Marigot, Dominica

Photo: Pagua Bay House
Photo: Pagua Bay House

It’s supposed to be a quick trip to the Caribbean. But between flight delays, long customs lines, and baggage handlers on island time, your travel day always becomes much longer than it should be. Instead of spending the afternoon lounging on the beach or by the pool, you’re still stuck at the airport.

Maybe it’s time to try a little island. The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and even Antigua now receive a huge number of visitors each day. So of course the arrival process is frustratingly slow. Islands without direct flights from the United States may have airports without many amenities, but they also receive fewer flights and smaller aircraft. After an easy connection—through somewhere like San Juan—you can disembark, have your passport stamped, and be driving away from the airport while larger flights are still taxiing.

So which island should you consider? Dominica sounds wonderful. The Nature Isle of the Caribbean may not be famous for its beaches, but it’s full of mountains, rainforests, and waterfalls. Rare flowers grow along the rivers, and rare birds live in the high peaks. While a chic hotel sits on a hillside overlooking Pagua Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Pagua Bay House
Photo: Pagua Bay House

Since you aren’t taking your normal Caribbean vacation, you don’t want to stay at a big, typical resort either. Pagua Bay House is an intimate, stylish retreat that feels more like a home than a hotel. You arrive to find polished concrete and native wood beams in the lobby. You appreciate the clean lines and the muted pops of color in the modern space. The lobby leads to Pagua Bay Bar & Grill, a spacious restaurant dotted with wooden tables, which flows onto the outdoor deck. A deep pool, sun loungers, and Adirondack chairs are beyond that. While the view of the Atlantic is priceless.

It gets even better. The hotel has six rooms. That’s right, only six. You’ll barely see other guests, much less feel crowded by them. Each room—make that each cabana or suite—is individually decorated. Brazilian tigerwood floors, walnut platform beds, and straw bags full of beach towels are in every one, though. Tempted by a private plunge pool in one and a deep soaking tub in the other, you opt for one of the two suites. It doesn’t even matter which one.

So what do you want to do first? You could grab a boogie board and run down to the beach. You could sip a Centipede Rum Punch from a sun lounger partially submerged in water in the pool. Or you could relax on the deck with fish tacos, a cold beer, and that stunning view of the bay. But why choose? You have all afternoon now that you’re on Dominica.

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