Dominica is known to have some of the worst beaches of the Caribbean. It’s difficult to find a white sandy beach on the island because the volcanic soil means most of the sand is black.
When there’s no sand, there’s rocks – making it an uncomfortable place to sunbathe and swim.
But luckily we don’t care much for sand – we’re more interested in what’s in the water.
Champagne bubbles at Champagne Reef
Champagne Reef is located in a marine protected area on the south-west side of Dominica. About a 20 minute drive south of the capital Roseau, Champagne Reef gets its name from the champagne-like bubbles that burst out of the ocean floor and into the water above.
There are bubbles come from the gas the volcanic activity under the earth gives off.
There are so many advantages to living in an island with volcanic activity. Whether it’s swimming in the natural hot springs or hiking to a boiling lake, Dominica has some rare natural phenomenons, with the bubbles at Champagne Reef being another.
If you push your hands on top of the bubbles where they burst out of the ground, you can feel the warmth of them. With the gushing sound of the bubbles rising to the surface all around you as you swim, it’s remarkable and makes you feel as though you are indeed in a giant champagne bottle.
Check out the one minute video below to see what it’s like:
Fish at Champagne Reef
You can see so many fish at Champage Reef – it’s just amazing. We saw feather duster worms, lobsters, trumpet fish, harlequin bass, sergeant majors and more.
One of the best things we saw was a large school of squid swimming in motion.
We’ve been told you can also spot octopus, turtles and seahorses there although unfortunately we didn’t see any.
As soon as you dive in, you’re bound to see fish swimming right in front of you.
Even better than the snorkelling is the diving though. We went diving with ALDive at Champagne Reef and it’s spectacular because the wall of coral is like a mountain and you can swim along the drop off, peering in at all the little fish hanging out in their coral gardens. You can also dive with the company at Champagne Reef.
You can learn more about our diving experiences on Dominica here.
Facilities at Champagne Reef
The facilities at Champagne Reef are great. There’s three bathrooms and four changing rooms. You can easily hire all the gear you need from their range.
You have to snorkel with a yellow vest on, which inflates, for safety.
There’s also a food and drink shack where you can buy a beer or a fresh juice, and eat lunch. We didn’t eat there but the food smelt great. I had a delicious freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice though.
Crowds at Champagne Reef
You really want to make sure you don’t go to Champagne Reef when a cruise ship is in because it’ll be packed. We went one time and we couldn’t even find a place to park so we had to leave it for another day.
Another time we went and we’d just finished snorkelling when a large boat showed up and about 50 snorkellers with bright yellow vests jumped into the water to enjoy a spot of snorkelling. They looked like leminings, entering the water one after the other.
You can check whether a cruise ship with be in by visiting this website.
Please note: We were given complimentary snorkel hire and a tour. But as always, our opinions are our own.
What you need to know:
Cost – It costs around US$12 to hire snorkel and fins from the Champagne Reef hire facility. You can pay an extra US$5 or so to get a brief tour of the reef via a guide. I prefer to go exploring on my own however. To enter the beach you must also pay a US$5 fee which is meant to go towards preserving the beach.
When to go – The best time to be at the beach is when it’s not hurricane season, which is between June – October.
How to get there – Champagne Reef is located 20 minutes south of the capital Roseau. Just follow the road along the coast and you will come to a point where the road bends left. On this knook in the road is Champage Reef – it’s clearly signposted.
You can also catch a bus from the centre of Roseau to Champagne Reef.
What else: You’re not meant to touch the reef (even though our guide kept picking things up!) because it damages it.