Dominica

Capital Roseau
Currency East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Population 73,449 (2014)
Country code +1 767
Time zone UTC-4

Should not be confused with the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic.

Dominica is a Caribbean island country between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago. It is often known as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean" due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which are protected by an extensive natural park system. The most mountainous island of the Lesser Antilles, its volcanic peaks are cones of lava craters and include Boiling Lake, the second-largest thermally active lake in the world.

Understand

Climate

Tropical; moderated by northeast trade winds; heavy rainfall. Flash floods are a constant threat; destructive hurricanes can be expected during the late summer months.

Terrain

Rugged mountains of volcanic origin.

highest point 
Morne Diablotin 1,447 m

History

Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans, due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which made the island a colony in 1805. In 1980, two years after independence, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean.

Regions

Map of Dominica

Administrative divisions. 10 parishes: Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Luke, Saint Mark, Saint Patrick, Saint Paul, Saint Peter

Cities

Other destinations

Boeri Lake in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park
The village of Scott's Head
  • Belles
  • Penrice
  • Dleau Gommier
  • Wet Area
  • Stone Hill
  • Jacco Estate Currently a rain forest with a few small farms, previously a coffee plantation and prior to that, the headquarters of the Maroons.

Get in

Visitors from the United States, Canada, Singapore and European Union nations are granted automatic visas on entry for up to 21 days (with extensions available). Other nations should check with Dominica immigration before traveling.

By plane

There are two airports in Dominica, Melville Hall (DOM) and Canefield (DCF). Most commercial flights land at Melville Hall. However, the airport cannot accommodate jet aircraft. Night Landing has been approved starting at the beginning of October 2010; however, many airlines have not yet adjusted their itineraries to accommodate the added landing hours. The island can be accessed through San Juan, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other Caribbean hubs.

By boat

From Martinique and Guadeloupe ferries on most days of the week. Arrival in Roseau.

Cruise ships increasingly visit. A large pier serves many directly in front of the downtown area. If already occupied, ships dock at the industrial port about 1.5 miles away.

Get around

As far as freedom of movement and exploration a car can be invaluable. Though small the island's tightly turning mountain roads make for relatively long journeys and a hair-raising experience. Driving is on the left hand side of the road and there are various car rental agencies at both airports.

Other travel options include bus or taxi. If you are on a low budget and have plenty of time then hitch-hiking or the bus will be fine (except on Sundays), although sitting in a bumpy bus for long trips on winding mountain roads is not the most comfortable thing to do. Taxi is more comfortable than the buses and may not be expensive, particularly if the fare is shared with 2+ travellers. Whether you use the bus or taxi, make sure that you clearly agree to the destination and price before you start the trip.

Talk

Languages : English (official), French patois

See

Middleham falls in Morne Trois Pitons National Park
Hikers love Dominica

This lush Caribbean island is called "the nature island" for a reason. Its beautiful, tropical natural riches are by far its main attraction. Where other Caribbean destinations pride themselves most on their white, palm lined beaches, Dominica shows another side of the region. Head to the mountain village of Laudat for a hike through the Unesco listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park. It encompasses some of the island's finest mountainous terrain in a 17,000 acres protected area. A proper hike will reward you with gorgeous misty lakes, waterfalls, hotsprings and fumerols in a setting of volcanoes and thick jungle. Enjoy the sight and take a swim at the Emerald Pool or explore the Titou Gorge.

From the gorge, true hikers should set out for the challenging six hour hike to the Boiling lake, the second-largest of its kind in the world and an amazing sight. If you're not up for a long hike, consider the Rain Forest Aerial Tram , which takes you on canopy tour in a gondola before and -with a quick and easy trail - brings you to a bridge from where you'll see no less than five waterfalls.

The capital of Roseau is a pleasant place to explore, with many restaurants, small shops and wonderful views of the mountains (to the east) and the Caribbean Sea (to the west). The town hums with the sounds of vehicles, Caribbean accents, and minor commerce (e.g. sidewalk BBQs, vendors selling clothing in street stalls). Head to the Botanic Gardens to get away from the hussle or sip a coffee in a gallery.

An old British Fort is located on the north-west coast at Portsmouth. A small fee may be charged. Expect to spend 1-2 hours at the site. A guided tour through the recreated village of Kalinago Barana Autê in the Carib Territory gives an interesting insight in traditional Kalinago culture.

Scotts Head is a small isthmus on the southern tip of the island. It is also the name of the small community located there. It takes about one hour to drive from Roseau each way. Scotts Head is a great place to hike up the steep outcrop, which offers a wonderful view of the south-west coast of Dominica and the Caribbean Sea (and even the island of Martinique to the south).

Do

Snorkeling is particularly good at Champagne, south of Roseau, and at Scott's Head. Scuba Diving, waterskiing, jet skiing, kayaking or other water sports are also possibilities. Note that kayaking or canoeing provide an alternative to the ocean and lets you experience the rivers and inland bodies of water throughout Dominica.

Whale watching, dolphin watching, or boat tours can be arranged from Roseau.

Dominica's waters are also home to three species of marine turtles (Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green turtle), and these gentle giants can be seen coming in to nest on shore during the months of April to October. Protected viewing sites are set up throughout the island, such as at Mangrove Bay on the Woodford Hill beach in the north east, or on the beaches of Portsmouth in the north west.

Hiking trip, biking, ATV tours, or zip lining are popular in forest areas. Hiking is one of the best ways to see Dominica and there are many wonderful hikes around the island of easy to challenging.

Dominica rock climbing and canyoning is an encouraging and motivating experience. It tests strength and agility while experiencing some of the most breathtaking views of Dominica.

Dominica is known for their many island events and festivals. The Caribbean Islands love food, music, and celebration. Whether it’s a cultural gathering or a music festival Dominica offers it.

Many of Dominica’s resorts offer spa vacation services on the premise for a convenient way to get rejuvenated for the next day of activities.

Buy

A craft vendor in Roseau

The best local handicrafts are Carib made baskets. The earth tone colors come from burying the fibers in the ground for different lengths of time. U.S. citizens (likely others) need to ensure that the materials from which they are made allow them to be taken back home.

Dominica is also well known for its music, so be sure to buy some local music while you are on the island. Genres range from jazz, reggae-dancehall, calypso & soca, to Cadence-lypso and Bouyon and which are popular Dominican genres. Visit during the last weekend in October and be treated to the World Creole Music Festival or if you can't make it, ask for the best local artistes, and be aware of pirated copies!

Many kiosks and vendors line the shore at the main cruise ship dock. One excellent leather store faces the dock on the other side of the road. Just a short block inland lies a packed, open-air market with perhaps the island's best selection of souvenirs.

Look out for cacao sticks to make cocoa tea as a nice souvenir to take back home.

Eat

Drink

Kubuli Beer

Freshly squeezed grapefruit is ubiquitous and is perfect with every meal. Coconut water is cheap and readily available by the side of the road. Another local specialty is sorrel. This red refreshing drink is brewed from the flowers of an hibiscus species common also in Jamaica. The popular locally brewed beer is Kubuli. Ask your hotel to set up a tour of the brewery.

There are many vendors of fruit juice in Roseau. Almost without exception this is non-pasteurized fruit juice with water and sugar added. The added water is usually chlorinated tap water. A juice vendor known as Pal sells his juice by the area where one can find a bus to Portsmouth. Pal is one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable fruit vendors on the island. He sometimes has juice from rare fruits.

Quenchi is a local soft drink which comes in many different flavors. It can be found in every village (with diet varieties at the IGA in Roseau).

Sorrel, known as the Christmas drink for its red colour (and because it only flowers around Christmas) is made from boiled flowers. It tastes heavenly.

Avocado pear juice can be purchased in some small cafes and is certainly worth a try. Other flavours include soursop, passionfruit, grapefruit, orange, lime, beetroot.

The coffee is usually not very good, as most locals seem to prefer tea and juice, with the occasional exception. There are also a few coffee shops around the major towns.

Sleep

Many accommodations on the island are outside of the towns. For in-city accommodations, see the respective city articles.

Work

All work permits are valid for one-year duration and can be renewed. An application involves the submission of two completed copies of the relevant form together with the following supporting documents;

Work Exchange at Nature Island Eco-village Tourist permits do not permit work for money, however, work trade is not forbidden.

Stay safe

Take usual precautions when travelling around Dominica. Although rare, petty crimes are most likely to happen around Roseau. Elsewhere the island is extremely safe.

Stay healthy

Tap water is safe to drink, but since it is sometimes drawn straight from Dominica's many rivers, it has a tendency to turn brown after heavy rainfall. It's better to drink the bottled water available almost anywhere.

Basic healthcare is available at Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau.

North Americans moving to Dominica often experience boils for the first time and fingernail and toenail fungi. Stomach problems are rare among travellers.

Towns are sprayed with insecticides periodically to control the mosquitoes responsible for spreading Dengue fever. However, the spraying may not be done at the scheduled time and pesticides may drift into your home if the windows are open.

Respect

In the high lands and uninhabited central regions water is gathered at roadside springs. Sometimes the bus will stop and passengers will fill their water bottles. Locals prefer the taste of this water to bottled water. Public water is bacterially safe to drink due to heavy chlorination and has the expected chlorine flavor. LGBT travelers should be aware that "buggery" (sodomy) is illegal in Dominica, as indicated by the recent arrest of two gay Americans who were seen having sex on the balcony of their cruise ship while it was docked. The two men did not serve jail time, but paid a $900 fine.

Connect

Area code is 767, on the North American exchange.

Digicel is a local cellular company which provides prepaid plans for those visiting for short periods. Cable & Wireless and Orange also provide cell service.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 10, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.