ALL ABOUT DOMINICA
Dominica is known as the "Nature Island" for its wealth of natural splendours with its unique flora, fauna and geography. Despite being one of the largest islands in the Caribbean (754 sq. km) it still remains as one of the least populated with 72,660 occupants. However, this tropical paradise houses the second largest boiling lake in the world, along with 365 rivers, volcanoes, mountains (also called Mornes), waterfalls, hot springs, black and white sand beaches; it is truly a destination with many sites to see! An exquisite beauty indeed, perfect for nature- lovers, divers, hikers, birdwatchers and those craving excitement and inspiration.
Most of Dominica's beaches feature dark- gray or black volcanic sand (due to volcanic activity) and with the unusual character of its coasts, there are many opportunities to enjoy nature in its unspoilt state. Snorkeling is among the more popular beachfront activities, as Dominica is also known for its diving and there are many beautiful underwater views just off the shore.
Dominica's underwater landscape provides the perfect terrain for whales to live and mate. Whale and dolphin species which can be found are: Sperm, Pygmy Sperm, Pilot whales, Spotted Dolphin and Atlantic Spinner Dolphin and a few others. These beautiful creatures can be spotted in the peak season of November to March, but reside off Dominica's coast all year round; most tour operators boast a 90% success rate for spotting these fabulous beauties.
Some of the island's northern beaches are also a part of Cabrits National Park (renowned for a large variety of rare fish). Douglas Bay, for example, can be found at the park and is considered as one of the island's best and just in case you were wondering, snorkeling is also available at the park.
Another popular spot to check out would be the Calisbishie area, which is also called Pointe Baptiste. It is not exactly close to any major cities but it isn't far from the small airport, Canefield Airport, Dominica's second airport - making the beach fairly easy to reach being only 15 minutes away from the capital city Roseau.
Dominica's coastal areas are a bit more rocky than the other islands, but however along the northeastern edge of the island are rarely seen gold sands of a few its beaches.
The island's more traditional beaches are found on the shores surrounding Portmouth (the island's second largest city). These beaches consist of near- deserted stretches of sand, sun, waves, mostly smaller coves.
Rosalie Bay Beach can be found on the southeast coast of Dominica in Rosalie, a neighbourhood in the general vicinity of Grand Fond 10 miles (16 kilometers) to the east- northeast of Roseau. This magnificent long, wide, sandy beach has breathtaking views of the ocean and is quite excellent for laying around on the sand and soaking up the sun. As it is the Atlantic Ocean, the seas tend to be a bit rough with a bit of an undercurrent making it not so ideal for swimming. There is, however, a long shallow section before the big drop which allows for quick dips and long sun- bathing sessions. This area also boasts other attractions such as Citrus Creek Plantation which is two miles to the south.
Between March and September, these are also a small chance of seeing Dominica's variety of species of sea turtles who visit the beach to lay their eggs.
"OCEAN FLOOR CHAMPAGNE"
Underwater volcanoes are the source of Dominica's exotic underwater landscape. Features include: craters, chasms and sheer walls plunging thousands of feet as well as soaring pinnacles formed by lava flow. Just south of Pointe Michel, Champagne Reef is one of Dominica's "signature" dive sites. Enjoy a swim through warm bubbling waters created by geothermal vents. Shallow enough to be enjoyed by both snorkelers and scuba divers, water temperatures over the vents found throughout the reef can reach up to 90 degrees and leaves the sea floor warm to the touch. This constant bubbling of gasses creates a truly unique experience, similar to that of being in a hot tub but in the middle of the ocean!
Also found on the southwest coast is Scott's Head Beach; the surrounding shoreline that makes up the southwestern tip of the island. There you can also find Scott's Head Marine Reserve, which is the oldest reserve on the island and offers the most popular volcanic underwater features. When the tide is high, you can paddle in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean sea at the same time! How cool is that!
La Plaine Beach is among a few of the beaches on the East edge of Dominica. It is considered to be one of the more secluded beaches, but no worries, its relatively untouched parts might not be the typical "beach scene" but is very nice and private. It is also near to Citrus Creek Plantation (walkable distance) which is among the area's interesting attractions.
Like most of Dominica's coast, Salisbury Beach has a somewhat rocky shoreline but also has three different coral reefs starting with one right along the shore. A very easily- accessed beach positioned on the western outskirts of Salisbury, between Portsmoth and Roseau via Leblanc Highway until you have reached the tiny village of Baroui. It is also close to Wacky Rollers Adventure Park which is located three and a half miles to the southeast and is one of a few favourite destinations in the area.
Popular for its coral reefs, plenty underwater fauna can be seen in the clear blue waters. This beautiful natural attraction is also home to Salisbury Marine Reserve in the central west area and consists of dozens of sites with some of the healthiest and best reef diving in the Caribbean.
VISIT TO THE CARIB TERRITORY
The Kalinagos, who live in eight villages across the Carib Territory on the East Coast of the island, are one of the last pre- Colombian populations in the Caribbean. To this day they still keep much of their traditional culture, way of life and even electing their own chief. The Kalinago Barana Aute (Cultural Village) is definitely a place to see and you also have access to many craft stalls for a beautiful variety of traditional handiwork collectables.
So you're probably wondering what's next? Well hold onto your seats, there is more to do in Dominica than you think (given that you've exhausted nature isle's endless adventures). Nightlife activities come in many forms. At Secret Bay, you can enjoy a little light evening entertainment with a private one- man jazz concert in the privacy of your villa terrace. Veteran Jazz musician and star of the local jazz scene, the brilliant Robert Armstrong James will serenade you under the stars in an intimate evening with memories to last you a life time. Jazz performances are only available in villa only at the moment due to space requirements.
BARS & RUM SHOPS
For activities and venues outside of Secret Bay, you should definitely check out a Dominican Rum shop to absorb some of the local culture, interact with local residents and get in the loop about what's happening around the island. The only downside is that most bars in Dominica close early but the homemade rum punch has a 'kick' that will hit you way before closing hours. You have been warned!
Looking for a place to get down and shake a leg? Try The Warehouse, the island's major dance club (packed every Saturday), just a five minute drive north of Roseau- adjacent to Canefield. Party to genres such as Disco, Reggae and many others between the hours of 11pm to 5am. The Warehouse is a 200 year old stone building which was previously used to store rum in its earlier years. You can also take a look at Club Magic at Loubiere (gaining a good reputation) among a few others.
Krazy Koconuts is the entertainment capital of Dominica. Located at Castle Comfort, Roseau, you will find a combination of events ranging from fetes, concerts, shows, private functions, festivals and conferences as well.
ANNUAL MUSIC FESTIVAL (OCTOBER)
If you happen to be on the island in October, be sure to go to the World Creole Music Festival will be held at the Windsor Park Sport Stadium in Roseau.
Keep an eye on the latest lineup from the WCMF Schedule.
"What's for lunch"? "Where should I go for dinner"?… Hungry, well here are a few options for you.
With a bountiful selection of fresh fruits, produce and seafood, many locally produced or sourced, you'll be spoilt for choice!
Faces the Caribbean Sea and though it is a small cafe the quickness of service, pleasant staff and clean surroundings leave you with more than just a good taste in your mouth. Sandwich bar, cold beers and local juices! Check it out! The bacon sandwiches and fresh passion fruit juice come highly recommended!
- Location: Roseau
Caters to both Caribbean and French cuisine. It's great for quick- delicious meals, hanging out and having a drink while taking in the views on the Bay front -always a good people watching spot -especially on cruise ship day. Website: Cocorico Cafe.
- Location: Corner of Bay front and Kenedy Ave., Roseau -personal recommendation -a Cocorico crepe -the goat cheese one!
A local favourite offering whatever has been brought in by the fishermen that day; it will be full of locals, service can be a bit slow but definitely worth the wait. Select your fish and they'll do the rest; sit back and enjoy a cool Kubuli (the local beer) while you wait. Ask for a side order of breadfruit or cassava chips to accompany-delicious!
- Location: Pointe Michel -a small village about 10 minutes south of Roseau
A good choice for French cuisine with excellent flavours, great staff and memorable experiences.
- Location: 19 Castle Street, Roseau
A restored Creole house representing the true taste of Dominica. Chef Pearl's delicacies are renowned throughout the island. Ranging from tropical fruit juices to freshly caught crayfish appetizers. When available, lobster is served in any style you prefer. A few other dishes may include mean pork chops, curried goat- guaranteed to put hair on your chest, spareribs, codfish and plantains, etc. Tel: 1-767-448-8707.
- Location: 50 King George V St., Roseau
Set within Citrus Creek plantation hamlet of cottages. Only 2 miles north of La Plaine, Riversides concept "grow what you eat, eat what you grow" uses the plantation crops where absolutely NO CHEMICALS are used. Try their local cuisine with a French touch in their casually elegant stone house veranda, overlooking the Taberi river pools. Tel: 767-446-1234.
- Location: Main road, La Plaine Taberi, Dominica -go for Sunday lunch -there's often some live music. And take your swimming clothes -you might not be able to resist a dip in the river pools in this idyllic location.
River Rock Cafe
Offers tasty local cuisine with a fantastic view of the river below. Try Peanut's (the Owner) Passion Fruit Punch. Very strong stuff! Dare to try?
- Location: On the way to Trafalgar Falls, Main Road, Roseau
TAO Restaurant & Lounge Bar
Serves International cuisine and has a great scenic view with a home- friendly atmosphere. Website: TAO Restaurant & Lounge Bar.
- Location: 11 Victoria Street, Roseau 2269
Pagua Bay Bar and Grill
American cuisine with Caribbean flair - diner, grill and wine bar. Lunch daily from noon till 3 pm, breakfast and dinner by reservations only. Spectacular views with a casual atmosphere; be there!... Let’s not forget the rum punch as well, brace yourself! Website: Pagua Bay.
- Location: 3 miles South of the Melville Hall Airport, Pagua Bay House, Marigot, Dominica
Bon appetit- and easy on the Bush Rum!
Bear in mind that most shops and Government offices are closed on Public Holidays. Restaurants and attractions are usually open but it's best to check first. Below is a list of how the locals like to spend these days. There are often events happening on these days around the island, but if there is nothing special planned, there is always the beach! On public holidays locals like to get together with family and friends and spend the day at the beach as they typically don't get to do that on a regular basis.
NEW YEAR'S DAY - This is a day of relaxation and for family and friends to get together with each other well for the New Year.
CARNIVAL - Usually celebrated around the island and includes a wide variety of entertaining and interactive events. Involves very loud music, dancing in the streets (jump-up), Calypso competitions, the annual crowning of the Queen monarch and amazing costumes.
GOOD FRIDAY - As this is a major religious holiday, most people in Dominica will attend church.
EASTER MONDAY- Another day of relaxation, often at the beach.
WHIT MONDAY - A day to get together with family and friends and maybe bring a picnic or barbeque on the beach or other nature- involved activities.
DIVE FEST - Generally the 2nd or 3rd week of July, the Dominica Watersports Association holds its annual Dive Fest in early July and provides events such as: whale watching deals, special dive packages, snorkeling picnics, canoe racing, and marine educational tours. It is also the longest running Scuba Diving Festival in the Caribbean.
AUGUST MONDAY - Emancipation Day
NATURE ISLAND LITERARY FESTIVAL & BOOK FAIR - Usually in August, consists of celebrations of writing and reading. Events include: poetry readings and competitions, writing workshops, local and overseas guest writers/ speakers, panel discussions, books on sale and many other activities.
INDEPENDENCE DAY - The country commemorates its Independence with a season of cultural activities which can last as long as four weeks. Usually for the portrayal of the island's cultural influences. Traditional dances display European traces in Hill & Toe, Waltz, Quadrille and also borrow from African Native Dances in Bele. A display of National dress wear, food, dance and traditional music.
CHRISTMAS DAY - Christmas is a family holiday so locals cook and spend the day at home welcoming visitors and returning nationals.
BOXING DAY - Another Christmas holiday for spending time with the family and sharing the season.