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view of Scott's Head Bay

Description

Dominica (pronounced "Dom-in-eek-a") is an island of volcanic origins located between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean, at approximately 15 degrees North latitude and 61 degrees West longitude.

Click on Map of Dominica for larger image


It is the largest and most mountainous of the the Windward Islands, with an area of 289.5 sq. miles (754 sq. km). It is 29 miles long and 16 miles at its widest. The formal name Commonwealth of Dominica is often used to distinguish it from the Dominican Republic, while the Zip code 00109-8000 ensures mail isn't mis-sent there.

It has several peaks of over 3,000', the tallest of which are Morne Diablotin (4,747') and Morne Trois Pitons (4,600').

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Dominica

Where to Stay in Dominica

What to Do in One Day - Perfect for Cruise Ship Passengers

Vital statistics

Maps of Roseau and Dominica

National Symbols


Dominica is famous for its tropical rainforest, and the many rivers and waterfalls which result from the high rainfall in the interior. In addition, its volcanic origins manifest themselves most noticably in the Boiling Lake (one of the largest of its kind in the world) and many other smaller fumaroles around the island (including at least one underwater). Moreover, it is widely acknowledged to be both one of the best dive sites and a prime whale watching location in the region (if not world).
There are a number of National parks or reserves on the island. Our World Heritage Site, the 17,000 acre Morne Trois Pitons National Park contains perhaps the majority of Dominica's above-water famous sights - several crater lakes and waterfalls, including the Emerald Pool, 14 miles from Roseau. Emerald Pool

The Northern Forest Reserve is another fine example of oceanic rainforest and is also famous as the home of Dominica's national bird, the rare Sisserou Parrot. The Cabrits National Park, just north of Portsmouth, is home to the partly-restored Fort Shirley. It is also a marine reserve, as is the area around Scott's Head/Soufriere at the south-western tip of the island.

Dominica's population is around 69,625 (2001 census), of which about 14,500 live in the capital city, Roseau (pronounced 'Ro-zo'), which is located on the south-west coast. Roseau was named after the French name for the reeds that grow by the river (interestingly, there is a Roseau in Minnesota named for the same reason).

The second largest city is Portsmouth in the north-west. Other towns of note include Marigot in the north-east, and Grand Bay in the south.

English is the official language but a French-based Creole (kwéyòl) is widely spoken, especially in outlying villages. This reflects an often turbulent history in which the island would be assigned to Britain by a treaty with the French, who would promptly break it and try to regain control of Dominica. Throughout and to the present day the original inhabitants, the Caribs, tried to coexist. In 1903 they were assigned a 3,700 acre Territory in the north-east where around 3,000 live today.

The original Carib name for Dominica is Waitikubuli, and many of the villages still retain (or at least know) their Carib name.

The currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (of which there are 2.7169 to the US$). Office/Shop and banking hours are generally 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday; shops close at 1pm on a Saturday.

Dominica's cuisine is based on our local wildlife which includes agouti, crabs, crayfish, crapaud ('Mountain Chicken') and manicou, but there is a Closed Season for game and freshwater fish from March 1 through August 31.
Because of the decline in the forementioned species, the close season has been extended all year round.

Other regulations visitors should bear in mind is that the import and export of fruit, vegetables and flowers is restricted; you will need to obtain a license to take out flowers, for example. The purchase of Coral is forbidden so please resist the temptation to buy coral from vendors.

Visitors to tourism sites around the island are required to purchase entry tickets in order to support the parks service.

New Rates Effective 1st July, 2008

Site Pass (Pre-Sold Organised Tour) US $3
Site Pass (Private Tours, Stay-Over Visitors) US $5
Weekly Site Pass US $12

Tickets are available from Cruise Agents, Tour Operators, Car Hire Agencies and at various other locations around the island.

(NOTE: There is no longer a 'Day Pass.)


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Around Roseau

A number of places around the capital city of Roseau (pop. 14,500) are of note. The Roseau Museum is compact but well organised. Opposite the cruise ship jetty, it is housed in the old Post Office. Behind it is the Old Market, where once slaves were bought and sold, and today can be found a craft market. Museum
The New Market, at the other end of the Bayfront, comes alive early Saturday morning (but is also open other week days) with a stunning variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, flowers and sundry items. Be sure also to take a refreshing drink of coconut water while there.

The 'crushed bus' in the Botanical Gardens is a silent testimony to the force of the winds of Hurricane David (1979), and also the the regenerative power of nature (the tree is still growing, on top of the bus). A small Aviary in the Gardens has some of Dominica's rare parrots.

Roseau from Morne Bruce High above the Gardens is a fine vantage point, Morne Bruce, which can be reached from a track near the east gate, and provides a splendid view of Roseau.

Leaving the Gardens via the west gate, go straight and you'll soon pass Tropicrafts (look in to see the mats being made) and see the Roman Catholic Cathedral on your left.

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Around The North

Dominica's second city is Portsmouth, situated in the north-west of the island on Prince Rupert Bay.

Fort Shirley, at The Cabrits For visitors, the focal point is The Cabrits, a headland on which can be found the remains of the recently restored Fort Shirley. Wander around the headland and you'll probably stumble on old buildings and cannon from the Fort.

Also of note near Portsmouth is the Indian River, where you can take a boat ride up through the mangroves for about a mile. Portsmouth is also home to Ross University Medical School.

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Around The South

On your way to the south of the island, about a mile south of the fishing village of Pointe Michel, where the road leaves the coast and goes up into the hills, is a track down to a pebbly beach. At the end of this beach and starting a few feet into the water, is Champagne, a large area where volcanic activity causes thousands of bubbles to come from the rocks beneath the water.

At the end of the island, the villages of Soufriere and Scott's Head are both on the same beautiful bay. Scott's Head is at the end of a short isthmus and affords a brilliant view of the bay, north along the coast, and south to Martinique if the weather is good. On the Head are the ruins of Fort Cachacou which was an important defence post and involved in action between the British and French in 1778 and 1805.

As the name implies, Soufriere is home to more sulphur springs. Also of note is a fine vantage point over looking the bay at the village of Gallion above Soufriere.

Sunset

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How to get Here

Dominica's main airport is Melville Hall (DOM, 4,900') in the north-east (38 miles from Roseau). Smaller is Canefield (DCF, with a runway of 2,600') in the south-west just 3 miles from Roseau.

Departure Taxes are as follows:

Dominica & CARICOM Residents EC$45.00
Non-CARICOM Residents (eg US citizens) EC$59.00

Rates are subject to change; please check before you depart

From the US, Seaborne Airlines flies direct into Melville Hall from San Juan, Puerto Rico. From Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia the regional carrier LIAT offers connections to Melville Hall. British Airways also flies into Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. Air France connects via Martinique and Gualeloupe.

Tip: To get the best view of the island as you fly in -flying north into Canefield Airport (from for example, St. Lucia), sit on the right of the aircraft. Flying south (from Antigua), sit on the left. Sit on the opposite side if flying into Melville Hall Airport. This tip will give you superb views of the island!

There are three main sea ports. Woodbridge Bay is one mile north of Roseau; both the Roseau Ferry Terminal and the Cruise Ship Berth are located on the Bayfront of Roseau itself, within close proximity to the business and shopping areas of the capital. Cruise ships sometimes stop at the Cabrits near Portsmouth.

L'Express Des Iles is a ferry service connecting Dominica to both the neighbouring French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinque, as well as St. Lucia. Whitchurch Travel is the local agent for the frry and is your best bet for getting up-to-date schedule and fare information.

TAXI FARES FROM AIRPORT
Look for the uniformed Taxi drivers, who are trained and authorised.

Melville Hall to Roseau/Canefield/Newtown US $26 (EC$65) per person (shared taxi)
Melville Hall to Castle Comfort US $28 (EC$70) per person (shared taxi)
Melville Hall to Soufriere/Scott's Head US $34 (EC$85) per person (shared taxi)
Melville Hall to Calibishe US $12 (EC$30) per person (shared taxi)
Taxi hire prices are considerably higher.
Rates are subject to change. Always check prices with the driver.


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Entry Requirements

A valid passport and onward/return ticket are required for stays of up to 21 days.

Effective January 1, 2006 the United States has instituted a new passport regulation that will require US citizens visiting the Caribbean to be in possession of a valid US passport to re-enter the US.

Canadian citizens may use proof of citizenship with photo. French nationals may use a Carte identite for stays up to two weeks.


Weather

Annual rainfall in Dominica varies considerably, from 50 inches along the coast, to over 300 inches in the interior. There is generally a dry season between January and June, with the wettest months being August to October. The peak of hurricane season is late August/early September.

Mean Air Temperatures
Maximum 29.6 Celcius
Minimum 24.2 Celcius
Avg. Monthly Rainfall (mm)
Marigot 248.1
Canefield 126.8
Avg. Sunshine per day: 7.4 hours
Wettest/Driest Months (1994/95, in mm)
  Wettest Driest
Roseau 1994 Sep (374) Mar (22.5)
1995 Aug (545) Mar (42)
Portsmouth 1994 Sep (529) May (38.5)
1995 Nov (918) May (45)
Petite Coulibri 1994 Sep (361) Mar (40.6)
1995 Aug (489) Jun (44)
Vielle Case 1994 Sep (573) Jun (102)
1995 Aug (584) May (38)

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Miscellaneous

Electricity is 220/240 volts, 50 cycles.
Water is safe to drink.
Public Transport is readily available in the form of the ubiquitous mini-bus (look for number plates that begin with 'H'); the Old Market in Roseau is the 'terminus' for busses travelling south; the West Bridge for those travelling north. Fares are set by the government:

Sample Bus Fares
(EC$)
Roseau to:
Calibishie $9.50
Canefield $2.00
Carib Territory $9.50
Grand Bay $4.50
Laudat $3.50
Loubiere $2.00
Marigot $9.50
Pointe Michel $2.00
Portsmouth $8.00
Scott's Head $4.00
Trafalgar $2.75



Distances to major cities

From To
Miles
Km.
Roseau Antigua
156
251
  Bridgetown, Barbados
167
268
  San Juan, PR
409
659
  Caracas, Venezuela
508
817
  Miami, FL
1447
2329
  New York, NY
1932
3109
  Toronto, Canada
2253
3626
  London, UK
4170
6710
  Paris, France
4238
6821
  Zurich, Switzerland
4510
7258
  Nairobi, Kenya
6770
10895
  Beijing, China
8649
13919
  Sydney, Australia
10044
16163

Distances supplied by indo.com


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