Fully updated in November 2023
Dominica is a beautiful island country in the Caribbean, situated right in the middle between the much more popular holiday-islands of Guadeloupe to the North and Martinique to the South. Yet, despite this location, only a few travellers find their way to this tropical paradise each year.
The reason might be that Dominica lacks in the splendid white-sand beaches most people tend to associate with Caribbean islands, although it features some of the most beautiful black-sand beaches I’ve ever seen, as well as magnificent lakes, rivers and waterfalls in its lush interior.
Sounds alluring? I haven’t even mentioned the relaxing warm springs and the incredibly friendly locals. Check out everything you need to know about this undiscovered paradise in this short introductory guide.
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Why Should You Visit Dominica?
The unspoiled nature of Dominica definitely is the biggest draw. The island’s mountainous interior is incredibly lush and green, and features countless beautiful waterfalls as well as some truly spectacular natural oddities, one of them being a lake that is constantly boiling due to subsurface geothermal activity, as well as the otherworldly Valley of Desolation.
What’s even better is that chances are you’ll have most of these places completely to yourself. Due to the fact that you won’t find a single beach resort in the entire country, the numbers of other foreigners you’ll meet are very low compared to other Caribbean Islands – that’s something we enjoyed tremendously after visiting nearby Guadeloupe.
Apart from the nature, one of the biggest surprises for me was the incredible hospitality and warmness of the locals. You have to experience their relaxed vibe to believe it. Let me just tell you that the universal greeting on the island is a fist bump, followed by two taps to the heart. Need I say more?
You can check out my list of the 10 must-see attractions on Dominica here or have a look below at some fun activities offered on the island.
Do I Need a Visa for Dominica?
There are plenty of visa-free countries, including the US and member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as the EU. You can check if you need one on this site.
How to Get to Dominica
Direct flights to Dominica are only available from some other Caribbean Islands as well as Miami, which means that you’ll have to connect at those places if you’re starting from anywhere else. A cheaper and more atmospheric alternative is to fly part of the way and then take a ferry.
Stefanie and I decided to fly to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, which can be reached non-stop from several North-American airports (New York JFK, Miami, Montreal), as well as from Europe (Paris Orly and Brussels Airport have regular connections as have some other, mostly French cities).
From there we took a ferry to Dominica, which is a lot cheaper than flying the short distance, takes about two and a half hours and definitely is a much more atmospheric way to approach the island.
How to Get Around on Dominica
Dominica is one of those places where it’s pretty easy to get around without your own set of wheels. Cheap Minibuses connect most places of touristic interest and for any destinations that can’t be reached that way, hitch-hiking is super easy – in most cases, the first car that passed us stopped and took us along.
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, and you want the flexibility of your own transport, there are several car rental firms in Roseau and at the Airport, as well as in some other places along the coast (like Portsmouth and Marigot).
Have a look below to find the best available deals on rental cars.
When is the Best Time to Visit Dominica?
As Dominica is a tropical island, the temperatures are warm year-round, but precipitation can also be pretty high, and you might want to avoid rainy season as well as hurricane season, which peaks from August to October – Dominica was hit pretty badly several times over the last few years.
February to May are the driest months, and we found it to be a rather pleasant time to visit the island temperature- and humidity-wise.
How Long to Stay on Dominica?
With such a beautiful place, it’s hard to give a good assessment, as no matter how long you stay, you’ll probably be loath to leave in the end. I’d say that one week is the absolute minimum, two would be much better, if you have the time. Don’t be fooled by Dominica’s small size: Its rugged interior means that there are countless places to explore, and you’ll always feel like there’s more to see.
Daily Budget for Dominica
While not as cheap as some favourite backpacker destinations (looking at you, South-East Asia), spending time on Dominica still is much more affordable than on any of the neighbouring islands. There are plenty of rustic cabins for hire all over the island, where you can base yourself for day trips and many places also offer camping, which of course is an even cheaper option.
If you don’t have to pinch your pennies, there are a couple of midrange hotels as well, mostly offering slightly more luxurious cabins, and if you’re going all in, the more expensive Secret Bay is Dominica’s most extravagant luxury hotel, while Jungle Bay Dominica is an ecolodge with a reputation of being utterly beautiful.
The ubiquitous minibuses are a cheap way to get around, while most restaurants offer affordable (if not super-cheap) food. While some natural attractions charge an entrance fee, many of the must-see sites are completely free to visit. As a couple doing mostly camping and occasionally renting a cabin, we managed to get by on about 80 to 100 ECD a day per Person (about 25 to 35€ / 30 to 40$).
Some Quick Facts About Dominica
- Capital: Roseau
- Official Language: English
- Population: approx. 70,000
- Size: approx. 750 km2 (290 square miles)
- Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (ECD)
- Electrical Sockets: Type D and G