Visiting Titou Gorge, Dominica’s Lush Freshwater Swimming Spot

Swimming through the emerald waters of Titou Gorge in Dominica was one of the best things I did during my two-week Caribbean cruise with Viking Ocean Cruises.

Dominica, one of the least traveled islands in the Caribbean, is a stunning expression of nature. The country’s lush, mountainous rainforest holds many thrills, from bathing in natural hot springs to canyoning waterfalls. It has more than earned its nickname of the “Nature Island.” If you only visit one Caribbean island, make it this one.

The entrance to Titou Gorge in Dominica.

Titou Gorge (Ti Tou Gorge) is among the best of these. Translating into “little throat” in Creole, the breathtaking canyon and its hidden waterfall are surprisingly easy to access, as long as you’re willing to get wet.

Titou Gorge hasn’t just attracted attention from locals and tourists. The canyon served as a filming location for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Disney’s interest in using this location for the movie is actually the reason that Titou Gorge is so easily accessed today by road—it just wasn’t practical to transport filming equipment and crew through a long, humid walk through the rainforest marked by a large pipeline.

Here’s how you can see this natural beauty yourself:

Titou Gorge in Dominica.

How to Get to Titou Gorge in Dominica

Titou Gorge is roughly a 25-minute drive from Roseau on a picturesque road. Factor in extra time to stop at a few lookouts and enjoy the view!

You can drive yourself to Titou Gorge by renting a car and paying Dominica’s vehicle permit fee ($12 USD) or hire one of the many taxis in town.

If you hire a taxi driver, you can negotiate a price that includes several of Dominica’s top spots, like Trafalgar Falls. Our taxi fare was $60 USD total for two people going to Titou Gorge, Trafalgar Falls, the Dominica Botanic Gardens, a lookout point for Roseau, and a natural sulfur spring in Woven Watten.

Minibusses from Roseau can also be taken to Laudat, a town that’s a 17-minute walk from Titou Gorge. Expect to pay EC$4.50 ($1.67 USD) in each direction. Buses don’t operate on a fixed schedule, so you’re best asking around for when the next one is.

Click below to find the best Dominica tours:

Titou Gorge Admission Fee

Titou Gorge is technically free to visit—if you’ve brought your own flotation device or life jacket. Due to strong currents that often rush through the gorge and few places to stop during the swim, you won’t want to do it without one, even if you’re a strong swimmer.

Life jacket rentals at Titou Gorge are $5 USD. Waterproof phone pouches on lanyards are also on sale for those who want to capture the experience.

Titou Gorge waterfall in Dominica.

Best Time to Visit Titou Gorge

The best time to visit Titou Gorge is during Dominica’s dry season from December to March, when rain is lighter, and temperatures are less overwhelming (though still hot).

Time your visit first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds.

We visited Titou Gorge in the early afternoon and had it all to ourselves. Still, our experience was a bit of an anomaly as the island had experienced extremely heavy rainfall in the morning, causing several tours to be canceled and preventing cars from making it to some parts of the island.

The waterfall at Titou Gorge in Dominica.

Swimming in Titou Gorge: Reaching the Waterfall

Bring your swimsuit—seeing all that Titou Gorge offers requires getting wet.

Reaching the waterfall at Titou Gorge is just a five- to 10-minute swim in and five minutes back out. It is easily accessible, but you must be a strong swimmer to make it all the way in.

The current at Titou Gorge is strong and even more powerful after rain. My boyfriend and I are relatively strong swimmers, but we struggled to get close to the waterfall after a morning of extremely heavy rainfall on the island.

For this reason, in addition to Titou Gorge’s slippery surfaces and lack of places to rest, I do not recommend entering the canyon without wearing a life jacket or other flotation device. Even if you’re being careful, it’s easy to be swept into the current when it’s strong, and you could definitely hit your head or get banged around.

You’ll absolutely want your hands free to swim, so if you want to bring your phone to capture some photos of this magnificent sight, bring a waterproof phone bag on a lanyard (these are $6 for a 4-pack). We debated buying these, and I’m so glad we did because my phone would’ve been a goner.

Water is cool and refreshing—a welcome break from Dominica’s heat and all the saltwater in the Caribbean.

Dressing rooms are located at the entrance to the gorge, free of charge. Here, you can change into your swimsuit and back into dry clothes. Your belongings are safe stashed in the changing rooms, though we opted to put them back in our taxi to be certain.

Titou Gorge canyon in Dominica.

Canyoning at Titou Gorge

Those seeking more adventure can go canyoning at Titou Gorge, rappelling into the waterfall. Titou Gorge (Middle), sometimes called Lower Titou, is the most common section to rappel. The section below Titou Gorge (Middle) is significantly more difficult.

After reaching the parking area, cross the river and walk through a path nearly hidden by bushes. When the path reaches the stream, you’ll reach the first rappel.

Expect 7 to 8 rappels with a maximum length of 15 meters, pathed with hundreds of bolts rigged by various guide companies. This is a full commitment canyon, so you should plan for 20-meter rappels and avoid sending this route during and after rain.

We wanted to go canyoning in Dominica so badly after discovering tours operated by Extreme Dominica, whose canyon leaders have certifications from the American Canyoneering Association.

Unfortunately, our canyoning dreams were never realized as the tour company canceled due to unsafe conditions caused by the rainstorm. Though disappointing, we were extremely impressed with their responsiveness and safety precautions—I will not hesitate to book with them when we’re in Dominica again.

If you are interested in canyoning Titou Gorge and don’t have prior experience or your own equipment, booking an experience with Extreme Dominica is absolutely the way to go.

Rainforest around Titou Gorge in Dominica.

Titou Gorge Tours

One of the easiest ways to visit Titou Gorge is on one of the many Dominica tours that include it—especially if you’re on a Caribbean cruise and only have one day in Roseau.

Tour operators like Wacky Rollers are popular choices for group tours in Dominica. Wacky Rollers actually operated all of the shore excursions during our Viking Ocean Cruise. However, if you aren’t planning on driving or traveling by bus, I highly recommend hiring a taxi tour instead when in town.

As we arrived, a group tour was leaving Titou Gorge, and I think this beautiful place wouldn’t have been quite as serene and enchanting had we not been crowded by other tourists.

Taxi tours are usually priced by how long your tour lasts—budget $20 to $25 USD per hour during typical travel periods. On slow days, you’ll likely be able to negotiate a lower rate.

Explore Titou Gorge tours in Dominica below:

What to Bring to Titou Gorge

There isn’t much at Titou Gorge outside a restaurant and souvenir store. The attraction isn’t exactly somewhere with towel service, so it’s important to come prepared (or else you sit in wet clothing for the next few hours).

If you’re visiting Dominica on a cruise, consider your Caribbean cruise outfits before leaving to ensure you have everything needed to tackle the rainforest. Bring clothing that can get dirty and wet—a swimsuit coverup will not cut it.

Ensure you bring the following:

View of the valley in Dominica.

Things to Do Near Titou Gorge

Hike to the Boiling Lake

The Boiling Lake is the world’s second-largest boiling lake and is unsuitable for swimming. The volcanic-hydrothermal attraction typically has a temperature of 80 to 90 degrees Celsius (176 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit).

The only way to reach the Boiling Lake is by hiking from Titou Gorge, where the trail can be started. The hike—one of the most beautiful in Dominica—crosses through the Valley of Desolation and is a point-to-point trail and little over six miles long.

This is not a hike for those who aren’t experienced hikers and are in good physical condition, as it includes muddy conditions, many steep sections, and rock scrambling. Hiring a guide or visiting on a tour is strongly recommended for everyone, as it’s easy to get lost on the trail.

Trafalgar Falls in Dominica.

Trafalgar Falls

On the west side of Morne Trois Pitons National Park is Trafalgar Falls, twin waterfalls often regarded as some of the best in Dominica.

The falls can be reached by driving roughly 20 minutes from Roseau before walking 10 minutes to a viewing deck. From there, you can hike to go swimming in the cold pool of the smaller waterfall, known as “Mother,” or head to the taller fall, “Father,” to see the hot sulfur springs that it flows into. A warm spring flows along the hiking trail to the viewing deck.

If you decide to see Trafalgar Falls up close, make sure you stop somewhere along the way to view them both from afar for the full effect. We stopped at an observation point on our way to a hot spring.

Dominica has been known to restrict access to the falls to ship excursions and guided tours. If you want to visit on your own, check beforehand that you can.

Admission to Trafalgar Falls is EC$14 ($5.18 USD per person). If you’re visiting multiple sites in the national park over a few days, consider purchasing a week-long pass for EC$33 ($12.21 USD).

Woven Watten sulphur natural hot springs in Dominica.

Woven Watten Hot Springs

A natural hot spring in the Roseau Valley village of Woven Watten is not far from Trafalgar. 

If you’re short on time, there’s a small public park where you can view streams of steam rising from the ground. It’s not the most thrilling attraction in Dominica and reeks of sulfur, but it is worth stopping at to see this naturally occurring feat if you’re not visiting the Boiling Lake.

The best way to experience Dominica’s natural sulfur hot springs is by visiting one of Woven Watten’s many spas (you cannot go into the water in the park—it’s way too hot).

Screw’s Sulfur Spas and Tia’s Hot Spa are popular choices for hot spring spas in Dominica, which often offer mud baths. Alternatively, hot spring tours in Dominica are also available.

Middleham Falls

Middleham Falls is the tallest waterfall in Dominica, towering 60 meters (200 feet) in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park.

The waterfall isn’t quite as accessible as Titou Gorge. Visiting requires a moderate 1.7-mile out-and-back hike. The trail is clearly marked and maintained, but it may still be challenging for some as it can get muddy and has a few short steep sections.

Once you reach the waterfall, take in the view and cool off with a dip in the refreshing pools that Middleham Falls flows into.

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