Dominica is unusual among Caribbean destinations, with few sandy beaches, along with no major international airport; the island’s 290 square miles are sparsely populated. Nevertheless the country is an ecological wonder, with an abundance of natural beauty. It’s often known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which are protected by an extensive natural park system. The most mountainous island in the Lesser Antilles, Dominica’s volcanic peaks are the cones of lava craters.
The country’s interior is carpeted in lush tropical rainforest and hosts 170 bird species and nearly a dozen 5,000 foot-high volcanic spires puncturing the rainforest’s towering canopy of trees. The interior features several wilderness resorts and spa retreats, including several that serve the local specialty drink, green Sea Moss.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers 17,000 acres in the south-central region, and offers visitors a variety of adventure-oriented pursuits including rappelling, zip-lining and aerial tram rides. Travelers can also hike trails to the 200-foot-wide geothermal Boiling Lake. The hike to Boiling Lake is a 12-mile trip that takes eight hours, with very steep terrain and switchbacks. A guide is recommended for inexperienced back country hikers. The bare volcanic mountaintops make for clear views of the rolling mountain tops and steamy volcanic vents, and the site features fumaroles, quiet crater lakes, mountain waterfalls, sulfur springs and secluded freshwater rock pools.
Near Soufriere, south of the capital Roseau, jagged volcanic cliffs sharply plunge 6,000 feet into the ocean. This provides an ideal shelter for numerous whale species that can be spotted year round. Another place of interest is Carib Territory, home to the region’s 3,000 remaining idingenous peoples.
Champagne is a snorkeling spot on the southern coast, where underwater volcanic vents emit continuous streams of bubbles. Glassy, in the southeast of the island, is accessible via a two- to three-hour day hike. The trail winds through farm land and extends into a deep jungle valley, finally approaching the coast while skirting steep cliffs. The trail ends on an old volcanic flow ebbing into the ocean. Small ponds collect some of the water from the nearby crashing waves, creating a habitat for various species of coral and fish.
The lushly forested and hand-farmed central region is sparsely populated and considered by many to be the most beautiful region on the island.
Dominica is also well known for its music, with genres including jazz, reggae-dancehall, calypso, and soca, plus cadence-lypso and bouyon, which are popular Dominican genres. Visit during and be treated to the World Creole Music Festival, which takes place the last weekend in October.