Dominica
First settled by the Kalinago people, Dominica received its modern name—meaning "Sunday Island"—from Christopher Columbus. It evaded colonization for the next 270 years, thanks to its rugged, rain forested mountains, which acted like citadels for the indigenous Kalinago as well as for African slaves who had escaped from European settlements and neighboring islands. French and British occupations further spiced the mix. The official language is English, though French and local Creole dialects are also spoken. Enjoying nature takes center stage here, from beach sunbathing to epic diving to the Caribbean's first long-distance hiking trail. But don't miss historical sites like Cabrits National Park and the indigenous interpretive center, Kalinago Barana Autè. The island's main festival is Mas Domnik (Carnival) in February.