Dominica is the Nature Island of the Caribbean, a non-tourist destination for divers, hikers and naturalists that offers spectacular scenery both above and below the water. This was my destination for the last month of 2006. In general Dominica’s beaches aren’t exceptional and are mostly of black volcanic sand but it more than makes up for it in unspoiled rainforests and unique diving opportunities. It also takes pride in its live music and its Creole background. All this was high in my list of favorite things to do.

The capital Roseau was my base since the lack of transportation limited my horizons. From there I joined the rather new dive shop that William and his wife Karen had just set up. William, a local dive instructor, showed me the underwater miracles that Dominica has to offer. He took me out even to watch sperm whales that roam the warm waters of the Caribbean. Both of them were really helpful and it’s a pity that I don’t recall the name of the dive shop so I can recommend it to all of you out there.

My week in Dominica was completed with hikes to the nearby Waterfalls of Trafalgar and the Emerald Pool as well as my day-long hikes in the rainforest that has almost overtaken the island. One of the highlights of the island is the Carib territory, a 3700-acre land that begins at Bataka and continues to the south. This is the home of the 3.000 Dominica’s Carib Indians, the original inhabitants of the islands of the Caribbean Sea. They still live in traditional wooden structures on long stilts and not in cement houses as they do in St. Vincent. In Salybia, the main settlement, the noteworthy buildings are the “carbet” (the community center) and other buildings of the pre-Colombian era. One can help the locals by buying woven Carib baskets and other handicraft that they have for sale.

Back in Roseau, the colorful West Indian capital, my time passed roaming the streets that are lined with old stone and wooden buildings making me feel like I had stepped a hundred years back in time. The waterfront, although recently damaged by a hurricane, had almost recovered and the local people with their Creole English were really fun talking to.

Despite the growing number of cruise ships, many of the diving spots are still virgin and you rarely meet a single soul on most of the trails. The rugged peaks and deep river valleys make up the scenery of a really exotic paradise that one shouldn’t miss.

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