Travel By Fingertip...Dominica & Montserrat

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Dominica & Montserrat
& Precipitation

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Dominica & Montserrat Profile

These two islands, while not precisely neighbors, offer in kind an abundance of greenery and solitude. Both have mountainous, aggressively verdant interiors nurtured by volcanic soil, and both also suffer for this bounty, since farmers must battle encroaching jungle and periodic torrential rains. Most beaches are black or gray, though the odd golden strip may be found here and there; Montserrat, at Rendezvous Bay, claims the only white-coral beach.

Tourism has come slowly to these shores and in disparate forms: While Montserrat's development took shape in scattered villas and condos (hotels are surprisingly scarce), Dominica enfolds in its rough hills a hodgepodge of romantic inns and semi-luxurious wilderness retreats. Visitors to the former may enjoy a brisk rainforest hike now and then, but most come for sun, sailing, seclusion, tennis and golf (many residents are American retirees). Dominica's fans tend to be hardy lovers of the outback who come to roam through the dense forests, swim in the clear rushing rivers, and search for the island's endangered parrots.

Montserrat, southernmost of the Leewards, is 39 square miles, its highest peak 3,000 feet high. Flaunting a curiously Irish air, it is sometimes called the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, despite its status as a British Crown Colony. This touch of blarney - heard even, on occasion, in the brogue - favored patois of some natives - is the legacy of its 17th-century settlers, who left Protestant enclaves as far-flung as St. Kitts and Virginia to forge a life with kindred souls. This is surely the only island where St. Patrick's Day is celebrated more exuberantly than Carnival - albeit with rum punch and jump-ups - and while Dominica exports limes and bananas, Montserrat harvests potatoes.

Larger, wilder, and poorer than Montserrat, self-governing Dominica (domi-NEE-ka) is 298 square miles of the Caribbean's most untamed, awe-inspiring beauty. Its mountains rise to 4,700 feet, and its 16,000-acre national park embraces the sublime Emerald Pool, the fearsome volcanic Boiling Lake, and forests burgeoning with orchids, exotic birds, and snakes (none poisonous). Dominica was the last stronghold of the fierce Carib Indians, and their descendants farm this rough land. Even more so than on Montserrat, the charms here are not of the cosmopolitan ilk. Your clients will find no golf or waterskiing, little tennis, and few four-star meals. They will, however, find deserted beaches, idyllic privacy, and welcoming hosts.

Both islands offer good diving and snorkeling; facilities on Montserrat can arrange numerous aquasports. Both are accessible only via other nearby islands; they are truly for those who love getting away.


Degrees (F)


January 68-84 5.2
February 67-100 2.9
March 68-87 2.9
April 69-88 2.4
May 71-90 3.8
June 73-90 7.7
July 72-89 10.8
August 73-89 10.3
September 73-90 8.9
October 72-89 7.8
November 71-87 8.8
December 69-86 6.4

Travel By Fingertip.....Dominica / Montserrat