Dominica Continues Recovery Six Months after Hurricane Maria
On September 18, Hurricane Maria struck Dominica Island, damaging much of its infrastructure and natural sites. Six months later, the island continues to rebuild, bringing together local communities, public authorities and private operators. Accessible from Guadeloupe and Martinique by ferry with the Express des Iles, or by plane via the Antilles, Dominica has made tourism the spearhead of its reconstruction.
While many things have changed since Maria, it is not all doom and gloom. Scuba dive and watersport providers are open at all key diving locations. Seven of them are open for business; Cabrits Dive and JC Ocean Adventures are based in the north, East Carib Dive and Sunset Dive are based in the west coast halfway up the island, while, Dive Dominica, Island Dive Operations, and Nature Island Dive are based around Roseau and in the south of the island.
While some dive sites suffered damage, many of Dominica’s dive sites were protected by their deep waters. Fortunately, Dominica’s underwater environment sustained little damage. Their waters, sea life, corals and sponges are healthy and vibrant. On Danglebens Pinnacles, during a recent dive, the first 40 minutes was fine until reaching the shallower profile where some damage was evident. During the second dive on the Scotts Head drop off, there was more evidence of damage to the larger corals but at the same time smaller corals looked healthy and colourful. Lobsters, crabs and even a seahorse was seen! So when inquiring about a dive ask about going 45 feet or deeper and doing sites further out from shore. Those who have dived have been happy with what they saw and stated that after what they saw on land the damage was “not as bad as expected.”.
Domonica is making progress on a daily basis and believe that most dive shops will be up and running with equipment, infrastructure, electricity and WiFi before end of summer or fall 2018. We suggest you email your favourite dive shop and ask what their status is if you are anxious to visit us sooner than late 2018. Your visit will help support our dive businesses which are a vital part of Dominica’s economy.
Access to Dominica
Dominica has full connectivity to international and regional markets with regular flights offered by regional carriers including LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, Air Sunshine, Coastal Express Carrier and, most recently, InterCaribbean Airways. As of March 22, 2018, InterCaribbean Airways will operate nonstop scheduled services between Dominica , St. Lucia and Tortola. Chartered flights are also available via Sky High Aviation Services, and Trans Island Air.
The Douglas Charles Airport, located at Melville Hall, and the Canefield Airport have welcomed passengers since October, 2017. Connections are available to Barbados, Antigua, San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Air access has been expanded with night landing available at Douglas Charles Airport until 8 p.m. for public flights and until 10 p.m. by special arrangement.
L’Express des Iles fast ferry service was operational within a few weeks after Hurricane Maria and provides service between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. L’Express des Iles has partnered with Air Caraïbes to offer simultaneous airline and ferry bookings with connections to L’Express des Iles destinations. Booking can be made on www.aircaraibes.com through the NavigAir programme.
The majority of sites and attractions, 19 of the 23 on the island, have been officially declared open to visitors. These include the signature sites of Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Emerald Pool, Fresh Water Lake and the Indian River. Visitors can enjoy magnificent easy to moderate hikes across the island including, Syndicate Nature Trail, Cabrits/Fort Shirley and others. Diving tours are currently available with six dive operators offering dive tours in Dominica. Divers can explore a world of incredible underwater vistas and discover why Dominica is ranked amongst the world’s top ten dive sites.
Six months after the huricane on the island, Dominica wishes to send a welcoming message to visitors and tourism professionals: the Dominicans have not lost their qualities and continue the reconstruction of their island. Dominica is ready to welcome visitors and intends to show its resilience to climate change.
Dominica encourages visitors to get involved in meaningful tourism by considering a voluntourism package. These unique packages are offered to assist Dominica with the cleanup of sites such as the Indian River, dive sites and the Waitukubuli National Trail. Packages are being offered by the Tamarind Tree Hotel, Fort Young Hotel, Secret Bay, Cobra Tours, Cool Breeze Tours and Cabrits Dive.
The people of Dominica continue to show their resilience and steadfastness in building a better Dominica. In mid-February, the country celebrated Carnival and plans are in motion for the 9th Annual Jazz ‘n Creole on May 20, 2018 at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park, along with fringe events in Portsmouth on the weekend of the Jazz ‘n Creole main stage.
Plans are being made for World Creole Music Festival from October 26 -28, 2018 followed by the island’s 40th Anniversary of Independence celebration on November 3, 2018.
The Spotmydive team wish them good luck!
To learn about their progress:
On Facebook : @IleDeLaDominique