Visit This Underrated Caribbean Destination For A Budget-Friendly Island Vacation

Traveling to the Caribbean is a quick dopamine fix for sunshine. Due to geographical proximity, the region makes for an easy escape for those who live on the mainland U.S., particularly if you're located on the East Coast. With cooler months ahead of us, you might be thinking of taking a tropical vacation to escape the chilly weather. If that's the case, the Caribbean is calling. While the majority of folks flock to the Bahamas, Jamaica, or Dominican Republic, consider taking the road less traveled and heading to one of the most underrated Caribbean islands.

Dominica, just north of Martinique and south of Guadeloupe, is a tiny island that sees a fraction of the tourists that its popular neighboring nations get annually. The island's slogan is "The Nature Island," and anyone who visits will quickly understand why. There are waterfalls, gorges, hot springs, horseback riding options, black sand beaches, scuba diving, and snorkeling that are all truly next level. Best of all, a trip to Dominica doesn't have to break the bank, so if you're looking for a budget-friendly sun-filled getaway, this lively island should be at the top of your list.

The Nature Island

With a slogan like "The Nature Island," enjoying Dominica can be done so affordably because its best offerings are its outdoors, meaning the majority of what you'll want to enjoy is either low-cost or completely free. One of the most popular sites on the island is the Champagne Reef, where the water naturally bubbles from the nearby volcanic thermal springs. You'll need to go snorkeling or scuba diving to properly experience it, and Dive Dominica is a reputable tour operator to help make it happen.

Have you ever wanted to take a bath in nature? Well, you can at Wotten Waven hot springs. There, you'll find mud baths and sulphur springs for visitors and locals to soak in. If you're a movie fanatic, you might recognize Titou Gorge. This location is where part of "Pirates of the Caribbean" was filmed. Best of all, visiting the gorge is completely free, unless you choose to hire a guide.

You won't find any white sand beaches in Dominica, but the black sand volcanic beaches are top-notch. For a truly unique experience, try horseback riding along one of them with Rainforest Riding, where beach riding rates start at just $60. Dominica is also home to a unique boiling lake found at Morne Trois Pitons National Park (yes, the water is literally boiling). A popular way to experience it is by hiking to it, but the hike is quite difficult, so a guide is highly recommended.

Paradise on a budget

The island has plenty of great options for lodging, and even some of the nicest ones won't completely break the bank. For a serious taste of luxury, stay at the newly opened InterContinental Dominica Cabrits Resort & Spa. This five-star resort is a great way to affordably experience the finer things, where rates are sometimes as low as $315/night.

Dining out in Dominica doesn't have to be expensive, either. For a cheap, yet nutritious and delicious, bite, try some local fruit. The passion fruit in Dominica is especially fresh, and you'll notice many eateries offering fresh passion fruit juice. The island is well known for serving Creole flavors, which is especially evident in Dominica's callaloo soup. Callaloo is a leafy green that is commonly used in Caribbean cuisine, and a bowl of soup in Dominica should never cost more than $10.

The island widely accepts U.S. Dollars, but the official local currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). Roundtrip flights from mainland U.S. are a little difficult to come by, as currently, the only direct flight to Dominica is from Miami International Airport with American Airlines. There are also connecting flights via San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico.