Yes, we love beaches. And thereâ€™s nothing like the warm turquoise waters and soft white sand of a blissful Caribbean beach. But if we like beaches, weâ€™ve certainly done beaches. Probably many times. If youâ€™re looking for something more exotic, but still warm and wonderful, think about Dominica.
Known as The Nature Island, it lies between The French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Whatâ€™s so nature-y? It has 365 rivers plus waterfalls, boiling lakes, pristine coral reefs and rainforests said to be among the last true oceanic rainforests in the world. Dominica is also at the forefront of eco-tourism so you can choose from nature tours, hikes, whale and dolphin watches and incredible bird watching. And although the beaches are mostly rocky, the diving and snorkeling are great.
Whatâ€™s to eat before or after immersing yourself in all this natural beauty?
Ritualâ€™s Coffee House has a surprisingly trendy atmosphere, considering its remoteness. Start the day here or stop in later for a slice of their beloved Amaretto Cheesecake. La Maison in the center of the main town Roseau – and serves surprisingly sophisticated fare. Mirage is the place for food as interesting as the island itself: a mix of North African, Mediterranean, Indian and South American.
Where to stay?
The small hotels hugging the green hillsides are a welcome change from the typical sprawling island spots. Beau Rive Dominica is built into a hillside and has just ten rooms. All are beautiful and have ocean views. Best of all, prices start at $137 a night, breakfast included. With a roof bar, swimming pool, forest trail and gardens of citrus and spice, itâ€™s dreamy and different – just like Dominica.
Although beaches here are few and far between, there are a couple and Calibishie Cove Hotel overlooks one. The hotelâ€™s four rooms are private, pretty and feature free Internet access and complimentary use of a local cell. Local foods are on the menu, including tropical fruits and island beers. Even the soaps are made locally.
Hereâ€™s a great way to get in the mood to visit this decidedly different island. Take a look at the work of local artist Marie Frederick. With a range of prices, thereâ€™s something for all budgets. But the bright colors and island scenes make the island feel closer than ever. If you go to Dominica, be sure to stop at her studio.
For the most island-y place to stay, check out Marieâ€™s Tree Cottage. This outdoor guest room with Frederickâ€™s colorful paintings, romantic mosquito nets and a view of emerald hillsides could not be more authentic.