Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-ee-ka) is located south of Porto Rico in between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
The island is volcanically active giving rise to natural hot water springs and the world’s second largest boiling lake in the world. Dominica offers a diverse selection of diving, including an underwater volcano, pinnacles, underwater fumaroles, caves and caverns and open reef diving.
A former colony of the United Kingdom, Dominica is now an independent country but you will still find the Queen of England’s picture on all of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) money used and everybody speaks English.
The island is surrounded by lush, tropical rainforest just begging to be explored. Nature hiking is wonderful – there are over 350 rivers and streams winding their way through ravines and gorges to cascade over countless waterfalls. You can easily hike to places such as Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, Titou Gorge, Aerial Tram or be adventurous and attempt the Boiling Lake, accessible after a four to five hour trek. A very wet hike!
Whale watching is also an option. Dominica is known for frequent sightings of both resident and visiting pods of Spinner and Spotted Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales and False Orcas.
Day trips to neighboring Martinique, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe are available through ferries and airplane tours. It is helpful to get the ferry schedule from the resort beforehand. And if that is not enough, there is biking and kayaking as well.
But most importantly, we were here for the diving. There is a lot to explore underwater; dramatic walls that plunge down to 1,000 feet (300m), and pristine coral reefs. Orange and yellow sponges abound, as well as prolific schools of fish. Wall diving, pinnacle diving, reef exploration, wrecks, and even two hot water springs dives, where you can observe, firsthand, Dominica’s volcanic origins.
Diving in Dominica
Diving in Dominica can be considered in three separate areas, the southern, mid and northern island sites.
Southern dive sites consist of a volcanic crater, underwater pinnacles, chasms, gullies, deep walls and massive boulders. Also included in dive sites on the southern end of the island are two wrecks, one if which is the Debbie Flo a former smugglers ship. Marine life includes a wealth of invertebrates, golden crinoids, sea horses, frog fish, and large sponges and also the spider lobster.
Mid Island dive sites consist of patch reefs which lead to steep slopes and vertical walls. Schooling fish including large amberjacks, barracuda, rare frog fish, seahorses & batfish can also be seen on these dive sites.
Northern Island dive sites are volcanic in origin, with submerged fumaroles that release stream from pockets of gas, being the main attraction. Also the very shallow tug wreck of The Pia which lays in just 6ft of water, but does offer a good penetration where fanworms, fileclams, tunicates (both individual and colonies) can be found.
Marine life includes, black coral, lelesto coral, golden sea spray, spanish loster, creole wrasse, squirrel fish and purple tube sponges.
Dive Sites in Dominica
There are loads of fascinating dive sites to investigate.
Champaign Reef was my absolute favorite. It’s teeming with tropical fish including, black bar soldier fish, squirrel fish, trumpet fish, porcupine fish and an abundance of both invertebrate like pederson shrimp, arrow crabs, banded shrimp and squid.
The reef is cloaked in sponges, anemones and crinoids. A 250 year old wreck sits in 18 feet and one can see 3 fused cannon with planking.
Warm streams of air bubbles shoot up everywhere and there are algae covered rocks with plenty of macro life, such as anemones and crinoids, hiding in the crevices. Great photo op if you have a macro setting on your camera.
If you are an avid photographer, I would strongly suggest bringing a strobe to Dominica to illuminate your photographs. There are beautiful colors on the reefs, but depending on the weather, you might not get as much sunlight to enhance these colors as you might like.
English is the primary language spoken and the official currency is the eastern caribbean dollar, although US dollars are accepted. The island of dominica is a volcanic island where hiking to boiling lakes, pools and waterfalls, offers shore time activities for the whole family. The island of dominica also has a carnival two weeks prior to lent, it also offers whale watching where you may get to see sperm whales, short finned pilot whales, spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins.
The island has so far escaped the developers touch, leaving dominica island as an unspoilt paradise.