North America > Caribbean > Dominica
|Currency||East Caribbean dollar (XCD)|
|Electricity||230 volt / 50 hertz (AC power plugs and sockets: British and related types, BS 1363)|
|Country code||+1 767|
|edit on Wikidata|
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.
Tropical; moderated by northeast trade winds; heavy rainfall. Flash floods are a constant threat; destructive hurricanes can be expected during the late summer months.
Rugged mountains of volcanic origin.
- highest point
- Morne Diablotin 1,447 m
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.
Administrative divisions. 10 parishes: Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Luke, Saint Mark, Saint Patrick, Saint Paul, Saint Peter
- Roseau — Capital
- Portsmouth — The second largest city in Dominica. Ross University, a large American medical school is situated nearby.
- Scott's Head — Beautiful village at the end of the road on the southwest corner. Scott's Head wraps around the lip of a gently curved bay that happens to be the ancient crater of a volcano. Luckily for divers you can bring your own snorkel or scuba gear and walk out and admire what remains, a 160 meter deep coral lined hole that stretches for hundreds of meters. Several quaint shacks serve decent fare for decent prices. Villagers are curious as visitors are few. The main road ends at a small point on a hill that provides stunning views of both Scott's Hed below and Roseau to the north.
- Calibishie — Stretching from the rugged mountains of Pennville, through the picturesque fishing village of Calibishie to the crashing surf of the Marigot beaches, the Calibishie Coast is one of the few areas in the world where you can travel from the seashore to the littoral forest to the rain forest in little more than a mile. Experience palm-fringed beaches, freshwater rivers with secluded bathing pools, tumbling waterfalls and the soft wonder of the rain forest with its exotic birds and lush vegetation, all in a days' walk.
- St. Joseph — Situated halfway up Dominica's West Coast, St. Joseph is one of the more urbanised villages on the island. Historically called "Senjo," the village is known for its fishing, cricket playing and vibrant festivals. While not typically on the tourist trail, it is located near the popular Mero Beach and Layou River. St. Joseph was featured in the 1988 Demi Moore movie, The Seventh Sign.
- Morne Trois Pitons National Park — A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it contains many attractions such as the Boiling Lake, the Freshwater Lake, Boeri Lake and Middleham Falls. Boiling Lake is a 12 mile round trip hike (8 hours), very steep mostly on steps and switchbacks. A guide is recommended for inexperienced back country hikers, the terrain is rough especially when wet (which it almost always is). The trail is well marked most of the way. The trail is indistinct in the Valley of Desolation but picks up again where vegetation begins. The hike is stunning and the bare volcanic mountain tops make for unforgettable views of rolling mountain tops and steamy volcanic vents. Trail ends at the Boiling Lake, a 100 meter wide lake that is being heated by a volcanic vent and is boiling.
- Champagne — A snorkelling spot on the southern coast, underwater volcanic vents emit continuous streams of bubbles making the place feel like a giant glass of champagne. The fish and coral are slightly below average.
- Glassy — An incredible and short 2-3 hour day hike in the southeast of the island. The trail begins nicely enough through some farm land and then plunges into a deep jungle valley then approaches the coast skirting steep cliffs to one side (not for those with vertigo). The trail ends on an old volcanic flow that juts into the ocean, waves roll all around crashing on all sides, little ponds collect some of the water from the crashing waves and some coral and fish make the ponds their home. When approaching the edges of the cliffs be aware waves have been known to throw people against the rocks or worse yet pulled them into the ocean to their certain death.
- Jaco Steps — Ford the creek in Belles and hike into the a rain forest up the side of a nearly inaccessible forest plateau. In 30 minutes you will reach the Jaco Steps. There is not a clear consensus of why these steps were constructed many decades ago. To do a circular route by following the river upstream will add an hour at least to your journey and will involve multiple crossings of the river en route.
- Central Region — The lushly forested and hand-farmed central region is sparsely populated and considered by many to be the most beautiful region. It consists of several villages:
- 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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
- Honk horn on hairpin turns especially during the day.
- Beware of large trucks as their width forces other drivers off the road.
- Watch for large pot holes and crumbling asphalt as roads can be in very poor condition.
- Ask directions if lost, the locals are very friendly and informative.
- When in mountains in torrential rains, consider stopping for a bit or at least going very slowly.
- A compact is sufficient for most situations but a small 4x4 might also be nice. A large 4x4 would be cumbersome on the small streets.
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.
Languages : English (official), French patois
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).
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.
- Middle Ham Falls. The waterfall is a wonderful reward at the end of this moderately difficult hike. Be careful on the trail as it can be a bit challenging in parts. The start of the trail is a fair distance north-east of Roseau so expect to spend about an hour driving each way. The hike may take about an hour each way. You'll want to spend at least 30 minutes enjoying your reward for the hike at the Middle Ham falls and pool.
- Valley of Desolation/ Boiling Lake. Make sure to leave yourself time to travel to/ from this destination in addition to the lengthy/ challenging hike. Expect to take a at least 8 hours round trip (including driving) - but it's worth the effort. Stunning scenery.
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.
- The Kalinago Barana Autê, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. opened daily from 9AM to 5PM. This site shares history and traditions of the Kalinago people (caribs) from hundreds of years ago. It is located along the banks of the Crayfish-River near the Isukulati Falls in the Carib Territory of Dominica. The site consists of a reception center, snack bar and gift shops. To begin your tour, a footbridge crosses the river and gives way to a circular trail leading to a series of small huts throughout the village. There is a Karbet which is used for cultural and theatrical performances. Kalinago (carib) traditional activities at the village include canoe building, cassava processing, basket weaving and herb collection and preparation. The kalinagos (caribs) are the indigenous people of Dominica. Entrance fees are US$10 per person for a 30-45 minute guided tour.
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.
- 1 JC Ocean Adventures, Mero Village, Dominica, ☏ . vary. JC Ocean Adventures offers sportfishing, snorkeling, whale watching, coastal cruises, scuba diving and Discover Scuba Diving. We cater to small groups with personalized service. We provide all gear required for the trip you choose along with snacks and soft drinks. 50-750 US.
- Black Boys Bar, Newtown (end of Newtown before Castle Comfort look for sign on road). 8am - 12am. Eat and drink local food and rum at this waterside local-style bar. Try fried plantains, codfish and bakes, fried fish and tamarind balls under the coconut trees with BlackBoy's choice of reggae music.
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.
Many accommodations on the island are outside of the towns. For in-city accommodations, see the respective city articles.
- Calibishie Cove:. Luxurious suites with amazing views of sea, red rock islands, the coastline, and beaches. Penthouse has a saline plunge pool overlooking Treasure Island with a rooftop balcony overlooking the incredible eastern coastline. All suites have great style and each has a different coastal view.
- Belle Côte Villa. Luxury 3 Bedroom 2 1/2 Bath air conditioned Villa with private swimming pool at Hodges Beach. Sleeps 10 in comfort. Beautiful views. Great place for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, hiking or just relaxing. 15 minutes from the airport and close to Calibishie. Best value for a family or group.
- 'Jungle Bay Resort & Spa'. Choose from 35 treetop cottages at this 'barefoot luxury' resort. Try the popular ' Jungle Spa Adventure Package' for the best value!
- Calibishie Lodges. Located on hillside above the beach. Pool, gardens, and restaurant. $80-130 USD.
- Veranda View A small guest house located in the north part of the Island, Veranda View is an ideal location to base yourself to tour the island. Located 15 minutes from the Melville Hall Airport, the guest house is easy to find on the main road in Calibishie.
- 'Pointe Baptiste Villa and cottage'. Historic wooden houses on 25 acre property next to Calibishie includes lush coastal forest, landscaped garden, 2 beaches and numerous coves, wild fauna. Organic fruit, vegetables and herbs grown on the property.
- 'BareFoot Travel'. Offers a choice of over 30 properties in Dominica. Diving and Adventure Packages.
- '3 Rivers Eco Lodge'. Individual cottages, dormitory style accommodation, tent rental, as well as a bamboo tree house and two traditional carib Indian jungle huts made from local sustainable materials. The tree house and jungle huts are about 15 minutes hike into the rain forest out on the property.
- 'Beau Rive'. Stunning cliff views in Carib Territory, rooms are large and airy. Mark, the proprietor, is a charming host and points visitors to some lesser known attractions nearby. Ideal for independent travelers with a vehicle. The food and atmosphere in the dining room is impeccable and reflects the owner's cosmopolitan origins.
- 'Papillote'. Deep in the jungle built atop bubbling hot springs this little enclave puts you at the foot of the hike to Trafalgar Falls and considerably closer to the Boiling Lake trail head. On site there are two waterfalls, wild fauna, four beautifully set hot spring pools, resident chickens and peacocks. The kitchen serves excellent straightforward healthy fare with a decidedly Caribbean touch.
- 'WindBlow Villas'. Wind Blow Estate is a villa consisting of three separate suites, each offering total privacy and a full range of amenities for guests. The upper (Suite #1) and lower (Suite #3) feature one bedroom and one bath, a well-appointed kitchen and a spacious living room. The middle (Suite #2) features two bedrooms and two baths, full kitchen facilities and a spacious living room. Wind Blow is designed as a self-catering facility, though you may also wish to enjoy several of our excellent restaurants in the village of Calibishie, an easy 20 minute walk from Wind Blow.
- 'Nature Island Eco-village', Possibly the cheapest travel option. Only for adventure travellers. The site is only accessible by foot, including a river ford or zip line. Work trade can be arranged in some cases to cover cost of stay.
- Nature Island Eco-village Offers a hands on course in subsistence farming, organic farming and permaculture principles.
- 1 Sunset Bay Club & Seaside Dive Resort, Batalie Beach, Coulibistrie, ☏ . Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 12 noon. Sunset Bay Club is a cozy beachfront hotel which includes 8 double standard rooms, 4 quadruple standard rooms and 1 stand alone suite set among our lush tropical gardens. We offer on-site restaurant, bar, dive center, pool and sauna. You can choose from our all-inclusive or bed & breakfast plans to suit your needs. Come join us for a quiet, relaxing vacation. varies.
- Castle Comfort Sea View Villas. Spacious holiday home, three bedroom, two bath, large balcony with Caribbean views, combined lounge and dining room, separate games room. Up the hill from the Castle Comfort and Anchorage dive resorts and several restaurants. On nearly half an acre of land with bananas, pineapple, mangoes and many other fruits (in season). 10 minutes from Roseau town centre. TV and internet access. Futon can sleep an extra two people.
- Manicou River Eco Resort, Everton Hall Estate (Turn right at Poonkies retsuarant, Tanetane), ☏ . Check-in: 1300, check-out: 1100. Manicou River Eco Resort 99.00.
- Serenity Lodges Dominica, Concord (Marigot), ☏ . Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 12pm. Stunning Mountain View Lodge offering affordable accommodation in a natural surroundings. Perfect for bird/nature lovers. Catering also for those seeking a more private personal experience. Meals are mainly organic and very tasty. River pools are 2 minute walks. Nature hikes, shops and wateralls are short distance. Spanish, English and French spoken. 37USD up.
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;
- Medical certificate;
- Two testimonials;
- Banker's financial reference/statement;
- Police record/statement;
- Proof of return ticket;
- Two (2) passport size photographs;
- Marriage certificate (where applicable);
- Letter stating duration and type of employment;
Work Exchange at Nature Island Eco-village Tourist permits do not permit work for money, however, work trade is not forbidden.
- Dominica is one of the safest places to travel in the region.
- There are no poisonous snakes or insects in Dominica
Take usual precautions when travelling around Dominica. Although rare, petty crimes are most likely to happen around Roseau. Elsewhere the island is extremely safe.
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.
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.
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.