Dominica is about discovery. Much of its 360 rivers, rainforest and mountains are still unexplored. Sightseeing, trekking, hiking, diving is among the best in the Caribbean. But Dominica's true nature is a gentle peace; quiet in a land of towering mountains and cascading rivers. Stepping back in time, you are miles away from the modern world and its fast pace, time moves slowly in Dominica and that is the way Dominicans like it.
Dominica's unique quality of life draws people to it. Gilles, a French entrepreneur escaped to paradise, as he says, and open the Sea Lounge with the "Best French cuisine in the Caribbean" says Gilles. "I got to the point where I had taken care of my responsibilities, got my daughter thought her education, and now it was time for myself. Dominica appealed because I wanted to get away from the rat race and do something worthwhile where it might matter. I like the spirit of the people and the place".
The Travel writer, Paul Crask, also fell in love with it. American executives are discovering it for the right reasons and escaping to their mountain homes, "It will not be overdeveloped" says Colin Piper, Director of the Dominica Tourism Board, "we prefer to keep things simple and preserve the unique experience that is Dominica".
I hope that Dominica does not become another Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia where hotels and condos are everywhere. It is not your typical Caribbean beach holiday destination. There are several white sand beaches in the North but the land is private and the developers are not flocking in because there is no international airport and no one wants to tear down a mountain to build one.
The roads are narrow and often steep with many switchbacks. It takes an hour and half to drive from the airport to Roseau the capital – 27 miles. It's not highway driving, you are driving thought the jungle, sometimes a rainforest or a banana plantation, on the edge of a mountain with a panoramic view of the ocean coastline.
You come to Dominica to escape and rejuvenate in nature. Paddling up Indian River takes you to a new place of peace and quiet and character. It is Dominica – The nature Island, a brief moment to escape, take your foot of the accelerator and enjoy the calm of nature as paddle you up the river. The steady rhythm of paddles dipping in the water, is almost hypnotic, it is very soothing. In this island you will sleep in comfort of a boutique hotel, elegant without being overstated, or climb into your cottage in the treetops at Jungle Bay resort.
What you will notice in Dominica is colour, bright and vibrant but never gaudy. Nature abounds with its colour. Along the roads wild flowers spread a carpet of red, blue, white and yellow on a green tapestry. The towns and villages are alive with bright greens, yellow, reds and all shade of blue, and in the fishing villages the well cared for fishing boats are painted with personality. Pink fishing boats say as much about the owner as about the boat!
This is an island of individuals, about personal choice and the determination to be different. It is for discerning travelers who are not the typical tourist. It is, and I hope will always be, an undiscovered treasure tucked away in time, where old-fashioned values last. NEXT