Dominica travel guide

2 minute summary

Dominica is quiet about its glories. In fact, this small island has a calm and quiet soul. Even though it boasts nine volcanoes, three national parks, three geothermally gorgeous marine reserves and 365 rivers. A blessing rather than a curse, there are no direct international flights, so the majority of big birds you see in the sky are natural ones, with over 180 species from pelicans to parrots. So, Dominica is quiet, yes; but sleepy, no. Because the best way to explore the rain and cloud forests, volcanic craters and steamy slopes is by hiking. Which is why the Waitukubuli National Trail, the only long-distance walking trail in the Caribbean, is so highly rated by international trekkers. Spanning 185kms from north to south, it was designed by the local community to link up remote villages. By foot. Because when you do Dominica slowly and quietly, just as Dominicans do, you allow the sights and sounds to simply speak for themselves. And they speak volumes.
Our Dominica travel guide leads you through this island’s unspoiled nature.
Dominica is...

voluptuously volcanic.
With myriad walking trails meandering through its prolific peaks.
Dominica isn't...

the Dominican Republic.

Eating & drinking

Fish and meat dishes are accompanied by ‘provisions’ – yam, dasheen , breadfruit, or green banana
Cooking tours at local homes are a wonderful way to join the Dominican feast.
Don’t miss the Caribbean chicken lunch at Kalinago Barana Aute Cultural Village.
Crab backs, crab shells stuffed with shredded crab meat, are a seasonal Creole tradition. The hunting season is October 1 to December 3, and this is the only time they are allowed.

Dominica’s new national dish is callaloo soup, a green leafy soup often served with crab. It replaced the Crapaud ‘mountain chicken’ (a local frog), now an endangered species.

People & language

Dominicans are delightful people. They delight in hosting guests, delight in their food and drink, delight in their rural heritage and delight in their magical mix of African, European, Creole and indigenous Kalinago cultures. English is the official language, but their local Kwéyòl is cooler – influenced by French, Kalinago and West African indigenous language. Such as:
“Bon jou” – good morning/day.

“Mes” – Thank you

“Ovwa” – Good bye (think of the French and you’ve got it!)

Kokoy is a local patois, used in a few villages in the north, influenced by English rather than French.

Gifts & shopping

The indigenous Kalinago (Carib) people create stunning basketwork and woven crafts, using the local larouma plant.
Artisans create jewellery made from resources ranging from cow horn, coconut to calabash.
The spas around Wotten Waven often sell soaps and other products made from sulphur and other local resources such as cocoa.
Check out the Dominica Arts and Crafts Producers Association, with a directory of local artisans.

Fast facts

Jing Ping is Dominica’s traditional music – a band that features the bamboo flute, boom boom bamboo wind instrument, gwaj idiophone and of course the accordion.

How much does it cost?

Baguette style bread: 25p to 50p
Local sweet fruit wine: £4 - £5.
Pilau lunch of chicken and lentils: £2.50 - £5
Scooter/jeep hire: £17/22 day
Any village to Roseau by
local bus: £2.50
for one hour ride

A brief history of Dominica

Like all history, it depends whose version you read, and there are many stories to be told. A good place to start is on the north east coast of Dominica where the Kalinago indigenous people have their own territory, the last chief having been elected in 2014, namely Charles Williams. Indeed, the original Kalinago name of the island was Waitukubuli, meaning ‘Tall is her body’.Read more ▼
Responsible Travel would like to thank the Dominica tourist board for their sponsorship of this guide
Photo credits: [Top box: Stefan Krasowski] [Eating & drinking: Jungle Trekking and Adventure Safaris] [People & culture: ckramer] [Gifts & shopping: Discover Dominica Authority] [How much does it cost: bowers8554]
Written by Catherine Mack
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