The Caribbean mould in Dominica

When imagining a Caribbean holiday, most of us think of pristine white-sand beaches, all-inclusive resorts and glitzy pool parties. But nestled between Guadeloupe and Martinique, the volcanic island of Dominica flouts expectations.

Nicknamed the “Nature island of the Caribbean”, it attracts a relatively small number of independent, adventurous eco-minded travellers. Here’s why you should go, plus the essentials to plan your trip:

 

Why should I go?

Rising starkly out of the Caribbean Sea to the west and the Atlantic to the east, Dominica is covered in steep hills and thick jungle peppered with waterfalls, freshwater lakes and sulphuric pools. Black-sand beaches and rocky coves line the shores – and there isn’t a mega-resort in sight.

Tangling tropical foliage is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna. And despite this huge variety of wildlife, there are no venomous snakes or spiders to worry about.

But without the typical Caribbean draws of white-sand beaches, and with an airport that only serves other nearby islands, development on Dominica has remained slow, low-key and independently run. Though cruise ships do stop here in season (October–March), passengers generally only stay for the day, and the island is otherwise quiet.

There are no malls or chain shops, either. Pretty much everything in Roseau, the capital, is locally owned. Come here and you’re in for a truly Dominican experience.

 

Why is now a good time to visit?

Storm Erika ripped through Dominica in August 2015, killing at least twenty people and causing colossal damage to roads, farmland, livestock and buildings. Two years on, after a huge recovery effort, the island is back on its feet, and tourism is more important than ever.

The island has only 75,000 overnight visitors per year ­– a tiny amount compared to nearby Barbados, which sees around 1.3 million tourists annually. But the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has promised that a new international airport will become a reality.

Currently, the tiny Douglas–Charles Airport only operates flights to other Eastern Caribbean islands. If the new airport plans come to fruition, the number of visitors to Dominica will skyrocket. Get there before the rest of the world does (and try to avoid peak cruise ship season, too).