The tiny island of Dominica in the Windward Islands should be on every Cayman resident’s bucket list. Yes, it’s another Caribbean island but it’s light years behind the prosperous, modern style of Cayman.
Dominica is renowned for its indigenous population’s longevity. Despite being extremely poor with limited health care, many live healthily well into their 80s, 90s and beyond. The elderly are known to be some of the happiest on the planet. It’s not surprising; visiting the Nature Island is like going back decades. Totally unspoilt and picturesque, it feels like a place that time forgot. In fact, until recently, it only had one set of traffic lights, in the capital, Roseau. Dominica boasts 365 rivers, one for every day of the year. Its water is so pure that it was bottled for years by an American company.
No white beaches, shopping malls and thumping nightlife here. Holidays to Dominica are an adventure. Hiking through its concentrated mountain regions, visitors discover waterfalls, hidden rock pools and unique species of flora and fauna. Much of its flourishing rainforest, powder-soft black, volcanic beaches and coral reefs remain untouched.
If you want stunning rainforest, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, flowers, birds, snorkelling, horse-riding and whale-watching then this little island in the Eastern Caribbean is where to go.
It was the location for several scenes in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies but isn’t over-run with tourists. Most people arrive in Roseau on a cruise, but you can arrive by air via Puerto Rico or Antigua, descending over the unspoilt landscape.
Dominica’s hotels and resorts retain that distinct sense of adventure. Many residences are designated eco-lodges, and share a wonderful synergy with their surroundings. Visitors can relax on a veranda amongst lush rainforest and gaze over the Pitons that pierce the blue ocean; with the stunning surrounds, it is even easy to overlook the luxury cabana perched next to you on the hillside. Such is the seamless integration between the island and islanders.
Diving, hiking and biking packages are often a major draw for adventure-hungry guests. In contrast, many resorts feature natural spas to relax and rejuvenate. Imagine massage tables next to babbling brooks and enveloped by tropical flowers, dazzling every sense.
Things to do
The island is a web of footpaths that undulate through lush valleys, harmonious villages and across 4,000-foot peaks.
Hikers make their own routes to find hidden pools of warm waters and cascades such as Penrice Double Waterfalls, Trafalgar Falls or Victoria Falls. The more adventurous might venture further through volcanic territory to discover the Boiling Lake (the second largest in the world) or take on The Morne Trois Pitons Trail – no easy hike, but a worthy reward from the summit of this three-peaked mountain. If you prefer, many of these trails can be followed by bike.
Dominica boasts wonders of the natural world seldom seen elsewhere. In the nights from March until October, the experience of a lifetime awaits to watch sea turtles wash up to nest on Rosalie Beach, including the enormous and beautiful leatherback turtle.
Head out into the ocean and experience the unparalleled spectacle of whale watching. Whales and dolphins take residence in the waters around Dominica all year and the island is a hub of activity for humpbacks, minke whales and orcas.
However, the resident celebrities are a group of sperm whales living 3,000 feet in the depths below, occasionally popping up for snacks and some very lucky snaps.
Watersports are a big attraction too. Tubing, yachting, scuba diving and snorkelling for all levels and abilities; kayaking and river rapid rafting and more are all available.
The nightlife might not be the buzzing 24-hour party of some Caribbean islands, but Dominica holds various festivals and carnivals year-round bringing together the vibrant colours and culture of the island. A highlight is DOMFESTA, a celebration of art, dance and theatre.
Nature Island Literary Festival & Book Fair
This festival is scheduled to be held from Aug. 11-13 at the UWI Open Campus Grounds in Roseau and forms part of the Emancipation Day Celebrations. The three-day event comprises prose and poetry readings, storytelling, music, film, interviews, book fair, competitions and workshops for adults and children. Entrance is free.
World Creole Music Festival 2017
The annual World Creole Music Festival is held over three nights at the end of October from the 27-29 and features the best in creole music from around the world.
10 Great reasons to vacation in Dominica
· Unspoilt natural rainforest
· Perfect beaches of golden and jet black sands
· A nature lover’s dream of rare flora and fauna
· Diving in the coral reefs
· Scenic and challenging cycle paths
· Kayaking or river tubing Layou River
· Hiking Morne Anglais and Morne Trois Pitons
· Botanical gardens of Roseau
· Intricate local handcraft from Roseau Market Plaza and Dame ME Charles Boulevard
· French Creole cuisine
Getting about: Rent a car or get tailor-made tours
Good to know: There are no venomous snakes or spiders.
Stay: Evergreen Hotel from $80 a room is a great option
Getting there: It’s not easy from Cayman. One option is to go to Miami then on to Puerto Rico where you’ll have to overnight before the hop to Dominica.