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Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

We are (possibly) planning a trip to Dominica (or Anguilla) in 2014. Still trying to work out the logisitics of getting there - at this stage in the game I'm gathering that flying into SXM is our best bet and then a regional flight to Dominica.

I have no idea what area on the island to start looking in terms of lodging. We aren't into large resorts or high end lodging. We like clean, safe, cozy and spend most of our time outdoors. We would like to avoid "hotel zones" if there is a such thing there, but ideally we'd like lodging where we can cook our own meals, and also be near other restaurants we can drive to if we feel like going out to eat, and not too far from the beach - somewhere we can wade and snorkel. Not sure if this is feasible given the logistics of the island, everything seems so spread out. In Arenal, Costa Rica we were limited to resort food because the nearest restaurant was a 45 minute drive. Eek. Just my observation and correct me if I'm wrong - even the higher end resorts on Dominica seem to offer only a continental breakfast and everything else is ala carte. This seems silly to me given that there are no other restaurants or food sources nearby. ??? Perhaps all inclusive gives the impression of 'Americanized hotel zones', who knows.

Lodging near a beach would be ideal, but I won't rule out anything else with a fantastic view thats near other activities...restaurants, grocery stores, etc. We like activities - hiking, water sports (is the water here cold and deep or are there shallow areas ideal for snorkeling? - we love the warm waters of Cozumel, but I'm expecting that won't be the case here?), and we love exploring on our own, but don't want to spend all our time driving to and from attractions, that takes away from the relaxing experience, so being in close proximity to activities is ideal. A few days driving longer distances to attractions would be fine.

I get the impression this isn't really a beach destination per se, but rather a tropical destination with lots to explore. Please chime in with your thoughts.

We've been to Cozumel (fun and easy to explore), Nevis (nice, but not sure I'd go back), Roatan (stunningly beautiful, but sand fleas were atrocious), Ambergris Caye Belize (our favorite vacation was Belize in a secluded part of the island where we laid on the most beautiful beach in the world all week - a wind-down vacation), Costa Rica (Arenal and Manuel Antonio, beautiful and tropical but very spread out) and Bonaire (aside from the diving, ICKY arid rocky island!!! Never to return). Most of all, we try to avoid tourist traps and Americanized destinations, we love off the beaten path, local culture and local foods.

We are also divers, so a day or two of diving would be nice.

Other islands on our "must see" list are Vieques (also in 2014), and Anguilla at some point in the future, primarily beach destinations.

We usually rent a vehicle, but I'm on the fence and open to suggestions. We drove in Costa Rica and the roads have steep cliffs and winding narrow roads - I was on the edge of my seat but I'm not the one driving. So be it. I just don't want to be trapped in the same place all week, but also don't want to fork out a fortune or be limited to guides for the entire week. We prefer exploring on our own vs. paid excursions and we avoid tourist traps.

I don't even know where to start. I've researched some areas with beautiful bays, but the lodging I've found is atrociously expensive. We'd be fine spending up to $200/night for lodging. I've also seen some other jungle lodging that looked nice, but I don't know if I want to be in the shade all week - I think I'd feel like we were camping or something. I want sunshine.

If you could give me an idea of the general feel of the island, the different areas and what to expect, it would help.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Also, how much is a car rental per day and where do you recommend we rent from?

Edited: 01 November 2013, 20:57
Southfield, Michigan
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2. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

I strongly suggest you buy the Dominica guide book by Paul Crask as your first step to visiting Dominica.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

If we book a trip I will consider a guide book

My first step is to get feedback here from other travelers on this forum.

Anyone else have helpful advice?

Edited: 03 November 2013, 12:02
Southfield, Michigan
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4. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

You were given helpful advice. It's what I did before I booked my 2 week trip.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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5. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

I agree it is helpful advice. Thank you.

I'm also asking the advice of others on this forum. Hence the reason I said, "any others ..."

Edited: 03 November 2013, 23:01
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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6. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

"anyone else" I meant to say.

I'd really like to hear feedback/advice from others on this forum.

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7. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Hi for a number of years we have been going to the Calibishie area. Check out a neat place on the beach called veranda view guest house. We stayed there for 5 years each Nov

You will over the area.

Edited: 10 November 2013, 02:08
Wisconsin
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8. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Just read an interesting post about LIAT airlines check it out before you book island airfare. I'm going next week and will post my LIAT experience. Wish I would have read the LIat post before I booked but I don't have much choice. I'm going to St Vincent and the Grenadines. LIAT is one of two that go there.

Roseau, Dominica
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9. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Firstly there is virtually nowhere on Dominica that can be classed as a hotel or tourist area compared to other islands so you don't need to worry to much on that score however obviously some areas of the island have larger centres of population. As you have noted it is not a beach island it offers a much more varied and exotic experience than that.

There are some nice lodgings near beaches but as you have noted this is not a beach focused island but remembering that swimming in the rivers and hiking to the base of waterfalls for a dip is also a great option here. There are a number of options in various locations around the island that do offer self-catering facilities but be sure to check out what is offered because again you have already noted that many do not offer these facilities mainly due to the lack of shopping facilities.

The Caribbean side is warm and offers some fabulous snorkeling experiences particularly at Champagne and Scotts Head. Whilst the East offers some amazing hikes to stunning waterfalls etc.

Hiring a car is highly recommend and to get the best from the island you will spend time driving between attractions however remember that the island is not very big so in reality nothing is really that far away. As for the lodgings - many of the Jungle lodgings will provide a mix of sunny and shady areas which in reality in a tropical climate is the best combination on hot sunny days. Check out the top hotels, B&B's and Speciality Lodgings on here - they are the top for a reason! Dominica is a rainforest though which is why it is lush and green so it is likely that you will experience at least a small amount of rain if only at night (depending on the time of year you visit.)

Dominica is a wonderful island with wonderful people and can offer an experience like nowhere else but it is important that you find the right accommodation and travel at the right time of year for you.

Hope some of this helps.

Manistee, Michigan
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10. Re: Where to start? I need advice so I know where to begin!

Dominica is the least touristy place I've ever been. We spent five days in Calibshe renting an apartment and then the next five days at Papilotte Wilderness Retreat which was wonderful - definitely the most unique and beautiful place we've ever stayed. Driving is a real challenge. You need to stay in more than one place because it may take you an hour to drive 20 miles. Absolutely gorgeous location. Definitely worth the extra effort to get there.

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