Dominica: Pirate’s Cove of the Caribbean

Dominica contends for the friendliest place on Earth. Every person I met was warm and polite as my planned day trip extended several days due to Tropical Storm Gustav grounding planes in the region.

Dominica Morne Trois Pitons National Park Emerald Pool 02

The island is one of the hardest to reach in the Caribbean. Airlines service are regional and unreliable, principally on LIAT, with additional service from Seaborne out of Puerto Rico. Occasional ferries on a route of Guadaloupe – Dominica – Martinique – St Lucia may or may not sail. Cruise ships up to 3,000 passengers can dock.

In this series:

Dominica is mountainous jungle, featuring UNESCO-listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Park attractions include the easily accessible Emerald Pool on the cross-island road, to energetic hikes to the Boiling Lake. Most of Dominica’s sites natural sites cost US$5 each, or $12 for a weekly pass.

Dominica Ecotourism Pass

Hobbled by a bum Achilles, I took the easy walking path to Emerald Lake. The island-long, new Waitukubuli Tail passes though.

Dominica Morne Trois Pitons National Park Emerald Pool 01

Dominica Morne Trois Pitons National Park Emerald Pool 03

Dominica Waitukubuli National Trail

I continued to the capital, Roseau, empty on a Sunday and down the west coast to Champagne Bay. Dominica has limited resorts and marginal beaches, though excellent diving. At Champagne Bay you can snorkel offshore to experience bubbles emanating from sea floor vents. The effect is cool, though a bit less than advertised. There is a dive shop on site, closed on Sundays. I had the wrong spot, it is not at the end of boardwalk, rather it as at the rocks around the bend of the island, thanks to Ked’s Fun Tours for pointing the way with some Dutch tourists he brought. A wealth of information, Ked can be reached at princeked_96 -at- hotmail.com or (767) 614-2174/(767) 245-5480.

Dominica Champagne Bay

Portsmouth is the principal town on the north coast, featuring a university and Indian River boat tours. I arrived in heavy rain and too late for a boat tour. Instead I went to the fort at Cabrits National Park to find a weekend cultural festival with a lively talent show.

Dominica Portsmouth 01

Dominica Portsmouth Festival 01

Dominica Portsmouth Festival 02

Dominica Portsmouth 02

Dominica Portsmouth Indian River

I made the dark drive though roaring jungle to the airport for my flight out having enjoyed my day, despite not eating since about the only places open were KFC and Subway.

I saw the offshore rocks of Hell’s Gate brooding in the darkness, site of filming for the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.

I was the only passenger for the flight in from Barbados, to continue to Antigua. I was stamped out of the country and ready to go when a LIAT representative informed me that the plane had turned back due to a storm approaching Antigua.

Dominica Airport Departures Hall

Two frustrating days of delays and scant information unfolded, brightened by people like Desmond at Avis who came back from home and let me have my car back without charging a new rental. The immigration officer never stamped me back in the country and the next day, both bored, we chatted at lunch at the airport cafe.

Dominica Airport Check-In Hall

The airport is unfortunately an hour and roughly US$80 drive from the city and the attractions, and with such uncertainty I had to base myself at the airport, making an inpromptu office in the corner of the departures hall where I could pick up a stray wifi connection for a hidden VIP lounge.

Dominica Airport Check-In Hall

I commuted from nearby guest house Classique International Dominica, where proprietors Elvin and Lena are great hosts, especially if Lena has been baking.

Dominica Classique International 01

Dominica Classique International 02

Dominica Classique International 03

Dominica Classique International 04

Dominica recalls my other favorite Caribbean Island, Saba. Both are isolated jungles rising from the ocean. Tourism is on a smaller, more personal scale. If you get there you may want to stay longer, and you could very well have no choice. 🙂

LIAT ATR at Dominica

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  • Shannon

    What’s camera do you use for these amazing pictures? Does TMobil free data work here?

  • guera

    This is the island report I’ve been waiting for. How many days do you think is optimal for this island? It’s been on my bucket list for about 30 years, but as you said it’s hard to get to. Must confess that I am disappointed that KFC and Subway have franchises here.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – Canon S100, I mostly do automatic setting, never have learned the manual controls.

    T-Mobile works I think in all the Caribbean islands, so far all I have been to have connected fine, typically through Lime, which makes the phone thinks it is in Jamaica so watch out for auto-timezone adjust leading you wayward.

    @guera – if not diving 2-3 days. Boiling Lake or some of the other big hikes are full-day affairs. I did not visit the village by park access on that side however in research it sounds interesting for hot spring.

    Then a day of morning Champagne Bay and afternoon up around Portsmouth.

    KFC and Subway turn up throughout the Caribbean but Dominica is very chill, I wouldn’t have noticed those two if it wasn’t a Sunday with nearly everything shuttered. Some cruise ships do dock, I believe they can handle ones up to 3,000 passengers which apparently is small, so try to avoid those. No huge resorts. You will like it.

  • AlohaDaveKennedy

    Dominica is indeed a great place, especially if you enjoy nature. Also met an islander off island when flying back from PEI. Very friendly. Overall very good impression of the island and folks.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @AlohaDaveKennedy – a PEI-DOM nexus, that’s fantastic, the world needs more of that!

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