The Best Hikes in Dominica
Volcanoes birthed Dominica’s rugged, vertiginous landscape and nine still simmer, creating mudpots and the famous Boiling Lake. Hike, climb, and bird-watch on steep tracks through the tropical rain forest, or challenge yourself on the Caribbean’s first long-distance route, the 115-mile Waitukubuli Trail.
This challenging climb leads down to a black-sand cove on the Atlantic (go at low tide for more beach). The sheer descent involves rope ladders, safety lines, and tree-root “steps.” Once you reach the beach, cool off under the 150-foot waterfall, then face the really hard part: getting back uphill. A local guide— who can advise on the best techniques— is a smart investment for this nail-biting adventure.
Named after a famous escaped slave, this steep staircase carves into a high plateau. On your way up, stop at the farmhouse and donate $5 per person to the local family that maintains the vertiginous track, or hire a guide to enrich your experience. At the bottom, you can cool off in a tributary, then walk along the Layou River. Once you reach the Bells Schoolhouse, head left to the road where the hike began.
The Caribbean’s first long-distance hiking trail runs 115 miles south to north. Fourteen segments break Waitukubuli into manageable day hikes—important for rule-followers, as camping is tolerated but not technically legal in Dominica’s reserves and national parks. Brace for lofty peaks, precipitous valleys, and riotous tangles of rain forest vegetation on this trek, which bears the island’s original indigenous name, meaning “tall her body.” Consider hiring a local guide for expert advice on trekking the steep, corrugated landscape, which Christopher Columbus once described by simply crumpling up a ball of paper.
Located in the northern mountain ranges of Dominica, Morne Diablotin National Park was established primarily to protect the habitat of the endangered sisserou parrot. Spanning 8,242 acres, the park is also home to Dominica’s highest peak, which looms at an impressive 4,747 feet. While the active volcano still keeps hot springs bubbling, its higher elevations are constantly swathed in cool mist, along with cloud forest moss, ferns, and spindly trees. Start your exploration on the Syndicate Natural Trail, which winds through tropical rain forest and serves as a prime birding location.
Boiling Lake, Dominica
In the heart of Morne Trois Pitons National Park bubbles this deep, flooded fumarole—the second-largest of its kind in the world. The hike to this dramatic, blue-grey cauldron traverses steep, rain-forested river valleys and skirts around mudpots veiled in steam. The 8.1-mile roundtrip is best navigated with a local guide. Heed trail closures and never swim in the lake. The temperature occasionally drops, but scalding water and harmful gases could erupt at any time with no warning.
Nestled in the rain forest leading up to the famous Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge features cool, deep waters and smooth cliff walls formed by molten lava. If you’re wearing water shoes and a flotation device, you can actually get down in the canyon and make your way upstream through a series of pools that ends at a waterfall. If you’ve seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, then you’ve seen Titou Gorge before—portions of the movie with Orlando Bloom were filmed in this very spot.
An easy, 10-minute trail leads to these paired cascades on the west side of the mammoth Morne Trois Pitons National Park—the higher, lefthand fall is known as Father (279 feet) and the smaller as Mother (131 feet). While the path stops at the viewing platform, visitors often descend and bathe in the pools, moving cautiously over the slippery rocks.