Dominica – Nature Island of the Caribbean

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019 by Chef Mireille

Dominica – Nature Island of the Caribbean

Dominica is a volcanic island full of waterfalls and hot springs. Also the location where the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were shot!

waterfalls and rainbow in Dominica

Dominica is not usually on one of the top Caribbean destinations, but it should be. Largely untouched still, you won’t find another island full of natural beauty without huge hotels breaking up the nature!

It is a volcanic island, so it is definitely the place for nature enthusiasts. Full of waterfalls, hot springs and if you are up to it, you can go on the 8 mile hike from the nearest road to Boiling Lake, the second largest fumarole in the world. The largest, Frying Pan Lake, is in New Zealand. It is a cauldron of boiling water under the earth’s surface.

Have you seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? Well, Dominica is where they were filmed.

Spices and fresh produce are abundant on the island. As soon as you step off the plane, you will notice the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in the air.

More than the average traveller, Dominica has a very special place in my heart. It is my grandmother’s birthplace and I have some cousins that still live there. The one and only time I visited was in 2007.

To this day, it remains one of the few remaining unspoiled islands of the Caribbean. Despite its breathtaking beauty, you won’t find Hiltons, Marriot’s and Ritz Carlton’s dotting its coastline. Instead, family run B&B’s are more popular, making you feel more like you are visiting a close family friend, instead of a hired hand paid to keep you happy.

History

Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week he landed in November, 1493. Although he attempted, this was one island Spain could not colonize. When he arrived there was a large population of Kallinago, the native people of the island. Due to the rugged terrain of the island which they knew well, they were able to hide in the mountains and proved too challenging for the Spanish invaders. Instead, he wrote that there was nothing of value in the island and better to abandon it, much to the Kallinago’s delight.

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It is one of the few islands in the Caribbean whose native population was not killed by slave labor and diseases brought by the Spanish. There are still over 3000 Kallinago who have a protected area of the island, known as Carib Territory. However the island was colonized by the French and later the British.

This back and forth colonization is represented in the capital city of Roseau. Some parts of the city have more French architecture with beautiful verandas and other parts of Roseau have more British architecture.

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The Carib Territory Guest House , renamed as the Kallinago Territory Guest House is run by the Kallinago chief and his wife. They prefer to use the term Kallinago, as the Carib name was given to them by the colonizers. Here you can enjoy the unspoiled nature of the island with solitary hikes or go on one of the private tours the chief will guide you on. Here you feel at home. As I wandered into the kitchen one day to grab a cup of coffee, the chief’s wife was shelling fresh coffee beans which had just been harvested and roasted. After helping her shell the beans, I waited for a fresh pot and it was the best cup of coffee I have ever had. Smoky and sweet with the flavor of spices in the land, it did not even need any milk or sugar.

You can also visit their model village to learn about their culture and see how they lived before Columbus and then the French arrived.

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Nature Lovers

For hiking enthusiasts, this is definitely a spot you must visit. Almost every major sightseeing stop like Trafalgar Waterfalls, Boiling Lake or The Emerald Pool involves a hike through breathtakingly beautiful jungle. I didn’t make it to Boiling Lake, however you will still be able to see many of the beautiful waterfalls without that intensive hike.

Swimming in the Emerald Pool under one of these waterfalls was amazing and worth the hike to it! Even though it was raining a little (I was there at the tail end of the rainy season), it was still refreshing from the Caribbean heat and humidity.

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While you are hiking, at least you can take a sip of the fresh spring water that falls down the mountains on the side of the roads.

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and stop to take gorgeous photos….

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Pirates of the Caribbean

This is where the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed. There are even Pirates of the Caribbean tours that will take you to the major spots that were featured in the film.

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Also not to be missed is a stroll out to Scotts Head, the point where the Caribbean Sea & the Atlantic Ocean meet.

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Roseau is the capital city, painted in the vibrant colors of the Caribbean.

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Every Saturday is Market Day, when everybody comes to the location that was previously the market for selling slaves, but today they are selling fresh fruits, vegetables and spices.

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However, the most meaningful place to visit was a small fishing village on the southern tip of the island, Pt. Michel, where my grandmother was born. I loved walking along this small village where I enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh caught fish.

I can imagine my grandmother as a child walking along this same coastline.

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…and I also got to meet one of my grandmother’s cousins…

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World Creole Music Festival

I visited the end of October and if you are a music enthusiast, this is the time to visit when the World Creole Music Festival takes place annually to celebrate Creole music from France, Canada, Africa & the Caribbean.

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However, it is also the tail end of the rainy season, so there may be a few rainy days, but at this stage not more than an hour or two a day. Be careful if you go into the mountains on a rainy day. You might get stuck there because fear of mudslides will prevent anyone wanting to bring you back down until the land dries.

Dominica Independence Day Festivities

Another reason to go at this time of year is that a month of festivities ends the first week of November, when they celebrate their Independence Day. Cultural days when people dress in traditional wear and festivals in the park with food, vendors and steel pan music are just a few activities you can enjoy this month.

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Dominica Cuisine

Now let’s talk about the food. It is a fusion of African, French and British culinary traditions with the abundant use of fresh spices and herbs. It’s very rustic and simple but because of the quality of fresh produce, your taste buds will definitely be thanking you.

A typical breakfast might include saltfish (salted cod) with breadfruit and other root vegetables.

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A typical lunch might include stew chicken, agouti (when you see what this animal looks like, you most likely won’t want to try it unless you are truly an adventurous eater) or curry goat as the main course.

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Crab Callaloo is one of the most popular dishes. Crab cooked in a callaloo (dasheen/taro root leaves) broth.

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Want to try your hand at cooking some food from Dominica?

RELATED: DOMINICA STYLE SALTFISH & GROUND PROVISION

On your drive up to Kallinago Territory, don’t forget to stop at Richard’s Bakery, an outside bakery covered only with a tin roof, where two things are made – cassava (yuca) bread and kanke (cassava, coconut and spices steamed in banana leaves).

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There are still so much more I can talk about the Nature Island of the Caribbean, but then this post would never end. Still untouched by western developers, if you want to visit one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands without crowded beaches and throngs of tourists to cause long lines at every destination, think Dominica – Nature Island of the Caribbean.

When To Go

You definitely want to make sure you avoid the island during hurricane season. They get hit quite regularly, but are now experts at rebuilding the island quickly after each hurricane.

However, you might have to hike around fallen trees, no matter when you go!

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About Chef Mireille

CHEF MIREILLE - AUTHOR, RECIPE DEVELOPER AND PHOTOGRAPHER FOR Global Kitchen Travels
***
Chef Mireille is a NYC based freelance chef instructor and food photographer. Due to her very diverse family background, she was able to travel and learn about global cultures and flavors from a young age. Her passion for culture, cooking, history and education had made her an expert on developing traditional globally inspired recipes & delicious fusion cuisine.
Her extensive travel history provides a plethora of background information and Travel Tips!

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. April Moreno

    Oh, wow. Dominica is absolutely steeped in history and culture. It must have been amazing to see some of these places and visit your grandmother’s cousin. Not to mention to breathtaking scenery you were able to enjoy while you were there. The waterfalls = Natures spectacular beauty, love!

  2. Krzysztof Lab

    I have never been to Dominica. I love Cuba, Mexico, and Costa Rica. But it seems that there is a lot of waterfalls and hot springs, so something that I like a lot. It looks that I should visit Emerald Pool to take some great pictures and swim a little bit. Market day must be a great idea as well. Like those Caribean fruits! Creole music is another exciting thing, so I believe one day I will go to this beautiful country.

  3. Yukti Agrawal

    As I love waterfalls then visiting Dominica would be great for me as it is a volcanic island full of waterfalls and hot springs. Good to know that it was the location where the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were shot. Emerald falls looks beautiful due to its emerald color waters and hiking up to this must a beautiful experience. Thanks for sharing a wonderful guide with all tips.

  4. sherianne

    You had me at waterfalls and hot springs. Family run B&B’s and the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in the air are bonuses. Swimming under the waterfall at Emerald Pool would be a must stop for me. Bookmarking this!

  5. Hailey

    I have never been to Dominica, but it looks like a wonderful place to visit. I had no idea that where the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were shot.. but I can see why! Visiting your grandmother’s cousin must have been such a special experience for you as well.. things like that are what travel is really al about!

  6. Rachel

    Wow! What an amazing nature Island! I’m so proud of my birth place! I’m from Dominica! So surprised to know you also have roots there too! I was born in a small village named Mahaut about 5 or so miles from the Roseau capital. I now live in Toronto Canada. My last visit was in 2014 before the last bad hurricane. Nice to meet you!

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