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Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996
Dominica is for people who need sweat and grit in their tropical vacation: The island’s few beaches are mostly of black volcanic sand, and none rates even fair by Caribbean standards. What Dominica does have are mountains that rise 4,000 feet out of crashing surf and disappear into the clouds. Vast tracts of old-growth rainforest. Hundred-foot waterfalls. Lakes that boil. And
The classic green-in-your-face place to stay is the Papillote Wilderness Retreat (doubles, $65-$85; 809-448-2287), at the base of 4,000-foot Morne Macaque, with ten simple rooms surrounded by orchid gardens, hot springs, and Trafalgar Falls. Owners Anne and Cuthbert John Baptiste can set you up with a guide ($40 per person) for the hike to Dominica’s claim to fame, Boiling
But Dominica isn’t all ferns and granite. To get closer to the sea, base yourself at the island’s southern end near the village of Soufrière, on a sheltered bay eight miles down the coast from the shabby capital, Roseau. Set at the foot of a steep valley, Soufrière is the kind of place where folks build roadside stoops out of tree branches just to have a place to
Paddlers can explore the bay’s calm waters and rugged coastline in custom Paluski sea kayaks ($10 per hour; $40 for a guided half-day trip). Mountain bikers can rent clunky rigid-fork Giant Rincons ($60-$80 per person for group rides); the terrain ranges from smooth plantation roads to gut-busting single track, but one thing is constant: the hills. Independent riders can wear
If you want to stay right on the ocean, Nature Island Dive has a two-bedroom cottage with kitchen ($100 for two, $130 for up to four). Those on a budget should try Gachette’s Seaside Lodge (doubles, $25-$65; 809-448-7749) in Scotts Head, just down the road. But for stunning views of the Soufrière Valley and Martinique Channel, there’s only one place: Petit Coulibri Guest