Dominica is an island republic of the West Indies. The official name is ‘The Commonwealth of Dominica’. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic – another island entirely – situated about 1000km North West of Dominica. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe, to the North West and Martinique to the South East. It’s area is 750km2 (290sq miles) and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1447m (4747 ft) above sea level. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census.
Dominica has a tropical rainforest climate with the occasional heavy rainfall. Therefore you must carry an umbrella in addition to sunscreen – to protect you from the rain and to shield you from the intense sunlight. Luckily, excessive heat and humidity are tempered somewhat by north-eastern trade winds. The mountainous regions also influence the temperature and wind.
Because of the influence of the surrounding ocean, the daytime temperatures vary only slightly, from around 260C in January to 320C in June.
Although it rains almost all year round, the amount of rain varies in different parts of the island. In general, most rainfall occurs between June and October. Dominica has the highest accumulation of rainfall in the Caribbean. Humidity readings range from 70-90% in Roseau, the capital.
These weather conditions and the location of Dominica make the island particularly vulnerable to hurricanes. Some of which can be very devastating, like Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The hurricane season starts on the 1st of June and lasts 6 months till the 30th of November.
(Sand Bay Beach in Marigot. Photography by Yuri A. Jones)
Dominica calls itself ‘The Nature Island’. We even boast that, if Christopher Columbus (who discovered Dominica) would come and visit us now, he would still recognize the island. And although I am not sure whether that statement is true, Dominica nonetheless boasts stunning natural beauty. From the lush rainforest, towering mountains, 365 rivers (yes, one for every day of the year!) countless waterfalls, volcanic wonders to amazing black beaches; Dominica has it all.
(Soufriere Bay. Photograpy by Yuri A. Jones)
The native inhabitants of Dominica, the Kalinago Indians, have been living on the island for centuries. Nowadays, the population is a mix of African and European cultures, as well as the native Kalinago Indians. You will find the names of places in both French and English. Dominica’s culture has been strongly influenced by the African culture, and nowadays you may see European and American influences too.
It’s people is like a rich tapestry, just like their local and colorful Madras fabric. Show cased in their by folklore wear, also known as Creole wear.
(La Plaine coast. Photography by Yuri A. Jones)
Dominica is in the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) zone. Please check this link to see the difference with your home country.
Our currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD). To give you an idea, the fixed exchange rate for the US Dollar is 2.7169. If planning a visit, please note that rates may vary at the moment of exchange.
So far no vaccination is necessary to visit Dominica; however, that can of course change. Please check this website. However, having a tropical climate means we do have many mosquitoes. Be sure to bring repellent and nets, especially during the rainy season!
Sunburn, heat & tap water
We are close to the equator, so you must wear sunscreen. Even when it is overcast, you can still get sunburned.
Stay hydrated and drink lots of water. The tap water quality is up to standard on the island, however, bottled water is also widely available if you prefer.
Always carry an umbrella – as they say, there’s no rainforest without rain! It can also protect you from the sun, if necessary.
The official language is English, and we drive on the left side of the road.
Traveling to Dominica
There are 2 regional airports on the island, but no international airports. One of them has been destroyed by hurricane Maria, which leaves Douglas-Charles Airport (DOM – on the north-east coast) the primary airport. With flights to and from St. Martin, Martinique, Guadeloupe or Barbados.
There are two ferry terminals – both in the capital Roseau and in Portsmouth in the north – so travelling to Dominica by ferry is also a good option.
There is so much more…
There is so much more to tell you about this beautiful little island; also affectionately (and accurately) known as ‘The Nature Island’. Read more about it in my monthly blog. Hope to see you soon in Dominica!
(l’escalier Tête chien in Kalinago territory. Photography by Yuri A. Jones)