Planning a Trip
Before you go, Americans and Canadians can contact the Dominica Tourist Office by calling tel. 866/522-4057 (fax 767/448-5840) for information. You can also download information at www.discoverdominica.com.
In England, information is available from Kate Popham (tel. 020/7928-1600; fax 020/7928-1700; www.discoverdominica.com).
You can also get information on the Web at www.dominica.dm.
On the island, the Dominica Tourist Information Office is on the Old Market Plaza, Roseau, with administrative offices at the National Development Corporation offices, Valley Road (tel. 767/448-2045; fax 767/448-5840); it's open Tuesday to Friday 8am to 4pm, Monday from 8am to 5pm.
There are also information bureaus at Melville Hall Airport (tel. 767/445-7051) and Canefield Airport (tel. 767/449-1199).
By Plane -- Neither of the two airports on Dominica is large enough to handle a jet, so there are no nonstop flights from the U.S. or Canada. The Melville Hall Airport (tel. 767/445-7101) is on the northeastern coast, a 1 1/2-hour taxi ride from Roseau on the southwestern coast. The drive takes you across the island through the forest and coastal villages; the fare is around $9.30 per person when there are four passengers. On your own, the fare could be $22.
The more modern Canefield Airport (tel. 767/449-1199) is about a 15-minute taxi ride north of Roseau. The 600m (1,968-ft.) airstrip accommodates smaller planes than those that can land at Melville Hall. From here, the typical taxi fare into town is $8. There's also a public bus (with an H that precedes the number on the license plate) that costs only $8.20 per person; buses come every 20 minutes and hold between 15 and 18 passengers.
For many from the U.S., the easiest way to reach Dominica is via the daily American Eagle (tel. 800/433-7300 in the U.S. and Canada; www.aa.com) flight from American's hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
If you're already in the Caribbean, you can fly to Dominica from several other islands aboard LIAT (tel. 888/844-LIAT ; www.liat.com). The little airline offers nonstop flights from St. Lucia, daily from Antigua, and daily from Barbados. There is one flight daily, but with a stopover from the islands of St. Kitts, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Tortola (B.V.I.), and Trinidad.
By Boat -- The L'Express (tel. 767/448-2181; www.express-des-iles.com), sailing from the French West Indies, runs between Guadeloupe in the north to Martinique in the south; Dominica is a port of call along the way. Departures are 6 days a week; call for exact schedules. For schedule information, contact White Church Travel, 5 Great Marlborough St., Roseau (tel. 767/448-2181). A one-way fare costs $25.
By Rental Car -- If you rent a car, there's a fee of $11 to obtain a driver's license, which is available at the airports. The island has 500km (310 miles) of paved roads, and only in a few areas is a four-wheel-drive vehicle necessary. Note: Driving is on the left.
There are a handful of small, usually family-owned car-rental companies, the condition and price of whose vehicles vary widely. They include Valley Rent-a-Car, Goodwill Road, Roseau (tel. 767/448-3233; www.valleyrentacar.com); and Best Deal Rent-A-Car, 15 Hanover St., Roseau (tel. 767/449-9204; www.bestdealrentacar.com).
By Taxi -- You can hire a taxi at either the Melville Hall or Canefield airports. Prices are regulated by the government. If you want to see the island by taxi, the driver will charge from $70 to $90 for a tour that lasts between 4 and 5 hours. Rates are usually valid for between one and four passengers. After 6pm, taxis may be hard to find, so call ahead.
By Minibus -- The public transportation system consists of private minibus service between Roseau and the rest of Dominica. These flamboyantly painted minibuses are filled mainly with schoolchildren, workers, and country people who need to come into Roseau. On most Caribbean islands we don't recommend buses, but on Dominica they afford terrific insights into local life. Taxis may be a more reliable means of transport for visitors, but there are hotels at which buses call during the course of the day. You can also just hail a bus when you see it and tell the driver where you want to go. Fares range from 55¢ to $3.80. Buses are identified by the letter H that precedes their license numbers.