Nicknamed “The Nature Island,” Dominica is the picture of a pristine, volcanic island escape, ideal for a private luxury yacht charter. Fringed with pure white sand, majestic palms, and a 5,000-foot peak, the island is set into a sea of blue so clear it almost disappears in the shallows. Yachts float magically atop the water, while colorful scenes below the waterline mesmerize with their beauty. Still inhabited by a large population of the Carib Indians, Dominica remains the only pre-Columbian native enclave in the Eastern Caribbean, offering both serenity and culture to all who come calling.
From the capital city at Roseau, to the gorgeous marine reserve at Scotts Head, Dominica’s location puts it squarely between two divine neighbors, Martinique and Guadaloupe. The Best of Yachting presents an easy, 7-day itinerary embracing this lovely Caribbean trio, detailing a route that lightens the heart and renews the spirit.
Day 1: Launching from Marin Bay, Fort de France, Martinique, head for the reef at Anse Chaudière, where rewards of colorful fish and corals await snorkel and scuba guests. Wander toward the evening perch at Marina du Bakoua, and up to the Hotel Bakoua for a high style dinner at Chateaubriand, and a cocktail at the Coco Bar, or a little jazz and a fabulous French menu at La Vieux Foyal, before heading back to the yacht.
Day 2: With Mt. Pelee rising up in the background, cruise up to St. Pierre for a day of diving or snorkeling. More than ten wrecks dot the area, making it a rich underwater experience filled with corals, fish, and interesting artifacts, embraced by the dramatic black sand beach, reminders of the 1902 volcanic eruption that wiped out the town. Today, it is a quiet, charming, waterfront village, welcoming you for an authentic Creole repast at Le Fromager, or the tiny but delicious Le Tamaya.
Day 3: Head to Scotts Head at the southernmost point of the island of Dominica, a diving, snorkeling and fishing paradise in the Soufrière Bay. If you want an onshore excursion, prepare for a super casual atmosphere, Creole cuisine, and minimal amenities, but great food and hospitality. Stop by Roger’s Bar, or Malvina’s Restaurant for an authentic Creole treat, or package the feast and bring it aboard for a leisurely, luxury lunch. Continue northward to Champagne Reef for a swim or snorkel with the fish and the natural spring bubbles. Cruise on to Dominica’s capital, Roseau, for the evening anchorage. If you’re craving a slice, Roseau’s Sunshine Cottage serves up vegetarian wood-fired pies from scratch.
Day 4: Cruise up the west coast of Dominica’s lush, green hillsides, all the way to Portsmouth, where you’ll be welcomed by Cabrits National Park, and a bustling city with a medical school, and a seaport in Prince Rupert Bay. Industrial, yet pleasant, the park is a beautiful respite both on and off the water.
Day 5: Îles des Saintes, a part of Guadaloupe, is a pretty archipelago between Dominica and Guadaloupe. Famous for their peaks, the two main islands are dotted with seven uninhabited îlets, mostly surrounded by reefs. Populated by Europeans, and inhospitable to agriculture, the islands are home to quaint, French-speaking fishing villages. An onshore visit to the village of Bourg de Saints for a peek at the galleries, or perhaps for a hike up the mountain to view nature’s incredible work from the peak, Le Chameau, 309 meters above the shoreline. The hike can be strenuous, but motorbikes, rented in town, make it a fun, quick trip.
Day 6: Spend the day wandering through the islands, snorkeling or diving with colorful corals, fish, and crystal clear blue water, or kite-surf the shallow lagoon. Finish the day with a fine dinner at Auberge Les Petits Saints, where the food and the view are particularly delicious, then retire to the yacht for a lovely night under the stars. Bourg des Saints is reminiscent of St. Barthelemy prior to achieving luxury status. Boutique hotels, unique, local shops, and interesting restaurants dot the island, ready for your explore.
Day 7: Head to the island of Guadeloupe, stopping at St. Francois for the end of your luxury yacht charter, or continue on for another week, adding Montserrat, St. John, St. Barthelemy, and St. Martin to your itinerary for continued blissful cruising amid the beautiful windward islands of the Caribbean. If the Bas-du-Fort Marina in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe is your conclusion, head onshore for an exquisite French dinner. Wherever you dine, try the Rhum Agricole, said to provide the joy of the sip without the hangover. Book a table at La Canne a Sucre in Point-a-Pitre for a superb Creole feast with a view, or the epic Marie Galante on Place de la Victoire, both perfect perches to begin planning your next private charter.