Known as the Nature Island, Dominica was a surprise to many of us expecting a typical Caribbean destination. Lush tropical forests, healthy reefs and abundant marine life welcomed us to our latest group trip destination.

Having never been to Dominica, I was excited about visiting a new location, aware of the reputation it held, but unprepared for what truly awaited. After a lengthy journey getting to the island, I awoke to a tropical paradise. The view from our bedroom window was truly breathtaking, between dense forested mountains and the crystal blue waters, it really felt like paradise had been found.

The diving was inspiring, with healthy corals on every site being the norm, and an abundant and varied fish population. Throughout the trip I was thoroughly impressed with all our sightings, and added afternoon dives to explore more of the reef. The fact the island gets almost 200 inches of rain every year, and has over 300 rivers, doesn't aid in the underwater visibility, but clearly the nutrients have helped keep the ecosystem healthy and in check.

When not underwater, our adventurous travelers explored the lush rain forest, hiking to magnificent waterfalls and lounging in hot springs. A highlight for all was definitely our plunge into Titou Gorge, a narrow waterway through the canyon. We also took an afternoon for some whale watching, getting the opportunity to see the resident Sperm Whales that call Dominica home.

Throughout our trip we enjoyed excellent hospitality, delicious food (though usually served in typical "island time") and a wonderful combination of topside and underwater adventures. For those wanting to limit their travel to the Caribbean, this island is definitely worth checking out!