Nature’s Ultimate Relaxation: Dominica’s Incredible Hot Springs
May 04, 2020
In the States, hot springs usually look more like theme parks — they’ve been around for ages as tourist attractions, covered in plastic and surcharges. Many of them are so treated you can’t really tell the difference between them and your local swimming pool.
In Dominica, hot springs sit in the middle of the rainforest.
Some require a two-mile trek through the trees, some are family-run establishments just down a small road on the edge of a village. Others are on the way to or from waterfalls, clinging next to rivers, or near desolate, volcanic terrain. Here’s a quick rundown of three favorites:
1) Ti Kwen Glo Cho. Not far from Roseau in Wotten Waven, family-owned Ti Kwen Glo Cho is an absolute standout. The name is Creole for “little corner of water,” and it’s pretty fitting — minus the “little” bit. There are multiple springs of varying temperatures, private one-person bathtubs (in the forest, lest you forget), mud baths, and the reception doubles as a bar and snack station. The water is pumped in via bamboo pipes, and the setting is about as natural (and local) as it gets. Entrance is $10 per person, and you can stay as long as you like. Bring a towel and a change of clothes!
2) Bongo Baths. Also in Wotten Waven, British-owned Bongo Baths is comparable to Ti Kwen Glo Cho, but a little more on-the-beaten-path. There are multiple pools of varying temperatures all sourced from local mountain springs, and the vibe is more “outdoor spa” than anything — you’ll even get a fruit plate brought out to you while you relax. After a warm soak, chill underneath a waterfall in the cozy waterfall pool.
3) Tia’s Hot Springs. With private pools at the top of the hill and a larger communal pool at the bottom — some shaded, some in the open sun, all varying temperatures — Tia’s has a wide range of options. It’s more no-frills than Bongo Baths (it’s one of the original springs on the island), but that just means more local flavor and authenticity. Yes, Tia is a real person! Entrance is $5 USD per person.
With nine volcanoes, Dominica is literally built on geothermal activity — and commercial establishments aren’t the only places you can go for a warm dip. Natural hot pools span the island, some weather and tide-dependent, each breaking up hikes or long days otherwise spent in the glorious outdoors.
A semi-accessible option can be found at Trafalgar Falls. Take the stairs past the viewing platform and you’ll eventually see a little footpath on your left. It’ll lead you to a small pool not advertised in the brochures. If you’re unclear where to go, certified guides can be found back in the main parking lot, and they’ll answer all your questions.
A harder-to-get-to option lies on the hike to Boiling Lake. You’ll find it around the halfway point, though it’s best taken advantage of on the way back. Sulphur has turned the rocks into a rainbow of colors, and a small waterfall lines the back edge of the pool, which fits up to four.
TIPS & DETAILS
For each hot spring experience, bring a towel and a change of clothes. Most commercial hot springs have changing rooms or showers. Keep in mind that these natural waters can oxidize jewelry, so leave it behind (if you forget, soak it in a glass of Coke!). Bring cash — USD or ECD is fine.
Bongo Baths and Tia’s are just off the road — Ti Kwen Glo Cho is deeper in the village, but there are plenty of signs (never hesitate to ask for directions). Ti Kwen Glo Cho is always open; Bongo Baths fluctuates with the cruise ship season. If you can, check the opening hours beforehand, or come prepared with a backup plan just in case. When making your itinerary, remember that any hot springs visit should mandate a few hours tops, as you don’t want to get your body too warm. Beyond that, sit back, relax, and enjoy (and take in that view!).