Boiling Lake – Delices, Dominica - Atlas Obscura

Boiling Lake

Delices, Dominica

This mountaintop lake bubbles and steams in a perpetual boil, thanks to its direct link to the Earth's interior. 


There’s nothing quite like a secluded lake. Passing through a thicket of trees or over a rugged trail, and suddenly catching a glimpse of that clear blue water, its surface sparkling like glass in the hot sun, and sipping the cool, refreshing water from the mountain springs that feed it. Or, on a particularly hot summer day, jumping headlong into it for a jolt of cold refreshment from head to toe.

A mountain lake like that is universal in its appeal, and Dominica is no different. Except in one spot.

In one particularly odd basin, pooled high atop Watt Mountain in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, the water simply isn’t that refreshing. In fact, it’s boiling hot. And while “boiling hot” is a common phrase used for hyperbole, visitors should not test the veracity of this claim – drinking or bathing in this water will result in death, or at least severe burns.

Not that most visitors would be tempted to do such a thing. A thick cloud of balmy steam emanates from and surrounds the menacing lake, leaving no question as to how hot the water really is. But if that alone isn’t convincing enough, the swirling, bubbling maelstrom of churning water at the lake’s center confirms without a doubt that the water has been brought to a boil.

Enchanted by evil magic as this body of water may seem, the phenomenon is actually quite simple, though rare. The bowl of rocky clay that forms this lake is not your average scoop in the ground – instead, this lake has a direct line to the molten subsurface of the Earth, with vents pumping scalding steam and gasses into the water, heating it to an instant boil.

But magic or no magic, this perpetually boiling-then-evaporating body of water does seem to defy the laws of physics – or at least the laws of logic – and creates a strange and bemusing site at the top of this misty mountain.

Know Before You Go

Getting there requires a 3-4 hour hike (one way- you must then hike out again), which is rigorous, and in many places, the trail is both challenging and unmarked or poorly marked.

Dominica highly recommends a guide and while it is not required, due to the remoteness of the location, the difficulties of the hike, and the length of the trail, it is highly recommended, even for experienced hikers.  Those with health issues or those who are not experienced hikers should use extreme caution. This is not suitable for children.

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July 10, 2012

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