Renowned Venezuelan architect Fruto Vivas presented his daughter, Sandra, with the ultimate wedding gift: a treehouse-style villa on the small, lush island of Dominica, perched atop a dramatic 120-foot cliff overlooking Prince Rupert Bay.
Sandra and her husband went on to incorporate their 2,700-square-foot retreat into a boutique eco-resort, erecting five more villas and two smaller bungalows. They called it Secret Bay, and it lives up to the name. Guests feel like they’re floating above the forest canopy, enjoying 180-degree views of azure salt water and Dominica’s mountains. With decks for meditation, yoga, and sunset watching, meals of lobster and local greens with homemade herb vinaigrette, kayaks and SUPs at the ready, and three secluded white-sand beaches at their disposal, some visitors never leave the property.
That’s understandable, but there’s a lot to do on this 290-square-mile island. A rich rainforest covers 60 percent of Dominica, home to the rare Sisserou parrot, the world’s second-largest boiling lake, over 350 rivers, and the Caribbean’s first long-distance hiking path, the 115-mile Waitukubuli National Trail. Offshore, there’s diving on Champagne Reef, named for the bubbles that rise up through the sand from an underwater hot spring. Hire a guide and spear lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean known for its poisonous dorsal spikes. It also happens to be delicious, especially when the Secret Bay chef grills it up for dinner.
Access: Fly to Dominica on American, Delta, or JetBlue, with a connection in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Seaborne Airlines. Bungalows from $520, villas from $710
Climate: Temperatures range from 70 to 90 degrees year-round. Average annual rainfall is 70 inches, so plan to go from February to April, the driest season.
Detour: Day-hike a section of the Waitukubuli National Trail, which winds through local villages, the ruins of an 18th-century French settlement, and iconic Emerald Pool, a cascading waterfall in the 17,000-acre Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
Indulge: Try a four-handed massage. Two therapists set up shop on the deck of your villa, cleansing the skin before applying a soothing herbal infusion to stimulate circulation.