Dominica

TRAVEL

GUIDE

Published by

Stefan Stoynov

Stefan Stoynov

Stefan is on board Wonder Backpack's exploration team.

Dominica Insider

Dominica is a little-known Carribean island in the Lesser Antilles. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is wedged between the two French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Also called the ‘Nature Island’ the best part about Dominica is that it’s not a tourist hot-spot. It’s far less developed than other Caribbean nations and the only way to reach it is by propeller plane. This makes for a truly unique experience in this luscious and beautiful island. If you want to have the beach all to yourself, this is the island you want to go to.

Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Maria’s devastating force that hit Dominica in September 2017, the island has been severely impacted. The locals are recovering fast, but it may take another year or two until it becomes welcoming to visitors again.

Where Did We ?

Dominica Placeholder
Dominica

Favorite Booking Resources for this Trip.

3 Most Favorite Experiences

Volcanic Lake on the Island of Dominica

Boiling Lake/ Titou Gorge

Boiling Lake is the second largest flooded fumarole in the world. The trailhead is located in the mountains just 30 minutes from the capital city Roseau. The hike to the lake takes about 6 hours- it's 3 hours one way, 6 hours round trip, and is moderate to high-intensity. Be sure to start your walk very early in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat. On your way up to the lake, you will pass through the Valley of Desolation which has small bubbling geysers and water-spots. Watch your step as the temperature of these water-spots can quickly burn you! If you're lucky, the boiling lake will be visible enough so you can actually see it boiling! You start and end the hike at Titou Gorge, where several scenes from the Pirates of the Carribean were filmed. It's highly encouraged that you take a dip in the cold water gorge with a beer from the local vendor. If you're bold, you can swim to the end of the canyon where you will find a small waterfall. Be sure to rent a life vest from the vendor as it truly helps you see the Gorge without having to tread water for too long.

Scott's Head

This is a great spot to spend a day just an hour or so from the capital. Scott's Head is located at the southernmost tip of the island. The beach divides the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The less choppy Caribbean side, just under the head, is an excellent place to take a dunk or go snorkeling! You can also hike to the top of the head to see an old colonial cannon or take some beautiful shots of the town. If you're lucky enough, you'll be able to see Martinique to the south and Mt Pele's peaks.

Secret Bay Beach Dominica.jpg

Secret Beach

Surrounded by tall walls of clay, this beach is only accessible by boat making it a very exclusive experience. You can get a boat to drop you off and pick you up from Coconut Beach watersports bar called Wave Dancer Water Sports (just north of Secret Beach). You should make sure to visit the beach on a bright and sunny day as getting on and off the boat is tricky when the waters are choppy. Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear and a snack when you're there!

Other SEEs and DOs worth mentioning

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  • Roseau
  • Portsmouth
  • Le Petit Paris Bakery and Restaurant
  • Ava Wavine
  • Cabrits
  • Cabrits Dive School

Roseau is the capital of Dominica, and It has all the things you might need, including groceries, museums, the main hospital, and hotels.

This is the second biggest city. Located at the northwest side of the island. Home to Ross University which hosts a small US/Canadian student population with dorms, grocery stores, restaurants and administrative services. Sits on a large bay with excellent beaches.

Even though it looks more like a cafe rather than a restaurant, this is a very cozy little place. It is perfect for grabbing a quick bite. Pizzas are delicious, but they also have a selection of salads and quiches. 

This is a short but high-intensity hike down a steep cliff to a secluded bay on the eastern side of the island. You’ll be scaling down the cliff using ropes and ladders so you’ll need upper body strength. Once you get down to the bay, keep an eye out for the waterfall that shoots out of the rocks directly onto the beach. PRO TIP: try to time your hike with a low tide or calm day as the beach could be entirely covered in water (and a bit dangerous).

Cabrits is an old colonial fortress next to Portsmouth. Once held by the French and British during their back and forth battles for the island. Provides a great view of the bay and Portsmouth.

If you're into diving, look no further, this is the best place to go. The instructor speaks fluent English and is PADI certified. The location is next to several of the worlds best dive spots.

  • Secret Bay (Villas)
  • Champaign Reef
  • Batibou Beach
  • Red Rocks
  • Rosalie Bay

If you've got money to spend this is the most beautiful place to stay on the entire island. Superstars like Oprah and Mariah Carey have stayed here. Villas feature private pools, great views and access to the secret beach by kayak.

This is a unique beach where bubbles of gas are emitted from the bottom of the bay. Since Dominica is a volcanically active region, these bubbles are caused by the trapped gasses under the ocean floor. It's an excellent place for snorkeling. The beach itself is a bit rocky so you may wish to spend most of your time in the water!

This beach is on the northeastern part of the island. There is an access road that leads to a beach about 15-20 minute walk from the main road. This is a fantastic beach for swimming and waves. There is a bar that serves drinks and picnic tables available. Don't be surprised if you're the only person on the entire beach!

These are unique cliffs on the Atlantic side of the island that are a bright red color. You can capture some beautiful views in this area. Not too far from the entrance of this park is a cocoa plantation and also Escape Beach Bar.

This is a fantastic place to see sea turtles. Leatherbacks are giant sea turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beach. Witness this event up close, but be sure to time it with the correct season!

What/ Where to Eat?

Escape Beach Bar and Grill Dominica

Escape Beach Bar & Grill

This is one of my favorite places on the island. If you want a beach and bar combo to be sure to visit this place. The food is excellent, and the beach is one of the only ones with white sand on the entire island. Lodging is also available here and well-worth the price. Don't expect the beach to run out of space, you will likely be the only person there!

Dominican Bites with Saltfish

Bakes

This is a common street-food dish which looks a lot like a biscuit. You can usually ask the vendor to slice it in two and put some Accra (or saltfish) in the middle for extra flavor. You can also get bakes with plantains and other common ingredients. It's a great snack on the go!

Fried plantain in Dominica

Plantains

Another common street-food is fried plantains. They taste like Bananas but have a slightly different consistency. It's another excellent snack option if you're on the go and you can usually find shops selling them along the main road that runs around the island.

Fresh Coconut Dominica

Coconuts

If you're lucky, you might find a street vendor offering fresh coconut water. They'll take it and slice it open right in front of you so you can drink from the shell. Be sure to ask for a straw! Or you can also ask them to pour it into your water bottle so you can take it go. The price for one coconut will be no more than 50 cents and yield at least 0.5 to 1 liter of coconut water.

Boat Fish Market Dominica

Fish Market

You'll need to ask the locals where the closest fish market is. They are usually right on the shore of the water where the fishing boats pull up in almost every town. The fish is often the catch of the day so you can count on it being fresh. Tell them what you want, and they'll slice it up!

Insider Tips Dominica

Transportation

You have two main transportation options; private taxi and public bus. Both of these usually look like a small minibus/van. If the license plate starts with an H, you can wave it down. If there are people already inside, it's likely a public bus. The public bus prices and routes are NOT listed anywhere but you can simply ask the driver for the price and tell them where you'd like to go. Other than main bus stations in the major towns, there are no real bus stops. All you need to do is wave them down and they'll stop to pick you up. The public bus is very cheap- about $3 USD from Roseau to Portsmouth. For the same route a Taxi may cost you $40 USD or more. Don't be afraid to get crammed into a bus full of locals. It's a great experience and will definitely save you money. If you need to get off, just say 'Stop Here' or 'Stop Please' and the driver will pull over. PRO TIP: The roads in Dominica are very curvey. If you get car sick easily, we suggest sitting in the very front of the bus so you can look straight.

Budget

Simply put, all things that are produced locally are cheap. This includes things like locally grown fruits, vegetables, rum and locally caught seafood. Everything else is, including all imported goods and services are comparable to those in the USA. We recommend using Airbnb for accommodation as it can be much cheaper and the local bus for transport. To be on the safe side, set your budget as if you're traveling to any other city in the USA.

Documents

Visa is not required if you're staying less than 6 months and you have an outbound departure ticket. Be sure to have a valid passport.

Currency

Dominica uses the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is also used by several other island nations such as Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts, St Lucia and the Grenadines. It's based on the USD and is always at the 2.7 EC to 1 USD. Frequently locals are willing to accept USD as well. PRO TIP: just divide what you're paying for in three and that will be the approximate cost in USD.

Etiquette

The locals are amiable people, and there really isn't any specific etiquette here. One thing to understand when visiting Dominica or any other Caribbean nation is that things go slower here. When ordering food or having a service done, be sure to allow extra time and be patient. Also, keep in mind that driving is on the left side. The applies when walking on the sidewalk!

Travel Tips and Resources

We have put together original articles to further help you with your travel planning! In the links below, you can find information about transportation, lodging, insurance, planning and booking tips and tricks that we use to make our trip ideas come to life.

City Guides

We are working on those. Coming soon.

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