The pristine island of Dominica -- the wildest in the Caribbean -- was green long before anyone heard of eco-tourism. The government of Dominica has been preserving its shoreline and protecting its mountain rainforests since the 1960s, even while other Caribbean islands, including Barbados and Aruba, were in the process of extensive development. Should you visit, you'll find clear rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, and boiling lakes.

Beaches -- Beaches are rocky with gray-black volcanic sand in Dominica but still provide ample snorkeling and diving in the turquoise waters. Swimmers should head for Champagne or Picard Beach. Snorkelers and scuba divers should make their way to Soufrière Bay Beach and Scotts Head Beach for the clear waters and the stunning underwater walls.

Things to Do -- Get acquainted with Caribe history, culture, and native customs in the Carib Indian Territory, the last remaining turf of the original Caribbean tribe. Spot dolphins and sperm whales on a whale-watching cruise off the island's coast. If you're a hiker, you'll find much to explore amid the lush rainforests. Hike to Boiling Lake and spot rare Sisserou and Jacquot parrots, monkeys, and vines along the way.

Eating & Drinking -- Chow down on locally caught fish at a West Indian house, or indulge in Creole delicacies with a gorgeous rainforest vista of mountains and rivers. The charming Crystal Terrace Restaurant & Bar is a local favorite for its stuffed crab backs and other authentic island favorites.

Nature -- Nature lovers can experience a wild, rugged Caribbean setting in Dominica. Plan an escape to Morne Trois Pitons National Park, where mists rise gently over lush, dark-green growth, rivers rush and tumble, and sunlight filters down through trees. Immerse yourself in natural springs at Papillote Wilderness Retreat, the botanical garden of which is worth the trip as are the views of mountains and lush valleys.