There are countless beach getaways in the Caribbean, but only one Dominica. Visitors don’t necessarily come here for the beaches, although there are some lovely ones; Dominica is a tropical island filled with jaw-dropping jungles, waterfalls, mountains, volcanic sulfur pools, and colorful rain forests. The drama of the landscape could have been directed by Hitchcock. As a matter of fact, Dominica has been the setting for any number of movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean. Visitors won’t encounter any pirates, simply unmatched beauty.
Dominica is an island in the Westward Island chain between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, midway between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago. Like so many of the neighboring islands, it was discovered by Christopher Columbus. It is one of the Caribbean smaller islands, being only 29 miles long and 16 miles wide. When visiting, it is easy to experience the magic of the entire island. The capital of Dominica is Roseau. In 2017, Dominica was voted one of the top travel destinations by Lonely Planet.
Generations of nature enthusiasts have admired Dominica’s stunning mountain topography and volcanos. Along with the geothermal activities that make the volcanos possible, the island is filled with wonderful and relaxing hot springs. Its mountains are dominated by forests that are ar home to a large variety of birds, including several rare species. Eighty thousand tourists and 300,000 cruise ship day-trippers visit annually to take in what is frequently referred to as the “nature island.”
The lack of gold and other riches on the island did not encourage the usual European eagerness for settlement following Columbus’ discovery. Dominica wasn’t claimed by England until the 17th century and was then fought by the French for the territory. Evenly, the Treaties of Versailles officially gave control of Dominica to the British in 1783. England had developed an anti-slavery attitude by that time, and Dominica was the only Caribbean island whose local legislature was controlled by elected Blacks instead of the usual wealthy British merchants. The British were displeased, but there was little they could do about the situation.
The island’s culture is a lovely blend of the original Caribs, the French, the English, and the Africans. The mix has made for a unique art and culinary culture. Music is important here. Its springtime Carnival abounds with calypso music and dancing in the streets, and in the fall, the World Creole Festival is a one-of-kind three-day indigenous creole musical festival.
Language Spoken in Dominica
English has been Dominica’s official language since the days of British settlement. All schools teach the English language.
A remnant of French occupation is evidenced by the Creole dialect, a mix of old Carib, African, and French. It is mostly older people who communicate in Creole.
Kokoy, which is a dialect spoken in parts of Dominica, is a blend of English Creole and French Creole and is used in a few regions, such as Woodford Hill and Clifton.
Currency in Dominica
The Eastern Caribbean dollar is Dominica’s primary currency, but the US dollar is accepted at most places. ATMs are not as prevalent as in other places, and it is a good idea to carry a bit of cash with you.
Things to Do in Dominica
Hot Mineral Springs
Thanks to its volcanic ecosystem, Dominica’s rainforest has some splendid and sometimes secret hot springs in which visitors can languish to their heart’s content.
Ti Kwen Glo Cho in the middle of the forest by the village of Witten Waven is one of Dominica’s best hot sulfur springs. After a small hike from the village, visitors will come across two mineral pools and private tubs amid a gorgeous garden. Just sink in for a purely magical experience and tune out the world.
Trafalgar Falls, only six miles from Roseau in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, is the most popular visitor’s destination in Dominica. The breathtaking twin waterfalls empty into a hot sulfur spring and a natural pool, and visitors should probably try both. Fortunately, they have shower facilities. The falls are surrounded by rocks and lush greenery and are one of nature’s masterpieces. Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit.
Boiling Lake takes you from hot springs to a 200-foot-wide boiling lake that is also located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The volcanic activity in the earth beneath is so hot, it boils the water as it frantically bubbles to the surface and surrounds the area with vaporous clouds. Hiking around the lake provides a stunning view of the ocean and neighboring Martinique. It is one of the best hikes on the island; however, it is recommended that visitors use a guide.
Papillote Tropical Gardens
Papillote Tropical Gardens is open from November to August, and people come here from around the world. The garden, a 14-acre collection of fabulous flora, is located within the rain forest. The colors, scents, and shapes are unbelievably beautiful. The paths in the gardens lead around gurgling mineral streams and waterfalls as the sunlight twinkles through the tree canopy.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Dominica
Dominica isn’t famed for its beaches, so people tend to be surprised at the Scuba Diving and Snorkeling opportunities on the island. Danglebend Pinnacles by the Soufriere crater and Scotts Head Pinnacle are among the favorite diving sites.
Champagne Reef attracts divers from all countries. The “champagne” refers to the rising bubbles from the volcanic thermal springs deep below. Snorkeling here is akin to taking an active bubble bath! The sponges along the reefs come in every color of the rainbow, as does the varied marine life around it. On a good day, the reef may match the color of the fish. On a great day, divers may encounter a 17th-century shipwreck.
Best Cities to Visit in Dominica
Roseau is small compared to most capital cities; however, it still offers many attractions and much charm. It is a mere 10 blocks in size, so the entire town is easy to explore.
- The Old Market is the place to shop for souvenirs. It has wonderful arts and crafts and soaps and other fragrant, irresistible items.
- The Dominica Museum dates to colonial times and is filled with historical and cultural artifacts that tell the story of Dominica.
- Morne Bruce is located up a hill above Dominica’s Botanical Garden. A hike up an easy trail offers the best view of Roseau.
- Exploring Roseau can get hot, and not all hotels have a pool. For your comfort, it is best to stay where you can take a quick dip to cool off, such as the Fort Young Hotel.
Calibishie is a large village on Dominica’s northern coast. This is where nature rules. Cliffs, rivers, and mountains dominate the scene. There are beaches with all manners of accommodations to fit everyone’s budget. The rivers flow through the tropical rainforest and are surrounded by natural swimming pools, grand waterfalls, and a forest filled with exotic birds. Here, the sea and the rainforest are only a mile or so apart, so you can hike and snorkel on the same day.
Portsmouth is Dominica’s second-largest city and located in St. John Parish. Like in many of Dominica’s small towns, the local farmers’ market is the place to buy crafts, unique jewelry, clothes, and cultural artifacts. While in Portsmouth, enjoy a meal at Champs Restaurant which overlooks the entire bay. Portsmouth is close to Boiling Lake and the Dominica Botanic Gardens, making it a great base for a few nights.
Syndicate Falls is one of Portsmouth’s main attractions. The fall gushes from a height of 100 feet into the rainforest. The 15-minute hike is easy and short, and the view of the surrounding greenery is superb.
Kalinago Territory is the only Caribbean district specially created for the descendants of indigenous Caribs who are still living autonomously by traditional ways. It’s a unique opportunity for visitors to see authentic dance and crafts, and the locals are happy to show them around the area. They love a picnic by the Isulukati waterfall, and so do visitors. The locals use the pool the bathe and wash their clothes.
Best All-Inclusive Resort or Hotel in Dominica
Fort Young Hotel
The Fort Young Hotel in Roseau may be one of the best all-inclusive deals in the entire Caribbean – because it truly includes everything. This oceanfront resort provides unlimited dining and drinking, great watersports, and hikes, but that is only the beginning. Each day, guests are treated to a new guided adventure, whether a hike to Trafalgar Falls, a walking tour of Roseau, snorkeling, a visit to a hot spring, and more.
Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in Dominica
Jungle Bay Resort & Spa
Jungle Bay Resort and Spa is for honeymooners or couples who are looking to create or restore the romance in their lives. The special honeymoon package includes a special villa, cake, flowers, and a couples’ massage.
For all guests, the resort focuses on wellbeing and yoga sessions. The luxury villas are the perfect place to unwind and shut out the world. When couples can drag themselves away, there is Boiling Lake to explore, as well as plenty of superb canoeing and snorkeling.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in Dominica
Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski
Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski is tucked within Cabrits National Park and offers wonderful unexplored beauty. Rooms and suites are available with mountain and ocean views. The resort’s concierge service is at the disposal of all guests.
Guests can enjoy watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling, then revive at the resort’s luxury spa. Children between the ages of 3 and 12 will find unlimited activities in the Kids’ Club, from playing in the sand to engaging in computer games.