With the right approach, women traveling alone or with other women can safely enjoy most destinations. While you'll always need to use common sense and some basic precautions to stay safe wherever you go, certain places make it easy for women to let their hair down and be active, sightsee, or just relax without feeling intimidated or limited. Here are 10 destinations that are especially female-friendly, offering a diverse range of activities, welcoming atmospheres, and fascinating cultures and landscapes.
Dominica, Lesser Antilles
Not to be confused with the much larger Dominican Republic, Dominica stands out from much of the rest of the Caribbean for its natural beauty, friendly people, lack of sprawling development, and low crime rate. In fact, some say it might be the only island in the Caribbean that Christopher Columbus (he visited in 1493) would still recognize.
"Dominica is known as the 'Nature Island' and indeed the lush tropical rainforest, mountains, cascading waterfalls, diverse ocean shoreline, clean rivers, and sparkling pools are the attraction," says Peggy Coonley, founder of the women's travel company Serendipity Traveler. "It's an island that is perfect for outdoor adventure or simply unwinding."
For adventurous women, Coonley suggests going on a guided eight-mile hike and recommends Michael and Daria Eugene's Jungle Trekking and Safaris ($45 per person) to Boiling Lake in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a hotbed of geothermal activity, and snorkeling at Champagne Beach near the town of Soufriere, "where the bubbles from hot springs rise to the surface."
"For healthful relaxation," says Coonley, "go to Screws Sulfur Spa near Trafalgar Falls." For $15 you can soak in five natural thermal spas in the rainforest while drinking freshly made fruit juice. "The colorful Saturday market in Roseau where locals display their native arts and crafts is also fun."
While Dominica lacks long sandy beaches, it does have some of the best diving and whale watching in the Caribbean. At Dive Dominica, one-tank boat dives start at $55 while four-day open water dive classes start at $300. If you'd prefer to stay above water, the company runs marine-mammal-watching trips for $50. It's possible to spot sperm whales, humpback whales, and spinner and spotted dolphins on a trip.
Women-only tour: Seven-night Serendipity Traveler Dominica trips are scheduled for November 8 as well as a winter date still to be determined. You'll stay at the acclaimed all-inclusive eco-lodge Jungle Bay Resort and Spa. The $2,295 price (for two people staying together) includes airport transfers, private cottage lodging, a daily spa treatment, guided excursions, yoga classes, and all meals.
Do-it-yourself: Prices at Jungle Bay Resort start at $209 per person per night (three-night minimum). For B&B accommodations, Beau Rive (from $123 per night) is a favorite. from $123 per night) is a favorite. From the mainland, Dominica is served by American.