While the other islands during our previous stops on this trip have more or less tight connections to European countries, Dominica is a small totally independent country in the Caribbean. It is called so because Columbus discovered it on a Sunday.
Dominica has a wonderful nature and the whole island is green. Much of the volcanic island is blanketed by untamed rainforest. Here is the Caribbean life very original and with virtually no other influences. And of course people are much poorer then on the previous islands where we have been before. Dominica is a wonderful green island without mass tourism because they have only a few sandy beaches, without direct international flights and no flashy resorts.
Dominica’s capital is Roseau which is compact, noisy and chaotic with a lot of people zipping around at day time but at night all the streets are empty. I hired a car for our stay but after two days I gave the car back. There are no traffic signs on the street. Once I drove in the wrong direction in a one way street but there was no sign showing that this was an one way street. The sidewalks (if any) are very high and the rain ditches very deep. We felt safe only at the Bayfront and two or three streets away from the Bayfront. Several people try very aggressively to sell you something and you don’t know if you are safe or not especially with expensive cameras on your shoulder. In the evening we didn’t went more than 100 m away from the hotel. Shortly Roseau is not a place to fall in love with.
I had a very tough hike to the Boilant Lake (ca. 95 degrees centigrade). The hike is stunning and the bare volcanic mountain tops make for unforgettable views of rolling mountain tops and steamy volcanic vents. The trail passes the Valley of Desolation with lots of fumaroles and ends at the Boiling Lake, a 100 meter wide lake that is being heated by a volcanic vent and is boiling. It is in a very spectacular landscape; however it is hard to take a picture because the whole lake is continuously in steam. The hike was tough and I was happy to have a local guide which I hired for one day. As the trail is mostly not marked, you don’t have a chance to find the way without a guide. The trail passes nearly the whole way through a tropical forest and because of the high humidity and the rain, it is very slippery. I can warmly recommend the certified guide I had for the hike to the Boiling Lake: Simon Rolle. Ask for him in the tourism office in Roseau.
On one bus trip we had a wonderful boat trip on the Indian River close to Portsmouth, visited the Carib Territory and had stops at Emerald Pool and at Screw’s Spa in Wotten Wood. The slow and silent boat trip on the Indian River passes along the shady mangrove lined river. The roots of the mang trees stretch out laterally along the riverbanks. In this forest several scenes of the Move ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ with Johnny deep have been filmed.
Dominica is also home to about 2200 Caribs the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the Caribbean area and who gave the name to the whole region. They live in the Carib Territory on the western coast of Dominica. We visited the Heritage Village Kalinago.
The other bus trip was through the Morne National Park which is declared Unesco World heritage and visited the Trafalgar Falls and Titou Gorge.
The trips have been organized by Ken’s Hinterland Adventure Tours located within the Fort Young Hotel, Roseau. Ken served as a guide several times to Mick Jagger; he is not very cheap but good.
I’ve been snorkeling at the Champaign Beach in the middle of volcanic air bubbles. This is a snorkeling spot on the southern coast where underwater volcanic vents emit continuous streams of bubbles making the place feel like a giant glass of champagne. For travelling there I took the public bus from Roseau.
However the most amazing experience during our stay in Dominica was watching the whales. We came as close as 3 m to the sperm whales and we saw four of them (two singles and a group of two). Each was ca. 15 m long. For me it was the most exciting encounter with wild animals until now and as a human I felt very small and insignificant.
Location **** (out of max five) very nice location on the ocean. No beach close to the hotel. A lot of beggars around the hotel. Just ignore them.
Room. **** (out of max five). Large ocan view room with complimentary coffee and thea
Infrastructure, Service (internet, reception, pool etc): * (out of max five). Nice pool with an waterfall. Only eight sun loungers. Internet very good. Bad service at the reception in restaurant and in the room. My first mail before the arrival about a bus shuttle has not been answered. In the restaurant only four guests. You order and wait and wait and wait. Every 10 minutes another person coming and asking: “Everything ok?”. “Yes but we are waiting since half an hour for our meal.” “OK, I’ll take care of it”. And disappears. Ten minutes later another person coming and asking the same. Eventually after 45 – 50 min the meal would come.
The room maid forgot several times to put toilet paper or Kleenex in the room.
No linge change in 10 days.
At the reception we have ordered in written a lunch package for the next day at 9 am for a bus trip. At 10 am the bus was leaving and the lunch package was not there. Tried to call the general manager. No reply.
We had a lot of discussions one day before leaving about the invoice at the reception. Finally I’ve paid the bill including the last night. Nextr morning at check out: “Sir, you haven’t paid the last night”! Again a lot of discussions.
I expect a better service for 250 usd/night room.
Breakfast. We didn’t have breakfast in the hotel
Overall rating. ** (out of max 5). Downgrade because of high price and bad service. Unfortunately there is no alternative in Roseau.
We liked Dominica as a very green island with a wonderful nature. The most amazing experience was whale watching. However we didn’t like Roseau as we didn’t feel safe on the streets.
On Feb 3rd we took the Express des Iles ferry and left toward Martinique.