Dominica Online

at the Internet World Exposition 1996

The Basics

Satellite image of DominicaMap of Caribbean

Description | Around Roseau | Around The North | Around The South
How to get here | Taxi Fares | Weather | Misc.

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 and 61 degrees West. It is the largest and most mountainous of the the Windward Islands, with an area of 289.5 sq. miles. 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.

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

Dominica is perhaps most 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. 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.

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, and it is hoped the area around Scott's Head/Soufriere at the south-western tip of the island will also be declared a marine reserve in the near future.

Dominica's population is around 71,000, of which 20,000 live around the capital city, Roseau (pronounced 'Ro-zo'), which is located on the south-west coast. The second largest city is Portsmouth in the north-west. Other 'conurbations' of note include Marigot in the north-east, and Grand Bay in the south.

English is the official language but a French-based Creole (kwyl) 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

The currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (of which there are 2.7169 to the US$). Banking hours are Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm (Friday till 5pm).

The close season for game and freashwater fish, which includes agouti, crabs, crayfish, crapaud ('Mountain Chicken') and manicou is from March 1 through August 31. 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.

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Around Roseau

A number of places around the capital city of Roseau (pop. 20,000ish) 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.

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). Look out for the 'bamboo house', and nearby a small aviary with examples of Dominica's rare parrots. High above the aviary 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. A little lower down, turn left on to King George Street and look out for the Kalinago Centre, which has a good collection of information, photos and art about and by Dominica's Caribs.

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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.

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. And it's all free.

Also of note is the Indian River, where you can take a boat ride up through the mangroves for about a mile.

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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(aka Point Guinard, Les Bateaux), 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.


How to get Here

Dominica is served by two airports, Canefield (DCF, with a runway of 2,600') in the south-west (3 miles from Roseau) and Melville Hall (DOM, 4,900') in the north-east (38 miles from Roseau). There is a EC$30.00 airport Departure/Security Tax.

From the US, American Eagle flies direct into Melville Hall from San Juan. American Airlines also flies via San Juan into Antigua . From Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia the regional carrier LIAT connects to both Canefield and Melville Hall. British Airways also flies into Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. Air France connects via Martinique and Gualeloupe.

To get the best view: 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!

TAXI FARES FROM AIRPORTS
Melville Hall to Roseau US$16.00 per person
Melville Hall to Portsmouth US$12.00 per person
Canefield Airport to Roseau US$8.00 per person
Canefield Airport to Portsmouth US$43.00 per person
Rates are subject to official change

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.

L'Express Des Iles is an inter-island high-speed catamaran service connectng Dominica to both the neighbouring French islands and St. Lucia. There is a EC$20.00 port Departure Tax.


Weather

Annual rainfall in Dominica varies considerably, from 50 inches along the coast, to over 300 inches in the interior. There is a dry season between January and June, with the wettest months being August to October.



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 1994Sep (374) Mar (22.5)
1995Aug (545) Mar (42)
Portsmouth 1994Sep (529) May (38.5)
1995Nov (918) May (45)
Petite Coulibri 1994Sep (361) Mar (40.6)
1995Aug (489) Jun (44)
Vielle Case 1994Sep (573) Jun (102)
1995Aug (584) May (38)


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; the Old Market is the 'terminus' for travelling south; the West Bridge for those travelling north.
More vital statistics
Clickable Maps of Roseau and Dominica
Dominica Online

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