Soufrière, Dominica

Photo: Jungle Bay Dominica

What’s your favorite island in the Caribbean? The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico are the most-visited spots. So you tend to avoid them. Aruba and the US Virgin Islands are popular, too. So they’re no longer at the top of your list. You prefer quiet islands. They don’t have big airports or massive resorts. A lot of people have never even heard of them. You’re returning to one of those.

Dominica is known as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. The former British colony is the largest of the Windward Islands. Unlike its neighbors—St. Lucia, Grenada, Martinique—Dominica isn’t famous for its beaches. The island is steep and rugged. It’s full of mountains, lakes, rainforests, and waterfalls. Rare flowers grow along the rivers. Endemic and endangered birds live in high peaks. While rocky reefs ring the 290-square-mile island.

Roseau is the capital of Dominica. Like most Caribbean cities, it has colorful houses, narrow streets, and a busy port. Hurricane Maria, a powerful Category 5, seriously damaged many of its historic buildings when it ravaged the island in 2017. The ongoing recovery is evident as you head south from the small airport. You’re quickly leaving Roseau behind for the southern tip of the island.

Photo: Jungle Bay Dominica

Saint Mark, the island’s smallest parish, lies along the southern coast. The area, where the Atlantic Ocean bumps into the Caribbean Sea, is protected as the Soufrière-Scotts Head Marine Reserve. Soufrière and Scotts Heads are both sleepy fishing villages. The former is home to the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mark. The pretty, 18th-century church was made out of volcanic stone. The latter was the sight of a British fort in the 1760s. Most of the hillside fort collapsed into the water; a few ruins and a rusty cannon are still visible to hikers. The views from both are just stunning.

A resort that sits on the hillside of Morne Acouma, a mountain overlooking Soufrière, also has a gorgeous view. That’s your home base for this trip. Jungle Bay used to lie on the southeast coast—the wild Atlantic side—of Dominica. The hurricane forced it to close. Instead of rebuilding on the same land, the Dominican-born owner took over a former lime plantation, added more freestanding villas, and reopened last summer. His eco-resort now has one of the best views in the Caribbean.

Jungle Bay sits on 55 acres full of banana plants, fragrant flowers, and tropical trees. Footpaths wind between stone-and-hardwood buildings. Inside those buildings, you’ll find bamboo furniture that was made by local banana farmers, who were retrained when the industry started slumping. Hand-painted linens, palm-inspired lamps, and jungle-spa bathrooms with raindrop showers are in the villas, as well. Each one also has a large patio with a bright hammock and an outdoor shower. Fresh flowers greet you upon arrival. No wonder you feel right at home on Dominica.

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