Natural Hazards and Travel Health Tips for Dominica

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Dominica has active volcanoes and severe thunderstorms that may cause landslides or disruptions to travel plans. Here's how to stay safe and healthy in Dominica.

Valley of Desolation in Dominica, the Boiling Lake hike Photo © Getty Images/Joseph Thomas Photography

The Caribbean is potentially just as dangerous as it is beautiful. Dominica's varied natural wonders include mountains, rainforests, hot springs, waterfalls and freshwater lakes. It also has nine active volcanoes, and to put that into perspective, there are sixteen in all of the Caribbean.

Active volcanoes in Dominica

The Morne aux Diables volcano is collapsing, and if it completely falls apart, it could trigger a large tsunami.

Most of the active volcanoes are at the south end of the island, and are near the capital city of Roseau. There is a high risk of future eruptions that could possibly cause ash, lahars and lava.

There are estimates that 90% of Dominica's population resides within 3mi (5km) of a live volcano.

Earthquakes in Dominica

Dominica is located in a seismically active region, and is prone to severe earthquakes. In November 2004 there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, and in November 2007 there was a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Martinique that was felt in Dominica, causing power outages throughout other islands in the Caribbean.

Hurricane season in Dominica

Another major natural hazard on a tiny island like Dominica is hurricanes, which are most possible during hurricane season that lasts from June to the end of November.

If you are traveling here during this time, monitor local weather updates and follow the advice of authorities if there is an evacuation or warning in place.

The country has had fewer storms than other Caribbean islands, though Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in two deaths in Dominica.

Flooding and landslides in Dominica

Flash floods and landslides can occur as a result of storms, and several fatal floods have occurred over the last century. Landslides can also make driving conditions treacherous.

Mosquito-borne diseases in Dominica

As far as illnesses, dengue fever is possible in any part of the Caribbean at various times of the year. It's carried by mosquitoes and produces fever, aches and rash and can turn severe. Wear the appropriate insect repellent when traveling throughout Dominica. Some towns spray chemicals to kill off insects like mosquitoes around the island, and the fumes may get into homes or accommodations with open windows. Otherwise, poisonous bugs are not so common on the island. Some people might also experience boils and fingernail and toenail fungi when they go to Dominica. Anyone in need of simple health care can got to Roseau's Princess Margaret Hospital.

Beach safety in Dominica

Dominica has few beaches, so you won't have to worry about many shore dangers. It is a prime spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, however, so take the necessary precautions when doing those activities.

Hiking safely in Dominica

If you go hiking in Dominica, pack sturdy hiking boots that have been worn in, as the terrain can be rocky and slippery.

Packing wet weather gear, as the weather can change quickly, bringing heavy rainfall. Carry insect repellent and anti-itch cream in case you get bitten by something.

Consider anti-nausea medication for car rides up and down winding mountain roads if you are prone to motion sickness.

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing for the hot weather conditions, to avoid discomfort or getting your clothes wet from sweat.

Can I drink tap water in Dominica?

Water is generally safe to drink, but may sometimes be brown in color after heavy rainfall, which overflows and brings silt from riverbanks. Drink purified water if you're worried.

One final handy tip: Always carry your own toilet paper to avoid getting caught short in public toilets.

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