Best For: Nature and adventure lovers
Location: The 29-mile-long island is between Martinique and Guadeloupe, Eastern Caribbean.
Getting there: Fly into one of Dominica's two small airports via Puerto Rico or other nearby gateways, such as Antigua.
Highlight: Start from the village of Laudat, and walk for an hour to Breakfast River. Climb through the rain forest, and you'll reach The Valley of Desolation, a moss-carpeted basin punctuated with hot springs and mini geysers. Keep hiking until you see Boiling Lake, one of the largest volcanically heated lakes in the world, a steamy cauldron, white with foam.
Allure: Dominica (dom-in-EE-ka) is breathtaking in its jungly greenness. Here the floodgates of mass tourism have not been breached-the terrain alone discourages this.
The interior is sharply cut by mountains, rivers, and waterfalls; ragged hillsides plunge into a turquoise, crystalline sea. Beaches, secluded gems, mostly of golden or black volcanic sand, lie hidden at the end of unpaved roads. Just offshore are dramatic dive sites and springs that spew hot water and bubbles amidst schools of squid and huge stoplight parrotfish.
Local fare: Dominica's fertile soil yields succulent fruits like mangoes, guavas, and bananas, as well as yams, dasheen, and tannia. Popular local cuisine includes Creole dishes; always on tap is Kubuli, Dominica's local beer.
In the family-owned La Robe Creole Restaurant in Roseau (767-448-2896), try san coche, codfish boiled in coconut milk and served with dumplings and green bananas. For nonstop mountain vistas, try Mountain View Restaurant and Bar in Pond Casse (767-449-2386).
Where to stay: Visitors to Dominica stay mostly in small guesthouses or inns. Crescent Moon Cabins nestled in a beautiful rustic setting, make a perfect base for ecotourists and hikers, and the homegrown food is outstanding (rates from $115; 767-449-3449, www.crescentmooncabins.com). The six-room boutique hotel, Beau Rive, known for its exceptional cuisine, is decorated in pristine whites and natural woods. Views of the sea are breathtaking (rates from $120 double with breakfast; 767-445-8992, www.beaurive.com).
Did you know: Dominica is the best whale-watching spot in the Caribbean. Whales are present along its coast year-round.