The Caribbean's 'Nature Island' Has Rain Forests, Luxury Hotels, and a Rich Creole Culture

Dominica is in a league of its own when it comes to untouched landscapes in the Caribbean.

View of the South coast with a lush jungle on Dominica

Eduardo Cabanas/Getty Images

Accurately nicknamed the Nature Island, Dominica stands out among other Caribbean islands because of its dedication to preserving its diverse offering of largely unspoiled, natural outdoor experiences. Unlike many neighboring islands in the region that may encourage lounging at the beach with a cocktail in hand, a full itinerary in Dominica may not include a beach day at all. The key value of visiting this tropical paradise is the lush greenery (rain forest covers about two-thirds of the land), which includes a rich array of vegetation touching all edges of the island, plus volcanoes, black sand, hot springs, and waterfalls throughout.

For city dwellers wanting to swap skyscrapers for scenic mountaintop views, or trade in traffic jams for trekking through hundreds of miles of hiking trails, Dominica is the ideal getaway. Read on for how to plan the perfect trip to the Nature Island.

Getting to Dominica

Since December 2021, American Airlines has been operating multiple direct flights weekly from Miami International Airport (MIA), making it easier than ever to get to Dominica from the U.S. If you are coming to Dominica from another Caribbean island, InterCaribbean Airways offers flights from Barbados, Tortola, or St. Lucia; Liat offers flights from Barbados and Antigua; and Caribbean Airlines offers flights from Trinidad and Barbados. 

Best Time to Visit Dominica 

People dressed up for Carnival

Courtesy of Discover Dominica Authority

Dominica’s rich, Creole culture — a mixture of West African roots, indigenous Kalinago heritage, and French and British influences — is on full display in its music, food, fashion, and art. The best times to see and experience this vibrant display are during Carnival in February (typically held two days before Ash Wednesday), World Creole Music Festival in October, and generally around the end-of-year holidays. If whale watching is on your wish list, sightings are most common between November and March. 

Best Things to Do on Dominica  

View from the top of Scott's Head Hike

Derek Galon/Getty Images

One of the best ways to see the beauty of this island is through one of its countless hiking trails. The trek to Syndicate Falls is considered relatively easy because of its minimal elevation gain, but be mindful that it does include some muddy bits (especially with off-and-on downpours in the rain forest) and hopping rocks across two rivers. The payoff is worth it as Syndicate Falls is a stunner that leads into a refreshing water base, perfect for cooling down.

Less of a hike and more of a walk (or drive) up a steep, paved incline is Scotts Head, a massive peninsula that lingers off the southern tip of the island, connected to the mainland by a narrow and rocky strip that touches the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. The view from the top is breathtaking. 

A ride up the Indian River is a relaxing and surreal experience. Within three minutes of your guide pushing off the dock in a colorful wooden rowboat, you'll feel like you're in uninhabited territory as the palm tree-fringed water stream is laden with countless flowers and plants cascading at the sides. 

The unparalleled nature experiences don’t stop at the shores, either. Dominica has become a top destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, free diving, and more. Popular sites include Champagne Beach and Scotts Head.

Lastly, Wotten Waven is an open-air thermal spa surrounded by verdant forest and home to two heated sulfur pools, a mud pool, individual sulfur baths, waterfalls, and more. It's a perfect spot for soothing your muscles from the nonstop action the island offers.

Best Places to Stay on Dominica 

View of pool with frog statues and mountains in the background

Courtesy of InterContinental Dominica Cabrits Resort & Spa

The best and most efficient way to explore Dominica is by splitting up your stay between the north and south sides of the island, allowing for regional excursions and a variety of lodging options that will add to your overall experience.

Start your trip in the north at the InterContinental Dominica Cabrits Resort & Spa, slated to open in spring 2023. Tucked in the bosom of Cabrits National Park, this chic property will include several outdoor pools, an on-site spa, beach access, and a refined design to complement the serene location.

Jungle Villa Suite at Jungle Bay

Courtesy of Jungle Bay

Then, make your way south for a stay at Jungle Bay, a sustainably designed luxury resort with villas outfitted in immaculately handcrafted wooden and woven furniture and decor. The property is known as the Edible Resort, so try the Garden Tour where the head of landscaping leads a discovery walk to see more than 75 varieties of local plants and trees on the property, offering many freshly picked fruits and spices along the way. During the Herbal Experience, you'll learn and try traditional, local remedies and make your own tea blend from herbs and flowers grown on site. 

Best Places to Eat and Drink on Dominica 

Stuffed lobster and other food from Keepin' It Real

Courtesy of Discover Dominica Authority

The cuisine in Dominica is as flavorful and diverse as its many cultural influences. Keepin’ It Real is a beachside restaurant with local dishes. Try the grilled lobster topped with peppers and onions or the local catch of the day, served with péze (smashed green plantains), rice, beans, baked macaroni pie, and salad. 

Le Petit Paradise is a quaint, family-owned restaurant and bed-and-breakfast nestled in the mountains in the Wotten Waven section of the island. Their menu changes based on what's freshly available, so call in advance if you're planning on visiting.

There are countless food options in Roseau, which you’ll hear locals simply refer to as “town.” Try Old Stone Grill and Bar for traditional dishes, or any of the various street vendors selling bites and fresh fruit juices.

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