A six hour round trip over challenging terrain, the Boiling Lake hike ranks as one of Dominica’s most demanding trails. This well-maintained trail begins at approximately 1,600 ft, where a level stretch of rocky pathway blends with wooden steps. Although this is a strenuous trail, the trip is among the best ways to experience the rainforest of the Caribbean’s Nature Island.
You’ll hear and see rainforest birds and other rare tropical animals. The first hour of the trail crosses wet rain forest and rises gradually from 1,771 ft to 2,260 ft before dropping 100 ft toward the Trois Pitons River. Often the first stop for hungry hikers, it also known as Breakfast River. Now the path follows a ridge, gradually moving from rainforest to montane forest.
After an hour you’ll arrive at the highest point, 2,950 ft, with panoramic views across the central zone of the park. A side trail to the right takes you to Wotten Waven. Go to the left to enter the Valley of Desolation. Once a lush forested area, it now appears to be devoid of life. The floor of the valley, however, is covered in a dense mat of mosses and lichens. Below are grasses, scattered with yellow-and-white flowers.
From here, our final destination, the Boiling Lake, is only an hour away. The world’s largest boiling lake, it appears like a cauldron of bubbling grayish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapor. The Boiling Lake is actually a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from the molten lava below, rather than a volcanic crater. It is 200 ft across and its present depth is unknown. The sides of the lake are a mixture of clay, pumice and small stones. The natural basin of Boiling Lake collects the rainfall from the surrounding hills and from two small streams.
The water seeps through the porous bottom to the hot lava below where it is trapped and heated to boiling point. This is the most spectacular trail in Dominica, and it is only for the experienced hiker accompanied by a local guide (hightly recommended).
Insider’s Travel Tips
This is a long and difficult hike, but one that every person to Dominica should attempt to conquer. Hiking to the Boiling Lake is a right of passage that will make locals respect you (and think you're a little crazy). Bring lots of water and some lightweight snacks. Be prepared for a day off the following day, both to relax/recover and to reflect on what an amazing hike you accomplished.