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Dominica

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North America : Caribbean : Dominica
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[[File:noframe|250px|frameless|Dominica]]
Location
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Flag
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Quick Facts
Capital Roseau
Government Parliamentary democracy; republic within the Commonwealth
Currency East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Area total: 754 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 754 km2
Population 68,910 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), French patois
Religion Roman Catholic 77%, Protestant 15% (Methodist 5%, Pentecostal 3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3%, Baptist 2%, other 2%), none 2%, other 6%
Country code +1 767
Internet TLD .dm
Time Zone UTC-4

Dominica [1] is a part of the region of Central America and 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. Should not be confused with the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic.

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

  • 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.

Other destinations

  • 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.
The Village of Scott's Head
  • 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 a 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:
  • 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 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 is not able to accommodate jet aircraft landings. The island can be accessed through San Juan, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other Caribbean hubs. [2]

By boat

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

  • Canadian Sailing Expeditions - Tall Ship Caledonia [3] The Tall Ship Caledonia will arrive in the region in the fall of 2007. Travellers can embark at Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe and sail on to various locations on the island such as Deschaies. The vessel makes a number of stops in the area and visits Roseau & Portsmouth.

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 journey 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. Road Runner Car Rental [4] is an excellent choice, offering a variety of 4x4 vehicles at bargain rates.

  • 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.

Talk

Languages : English (official), French patois

See

See One week in Dominica for a sample one-week itinerary around the island.

Do

  • JC Ocean Adventures, Mero Village, 767-449-6957, [5]. vary. JC Ocean Adventures offers sportfishing, snorkeling, whale/dolphin watching, coastal cruises, scuba diving, and Discover Scuba Diving. We cater to small groups with personalized service. We provide all needed gear for the trip you choose along with snacks and soft drinks. Come enjoy a relaxing day on the sea with us. varies. (15.25N,61.27W)

Hiking trip, biking, ATV tours, or zip lining- Enjoy nature and experiencing the greenery and wildlife in their own habitat. Dominica offers a trek through the rainforest on some of the best biking or hiking trails. The ATV tours are exhilarating. They are a great way to cover a large area of the island. And, zip lining gets you right in the middle of the forest with an amazing view and a thrilling ride!

Scuba Diving, waterskiing, jet skiing, kayaking or other water sports- Scuba Diving or snorkeling in Dominica allows you to see ocean life from a whole new perspective. Waterskiing and jet skiing are a challenging, fast-paced ride. And kayaking or canoeing provide an alternative to the ocean and let you experience the rivers and inland bodies of water throughout Dominica.

Whale watching, dolphin watching, or boat tours- See beautiful sea creatures swim the open waters on a Dominica whale or dolphin watching trip. And, take a boat tour around the island to photograph Dominica’s exotic scenery and historic site seeing spots.

Canyoning or rock climbing- 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.

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

Spa treatments and relaxation- 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

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 [6] 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.

  • JC Ocean Adventures, Mero Village, Dominica, 767-449-6957, [7]. 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. (15.25N,61.27W)


Eat

  • 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.

Drink

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 specie 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-pasturised 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.

Sleep

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

  • Calibishie Cove: [8]. 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 [9] 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' [10]. Choose from 35 treetop cottages at this 'barefoot luxury' resort. Try the popular ' Jungle Spa Adventure Package' for the best value!
  • Calibishie Lodges [11]. $80-130 USD. Located on hillside above the beach. Pool, gardens, and restaurant.
  • 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' [12]. 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' [13]. Offers a choice of over 30 properties in Dominica. Diving and Adventure Packages.
  • '3 Rivers Eco Lodge' [14]. 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' [15]. 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' [16]. 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' [17]. 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 accessable 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.
  • Sunset Bay Club & Seaside Dive Resort, Batalie Beach, Coulibistrie, 767-446-6522, [18]. checkin: 2:00 pm; checkout: 12:00 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. (15.27N,61.28W)
  • Castle Comfort Sea View Villas, [19]. 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.

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;

  • 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.


Learn

Stay safe

  • Dominica is one of the safest places to travel in the region.
  • There are no poisonous snakes or insects in Dominica

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.

Contact

Area code is 767, on the North American exchange.

Digicel [20] is a local cellular company which provides prepaid plans for those visiting for short periods. Cable & Wireless and Orange also provide cell service.

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