Paradise found: Why Dominica is the remote, nature-packed Caribbean island for the adventurous traveller

This untouched-feeling Eden has hikes, hot springs and cute homestays for nature-seekers. And it’s on a mission to become ‘climate resilient’, finds Sian Lewis

Saturday 04 February 2023 13:34 GMT
The island is low on modern development and high on Mother Nature
The island is low on modern development and high on Mother Nature (Sian Lewis)

No international airport, no hotel chains or white sand beaches, sparse roads, hardly any street lights... I find the island of Dominica blissfully free of urban sprawl. What the place nicknamed the Caribbean’s “nature island” does have in abundance is wilderness. A thickly rainforested, mountainous interior, to be exact, fringed by beaches of black and silver volcanic sand. It hides nine active volcanos and so many waterfalls and rivers that locals like to say you could hike to see a new one every day of the year. The island wobbles on top of a crust of geothermal activity that creates a boiling lake, natural hot springs and underwater volcanic geysers, which have been burbling away seemingly since the dawn of time.

Dominica (pronounced Domin-ee-ca) is far too often confused with the Dominican Republic, another Caribbean island 1,000km (621 miles) away. When I arrive in late autumn, I find it very much its own place: a verdant, English-speaking nation sandwiched between francophone Martinique and Guadeloupe. Its residents are still working to repair the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, which ripped through here in 2017, destroying 90 per cent of the island’s infrastructure and tragically killing five people.

But this tiny island – one of the poorest in the Caribbean – is also on track to become the world’s first “climate-resilient” nation: constructing weatherproof buildings and a safe housing initiative, reinvesting in sustainable agriculture and working to attract ecologically-minded travellers with a green tourism pass scheme that offers entry to the many wonders of its national parks.

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