TIME magazine compiled a list of 50 extraordinary destinations to explore, which includes three Caribbean sites: (the Commonwealth of) Dominica (with a description by Andrea Guthmann); Roatán, Honduras (with a description by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates); and Río Grande, Puerto Rico (with a description by Jen Ruiz). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]
Dominica: Home to the Caribbean’s longest hiking trail, the 115-mile Waitukubuli National Trail, Dominica now also has the Caribbean’s only sea-kayaking trail, the Waitukubuli Sea Trail. Kayakers can spend a week exploring the entire length of the island’s calm Caribbean coastline, paddling past dramatic cliffs and snorkeling hidden coves, or just do portions. The sea trail is the brainchild of longtime Caribbean Peace Corps worker Wes Moses, who settled in Dominica in 2018, opening Soufriere Outdoor Center last year on the southern point of the nearly 300-sq. mi. island. He’s worked with local inns to create a network of coastal lodging along the trail, where they’ll secure paddlers’ kayaks for the night.
Eco-conscious travelers will want to experience Dominica’s newest resort, Coulibri Ridge. High in the mountains with breathtaking views of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, it prides itself on being fully off-grid, powered by solar and wind turbines. Purified rainwater fills two infinity pools facing majestic Morne Fou mountain peak, with Martinique in the distance. Produce at the restaurant is grown on the resort’s 285 acres or nearby farms. [. . .]
Roatán, Honduras: Surrounded by the aquamarine waves of the world’s second largest barrier reef, Roatán, located off the coast of Honduras, has attracted backpackers and nature lovers for decades, but new luxury properties are transforming the island’s rustic appeal. This summer, Kimpton Grand Roatan Resort & Spa will unveil a five-star resort—complete with a rooftop bar and pool, and a spa featuring treatments rooted in Indigenous traditions—overlooking West Bay Beach. [. . .]
On the northeast tip of Roatán, the sleepy town of Punta Gorda boasts the title of the oldest permanent settlement on the island. Settled by the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna in the 18th century, the town showcases Garifuna dance, music, and food at weekly street parties.
About 20 miles off the coast of Roatán, the Cayos Cochinos archipelago, a marine preserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also set to launch new upscale eco cabins this spring. Hop a 45-minute ferry from Roatán and you’ll land on the isolated paradise of Cayos Cochinos. Brimming with surreal beauty, the island boasts 800 acres of protected land and 110 species of coral in its crystalline waters. The pearly sand beaches are home to hawksbill sea turtles as well as the pink Cochino Cays boa.
Río Grande, Puerto Rico: Americans don’t have to leave the country to visit the rainforest. Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, is home to the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest Service, and it’s getting more accessible this year. El Yunque Rainforest recently unveiled a revamped visitor’s center, called El Portal, following an $18M renovation that features installations by local artists, a new introductory video narrated by Benicio del Toro, and ranger demonstrations to learn about 240-plus plant species and 18 bird species endemic to Puerto Rico.
For panoramic views of the rainforest and beaches, Casa Alternavida’s rooftop can’t be beat. Puerto Rico’s first all-inclusive wellness retreat includes guided daily walks and three organic meals a day; services like coaching, teambuilding, and massage are available upon request.
While in Rio Grande, explore the Pintalto macromural project, an initiative that spans across six neighborhoods on the island. Started by Samuel González Rodríguez in 2017 to encourage visitors to venture beyond San Juan, the murals aim to revitalize residential neighborhoods through art that uses the bold “colors of hope.” [. . .]
For full articles, see https://time.com/collection/worlds-greatest-places-2023
Also see CNN’s “25 of the world’s most beautiful places” https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-most-beautiful-places/index.html and “Dominica named on CNN’s list of 25 most beautiful places,”
Loop Caribbean News, https://caribbean.loopnews.com/content/dominica-named-cnns-list-25-most-beautiful-places
[Photos above: 1) A kayak in the Waitukubuli Sea Trail in Dominica, Courtesy Discover Dominica; 2) A view of Cayos Cochinos Archipelago, Roatan, Honduras by Antonio Busiello—Getty Images; 3) El Portal de El Yunque Visitor Center in El Yunque National Forest, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.]