Presentation of Dominica Island

Commonwealth Dominica

At the center of the arc of the south Caribbean Islands, between Guadeloupe and Martinique, we have an atypical island : Dominica (or Commonwealth Dominica). On this island some beaches but also an extraordinarily rich rainforest. The other richness of Dominica is its rivers which everywhere are transformed into waterfalls dipping into natural swimming pools.

Dominica is an independent country and member of Commonwealth and CARICOM. Its official name is: Commonwealth of Dominica.
  • SITUATION
Dominica is located in the center of the West Indian archipelago at 15 ° 30 West latitude and 61 ° 20 North longitude. To the south we can see the French island Martinique and on the North the other French islands Guadeloupe, Saint Martin Marie Galante. 7 000 km to Paris and 3100 km to New York. It is 46.7 km long and 25.7 km wide and covers an area of 749 km2. "Dominica" or "Commonwealth Dominica" is the only island in the West Indies where nature is completely safeguarded. Do not confuse it with the “Dominican Republic”, for here nothing has yet been done for tourism industry. Cruise ships come to liven up the capital, but the tourists who disembark stay near the port where they will make very marked circuits. Dominica is always a confidential island. It receives about 60,000 visitors a year.
  • GOVERNEMENT
Dominica is an independent republic with a parliamentary regime within the British Commonwealth and is known as the "Commonwealth of Dominica". Click here to know everything about the government site.
  • CLIMATE AND SEASON
Due to its topography and vegetation, the climate and temperature vary according to the season and depend on the altitude in which it is located. There are two seasons in Dominica: a dry season, from December to May, with temperatures between 23 ° C and 29 ° C and a humidity of 65%. From June to November, it is the warm season with temperatures between 24 ° C and 31 ° C. The rainy season is July and August. The best season is the winter (from November to June): the weather is more pleasant and it rains less. Avoid: mid August and September, period of intense cyclonic activity.
  • TIME ZONES
Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
  • LANGUAGES
English is the official language. But many people, especially the elderly, speak a creole of French origin (Brooked French). In the villages of Marigot and Wesley, in the northeast, people speak a distinct dialect "the Kokoy".
  • CURRENCY
The local currency is the eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) EC $ 2.67 = US$ 1. US Dollars are accepted everywhere.
  • RELIGIONS
70% of the population is Catholic. The other are  Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Adventist, Rastafari and now Muslim.
  • COSTUMER BASE
Dominica is for nature lovers, for all those who seek adventure off the beaten track.
  • MAIN ACTIVITIES
Dominica (pronounced Domineeka) is the realm of picture hunters and divers, even blasé (one of the first 10 world spots). It will offer you a break that will drain you of your stress and give you strong impressions. As soon as one leaves the way of passage one moves away from the Northem civilization. Many nature-based activities are offered: hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, river swimming, whale watching, etc.
  • Dominica is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean. Le Morne Diablotins, which is the highest peak in the Caribbean, amounts to 1,447 m. Further south, the Morne Trois Pitons, listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, reaches 1342 m.
  • It is characterized mainly by the complexity of its relief, covered with a thick rainforest subtropical forest with an almost intact nature. This is probably why a few thousand Caribbean Indians, black slaves fled from Martinique, have survived. Dominica is the only island that still has an indigenous population.
  • Population: Approximately 73,500 inhabitants mainly of Afro-Caribbean descent, of which one third live in the capital with a small percentage of European descendants. Approximately 3,500 Caribbean Indians still live on their 1800 ha territory on the northeast coast of the island. The population density is nearly four times less than Martinique, with a surface area of 2 / 3rd of it. The population is falling because many young people prefer to try their luck elsewhere. The diaspora of this island is all over the planet.
  • Of volcanic origin, the island is crossed by a north-south mountainous axis with gullies and splendid coves. The biggest attractions are its diving spots, including the “Soufrière”, and the rivers up to the magnificent waterfalls. It has a very pure air and fresh waters and salts of a very great transparency.
  • Human penetration inside the island is very low and the roads are limited to coast. Only one road, quite recent, crosses the island by the center.
  • With its microclimate, it is full of natural beauty and has more than 365 limpid streams, the world's second bubbling lake, falls, waterfalls, mountain streams. Its beaches are covered with black sand (volcanic) or golden.
  • Dominica is truly the only place in the region that can offer so many different experiences, both natural and cultural.
  • Discover here the slide show to convince you of these fabulous landscapes.
  • The relief is difficult, but there is still the usual tropical crops: mainly banana and coconut, but also coffee, cocoa, citrus and vanilla. Barges filled with fruits and vegetables go every week to the French West Indies.
  • Dominica has an eco-tourist advantage to develop thanks to its sites preserved and protected on land and sea. The government has been trying to diversify towards eco-tourism.
  • The average wage is very low and unemployment is present. Nature fills hunger, almost everyone has a plot of land and people here know how to share. The State shall provide, where necessary, running water and sanitary facilities. Health care is free for anyone who has been residing on the island for more than 6 months. These are nevertheless poor country care. Here poverty, kindness, smile, sharing the little but no misery.
  • Located between the two French departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe, Dominica gained independence from Great Britain on 3 November 1978. Today it is a republic within the Commonwealth. The first inhabitants of the island were the Arawaks 3,000 years before J.C. followed by the Kalinagos or Caribbean Indians.
  • With its highest peak at 1,447m altitude it is easy for us to understand why the Carib people called it "Waitukubuli" (Great is its body). Until the beginning of the 18th century, the Caribbean Indians managed to resist the colonial invasion, but in 1720 the French took control of the island. From 1720 to 1805, the island changed hands several times between the English and the French who disputed it and it was not until 1805 that it was finally ceded to the English.
  • For more information, click here
  • The Dominica’s cuisine is a mixture of French, Caribbean and African cuisine. Among the many specialties are the buljow (flying fish served with bread fritters), stuffed crab or Calalou soup (green soup as spinach). If you can take also a crab cake.
  • The food is very spicy but not hot hot pepper. The island has only three fast-food restaurants. You also have small restaurants with a large selection of local snacks such as "roasty", pies and sandwiches.
  • You will not be able to taste the national dish, '' mountain chicken '' which is based on fried frogs' legs, accompanied by Creole sauce, because our 'frog' has a skin disease that makes it inconsolable!
  • As in all the West Indies, you can enjoy tropical fruits: guavas, pineapples, mangoes, bananas, coconuts, papayas, sources, carambola ... Dominica is full of organic fruits that naturally exports to the neighbouring French islands.
  • The water of a public tap is everywhere drinkable. In Rainforest, with confirmation of your guide, you will be able to drink the extremely pure water of the rivers. A water is bottled at Loubière, ditto for the beer. You can refresh yourself in any circumstance, with delicious fresh fruit juices, on sale everywhere.
  • A light and light beer "Kubuli" is made on the island. It takes again part of the first name of the island: Waitukubuli. There are three different rums: Macouchery Rum, the best, obtained directly from a pure sugar cane juice, Soca Rum and D-Special Rum who are not specially goods. At nightfall, try the punch and daiquiris made with exotic fruits.
  • Whether you are welcomed by the "Creoles" full of humour, by the "Indians" with the ancestral know-how or by the "Rastas" coloured green, yellow and red: all will make you spend unforgettable moments. Kindness, simplicity, nonchalance and taste for music, all these qualities form this culture, this art of living so unique and so unique to the Dominica’s people.
  • The various annual festivities can be a living expression of cultural traditions, and throughout the year village festivals are special scenes that make us discover the customs and habits of life in Dominica.
  • The inhabitants of the island have a rich Caribbean tradition that is expressed through gastronomy (spicy enough), music and dance (zouk, calypso). This is witnessed by the Creole festival, which in November is the occasion for artistic and cultural events to the glory of Creole language and folklore. The island hosts the largest population of Caribbean Indians, who have kept their own customs. Thus, they continue to carve their canoes in large tree trunks (Gommier) and live in houses on stilts.
  • Under British rule for more than a century, the Dominica’s have retained some peculiarities of the English way of life: driving on the left, play cricket, the first local sport. The love of nature is certainly very strong. In addition to having declared protected areas of vast expanses of the country, the Dominica’s plant trees and flowers in their gardens and by roadside. Picnics along rivers, springs and falls are common.
  • Carnival, DOMFESTA and the Festivities of Independence retain a dynamic traditional expression. Village festivities reinforce the peculiarities of the life and traditions of the communes. When the imported music threatened the youth, the Cadence-lypso and the Bouyon were created to compensate for this invasion. Calypso, reggae and zouk are popular, each with its own local elements.
  • FAUNA : located in the center of the Antilles archipelago, Dominica are eight different types of vegetation. The privileged relief of the island has allowed the conservation of different species. 175 species of birds have been recorded. The most typical bird is the Sisserou parrot or imperial parrot with multicolored plumage. It is also he who appears on the flag of the country. It can hardly be seen during hikes in the middle of the virgin forest towards the Morne Diablotin. Another parrot, the red-necked parrot or Jaco is a threatened and protected species. During a hike, you may hear the Mountain Whistler which will make you some melodies, or the Madeira hummingbird. In the rivers one can find superb and delicious crayfish. The Agouti is a small rodent present in all calm places. It is also cooked.
  • SEA TURTLES : during the night, sea turtles, one of the oldest creatures in the marine world, drag on the beach of Rosalie to perform their fascinating nesting rituals. They come to lay eggs between March and October each year. Four different species come to the coasts of Dominica to lay: the Caret, the Hawksbill turtle, the Green Sea turtle, and the enormous Leatherback turtle. Watching a 1,000-pound turtle during laying is truly an unheard-of spectacle, and that's just what Dominica can offer you. Observation is only permitted under strict safety and protection rules. The Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), which monitors beach nests on a daily basis, ensures that they are respected.
  • WHALE AND DOLPHN WATCHING : the Caribbean Sea is one of the last whale watching resorts in the world and therefore the ideal spot for whale watching. The coasts of Dominica, like those of the Azores, are particularly appreciated by these large cetaceans. Often they bring their babies. The waters are calm and quite deep. Half a day, you will observe them in boats with sonar and hydrophone. The favourable period extends from November to the end of March. It takes a clear sky, a sea of oil and a calm wind. There the success of observation is 90%. This activity has grown significantly over the last 15 years. Dominica has the highest number of cetaceans living in the region. Whales Humpbacks, False Killer, Minke and Orcas are sometimes observed as well as several species of dolphins. But it is the sperm whales that overshadow the others in the waters of Dominica at 900m depth.
  • The Dominican authorities have just adhered to the concept of preservation, seduced by the actions of CARIBwhale. This association, created in 2000, aims to promote an education of tourists with respectful and educational observations. Will Dominica integrate the proposed sanctuary initiated by Guadeloupe and Martinique?
  • THE FLORA : Dominica has over 1000 species of flowers, 20% of which are ferns. There are 74 species of orchids and many plants that live exclusively on this island. We can understand the precautions taken when bringing in perishable foodstuffs.
  • The road network is in fairly good condition throughout the island. However, there are potholes and collapsed sections, especially along the coasts. You can, however, browse Dominica.
  • The Dominica’s, like the English, roll to the left. It just takes a little more vigilance. To rent a car, you must have a local driver's license that will cost you 12 US $ or 30EC $. To obtain it (from the Traffic Department, Roseau), you must be 25 years old, hold a valid driver's license and have more than two years of driving experience. Finally, for small budgets, there is the hitchhiking, very practiced on the island.
  • Taxis are notably recognizable by the letters H, HA or HB preceding their registration numbers. They can be picked up at the airport. About 15 to 20 times more expensive than the bus. Rates are quoted in EC$, sometimes in US$. Canefield Airport 10 minutes from Roseau, and Melville Hall Airport, just north of the island, about 1:15 from the capital. Rates are fixed.
  • Buses are the most economical solution. They run at more or less regular intervals all day between Roseau, Canefield and Scott's Head. The more you go north, the more rare they become. Beware, very few lines work on Sundays. They are small buses of about fifteen places which circulate on the main axes of the island. They roll the box, music full pot. There, it's really typical. They are very common on the west coast, more rare in the north and east of the island. Very few lines work on Sundays. Since they are managed by private individuals, it is necessary to wait until the bus is complete to leave.
  • Antilles Dominica Eco Tours Ltd, offers guided excursions that will take care of you for a group cost.
  • BY PLANE : Dominica has two airports: Canefield, 8km north of Roseau, with a small runway where only small airplanes with a maximum of 19 passengers can land, and Douglas Airport in the northeast of the island. 58 km from Roseau, and about 1 hour 20 minutes by car from the center of the island. Douglas Airport is International class. Everything moves and there are direct flights from Dominica to the US and some European countries. American Eagle has a direct flight every day to Puerto Rico. 6 times a week Air Antilles Express has flights between Pointe à Pitre or Fort de France and Dominica. Connections are provided for regional flights to Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Martin and St Lucia, but you will have to be patient because the number of stops and the circuit are not determined in advance! Currently, from France and Canada, no international flights to Dominica. You have to go through Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin or Saint Lucia. The cheapest being from Guadeloupe or Martinique.
  • BY PRIVATE BOAT : you will be able to anchor and clear to the north at Portsmouth, Anse de Mai and Roseau where there are 3 main harbours: Woodbridge Bay 1 mile north of Roseau, Roseau Ferry Terminal and Cruise Ships both located on Bay Front de Roseau, near the capital's shops. Mooring in marine reserves, Scott's Head-Soufriere Bay, or protected areas is prohibited. A special permit must be obtained to navigate from one point to another.
  • BY FERRY : Attention seasickness almost assured if the sea is rough. Stay on deck! To consult the timetables, go to their website or contact them on Dominica at tel: 1-7676448-2181, or +33 (0) 5 96 42 04 05 in Pointe à Pitre.
  • ACCOMODATION
Accommodation in Dominica is quite expensive. The accommodation possibilities are low: about 950 rooms and 1300 beds. Outside the peak season (mid-December to mid-April), prices fall from 10% to 20% in the "Chic" and "Average price" establishments. No change in other categories. The indicated room prices are always indicated in US$ but often in EC$. They correspond to one night for 2 people, in high season, the service of 10% is not always included nor the VAT of 10% on the room and 15% on the meals. Breakfast is rarely included. Most hotels have become accustomed to adding the 10% service and 15% tax afterwards on the note. Be vigilant when you ask for rates!
  • RESTAURANT
Prices are displayed in EC$. A meal is mostly a main course and sometime a dessert or a starter. Warning they do not serve after 21h at 21h30. Prices are, as for hotels, overall high. Antilles Dominica Eco Tours Ltd will make you enjoy its always up-to-date knowledge of local restaurants, good and not expensive. The owners of small restaurants change quite often (ditto than for the Lolo's in the French islands).
  • SHOPPING
Several branded stores offer duty-free items, luxury items, perfumes, jewelery, spirits, tobacco, and porcelain. In other shops, there is a large selection of souvenirs, most of them handmade by our craftsmen. The most famous local craft items are the braided mats made by the Caribbean Indians with the larouma reed, but hand-painted T-shirts, pottery and wood carvings are wonderful gifts to bring back. Currencies are no problem because traders accept US dollars, British pounds and Euros. The shops are open from 8 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.