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Dominica travel guide - Travel S helper

Dominica

travel guide

Dominica, or the Commonwealth of Dominica, is a self-governing island nation. Roseau, the capital, is situated on the island’s leeward side. It is a component of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea’s Lesser Antilles archipelago. The island is located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. It covers an area of 750 square kilometers (290 square miles) and is topped by Morne Diablotins at a height of 1,447 metres (4,747 feet). At the time of the 2014 census, the population was 72,301.

The island was initially inhabited by the Kalinago and was subsequently colonized by Europeans, mostly the French, beginning in the 1690s, long after Columbus visited the island on Sunday, 3 November 1493; the island’s name is taken from the Latin for “Sunday.” Following the Seven Years’ War, Great Britain seized control in 1763 and eventually established English as the official language. In 1978, the island republic declared independence.

Its name is spoken with a strong emphasis on the third syllable, which corresponds to its French given name, Dominique. Dominica has been dubbed the Caribbean’s “Nature Isle” due to its pristine natural beauty. It is the Lesser Antilles’ youngest island, currently being created by geothermal-volcanic activity, as demonstrated by Boiling Lake, the world’s second biggest hot spring. The island is covered in beautiful mountainous rainforests and is home to a variety of endangered plant, animal, and bird species. While parts of the western coastal zones are xeric, significant rainfall occurs inland. The Sisserou parrot, sometimes known as the imperial amazon, is Dominica’s national bird and is shown on the island’s flag. The Dominican Republic’s economy is based on tourism and agriculture.

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Dominica - Info Card

Population

72,412

Currency

East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Time zone

UTC–4 (AST)

Area

750 km2 (290 sq mi)

Calling code

+1-767

Official language

English

Dominica | Introduction

Tourism in Dominica

Dominica is essentially volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighbouring islands. Nevertheless, with its mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls and dive sites, Dominica is an attractive destination for ecotourism. Cruise ship calls have increased following the development of modern berthing and port facilities in the capital, Roseau. Of the 22 Caribbean islands surveyed, Dominica received the fewest visitors in 2008 (55,800, or 0.3 per cent of the total). This is about half of what was visited in Haiti. The island’s volcanic nature has attracted divers.

Geography Of Dominica

Dominica is an island nation in the Caribbean, the northernmost of the Windward Islands (although it is sometimes considered the southernmost of the Leeward Islands). The area of the country is about 750 km2 (289.5 square miles).

Dominica is mostly covered by rainforest and is home to the second largest hot spring in the world, Boiling Lake. Dominica has many waterfalls, springs and rivers. The Calibishie region in the north-east of the country has sandy beaches. Some plants and animals that were thought to be extinct on the surrounding islands can still be found in Dominica’s forests. The island has several protected areas, including Cabrits National Park, and 365 rivers.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a tropical forest mixed with picturesque volcanic features. It was recognised as a World Heritage Site on 4 April 1995, a distinction it shares with four other Caribbean islands.

The Commonwealth of Dominica has long been in dispute with Venezuela over the latter’s territorial claims to the sea around Isla Aves (literally Bird Island, but actually called Bird Rock by Dominican authorities), a tiny islet lying 225 km west of the island of Dominica.

During a visit to Venezuela in June 2006, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit declared that the island of Aves belonged to Venezuela, ending the territorial claim but not the maritime claim.

There are two major population centres – Roseau (with a population of 14,725 in 2011) and Portsmouth (with a population of 4,167 in 2011).

Dominica, called the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” because of its spectacular, lush and diverse flora and fauna protected by an extensive nature park system; the most mountainous of the Lesser Antilles, whose volcanic peaks are cones of lava craters and include Boiling Lake, the second largest thermally active lake in the world, has the most pristine wilderness in the Caribbean. It was originally protected by steep mountains, which prompted European powers to establish ports and agricultural settlements on other islands. More recently, the citizens of this island have sought to preserve its spectacular natural beauty by pushing back against the kind of high-performance tourism that has damaged nature in much of the Caribbean.

Visitors will find large tropical forests, one of which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, hundreds of rivers, coasts and coral reefs.

Dominica has many local and traditional artisans catering to tourists, but no thriving high-end art scene.

The Sisserou Parrot (Amazona imperialis) is the national bird of Dominica and is found only in the mountain forests. A related species, the Jaco or red-necked parrot (A. arausiaca), is also a Dominican endemic. Both birds are rare and protected, although part of the forest is still threatened by deforestation, in addition to the long-standing threat from hurricanes.

The Caribbean Sea, off the island of Dominica, is home to many whales and dolphins. In particular, a group of sperm whales live in this area year-round. Other cetaceans commonly seen in the area are spinner dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Rarer animals include killer whales, false killer whales, minke sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins, common dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, humpback whales and Bryde’s whales. This makes Dominica a destination for tourists interested in whale watching.

Dominica is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes as the island lies in the so-called hurricane belt. In 1979, Dominica was directly affected by Hurricane David, a category 5 hurricane that caused extensive and extreme damage. On 17 August 2007, Hurricane Dean, then a Category 1 hurricane, hit the island. A mother and her seven-year-old son died when a landslide caused by heavy rains crushed their house. In another incident, two people were injured when a tree fell on their house. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit estimated that 100 to 125 houses were damaged and that the agricultural sector suffered significant damage, especially the banana crop. In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika caused extensive flooding and landslides on the island. Several communities were evacuated and over 30 people were killed. According to a rapid damage and impact assessment prepared by the World Bank for Dominica, the total damage and losses caused by the storm amounted to US$484.82 million, equivalent to 90% of Dominica’s annual GDP.

Demographic Of Dominica

The vast majority of Dominicans are of African descent. There is a growing mixed population, as well as a large group of Indo-Caribbe or East Indians, a small minority of European descent (descendants of French and British settlers, as well as a few of Irish descent), and small numbers of Lebanese, Syrians and Asians. Dominica is also the only island in the Eastern Caribbean where there is still a population of indigenous pre-Columbian Kalinago (formerly known as Caribs) who were exterminated or displaced from neighbouring islands. In 2014, there were still more than 3,000 Kalinago. They live in eight villages on the east coast of Dominica. This Caribbean Special Territory (now Kalinago Territory) was granted by the British Crown in 1903. There are also about 1,000 medical students from the United States and Canada studying at Ross University Medical School in Portsmouth.

Dominica’s population growth rate is very low, mainly due to emigration to other countries. At the beginning of the 21st century, the numbers of emigrants to the most popular countries are: USA (8,560), UK (6,739), Canada (605) and France (394).

Dominica has a relatively large number of centenarians. In March 2007, there were 22 centenarians in a population of 70,000, three times the average incidence of centenarians in developed countries. The reasons for this phenomenon are the subject of ongoing research at Ross University Medical School.

Dominica was partially incorporated into the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands in 1832. Later, in 1871, it became part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands. From the beginning, this was a special relationship, for previously Dominica had played no part in the political or cultural traditions of the other, more English-speaking islands of the Federation. Now this much larger territory, with thousands of acres of unused forest land, was available to the inhabitants of Montserrat and Antigua as Lee Island. In the early 20th century, Rose’s Company, which made Rose’s lime juice, saw a demand for its product that exceeded its ability to supply the product from Montserrat. It responded by buying land in Dominica and encouraging agricultural workers from Montserrat to settle there. As a result, there were two language communities in Dominica, Wesley and Marigot.

In 1902, on 8 May, the volcano Mount Pelee erupted on Martinique and destroyed the town of St. Pierre. Refugees from Martinique arrived by boat in the villages of southern Dominica and some stayed permanently on the island.

Religion

About 80 % of the population is Roman Catholic, although a number of Protestant churches have been established in recent years. There is also a small Muslim community in Dominica, and the country’s first mosque was recently built near Ross University.

Economy Of Dominica

Dominica’s currency is the East Caribbean dollar. In 2008, Dominica had one of the lowest per capita gross domestic products (GDP) of the Eastern Caribbean countries. The country was on the verge of a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004, but Dominica’s economy grew by 3.5 per cent in 2005 and 4.0 per cent in 2006, after a decade of poor performance. Growth in 2006 was attributed to gains in tourism, construction, offshore and other services, and some sub-sectors of the banana industry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently commended the government of Dominica for its successful macroeconomic reforms. The IMF also pointed to remaining challenges, including the need to further reduce public debt, strengthen financial sector regulation and diversify markets.

Bananas and other agricultural products dominate Dominica’s economy, and almost a third of the working population is engaged in agriculture. However, the sector is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and external events that affect commodity prices. In 2007, Hurricane Dean caused significant damage to the agricultural sector and the country’s infrastructure, including roads. In response to the reduction of European Union (EU) trade preferences for bananas, the government has diversified the agricultural sector by promoting the production of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers and exotic fruits such as mango, guava and papaya.

How To Travel To Dominica

Get In - By air

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 landings have been permitted since early October 2010, but many airlines have not yet adjusted their routes to accommodate the additional landing times. The island is accessible from San Juan, Antigua, Barbados, St Maarten, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other Caribbean hubs.

Get In - With the boat

Ferries from Martinique and Guadeloupe, most days of the week. Arrival in Roseau.

More and more cruise ships are arriving. A large pier accommodates many of them directly opposite the city centre. If they are already occupied, the ships dock in the industrial harbour about 1.5 km away.

How To Travel Around Dominica

When it comes to freedom of movement and exploration, a car can be invaluable. Although the island is small, its narrow winding mountain roads make for a relatively long drive and a breathtaking experience. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and there are several car rental agencies at both airports.

  • Honk on hairpin bends, especially during the day.
  • Beware of large trucks, as their width forces other drivers off the road.
  • Watch out for large potholes and crumbling asphalt as the roads can be in very poor condition.
  • Ask for directions if you get lost, the locals are very friendly and informative.
  • In the mountains, in torrential rain, remember to stop a little or at least drive very slowly.
  • A small car is sufficient for most situations, but a small SUV could also be nice. A big 4×4 would be unwieldy on small roads.

Other travel options include bus and taxi. If you have a small budget and plenty of time, you can hitchhike or take the bus (except on Sundays), although sitting in a bumpy bus for long journeys on winding mountain roads is not the most comfortable. Taxis are more comfortable than buses and not necessarily expensive, especially if you share the fare with two or more travellers. Whether you use a bus or a taxi, make sure you are clear about the destination and the price before you start the journey.

Destinations in Dominica

Regions in Dominica

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

Cities in Dominica

  • Roseau – Capital
  • Portsmouth – the second largest city in Dominica. Ross University, a major American medical school, is nearby.
  • Scott’s Head – A beautiful village situated at the end of the road on the south-west corner. Scott’s Head winds around the edge of a gently curving bay, which happens to be the former crater of a volcano. Luckily for divers, you can bring your own snorkelling or scuba gear and head out to see what’s left: a 160-metre-deep, coral-lined hole that stretches for hundreds of metres. Several quaint huts serve decent food at decent prices. The villagers are curious because there are few visitors. The main road ends at a small point on a hill from which there is a great view of Scott’s Hed below and Roseau to the north.
  • Calibishie – Stretching from the rugged mountains of Pennville to the quaint fishing village of Calibishie and the crashing waves of Marigot’s beaches, the coastline is one of the few places in the world where you can go from sea to rainforest in just one mile. Discover palm-fringed beaches, freshwater rivers with secluded pools, waterfalls and the gentle wonder of the rainforest with its exotic birds and lush vegetation, all within a few days’ walk.
  • St Joseph – Situated halfway along the west coast of Dominica, St Joseph is one of the most urbanised villages on the island. Historically called “Senjo”, the village is known for its fishing, cricket matches and lively festivals. Although not typically on the tourist trail, it is close to the popular Mero Beach and Layou River. St Joseph’s was featured in the 1988 Demi Moore film “The Seventh Sign”.

Other destinations in Dominica

  • Melville Hall
  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park – It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains many attractions such as Boiling Lake, Freshwater Lake, Boeri Lake and Middleham Falls. Boiling Lake is a 12-mile round trip hike (8 hours), very steep, mostly up steps and switchbacks. A hiking guide is recommended for inexperienced backcountry hikers, the terrain is rough, especially when wet (which is almost always). The trail is well marked for most of the way. The trail is indistinct in Desolation Valley, but picks up speed where the vegetation begins. The hike is beautiful and the bare volcanic peaks offer unforgettable views of rolling peaks and smoking volcanic vents. The trail ends at Boiling Lake, a 100-metre-wide lake heated and boiling by a volcanic vent.
  • Champagne – A snorkelling spot on the south coast. The volcanic underwater vents give off continuous streams of bubbles that make the place look like a giant champagne glass. The fish and corals are slightly below average.
  • Glassy – An incredible, short 2-3 hour day hike in the south-east of the island. The trail starts nicely enough through some farmland, then dips into a deep jungle valley and approaches the coast along steep cliffs on one side (not for those afraid of heights). The trail ends at an ancient volcanic river that juts into the sea, waves roll all around and crash on all sides, small ponds collect some of the water from the crashing waves and a few corals and fish make the ponds their home. As you approach the edges of the cliffs, be aware that the waves have been known to throw people against the rocks or, worse, into the ocean to certain death.
  • Jaco Steps – Cross the ford of Belles Creek and walk through the rainforest on the side of an almost inaccessible forest plateau. In 30 minutes you will reach the Jaco Steps. There is no clear consensus as to why these steps were built decades ago. A circular trail that follows the river upstream adds at least an hour to your journey and requires several river crossings along the way.
  • Central Region – The central region, richly forested and cultivated by hand, is sparsely populated and considered by many to be the most beautiful region. It consists of several villages.
  • Jacco Estate Currently a rainforest with a few small farms, once a coffee plantation and before that the headquarters of the Maroons.

Accommodation & Hotels in Dominica

Much of the accommodation on the island is outside the towns.

  • CalibishieCove:. Luxurious suites with stunning views of the sea, red rock islands, coastline and beaches. The penthouse has a saline pool overlooking Treasure Island and a rooftop balcony overlooking the incredible east coast. All suites are stylish and each has a different view of the coastline.
  • Jungle Bay Resort & Spa. Choose one of the 35 treetop cottages at this “barefoot luxury” resort. Try the popular “Jungle Spa Adventure Package” at the best price! CLOSED UNTIL END OF 2018.
  • CalibishieLodges. Located on a hill above the beach. Pool, gardens and restaurant. 80-130 USD.
  • Veranda View A small guest house in the northern part of the island, Veranda View is a great base for touring the island. The guest house is located 15 minutes from Melville Hall Airport and is easy to find on the main road of Calibishie.
  • Pointe BaptisteVillaandCottage. Historic wooden cottages on a 25 acre property near Calibishie with lush coastal forest, landscaped gardens, 2 beaches and numerous coves, wildlife. Organic fruit, vegetables and herbs grown on the property.
  • 3 Rivers Eco Lodge. It offers individual cottages, dormitory accommodation, tent rentals as well as a bamboo tree house and two traditional Caribbean jungle huts made from local, sustainable materials. The tree house and jungle huts are about a 15-minute walk through the rainforest on the property.
  • Beau Rive. The rooms are large and airy and offer stunning views of the cliffs of the Carib Territory. Mark, the owner, is a charming host and points out some of the lesser-known attractions nearby. Ideal for independent travellers with a vehicle. The food and atmosphere in the dining room are impeccable and reflect the owner’s cosmopolitan background.
  • Nature Island Eco-village, probably the most affordable travel option. For adventure travellers only. The site is only accessible on foot, including a river ford or cable car. In some cases, a work exchange can be arranged to cover the cost of the stay.
  • Nature Island Eco-village Offers a practical course in subsistence farming, organic farming and permaculture principles.
  • Sunset Bay Club & Seaside Dive Resort, Batalie Beach, Coulibistrie, +1 767-446-6522. Arrival: 2pm, Departure: 12pm. Sunset Bay Club is a comfortable beachfront hotel with 8 standard double rooms, 4 standard quad rooms and 1 self-contained suite, nestled in our lush tropical gardens. We offer an on-site restaurant, bar, dive centre, swimming pool and sauna. You can choose between an all-inclusive or a breakfast package, according to your needs. Experience a peaceful and relaxing holiday.
  • Castle Comfort Sea View Villas. Spacious holiday home, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, large balcony with Caribbean view, combined living and dining room, separate games room. Up the hill from Castle Comfort and Anchorage dive resorts and several restaurants. On almost half an acre of land with bananas, pineapples, mangoes and many other fruits (in season). 10 minutes from Roseau town centre. TV and internet access. The futon can accommodate two more people.
  • ManicouRiver Eco Resort, Everton Hall Estate (turn right at Poonkies Restaurant, Tanetane), +1 767 616 8903. Arrival: 1pm, Departure: 11am. Manicou River Eco Resort 99.00.
  • Serenity Lodges Dominica, Concord (Marigot), +1 7672855739. Arrival: 3pm, Departure: 12pm. This beautiful mountain view lodge offers affordable accommodation in a natural setting. Perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers. It is also suitable for those seeking a private, personal experience. Meals are mostly organic and very tasty. The river pools are only a 2 minute walk away. Nature walks, shopping and water sports centres are not far away. Spanish, English and French are spoken. 37USD at.

Things To See in Dominica

This lush Caribbean island is not called the “Island of Nature” for nothing. Its magnificent tropical natural treasures are by far its main attraction. While other Caribbean destinations usually boast palm-fringed white beaches, Dominica shows a different side to the region. Head to the mountain village of Laudat and hike through the UNESCO-protected Morne Trois Pitons National Park. It encompasses some of the island’s most beautiful mountain scenery in a 17,000-hectare protected area. A good hike will take you to beautiful misty lakes, waterfalls, hot springs and fumaroles in an environment of volcanoes and dense jungle. Enjoy the view and swim in the Emerald Pool or explore Titou Gorge.

From the gorge, real hikers should embark on the challenging six-hour hike to Boiling Lake, the second largest of its kind in the world and an impressive sight. If you don’t fancy a long hike, consider the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, which takes you on a gondola ride through the treetops before leading you – via a quick and easy route – to a bridge where you can see no less than five waterfalls.

The capital, Roseau, is a pleasant place to explore, with many restaurants, small shops and beautiful views of the mountains (to the east) and the Caribbean Sea (to the west). The city hums with the sound of vehicles, Caribbean accents and small businesses (e.g. crickets on the pavement, clothing vendors in street stalls). Go to the botanical garden to escape the hustle and bustle, or have a coffee in a gallery.

A former British fort is located on the northwest coast in Portsmouth. A small fee may be charged. Allow one to two hours to visit the site. A guided tour of the replica village of Kalinago Barana Autê in the Caribbean Territory offers an interesting insight into traditional Kalinago culture.

Scotts Head is a small isthmus at the southern end of the island. It is also the name of the small community that is located there. It is about an hour’s drive from Roseau. Scotts Head is a great place to hike up the steep rocky outcrop that offers great views of the southwest coast of Dominica and the Caribbean Sea (and even the island of Martinique to the south).

Things To Do in Dominica

Snorkelling is particularly good at Champagne, south of Roseau, and at Scott’s Head. Diving, water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking and other water sports are also available. Note that kayaking or canoeing offers an alternative to the sea and allows you to explore Dominica’s rivers and inland waters.

Whale and dolphin watching and boat tours can be arranged from Roseau.

Dominica’s waters are also home to three species of sea turtles (leatherback, hawksbill and green), and these gentle giants can be seen nesting on the coast between April and October. Protected observation sites are set up all over the island, such as Mangrove Bay at Woodford Hill beach in the northeast or Portsmouth beaches in the northwest.

Hiking, cycling, mountain biking or zip-lining are popular in the forested areas. Hiking is one of the best ways to see Dominica and there are many beautiful walks around the island, from easy to challenging.

  • Middle Ham Falls. The waterfall is a wonderful reward at the end of this moderately challenging hike. Be careful on the trail as it can be a bit challenging in places. The trailhead is a good distance northeast of Roseau, so it will take about an hour to complete. The hike can take about an hour each way. As a reward for the hike, spend at least 30 minutes at Middle Ham Falls and Pool.
  • Valley of Desolation/Boiling Lake. In addition to the long and difficult hike, plan time to travel to and from this destination. Plan on at least 8 hours round trip (including driving) – but it’s worth it. Breathtaking scenery.

Climbing and canyoning in Dominica is an encouraging and motivating experience. It tests strength and agility while offering some of the most breathtaking views on Dominica.

Dominica is known for its many island events and festivals. Caribbean islands love food, music and celebrations. Whether it’s a cultural gathering or a music festival, Dominica has it.

Many of Dominica’s resorts offer on-site spa services to help you unwind for the next day of activities.

  • Kalinago Barana Autê, +1 767 445 7979, email: [email protected] Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. This site showcases the history and traditions of the Kalinago (Carib) people from hundreds of years ago. It is located on the banks of the Crayfish River, near Isukulati Falls, in the Caribbean Territory of Dominica. The site includes a visitor centre, snack bar and gift shops. At the start of your visit, a footbridge crosses the river and gives way to a circular path that leads to a series of small huts scattered around the village. There is a Karbet that is used for cultural and theatrical performances. Traditional Kalinago (Carib) activities in the village include building canoes, processing cassava, weaving baskets and gathering and preparing herbs. The Kalinago (Caribs) are the indigenous people of Dominica. The entrance fee is US$10 per person for a 30-45 minute guided tour.

Food & Drinks in Dominica

Freshly squeezed grapefruit is ubiquitous and a perfect accompaniment to any meal. Coconut water is cheap and readily available by the roadside. Another local speciality is sorrel. This refreshing red drink is made from the flowers of a type of hibiscus that is also found in Jamaica. The most popular local beer is Kubuli. Ask your hotel to arrange a tour of the brewery.

There are many fruit juice vendors in Roseau. Almost without exception, they are unpasteurised fruit juices with added water and sugar. The water supplied is usually chlorinated tap water. A fruit juice vendor named Pal sells his juice near where the bus leaves for Portsmouth. Pal is one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable fruit sellers on the island. He sometimes has juice from rare fruits.

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

Sorrel, known as a Christmas drink because of its red colour (and because it only flowers at Christmas), is made from boiled flowers. It tastes divine.

Avocado pear juice can be bought in some small cafés and is certainly worth a try. Other flavours include soursop, passion fruit, grapefruit, orange, lime and beetroot.

The coffee is generally not very good, as most people seem to prefer tea and fruit juice, with a few exceptions. There are also some coffee shops in the larger towns.

Money & Shopping in Dominica

The best local handicrafts are the baskets made by the Caribs. The earthy colours are created by burying the fibres in the soil for varying lengths of time. American citizens (and probably others) should make sure that the materials they are made of allow them to be taken home.

Dominica is also known for its music, so be sure to buy some local music while you are on the island. Music genres range from jazz, reggae dancehall, calypso and soca to cadence-lypso and bouyonwhich are popular Dominican genres. Visit the island on the last weekend in October and enjoy the World Creole Music Festival [www]. If you can’t make it, ask for the best local artists and keep an eye out for bootlegs!

Numerous kiosks and vendors line the shoreline at the main cruise ship dock. An excellent leather goods shop is across the street from the harbour. A few blocks inland is a crowded open-air market that has perhaps the best selection of souvenirs on the island.

Look out for cocoa sticks to make cocoa tea, a nice souvenir to take home.

Festivals & Holidays in Dominica

Date Name
1 January New Year’s Day
February or March Carnival Monday
March or April Good Friday
1st Monday in May Labour Day
May or June Whit Monday
1st Monday in August Emancipation Day
3 November Independence Day
4 November Community Service Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

Culture Of Dominica

Dominica is home to a variety of population groups. Although historically inhabited by several indigenous tribes, it was occupied by the Arawak (Taino) and Carib (Kalinago) tribes when European settlers reached the island. “Massacre” is the name of a river that commemorates the murder of indigenous people by French and British settlers, as the river ran red with blood for days. The French and British tried to claim the island for themselves and imported slaves from Africa as labour. The remaining Caribs now live in a 15 km2 area on the east coast of the island. They elect their own chief. Today’s culture has emerged from this mixing of cultures.

Music and dance are important facets of Dominican culture. A variety of traditional songs and dances are performed at the annual independence celebrations. Since 1997, there have also been weeks of Creole festivals, such as “Creole in the Park” and the “World Creole Music Festival”.

Dominica gained international attention in 1973 when Gordon Henderson founded the group Exile One and its own genre of music, which he called “Cadence-Lypso”. This paved the way for modern Creole music. Other musical genres are “Jing ping” and “Cadence”. Jing ping, which uses the accordion, is indigenous to the island. Dominica’s music is a mixture of Haitian, Afro-Cuban, African and European traditions. Popular artists over the years include Chubby and the Midnight Groovers, Bells Combo, the Gaylords, WCK and Triple Kay.

The 11th annual World Creole Music Festival was held in 2007 as part of the island’s celebrations of independence from Britain on 3 November. In January 2008, a year-long reunion celebration began to mark the 30th anniversary of independence.

Dominica is often seen as a society transitioning from collectivism to individualism. The economy is a developing one, which used to depend on agriculture. Signs of collectivism are evident in the small towns and villages scattered across the island.

The famous novelist Jean Rhys was born and raised on Dominica. The island is indirectly described in her most famous book, Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys’ friend, the political activist and writer Phyllis Shand Allfrey, had her 1954 novel The Orchid House (ISBN 0-8135-2332-X) set in Dominica.

Much of the Walt Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (the second film in the series starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, released on 7 July 2006) was filmed on Dominica (although the island is referred to in the film as “Pelegosto”, a fictional island), as was part of the filming of the third film in the series, At World’s End (released on 2 May 2007).

Cuisine in Dominica

Dominica’s cuisine is similar to that of other Caribbean islands, including St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Like other Commonwealth islands in the Caribbean, Dominicans have developed a distinct flavour in their cuisine. Breakfast is an important daily meal that usually includes salt fish, dried and salted cod, and “bakes”, fried dough. Vendors on the streets of Dominica sell these snacks to passers-by, as well as fried chicken, fish and fruit and yoghurt smoothies. Other breakfast meals include cornmeal porridge, made with fine cornmeal or polenta, milk and condensed milk, and sugar for sweetening. Traditional British-style dishes such as eggs, bacon and toast are also popular, as are fried fish and plantains.

Common vegetables include plantains, tanias (a root vegetable), yams, potatoes, rice and peas. The most commonly eaten meats and poultry are chicken (very popular), beef and fish. They are often braised with onions, carrots, garlic, ginger and herbs such as thyme. The vegetables and meat are sautéed, creating a rich, dark sauce. The most popular dishes are rice and peas, stewed chicken, stewed beef, fried and steamed fish, and many types of broths and fish soups. The latter are filled with dumplings, carrots and ground stocks.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Dominica

Stay Safe in Dominica

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

Take the usual safety precautions when travelling in Dominica. Although rare, petty crime tends to occur around Roseau. Elsewhere, the island is extremely safe.

Stay Healthy in Dominica

The tap water is safe to drink, but as it is sometimes taken directly from Dominica’s many rivers, it tends to turn brown after heavy rains. It is best to drink the bottled water available almost everywhere.

Primary health care is provided at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau.

North Americans moving to Dominica often experience boils and fungus on fingernails and toenails for the first time. Stomach problems are rare among travellers.

Cities are regularly sprayed with insecticides to control the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever. However, spraying may not take place at the scheduled time and the pesticides may drift into your home when the windows are open.

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