Dominica isn't known for its beaches as many other Caribbean islands are. Instead, eco-tourism is tops here. It is indeed because of eco-tourism that Dominica made National Geographic's 2011 "20 Best Trips" list and was listed as the third best island in the Caribbean by USA Today in 2014. Hiking, diving, and water sports are the largest draws to the area; so if you are comfortable being outdoors, Dominica could be the island for you.
|Currency||The official currency of Dominica is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). The U.S. dollar is widely accepted, but you may still receive change in EC$. The exchange rate is about EC$2.61 to each US$1 (EC$1 = US$0.38)|
|Electricity||U.S. visitors need both adapters and transformers, as the electrical current is 220/240 volts AC, 50 cycles.|
|GDP Per Capita||The average per capita income is $9,900(USD).|
|Island Size||The island is approximately 290 square miles in area.|
|Language||English is the official language, but Creole and French are widely spoken.|
|Population||The island is home to about 71,684 people, and sees about 66,400 visitors annually, 22 percent of whom come from the U.S.|
|Entry Requirements||All visitors to Dominica, including those from within the Caribbean, must have a valid passport and an ongoing or return ticket.
Dominica is located in the Caribbean Sea, about halfway between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago. The island is one of the largest in the Caribbean; perhaps because it is one of the youngest, measuring in at about 291.1 square miles total area. Dominica is of volcanic origin, and is typified by rugged landscapes, lush forests, and fast-flowing streams. The highest peak, Morne Diablantins, reaches 4747 feet above sea level.
Rural life is the way here. Caribs, the native people of the Caribbean, live together on the island and make baskets, a popular souvenir for many visitors. Conservative and religious, locals frown upon revealing clothing that seems mainstream to many Westerners, so be sure to bring casual and light, but modest, clothing.
High elevations mean that Dominica is one of the wettest of the Caribbean islands. Rain effects island life so much that seasons are determined more by the amount of rainfall the island receives than the average temperatures . Dominica averages well over 300 inches of rain a year, most especially in the rainy season which runs from July through October – but don't be fooled, it rains almost every day of the year on Dominica, even during the dry season. Daytime temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s in degrees Fahrenheit.
...sail through the trees...
Natural attractions top the list of things to see on Dominica. Morne Trios Pitons National Park in particular is a great place to visit because it has everything an eco-tourist could want. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but there are 300 miles of paths, and several rushing water falls. Hiking trails exist nearly everywhere you look on Dominica, and there are plenty of places to seek adventure. Note that the offices of the Dominica National Park strongly recommend that visitors hire a guide to help them navigate the island's trails, which are often difficult to traverse and poorly marked. Guides can be arranged by visiting Dominica National Park's office in the Botanical Gardens in Roseau.
Hop on a zip line while touring the jungle, bike along the coast, and do some rock climbing for a thrill. One can't miss the natural site of Boiling Lake, the second largest of its kind in the world. Though, if you can only do one thing on the island, make it a visit to Cabrit's National Park. The park is a protected site, and a sample of virtually every type of the island's terrain is found here. In the span of a few hours you can stand in swamplands, the rainforest, and volcanic sands in the shadow of the twin peaks of East and West Cabrit. The park is only 25 percent land, and snorkeling trips to explore the area's marine life are available.
...experience the island's marine life up close and personal...
Dominica's beaches provide water sports of all types. Swimming, tubing, kayaking (some argue the best in the Caribbean), and snorkeling in secluded mountain lakes and rivers can make vacationers feel as if you are the only person to have ever navigated Dominica's waters before; and scuba diving at one of many dive spots can allow you to experience the island's marine life up close and personal. Dominica is also the top whale watching island in the Caribbean, so a deep water tour is essential. With any luck, you'll be able to view any one of several species of whale, including sperm, killer, and pilot whales; dolphins are also a common sight on these tours.
One of the best ways to experience Dominica's culture is by sampling regional cuisine. Some local specialties include crab backs, conch, manicou (small opossum), and fresh fish. Root vegetables are a mainstay, as are cucumbers and creole seasonings. Wash your meal down with Sea Moss, an alcoholic beverage that contains sea weed or moss, and harbors a refreshing minty taste. Don't worry, international cuisine is available for those who are less adventurous with what they put in their mouth. Click here for restaurants by cuisine on Dominica.
Crime is rare on Dominica, but you should follow basic safety precautions such as traveling in groups. Roads are difficult to navigate on Dominica, and it is easy to get lost in the wilderness; hire a local guide and keep maps handy. Water is potable from taps, as well as from springs and lakes in the high mountains.
When planning a trip to the Caribbean, consider what exactly it is that you are looking for. If the thought of sinking your toes into warm sand and relaxing on a hot beach is the first thing that comes to mind, Dominica may not be the place for you. If, on the other hand, you feel at home exploring natural landforms, and love hiking and camping, Dominica is the perfect place to visit.
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