About Dominica (DM)
The mountainous Caribbean island nation of Dominica (DM), not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, is known primarily for its abundance of natural attractions — hot springs, extinct volcanoes, tropical rainforests, and the second-largest active thermal lake in the world, the aptly named Boiling Lake. Sometimes called “The Nature Island”, more than half of Dominica is protected natural parks. With a tropical climate moderated by trade winds, the island is popular with eco-tourists who come for its unique array of fauna and flora found nowhere else. Although the island is peppered with a wide variety of coastal beach resorts, Dominica is not so much a place to go and vegetate on the sand, but rather a destination packed with sites and activities geared toward participation in the environment, such as snorkeling, whale watching, rock climbing, and hiking up and down Middleham Falls.
There are two ways of getting around Dominica. You can wrangle the inconsistent and downright scary bus system, or, you can rent a car. By and large, the overwhelming majority of tourist visitors choose the former, and avail themselves of a car hire in Dominica at one of the island’s two airports rental depots. Unlike a number of neighboring islands, Dominica is not connected by a continuous highway system on the coastline. Although it’s possible to drive the circumference of the island, the major routes form a fractious web of routes that follow the coast for a while before jutting across inland territory. Many coastal destinations are accessible by one-lane rural routes that link to the main highways. There’s really no such thing as a “straight” stretch of road on the island, as most routes twist and curve through the mostly mountainous terrain, producing one hairpin turn after the other, which makes for some driving conditions that will get your adrenaline pumping. Needless to say, driving in Dominica is reserved for the most seasoned veterans and adventure tourists in the game.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Dominica are readily available from Alamo, Sixt, National, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz. Choose from minicars, economy hatchbacks, compact, intermediate, and fullsize sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, and compact, midsize, and fullsize SUVs.
Tips and advice
You’re advised to use your car horn freely on mountain passages — especially on those hairpin turns — mainly to alert other drivers of your presence.
Driving at night is not a good idea. Your Dominica car rental provider is almost certain to repeat this warning.
Because the roads are narrow, twisting, and meandering, expect travel times between two relatively nearby destinations to take at least a couple of hours.
Some of the remote roads contain potholes large enough to swallow an SUV whole.
If you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask locals for assistance — they’re almost uniformly friendly and helpful.
Compact and midsize SUVs have an advantage over fullsize vehicles for navigating through tight spaces over rugged terrain.