Dominica & Guadeloupe: Alternate Caribbean
The requirements of paradisepristine beaches stretching for miles along coral-rich watersexist only as a footnote for those intrepid travelers who start twitching after a few surf-side hours under the sun. Those longing for a rough-and-tumble retreat, fear not. The Caribbean's got you covered. Dominica has 290 square miles of the most wild and rugged land in the region: volcanic-sand beaches, 4,000-foot peaks rising from the surf and disappearing into the clouds, 100-foot waterfalls, a 17,000-acre national park interwoven with hiking trails, a boiling lake, tropical rain forests, and coral-rich waters with huge drop-offs, loads of shipwrecks, and visibility up to 100 feet. Guadeloupe, Dominica's northwestern neighbor, further enhances the Alternate Caribbean. Rolling hills and sugar plantations dominate the eastern side of this butterfly-shaped island, while the still-active La Soufrière volcano looms over a 74,000-acre park laced with over 200 miles of hiking and biking trails covering the mountainous western side. Guadeloupe also hosts a 797-mile road cycling race every August (and yes, it's traversable year round) as well as some of the best mountain biking this side of Moab. And should you want to rest your legs after you've peddled them into warm butter, Guadeloupe's beaches ain't half-bad, either.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication