This little island in the Caribbean packs a lot onto its shores, and has been recognised for it too. Dominica (pronounced dom-in-eek-a) is frequently touted as one of the most ethical destinations in the world, is consistently ranked highly for ecotourism opportunities, and was been named 2nd 'most pure' island a few years ago. Curious yet?
Ecotourism Development Programme
With a river for every day of the year (yes, 365 rivers flow through the island), and a wealth of biodiversity and natural landscapes, Dominica's Ministry of Tourism were well aware of how exceptional their tourism product was. As such, they developed the Ecotourism Development Programme (ETDP), funded by the European Union and implemented by Tourism Intelligence International.
The ETDP, implemented over three years, included a multi-faceted approach to sustainable tourism and ecotourism development in Dominica, which included human resource development, ecotourism product development, urban development in the capital of Roseau, and community tourism development.
The results of the ETDP, which are detailed by Tourism Intelligence International, included the development of a number of community-based tourism projects, like diving at Scotts Head, facility upgrading and renovation to major historical and ecotourism sites, like the Botanical Gardens, and the training and development of community leaders in tourism initiatives. They also revamped the official Dominica tourism website to align with the new marketing strategy. Due to the success of the ETDP, Dominica is one of the most sought after ecotourism destinations in the world, and is able to cater to the demand through the sustainable tourism development initiatives, strategies, and infrastructures developed through the ETDP.
Where to Stay
There are a number of eco-lodges tucked away on the island, and the Rosalie Forest & 3 Rivers Eco-Lodges are where to go if you're looking for seclusion in the middle of the jungle. Rosalie Forest offers cottages, apartments, dormitories, and tree-houses, as well as forest camping and a one-of-a-kind homestay program that pairs guests with local families. If you're looking for a unique and truly local experience, this is for you.
Alternatively, Dominica has an "eco-luxurious" boutique guesthouse called Calibishie Cove, where guests are treated to fresh local breakfast served each morning on their balcony, and elegantly dramatic sweeping views of the ocean. All rooms have views of the water, as well as complimentary snorkel equipment rentals, and the resort offers an exceptional array of packages and activities, including local cuisine options, private tours and excursions, waterfall hikes, kayaking, scuba diving, and lots more.
What to Do
Most resorts and hotels will offer package options and activities, but some of the most popular activities in Dominica remain to be water, mountain, or culture related. Snorkelling and scuba diving in the pristine waters is something that shouldn't be missed, and can be done throughout the island. Companies like Dive Dominica will help you enjoy the immense beauty of the island and its waters.
Hiking in Dominica is also a treat, with spectacular mountains and waterfalls throughout the island. There are also lakes, rivers, beaches, parks, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, so you can be sure to experience some beautiful scenery as you go. Khatts Tours can take you into the mountains and waterfalls, as well as host birdwatching and nature tours.
Dominica is one of the most culturally rich and diverse islands in the Caribbean, so cultural tours are a fantastic way to experience local life in Dominica. Dominica Urban Adventures offer four different day tours that will give you insight into different parts of the island's culture. If you want to learn about the cuisine of Dominica, the Caribbean Flavours tour will not disappoint, however if it's anthropology and history you're interested in, you will absolutely want to do the Kalinago Culture tour, which takes you into a native village to experience life with the Kalinago tribe.
Ecotourism in Dominica
Regardless of what type of experience you're looking for, ecotourism in Dominica is so diverse that you'll probably run out of time before you run out of things to do. With the success of the Ecotourism Development Programme and the dedication of both the government and local communities, ecotourism in Dominica is supreme.
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano