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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


The islands of the Caribbean are literally lined with luxury resorts and hotels. While these provide all of the pampering you need for a relaxing vacation, sometimes it is nice to really get away from it all and see the true natural beauty of these islands. If you are looking for a nature-based vacation, consider these eco-friendly lodges as your destination of choice.

Papillote Wilderness Retreat

Papillote Wilderness Retreat is on Dominica, right in the heart of the rainforest. You will stay at the base of the mountain surrounded by gardens. While you visit, indulge in a natural mineral bath, or take a dip in a river fed by a secluded waterfall that is just a short walk from your room. While secluded and natural, the rooms are quite comfortable, so you will not have to sacrifice comfort to enjoy the jungle.

Natura Cabanas and the Attabeyra Spa

Located in the Dominican Republic in Cabarete, this eco-friendly hotel offers something different than the high-rise resort common on the beaches. Guests stay in private, rustic bungalows surrounded by the sounds of the forest. While quite earthy, the bungalows are filled with comforting amenities, and most also boast a porch and hammock to allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the jungle around you. While staying here, take advantage of the treatments at the Attabeyra Spa.

Cinnamon Bay Campground

If you really want to get close to nature, head to St. John’s Cinnamon bay Campground. You can camp right on the beach, either in a provided cottage or tent or in your own tent. This is considered the best campground in the Caribbean, and you will spend your days swimming, snorkeling and hiking through the national park. Be prepared to cook your own meals, though, because there are no dining facilities here.

Brac Reef Beach Resort

Located in Cayman Brac, the Brac Reef Beach Resort boasts simple rooms and a few on-site amenities, but the beach right outside your door is what makes this hotel so appealing. All of the activities the resort offers are built around nature. Hiking, snorkeling, diving and swimming are all common pastimes enjoyed by resort guests.

Finca Rosa Blanca

The Finca Rosa Blanca resort in Costa Rica combines the luxury of a high-end resort with the eco-friendly nature of an eco-resort. The inn, which receives five stars from Costa Rica’s green tourism commission, goes above and beyond to recycle, use local artists and cut down on their impact on the local environment. In addition to seeing the natural beauty of Costa Rica while staying here, you will also dine on some of its finest naturally grown foods in the hotel’s restaurant.

Whether you are looking for luxury or really want to rough it, beach style, the Caribbean’s eco-resorts are the place to stay. With each of these options, you can revel in the natural beauty of the tropics while doing your part to help maintain that beauty for the next generation.

Karolina Shenton works with The Cruise Web. Whether you want to take a trip throughout Northern Europe or you are trying to find Caribbean cruise deals, the consultants at The Cruise Web can help you find and book the perfect vacation.

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Think of a luxury holiday destination and the Caribbean probably springs to mind.  White beaches, tropical blue waters, beautiful resorts and fabulous weather all combine to create a dream holiday, but although the Caribbean is certainly a dream holiday for many people, at certain times of the year the weather can turn a little bit nasty.  When the wind blows and the sea churns like a fiery cauldron you can be sure that hurricane season has arrived!

When is it Hurricane Season in the Caribbean?

Sadly hurricanes have a mind of their own and they don’t always show up on time, so hurricane season is not set in stone.  However, the local weather is at its most unpredictable between June and November and if a hurricane weather system is going to develop, it will most likely happen around this time of the year.

How Dangerous is Hurricane Season in the Caribbean?

There is very little doubt that hurricanes are highly dangerous beasts and depending on the severity of the weather system, they can cause devastation on a massive scale (as evidenced by Hurricane Sandy).  But as nasty as a hurricane can be, they tend to affect certain parts of the Caribbean more than others, so you should not be put off booking a holiday to the Caribbean during the peak hurricane season—some islands are rarely affected and even when they are, the storms cause very little damage.  And besides, holidays during hurricane season are often cheaper!

Which Caribbean Islands are Least Likely to be Hit By a Hurricane?

The islands in the far south of the Caribbean are least likely to be struck by a Hurricane (most hurricanes travel along the Gulf Coast, which makes the islands to the north, including Bermuda and the Bahamas, a far riskier proposition).  So if you are a betting person, you will be thrilled to learn that the Caribbean island with the best odds of staying out of the path of a hurricane or tropical storm is Curacao.  Curacao and some of the other relatively safe islands are described below:

Curacao

Curacao is a beautiful island just north of Venezuela.  One of three islands in the Dutch Antilles (also known as the ABC islands), Curacao is a favourite stopping point for Caribbean cruise ships.  The main port of Willemstad boasts some fine (and very colourful!) colonial Dutch architecture and when it is cruise ship day, you can’t move for tourists flocking around the harbour.  There are some great opportunities for scuba diving just off the island and when the sun sets on the horizon, be sure to sample some of the island’s famous liqueur: blue Curacao.  Trust me—it’s lovely!

Aruba

Curacao’s close neighbour, Aruba, is another top choice for a hurricane free holiday.  The island enjoys glorious sunshine for most of the year and although Aruba isn’t as green and lush as some of the other Caribbean islands, it has its own unique flavour and attractions.  These include an interesting desert landscape, underground caves, fabulous white beaches and the sunken wreck of a German freighter, which has been transformed into a popular dive site.

Bonaire

Bonaire is the third island in the Dutch Antilles.  Like Curacao and Aruba, Bonaire is rarely affected by hurricanes, although major tropical storms do sometimes pass over the southern half of the Caribbean.  Unlike Curacao and Aruba, Bonaire is very unspoiled and luxury resort hotels are nowhere to be found.  Eco-tourism is much more the name of the game and the Washington-Slagbaai National Park covers a large percentage of the island.  Bonaire is very popular with scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts and the entire coastline has been designated as a protected marine sanctuary.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago are two other islands in the Caribbean where the odds of enjoying a hurricane free holiday are excellent, which makes them a great destination for a trouble free break.  Both Trinidad and Tobago have a rich cultural heritage with Asian, African and English influences combining to produce a fascinating melting pot of vibrant nightlife and eclectic local cuisine.

Grenada

Grenada, also known as the ‘spice island’, is another popular choice if you prefer not to have your holiday of a lifetime ruined by a pesky hurricane.  Famous for its secluded beaches and excellent diving opportunities, Grenada is the place to come when you want to forget about the outside world and totally relax for a week or two.

If you are looking to book all inclusive holidays Caribbean islands can be dangerous areas to visit due to hurricanes. However, with the information here you can book your holiday with the knowledge of which islands are safe during the hurricane season; allowing you to take advantage of the cheaper prices at these times of the year.

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travelers insights Dominica magazine cover page

Dominicans are generous and very hospitable. They respect the land that gives them so much, and are quick to point out that you can get by with very little in Dominica; grow your own vegetables, keep your own chickens and fish off the banks. Vegetables and fruits grow everywhere. Two big avocados cost me less that a dollar US.

Not driven by profit, Dominicans are inventive; they experiment and just do things for the joy of it. This tiny population of 70,000 on 290 square miles, makes its own beer, rum and coffee, was famous for the Dominica straw mats and exported grapefruit and bananas to the world. In the valleys sugar-cane is grown, crushed and processed into a high quality Dominica rum.

Dominica’s unique quality of life draws people to it. Gilles, a French entrepreneur escaped to paradise, as he says, and open the Sea Lounge – (Tel: 767 440 6973) with the “Best French cuisine in the Caribbean” says Gilles. “I got to the point where I had taken care of my responsibilities, got my daughter thought her education, and now it was time for myself. Dominica appealed because I wanted to get away from the rat race and do something worthwhile where it might matter. I like the spirit of the people and the place”. Dinner at Sea lounge was a highlight. The food was excellent and at the end of the meal Gilles served complementary spiced rum. He says he likes to exceed your expectations!

I came to Dominica to meet with tourism officials and see how we could work with the tourism authority and supply technology and marketing services to the Island. The first night we met up with Etta Deschamps by accident – she was sitting beside us at La Maison while we ate blackened fish and shrimp Creole. She and her husband established their film company ZoomFilmCompany.com, in Dominica. “Its alternative and authentic” she said of Dominica. It clearly has inspired their work.

The Travel writer, Paul Crask (Dominica Bradt Travel Guide), also fell in love with it. American executives are discovering it for the right reasons and escaping to their mountain homes, “It will not be overdeveloped” says Colin Piper, Director of the Dominica Tourism Board, “we prefer to keep things simple and preserve the unique experience that is Dominica”.

I hope that Dominica does not become another Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia where hotels and condos are everywhere. It is not your typical Caribbean beach holiday destination. There are several white sand beaches in the North but the land is private and the developers are not flocking in because there is no international airport and no one wants to tear down a mountain to build one.

The roads are narrow and often steep with many switchbacks. It takes an hour and half to drive from the airport to Roseau the capital – 27 miles. It’s not highway driving, you are driving thought the jungle, sometimes a rainforest or a banana plantation, on the edge of a mountain with a panoramic view of the ocean coastline.

Dominica nature

You come to Dominica to escape and rejuvenate in nature. Paddling up Indian River takes you to a new place of peace and quiet and character. It is Dominica – The nature Island, a brief moment to escape, take your foot of the accelerator and enjoy the calm of nature as paddle you up the river. The steady rhythm of paddles dipping in the water, is almost hypnotic, it is very soothing. In this island you will sleep in comfort of a boutique hotel, elegant without being overstated, or climb into your cottage in the treetops at Jungle Bay resort.

Sitting on your ocean front balcony at Calibishie Cove, with the wind blowing in your face is the essence of relaxation. I felt my mind physically let go of a mountain of thought and for the first time in weeks I began to unwind. Hazel the caretaker was the perfect host and cooked great peas and rice with coconut chicken using the provisions we had brought. Calibishe Cove has both self catering apartments and suites without kitchen. We had booked a deluxe suite with adjoining rooms and wrap around balconies. It did not have a kitchen, which was great, Hazel’s cooking was much better. Breakfast was delivered by van, with wide smiles and fresh orange juice courtesy of Helen.

We took the opportunity to walk down the 200 steps to the river estuary and the beach below our suite. Trevor and his son joined us on the beach. Trevor, a boxing champ from the UK, moved to Dominica a few years ago. The steps, the river, sea and natural obstacles of logs and low hanging trees have become the perfect gym. He came to Dominica to get away from the rush, he had wanted to start a boxing association but is now planning to train boxers on the Island. “Had the best training in my life right here”, he said, “you know it is the conditioning of your mind that makes the difference, Dominica unplugs you”. His agent got him a fight back in the UK with good prize money. “I should not have taken it as I was completely out of training” he tells us. But Dominica’s magic had made his mind sharp; the runs on the beach and shadow boxing had toned him up. He scored a knockout in round one.

We were traveling round the island by taxi. It seemed to be best so that we could concentrate on taking pictures and notes, but in retrospect I would hire a car. A 4×4 sidekick rents for $40.25 US a day. A taxi is a lot more and you don not have the freedom to head off in your own direction or stop for a snack on a whim, to just sit and stare and enjoy the scene. Our taxi driver was a 27-year-old Dominican with a family of two girls and a baby boy. He was looking forward to the Titiwi picnic and BBQ on Sunday. We did a round the island trip in two days, starting from Roseau, driving south to Scots Head, then up over the mountain to jungle bay and the Carib Territories, stopping for the night at Calibishie.

We arranged to be picked up at 11 on Sunday and drove on to Fort Shirley at Portsmoth. The fort has been beautifully restored by a project headed by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch. Lennox is a poet and a historian. I read his prose about the ocean some years ago and I still recall its essence. It inspired something I wrote. “March on, Oh! Rolling sea, with your messages of time”.

On the route back to Roseau we stopped off at the Titiwi festival at Layou. The Titiwi are a sort of tiny eel. They are fried, put in bakes, steamed, smoked or stewed in the creole cuisine style – very fishy rather like anchovies, a tasty treat with boiled breadfruit, Bello’s hot sauce and Kabuli beer. What most impressed me was the friendly people and their warm hospitality.

Dominica fish festival and Dominica fish bake and island creole cuisine

What you will notice in Dominica is colour, bright and vibrant but never gaudy. Nature abounds with its colour. Along the roads wild flowers spread a carpet of red, blue, white and yellow on a green tapestry. The towns and villages are alive with bright greens, yellow, reds and all shade of blue, and in the fishing villages the well cared for fishing boats are painted with personality.

Pink fishing boats say as much about the owner as about the boat! This is an island of individuals, about personal choice and the determination to be different. It is for discerning travelers who are not the typical tourist. It is, and I hope will always be, an undiscovered treasure tucked away in time, where old-fashioned values last.

About the Author:
Ian R Clayton is the CEO of AXSES INC, a destination marketing company building travel applications for hotels, tourism operators and destinations. Visit http://TravelersInsights.com – Dominica to download a FREE PDF or purchase the magazine, for just a few dollars.

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