a layer of magma which naturally heats some of the island’s water; so some of Dominica’s springs bubble to the surface ready-heated, with clouds of steam pouring out into the air. In some locations, this naturally-heated water is an absolute no-go area for swimming; like the Boiling Lake, which is a deep sinkhole filled with freshly boiled, sulphurous water. (The clue’s in the name with that one. Nobody wants to swim in actual boiling water, although it is possible to hike up to the lake, and there are natural springs to stop in en route.)

However, you could go for a swim at Champagne Beach to experience Dominica’s geothermal activity in a different way. The beach, and the nearby reef, get their names from the tiny bubbles emitted from the volcanic hot springs on the sea floor, like champagne bubbles rising to the top of a glass. It’s a great spot for snorkelling and diving- there’s so much life to be found under water, from brightly coloured parrotfish, seahorses and octopus, to flower-like coral and beautifully calm turtles. And even in the freezing cold waters of Titou Gorge (which you can’t miss), hot water flows out at one spot to warm the cockles.

But, let’s face it, you’re really here for the hot springs, aren’t you?

There are some hot springs in Dominica which are completely natural, with river-water running straight through the rainforest, discoverable on a casual hike. But there are many more spots where locals have constructed pools in which to collect the water, where anyone can come by for a dip.

The prices of these hot spring spas are generally really, really affordable- nornally between $5-10 USD per person and payable in cash only, whether EC or USD- and in my opinion a visit to a hot spring in Dominica is a must.

Why go to a hot spring?

Aside from the fact that it’s just really full on wonderful to be relaxing in the middle of the actual rainforest, the rich mineral content of the water is really great for your health.

The sulphur content of the water is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, but it’s also perfect for soothing aches and pains. After all the hiking that you may or may not be doing while you’re in Dominica- because this is the perfect island for outdoor enthusiasts- you’ll definitely need to have some recovery time.

Popular hot springs in Dominica

The most popular hot springs in Dominica are concentrated around the village of Wotten Waven, in the Roseau Valley. It’s only about 15-20 minutes drive from the capital city of Roseau to this little spa village, so if there’s a cruise ship in port the village gets busier with taxis ferrying passengers to and fro. If you’re not visiting Dominica on a cruise, be prepared for an influx of fellow visitors on ship days!

Be prepared that visiting a natural hot spring in Dominica is not some kind of spa hotel experience- for that you’ll need to head to one of the islands spa hotels like Secret Bay or the InterContinental. Pools are generally fairly rustic, and whilst the rainforest setting is always stunning, if the smell of sulphur is too much to bear this experience might not be for you!

Screw’s Spa

I’ve been to Screw’s Spa twice, and this is a lovely spot overlooking a river on the outskirts of Wotten Waven. There are several pools of varying temperatures- and one of them is a lot deeper than I first expected- and they’re connected with man-made waterfalls cascading over the edges. Even on a rainy day, this is a tranquil place to kick back and relax. You can also get a mineral mud bath here.

Ti Kwen Glo Cho

Ti Kwen Glo Cho means ‘little corner of hot water,’ and these hot springs are in a secluded spot surrounded with gardens and vegetation. There are a couple of cold waterfalls to bathe under as well as the standard warm pools, and also a unique series of bathtubs to soak in.

Tia’s Hot Spa

I’d heard that Tia’s Hot Spa can get crowded when there are cruise ships in port, but on the day we visited we were the only cruise passengers there! The only other visitors were some locals celebrating a birthday with some chill time. The pools here are laid into the hillside and surrounded with jungle foliage, and my visit to Tia’s was probably the most relaxing one of Dominica’s hot springs so far.

Bubble Beach Spa

The Bubble Beach Spa is a completely different hot spring experience to the others on my list. These hot springs are right on the beach at Soufriere, next to St Mark’s Church and with the green backdrop of Scotts Head in the distance. A volcanic spring sits beneath the sand, and a local bar owner known as Mr Bubble has constructed a series of pools out of sandbags to trap the hot water inside.

These beachfront pools are completely free to visit, but there is a donation box which I strongly recommend donating into, and if you’re not donating, consider stopping into his beach bar which is directly by the pools. Mr Bubble is rebuilding his business after it was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, and every little helps. Also- I’m told the rum punch is fantastic. On Sundays there’s normally a big cookout for after church has finished, and anyone and everyone is invited.

Tips for visiting the hot springs

  • Wear dark swimming clothes! The sulphur can stain, so steer clear of a white bathing suit.
  • Remove all your jewellery before you go into a pool. The water oxidises metal jewellery almost instantly, and it’s irreversible.
  • Some hot springs have changing facilities, and others don’t. If you feel more comfortable, wear your dry swimming costume underneath your clothes and then change after your dip in the hot springs.
  • Bring a towel with you! I always took a quick-drying microfibre towel with me when visiting hot springs in Dominica, as I didn’t want to be sat on a sodden towel in the taxi back. These are my favourite.

If you’re short on time in Dominica and want to experience a few things all in one day, a pre-booked tour is a great way to do that. This excellently-rated tour takes guests to swim in Titou Gorge, snorkel at Champagne Beach, hike to Trafalgar Falls, and finally relax in one of the natural hot springs. It’s a hassle-free way of seeing the island but still using local tour operators.

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