Island of Dominica – volcanic Caribbean “Nature Island” with its demanding but highly rewarding hiking trails, waterfalls, Boiling Lake, Secret Beach, with colorful capital Roseau as well as Jungle Bay Resort & Spa is a paradise for matured tourists....
Dominica - Facts, Maps and Short History
The island of Dominica is “hidden” in the ring of Little Antilles between French "outre-mer" territories - islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Due to its rough volcanic landscape and practically no flat land that could be easily adapted for plantations this small island of about 290 sq. miles (754 sq km) for long had been escaping appetites of colonial powers.
Indeed for centuries it was an unconquered and forgotten Caribbean island.
For these reasons it became the last bastion of fierce warriors – Caribs, a favorite hideout for slaves escaping from nearby islands and a dream refuge for pirates.
As the result - Dominica (today an independent country) till these days is still pretty much in its pristinely virgin state, almost as it was created at the “beginning of time” by the Mother Nature.
To avoid confusion with Dominican Republic (country sharing the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti), Dominica after gaining its independence from Britain took an official name – Commonwealth of Dominica.
Map of Dominica
Source - http://wikitravel.org/shared/Image:Dominica_Map.png
The island of Dominica was discovered to Europeans by Christopher Columbus on Sunday, November 3, 1493.
That fact prompted Spaniards to name it “Sunday Island” (in Latin “Dominica”).
The island was enjoying its forgotten status till the beginning of 18th century when finally colonial powers (probably running out of easy targets) decided to put an end to Dominica’s “innocence”.
Since then the island was gradually colonized by French and then British Imperia till it gained independence in 1978.
And for better "orientation" - Map of Little Antilles
Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LesserAntillesIslands.png
As the last on the list of colonial rulers, the British Imperium left on Dominica the most visible footprints – English as the official language (this is probably good news for tourists) and left-side driving (ouch!).
The latter, given narrow, winding and mostly in the state of sorry roads usually is the most challenging test for most of visitors.
I still remember my first day confusion. The road was so narrow that practically you cannot drive on any side, but just keep in the center.
Seeing a car coming from the opposite direction I instinctively tried to move to the right side of the road just to realize that the approaching driver must be a “kamikaze”, because he also moved to the same side (fortunately you cannot drive there fast)…..
Driving along the shores on narrow winding roads is not an easy task (and for those "inexperienced" - the left side driving does not help either)....
The population of Dominica - mainly descendents of African slaves, Creoles and native Caribs varies around 70,000.
About one third of the population lives in the capital – Roseau. While English is an official language, French influence dating from early colonial times is still deeply “engraved” in the life of the island….
For example the name of the capital of Dominica – Roseau, comes from the plants called “roseaux” (French name of dome kind of reeds) growing in this area.
Dominicans are friendly and joyful people, but also brave and proud of their past (no wonder given their fearless ancestors). Like most Latin American countries in the late February they celebrate the Carnival. Obviously it cannot match the one in Rio, but at least in one “dimension” it surpasses the Brazilian one – almost all Roseau participates in festivities ….
Flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica
It maybe worth to note that in strong contrast with some other Caribbean islands, Dominica is safe! No pickpockets, no beggars…. I think of it as a part of the ”unpolluted” native culture still resisting trends of so-called “civilization”…
I can’t resist quoting here few strophes from Dominica’s National Anthem as it beautifully expresses the spirit of this young nation.
Dominica’s National Anthem (Fragments)
(Lyrics by W. O. M. Pond)
Isle of beauty, isle of splendor,
Isle to all so sweet and fair,
All must surely gaze in wonder
At thy gifts so rich and rare.
Rivers, valleys, hills and mountains,
All these gifts we do extol.
Healthy land, so like all fountains,
Giving cheer that warms the soul.
Strive for honor, sons and daughters,
Do the right, be firm, be fair.
Toil with hearts and hands and voices.
We must prosper! Sound the call,
In which ev'ry one rejoices,
"All for Each and Each for All."
Visibly, the country is poor. For some the lack of modern infrastructure, spectacular sky-scrappers, familiar hotel chains or KFC-like gastronomy may create feelings of stepping into “unchartered-waters”. But I guess overwhelming majority of visitors truly enjoy leaving "McDonalds" far behind….
And even the fact that shops are closing for the weekend at 1pm on Saturday is cheered…..
Mother Nature was kind to Dominica so the island has all that nature lovers and adventure oriented tourists will appreciate. Cones of “more or less sleeping” volcanoes piercing the sky (the highest one, Morne Diablotins has an elevation of 4,747 ft/1,447m), deep gorges and narrow valleys covered by verdant rainforests, hundreds of rivers, creeks and waterfalls shape the landscape of the island.
Dominica is a paradise for birdwatchers
Island’s natural landmark – the Boiling Lake (second-largest lake of its kind in the world after the Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Valley (New Zealand)) is probably the best known symbol of “Capricious Forces of Nature” so deeply imprinted on the island of Dominica.
Follow the link: Dominica Boiling Lake Trail
Thanks to this unspoiled beauty enhanced by hot springs, bubbling pools, surprising stretches of golden sandy beaches and typical black volcanic ones, emerald waters of surrounding the island Caribbean sea, rare plants and colorful birds - Dominica was nicknamed “Nature Island of the Caribbean”. In fact the name is well deserved.
Not surprisingly giving the richness and abundance of forms of islands’ natural gifts, in 1998 the Morne Trois Pitons National Park (area of about 6,880 hectares) was declared UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Dominica in Pictures: Trekking
While there are some short and relatively easy footpaths like for example these leading to Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls, most Dominica’s high-mountains treks require some basic physical fitness.
Island of Dominica: Victoria Falls
Due to large concentration of volcanoes in the tight area of island, treks are often steep and follow “murderous” up-and-down patterns…..(example – Boiling Lake hiking path).
In some places rocky riverbeds make-up “walking” paths across the jungle (for example the path to the Victoria Falls).
Secret Beach next to the Ravine Cyrique - waterfall.
The truth is that access to some hidden places may require a large dose of adventurous spirit, good physical condition and in some places – courage and “cold-blood” (example – Secret Beach next to the Ravine Cyrique).
Rainy climate and mountainous landscape make Dominica a place of spectacular waterfalls shooting over sheer cliffs of exposed rocks. The highest are Middleham Falls on the tributary of the Boeri River. The most popular are mentioned Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Falls, Victoria Falls and Sari-Sari….
Those deprived of “extra” physical fitness can still enjoy Dominica’s nature. The Rainforest Aerial Tram allows tourists to effortlessly penetrate jungle’s treetop canopy for more than one hour. Horseback riding and jeep safari are other ways of exploring island’s nature…..
Scenic road meanders along the coastline
Famous Champagne Beach (named after the "bubbling" sea floor)
Church in the state's capital Roseau
Roseau - Barber/Hairdresser shop
Roseau - busy street packed with cars
Restaurant in Roseau is serving local delicacies in local ambiance :-)
Rich blooming flora beautifies the Island of the Nature...
Driving through the Carib territory....
Dominica: Malcolm X has it right when saying "Education is your passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today..." (written on the bus stop near the secondary school)
Sea offers equally fascinating environment. Underwater rock formations and steep cliffs mimicking island’s landscape, colorful reefs and marine life combined with excellent visibility of emerald-blue waters create the paradise for snorkelers and scuba-divers.
Recognizing these “assets” a week-long Dive Fest is organized in Dominica in July each year.
Snorkeling is popular in the place called “Champagne Beach”. The bubbling ocean floor formed by geothermal vents creates there fairy-tale settings for this less demanding water adventure.
In 2011 the National Geographic Traveler included Dominica on its list of 20 top world destinations. It signals the major change for the Nature Island.
Although it is still secluded place living its own life at its own pace, now it is not anymore a “hidden” paradise below the radar’s screens.
If this is still not convincing, then let me mention that P. Schultz included Dominica in her famous book “One Thousand Places to See Before You Die”….. The bottom line is - do not live Dominica’s adventure for the “after-life” :-)....
Now let's listen to what others say about Dominica...
Falling in love with Dominica? I do not blame you, it happens to almost everybody visiting this "Nature Island" hidden on the waters of the Caribbean Sea. So relax, forget about problems at work and enjoy :-)
Dominica Boiling Lake Trail
Dominica Victoria Falls
Dominica Nature Hikes
and after all that you may want to Relax the mind, Rejuvenate the soul and Restore the body at:
Dominica Jungle Bay Resort & Spa
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