Roseau (pronounced Rose-oh), the main town, is small, ramshackle and friendly, with a surprising number of pretty old buildings still intact. The houses look a bit tatty with rusting tin roofs and a general lack of paint, but there is still some attractive gingerbread fretwork in the traditional style on streets like Castle Street.
Quite a lot of redevelopment has taken place over the last few years, improving access and making the waterfront more attractive. The Old Market Plaza has been made into a pedestrian area, with shops in the middle. The old, red market cross has been retained, with ‘keep the pavement dry’ picked out in white paint.
Between the Plaza and the sea is the old post office, now housing the Dominican Museum, which is well worth a visit. The post office is on the Bay Front at the bottom of Hillsborough Street. It has a colourful mural depicting the development of Dominica’s postal service, and a Philately Counter. The market, at the north end of Bay Street, is a fascinating sight on Saturday mornings from about 0600-1000; it is also lively on Friday morning, closed Sunday.
The sea wall was completed in late 1993, which has greatly improved the waterfront area of town, known as the Bay Front or Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard, after the Prime Minister who promoted the development. The Roseau jetty, destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979, was rebuilt in the Seawall and Bay Front Development Project for the use of yachts and other small craft. A promenade with trees and benches, a road from the Old Jetty to Victoria Street, and parking bays take up most of the space. A new T-shaped cruise ship jetty was completed in 1995 and for several weeks in the winter season ships tower above the town pouring forth tourists into 16-seater taxis for tours around the island. Although small, you may need to ask for directions around Roseau. Streets have been given signs but it is still tricky to find your way around. The town is in chaos on the days cruise ships come in. There is a one way traffic system: vehicles going west go along Great George Street, those going east use Queen Mary Street.
The 40-acre Botanical Gardens dating from 1890 are principally an arboretum; they have a collection of plant species, including an orchid house. Several Jacquot and Sisserou parrots can be seen in the bird sanctuary in the park, thanks in part to the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. Breeding programmes are underway and it is hoped that some of the offspring will be released to the wild.
The town has no deep-water harbour; this is at Woodbridge Bay over a mile away, where most of the island’s commercial shipping is handled, and some tourist vessels are accommodated.