With a towering interior covered in dense rainforest, volcanic hills, high-drop waterfalls, thermal springs and a boiling lake, Dominica (pronounced Domineeca) is known as the ‘Nature Island’ of the Caribbean.
It’s an exciting island for hikers, whether intent on gentle rambles or arduous treks along sections of the Waitukubuli National Trail, which curls for 115 miles (185 km) over the island. It is also a highly regarded diving destination, with a good marine reserve system, and for much of the year you can see whales and dolphins offshore. It’s the only place in the Caribbean where Caribs have survived and they still retain many of their traditions, such as canoe carving. The island’s culture and language are an amalgam of the native and immigrant peoples: Carib, French, English and African.
The island is mountainous with very little flat terrain; most settlements hug the coast, usually where the many rivers – 365 in total – reach the sea. It is almost twice the size of Barbados, but has very few beaches and, because of this, hotels around the island are small, intimate and low key. Further development is deterred by the lack of a big international airport and direct long-haul flights, and Dominica only gets modest attention from the cruise-ship circuit. But sandwiched between Guadeloupe and Martinique, it is accessible by ferry and is just a 30-minute flight south of Antigua.