The Commonwealth of Dominica is one of the British Windward Islands, situated between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean. Tourism has suddenly exploded on the island, which is increasingly popular as a stop for cruise ships, particularly since it became the setting for the hit movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean. Don't come to Dominica for the archetypical Caribbean sandy beaches, though. The coastline is rugged with steep cliffs plunging into the sea. Never mind, because on this volcanic island nature has traded white powdery beaches for other treasures, like thick forests, magnificent waterfalls and gushing rivers. Offshore there is a wondrous world for scuba divers with diverse sloping reefs, pinnacles, walls and underwater hot springs to explore.
Many of those who come ashore from cruise liners have only a day to take in the delights of Dominica, which is certainly not enough for all the activities and excursions on offer. There is the fascinating 'Boiling Lake' in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, tubing down the Layou River, snorkelling among the tropical fish at 'Champagne' (where volcanic fissures make the water bubble), hiking through the forest, plunging into the green depths of the Emerald Pool, riding an aerial tram through the rain forest canopy, or watching a live folklore show, to name just a few of the diversions to be enjoyed.
This unspoilt tropical paradise does not offer luxury resorts and high-rise hotels, but is rather designed for those who want to take a break and relax in cliff-top villas, small mountain spas, guesthouses and apartments. At the same time the island is equipped with all the modern conveniences, including good communications, banks and numerous restaurants, usually run by local families, in which to sample the delicious local West Indian cuisine. Those brave enough might like to tuck into traditional favourites like stewed opossum, or 'mountain chicken' (which is actually a large frog), which can be washed down with some hearty coconut rum punch.
Dominica is one of the few places left in the world, and most certainly in the Caribbean, where it is genuinely possible to 'get back to nature'.
The official currency of Dominica is the East Caribbean Dollar
(XCD), which is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of EC$2.67 to
US$1. US Dollars, the Euro and the British Pound are also usually
accepted on the island, but change is given in EC dollars.
Travellers cheques and money can be exchanged at major hotels and
at the bank. Banks open from 8am to 2pm Monday to Thursday, and 8am
to 4pm on Friday. Major credit cards and travellers cheques are
accepted by most businesses except small vendors. There are several
ATMs attached to banks in the capital, Roseau, which dispense EC
|XCD 1 =||US$ 0.37||Â£ 0.24||C$ 0.38||A$ 0.36||R 3.11||EUR 0.29||NZ$ 0.46|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and tetanus-diphtheria (revaccination every ten years) are recommended for visitors to Dominica, and yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for entry for those coming from an infected area. For those travellers who will be eating and drinking outside of hotels and restaurants a typhoid vaccination may also be a good precaution. Dengue fever is on the increase and visitors should take precautions against mosquito bites. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Medical facilities on the island are limited, so health insurance with evacuation cover is recommended. It is advisable to bring any personal medications you may need with you; make sure you have all the necessary documents from your doctor to get the medication through customs. Food and drinks are safe to consume in hotels and restaurants, but it is preferable to drink bottled water.
All visitors require a return or onward ticket, entry documents for their next destination, and sufficient funds to cover their stay in Dominica. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers going between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA, a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in Dominca within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Division of Tourism, Roseau: +1 767 448 2045 or www.dominica.dm
Foreign Embassies in Dominica
Squashed rather tightly into a small area on the west coast of Dominica, bounded by the sea and rivers, the island's capital, Roseau, is a hodge-podge of low-rise French and British colonial structures and modern concrete buildings along narrow streets. Most visitors congregate along the Bayfront, opposite the cruise ship jetty, and browse through the Old Market, where slaves were once bought and sold, for souvenirs and local crafts. It is well worth taking some time to explore the compact museum in the Old Post Office, and take a trip to the Botanical Gardens. The best view across Roseau is to be had from Morne Bruce, above the gardens, which can be reached by a track leading up from the east gate.
Roseau is a relaxed, friendly town without bright lights and glitz, but there are some hot-spots after dark, mainly in the local hotel bars and clubs. The World Creole Music Festival makes a visit in late October which is a special treat for locals and visitors. Basically, though, Roseau serves as the necessary commercial hub for those travellers who come in search of the natural splendour and adventurous excursions of delightful Dominica, and the city is not a popular destination in itself.
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