Keep safe on Dominica’s hiking trails. These are not just a walk in the park, with many challenging expeditions. The Waitukibuli National Trail website clearly maps out which sections are easy, moderate or challenging. Using a local expert guide for the harder treks is highly recommended. They have good safety tips on their website, including a facility to register your presence on the trail if you are heading off on a hike. Download this and give it to your accommodation provider, nearest police station and/or Waitukubuli National Trail Management Unit (TMU). Otherwise, wear sensible gear, bring plenty of water, snacks, suncream, insect repellent, a compass, OS Maps, an emergency kit and a mobile phone.
Note when hiking the Waitukubuli National Trail, there is no mobile phone signal on segments 8 and 9, but you can hire shortwave radio equipment before you set out on these segments. And always keep to the well-marked trail.
Beware of the poisonous Manchineel tree in the Cabrits NP, around Fort Shirley. Its sap, leaves and berries are highly toxic – even through the skin. Never shelter under one during a rainstorm – even the rain dripping off the plant will cause blisters.
Never attempt to wade across rivers when they are in full flood, a sign of which is discoloured water.
Bring water shoes to cross rivers, not only to keep hiking boots dry, but to stop slipping on rocks and hurting toes.
The hurricane season officially runs from June until November. Although Dominica was hit by tropical storm Erika in 2015, this was the first in over eight years. However, always keep an eye on weather warnings and pay attention to advice in your accommodation about what to do if a storm occurs. Fortunately, most buildings here have been constructed with storms in mind – though mudslides can occur, with electricity, transport and freshwater supplies severely affected.
Crime levels are low in Dominica. However, you can minimise your chances of being affected by not carrying valuables or large amounts of cash – particularly during crowded festivals and events; avoiding walking after dark in isolated areas; and only taking licensed taxis.