Dominica is known as “The Nature Isle“. It is volcanic in origin with steep mountains, submerged volcano craters, boiling lakes and numerous hot springs. Dominica spewed to life through a line of weakness created by the subduction of the Atlantic plate under the Caribbean Plate and, over millions of years, became carpeted in various bands of tropical vegetation as craters filled to form lakes and hundreds of rivers cut ravines through Dominica’s many hills producing waterfalls and natural bathing plunge pools.
The island contains some of the finest examples of undisturbed rainforest in the Caribbean with a diversity and abundance of flora and fauna that make biologists, botanists and nature-lovers quite giddy. The sheer diversity of wildlife must be seen to be believed – mammals (eg manicou & agouti), birds (parrots), reptiles (snakes & iguanas), insects and every conceivable type of tropical vegetation. Over many thousands of years birds have migrated from the South American mainland and Dominica’s many eco-systems (windward littoral woodland, swamp forest, dry scrub woodland, deciduous forest, tropical rainforest, cloud forest, montaine forest and elfin woodland) have allowed hundreds of bird species to co-exist.
Below the sea Dominica’s marine eco-systems are equally as impressive. The relative absence of industrial pollutants and agricultural chemical run-off into the sea has allowed reef systems to remain undisturbed and the volcanic island with submerged craters, pinnacles and underwater hot spring vents has produced some of the best diving opportunities in the Caribbean. The range of marine life is vast – from small reef fish and crustaceans to dolphins and whales. In season, whale watching has become popular and the deep, sheltered waters of the West Coast inshore provide excellent conditions from which to view them.
The Dominican experience is not complete without seeing its many natural environments. It will show you, quite frankly, what the Caribbean was like before man became involved and allows you to truly appreciate how utterly beautiful and mesmerising the natural environment can be.
Every year there are a week of activities celebrating diving in Dominica (DIVEFEST) with everything from introductory courses to special rates as well as education. Dive operators and the Discover Dominica Authority will be able to give you specific details.
|Toucari Caves||North West Coast. Caverns, rare corals, barrel sponges. Eels, rays, squid, lobsters, parrotfish, pufferfish. Good day or night dive.|
|Maggie’s Point||North West Coast. Crinoids, finger corals, sponges. Small reef dwellers. Creole Wrasse, spiny lobsters, spider crabs. 100 feet+ (30 metres+)|
|Douglas Bay Point||North West Coast.|
|Coral Gardens North||North West Coast. Corals (espec.black) & sponges.|
|Whaleshark Reef||West Coast. 50-120ft (17-35 metres). Depth & steep drop off encourages barracuda, jacks, ceros, large Southern Stingrays. Barrel sponges.|
|Rina’s Hole||West Coast. Crevasses, overhangs, swim-through cave. Lots of corals, eels, soldierfish, bigeyes, occasional nurse sharks.|
|Rodney’s Rock||West Coast. Big barrel sponges, gorgonians, hydroids. Schools of sergeant majors, seahorses, frogfish & batfish.|
|Canefield Tug Wreck||West Coast. 50 ft (17 metres) tug in 80-90ft (25-28 metres) of water.|
|Champagne||South West Coast. Volcanic activity produces bubbles from sulphur vents 10-20ft (3-6 metres) underwater.|
|Pinnacles (Scotts Head)||South West Coast. Underwater pinnacles on a submerged volcano crater. Very different. Swim- through pinnacle. Drop-off covered in shrimp, frogfish, crabs plus numerous sponges. 15-80ft+ (5-26 metres+)|
|Soufriere Pinnacle||South West Coast. Multitude of fish.|
|Dangleben’s Pinnacles||South West Coast. 5 pinnacles from the crater lip reaching to within 30 ft (10 metres) of the surface.|
|La Bim- “The Wall”||South West coast. Jacks, yellowtail snappers,cero, rainbow runners. Reef fish, sponges and crinoids.|
|Coral Gardens||South West Coast. Shallow but plenty to see. Turtles in season.|
|Suburbs||South West Coast. Hard corals, sponges, sea fans. Rays, barracuda, turtles. Advanced dive due to currents & waves. 80ft (26 metres).|