One of the islands we visited on a Southern Caribbean cruise in September 2006 was Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-eek-a). When I speak of Dominica to people, many think I am talking about the Dominican Republic which I am not. Dominica is located in the Eastern Caribbean between the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is the largest of the Windward Islands, has mountains that reach nearly 5, 000 feet, 365 rivers and is considered one of the last true island-based rainforests in the world. If I had to describe it in one word, I would say beautiful.
Many of you have already seen much of Dominica and don't even know it. If you have seen the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest, you have seen the beauty of Dominica. Many of the outside scenes in the movie were shot there and what you saw in the movie, is what you get. These were not sets that were put up or computer generated backgrounds, this was the real deal.
If you go to Dominica to duty free or jewelry shop, you are going to be disappointed. This is actually one of the reasons I like it so much. The main place to shop is a little open air market across the street from the cruise dock. Unlike other open air markets I have been to on other islands, this place is calm and friendly. There are no people screaming at you to come see their items, no people begging to braid your hair and very little bargaining. What you do find are craftsman who are proud of their work and are eager to share it with you when you ask.
At one point we were walking through town and my husband who was not feeling well from one of our excursions that day got ill. Many locals came up to us and offered assistance in any way they could. One woman got him some wet towels, a man offered him a chair and others just walked by and asked if there was anything we needed. When he felt better, men patted him on the back and shook his hand telling him they hoped he felt better.
Dominica offers excursions for almost every personality. If you like adventure, there are over 300 miles of footpaths to explore with varying degrees of difficulty. They weave their way across valleys, through gorges, over mountains and to amazing waterfalls. If culture is more your thing, you can visit the village of the Caribe Indians. They played the head hunters in the Pirates movie but in real life they are a peaceful group and Dominica is one of the last Caribbean islands that they call home. If water activities are more to your liking, I highly recommend one of the whale watching tours. Dominica is considered the whale watching capitol of the Caribbean and is home to many species of whales year round. Other water related activities are kayaking on a mountain lake, tubing down a river or snorkeling or scuba diving over a coral reef.
Of all the islands I have visited, Dominica is by far my favorite and one I am eager to return to. Stopping there for a few hours on a cruise was not nearly long enough for us to explore the island and take it all in. We have talked about going back there one day and spending some time so we can really see it all.