Best For: Nature and adventure lovers
Location: The 29-mile-long island is between Martinique andGuadeloupe, Eastern Caribbean.
Getting there: Fly into one of Dominica's two small airportsvia Puerto Rico or other nearby gateways, such as Antigua.
Highlight: Start from the village of Laudat, and walk for anhour to Breakfast River. Climb through the rain forest, and you'llreach The Valley of Desolation, a moss-carpeted basin punctuatedwith hot springs and mini geysers. Keep hiking until you seeBoiling Lake, one of the largest volcanically heated lakes in theworld, a steamy cauldron, white with foam.
Allure: Dominica (dom-in-EE-ka) is breathtaking in itsjungly greenness. Here the floodgates of mass tourism have not beenbreached-the terrain alone discourages this.
The interior is sharply cut by mountains, rivers, andwaterfalls; ragged hillsides plunge into a turquoise, crystallinesea. Beaches, secluded gems, mostly of golden or black volcanicsand, lie hidden at the end of unpaved roads. Just offshore aredramatic dive sites and springs that spew hot water and bubblesamidst schools of squid and huge stoplight parrotfish.
Local fare: Dominica's fertile soil yields succulent fruitslike mangoes, guavas, and bananas, as well as yams, dasheen, andtannia. Popular local cuisine includes Creole dishes; always on tapis 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 andserved with dumplings and green bananas. For nonstop mountainvistas, try Mountain View Restaurant and Bar in Pond Casse(767-449-2386).
Where to stay: Visitors to Dominica stay mostly in smallguesthouses or inns. Crescent Moon Cabins nestled in a beautifulrustic setting, make a perfect base for ecotourists and hikers, andthe homegrown food is outstanding (rates from $115; 767-449-3449, www.crescentmooncabins.com).The six-room boutique hotel, Beau Rive, known for its exceptionalcuisine, is decorated in pristine whites and natural woods. Viewsof 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 inthe Caribbean. Whales are present along its coast year-round.