Do you think of yourself as an intrepid traveler? If the answer is yes, you may well want to consider starting to visit volcanoes as a vacation option. Volcanoes can seriously push holiday adventures to the edge, literally. Standing on the rim of an active volcanic cauldron takes some nerve, and you also need a head for heights because, believe it, visiting volcanoes is something which you can’t do when at ground level.
Think you can handle going up a mountain peak which is spewing smoke, ash and glowing hot rivers of lava? If so, check out these top ten stunning volcanoes in the world and decide which one you want to see first.
Break yourself into volcanic tourism slowly by visiting Mount Teide on the Canarian island of Tenerife. Even though it’s classed as an active volcano, it’s minus the flowing lava which means it’s quite a safe place to start. That said, Mount Teide is Spain’s highest peak, and even though there is a cable car which will carry you most of the way up, if you want to view the cauldron it requires a further, quite strenuous, three-hour hike from the cable car station to reach the summit.
Last eruption: 1909
Height: 3,178 meters; 12,198ft
Map Location: Mount Teide, Tenerife
Panoramic view of Mount Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Cable Car view from Mount Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
As far as volcanoes go, Mount Etna has got a lot going for it. Not only is it still active, but it’s also the most active in the world, the biggest in Europe and easily outdoes Italy’s other two active volcanoes in size. Yes, it’s a pretty volatile mountain which erupts on a regular basis and occasionally blows smoke rings for extra dramatic effect. Whether you ride the cable car up and then walk to the summit, hike all the way or drive up on a guided jeep tour, you’ll need some thick-soled hiking boots and warm clothing. It might be one smoking hot mountain, but the temperatures at altitude are pretty chilling.
Last Eruption: 2017 – with on-going rumblings
Height: 3,329 meters; 10,922ft
Map Location: Mount Etna, Sicily
Sakurajima may look like an inoffensive mound of rock seen from a distance as you sail into Kagoshima Bay. It’s not. It’s a volcanic exhibitionist which shoots plumes of ash and smoke sixteen thousand feet up into the air, and that’s on one of its quieter days. Sakurajima’s constant activity showers the surrounding countryside with a layer of ash as thick as a blanket. It’s a volcano that likes to rumble and has been doing it since nineteen fifty-five to the present day.
Last Eruption: 2018
Height: 1,117 meters; 3,665ft
Map Location: Sakurajima, Japan
Landscapes don’t get much more primitive than they are in New Zealand and if you visit Whakaari/ White Island, you’ll feel as if you’ve arrived in the land that time forgot. White Island, which is just the tip of the volcano – the rest is out of sight submerged beneath the sea – is comparable to a witches cauldron. Yes, it does a lot of hissing, bubbling and spitting venom. There’s a lake of acid, boiling mud, thermal streams and an abundance of stinking sulfur which turns the ground orange and yellow.
Last Eruption: 2017
Height: 321 meters; 1,053ft
Map Location: Whakaari/ White Island, New Zealand
Mount Kilimanjaro is the sleeping giant of all volcanoes. It’s not just the tallest volcano in Africa, it’s Africa’s highest mountain too, and that’s a fact that attracts as many mountain climbers as volcano tourists. Don’t expect to see any volcanic activity at Mount Kilimanjaro, of its three cones two are extinct and the other is dormant and hasn’t woken up or coughed out smoke for over one hundred and fifty thousand years.
Last Eruption: Between 150,000 to 200,000 years ago
Height: 4,900 meters; 16,000ft
Map Location: Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The Kelimutu Volcano on the Flores Island in Indonesia is a volcano with a very distinct difference. While it does have three cones in common with many of the world’s other volcanoes, Kelimutu’s are not spitting fire and brimstone. Instead, they’re filled with beautifully colored lakes which change from stunning glacial blue to green to muddy red to black depending on the volcanic action going on beneath them.
Last Eruption: 1968
Height: 1,639 meters; 5,377ft
Map Location: Kelimutu Volcano, Indonesia
The Eyjafjallajökull in Suðurland is a pretty chilled out volcano. It’s so chilled in fact, its frozen over. While it is still classed as active, with the last major eruption being in 2010, it’s not hot enough to melt the glacial ice cap which covers it. Eyjafjallajökull is not a stand-alone volcano, but one of a chain which stretches across the Icelandic landscape. At first glance, it may seem unpretentious as far as volcano goes, but don’t be deceived. The last time it erupted, it caused absolute chaos when the plumes of smoke and ash congested international flight paths and left thousands of travelers stranded in airports all over the Europe.
Last Eruption: 2010
Height: 1,651 meters; 5,417ft
Map Location: Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in 2010. Iceland
Waterfall and Eyjafjallajokull volcano in background.
Walking on the top of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland
Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland
Ask anyone to draw a volcano, and they’ll quite likely sketch something which closely resembles the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines. For a volcano, as far as its shape goes, it is probably one of the best formed and most symmetrical of volcanoes anywhere in the world. Its classic conical configuration is so perfect it’s a geometer’s dream. It’s also well-practiced at erupting and has been doing it on a regular basis over the past decade. It’s the Philippines most active volcano and has recently splurged lava fountains from its peak to heights of five hundred meters.
Last Eruption: 2018
Height: 2,463meters; 8,081ft
Map Location: Mayon Volcano, Philippines
It may be over three hundred years since Mount Fuji in Japan erupted, but it is still classified as an active volcano. It looms over the city of Tokyo and is Japan’s highest peak. If any volcano could be labeled as multi-purpose, then it would be Mount Fuji. Its stark formation has creatively inspired writers and artists, it’s been worshipped as a shrine, is a paragliding take-off point and is also used as a ski resort in winter.
Last Eruption: 1708
Height: 3,776 meters; 12,389ft
Map Location: Mount Fuji, Tokyo
When Hawaii does volcanoes, it doesn’t do them by halves. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not only where Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes is, but also where Mauna Loa is found. Mauna Loa is the daddy of all volcanoes and holds prime position on the list of biggest volcanoes in the world. Kilauea, not to be too overshadowed, is a mean beast of a volcano which has been continually erupting since the early nineteen eighties.
Why Go? Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and you’ll be in one of the most volcanically volatile locations in the world. For that reason alone, you’ll be able to proudly call yourself a real volcano tourist. Watch as lava flows hit the sea and form brand new land or go an exciting drive around the crater rim – eruptions permitting.
When To Go? If you’re in Hawaii and it’s going to rain, then it’ll more than likely happen between November and March, while the rest of the year, the climate is reasonably stable. To see the magnificent lava flows at their glowing best either pre-dawn or after-dark tours are best. In 2018, Kilauea was showering its bad temper on the world and up close viewing access was restricted. Check what the volcano is up to before you go on the National Parks website.
Last Eruption: Mauna Loa: 1984, Kilauea: 2019
Height: Mauna Loa: 4,169 meters; 13,679ft; Kilauea: 1,247 meters; 4,091ft
Kilauea volcano eruption boat tour in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Surface flow lava oozes out during an eruption from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii
Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii lava flow entering the ocean on Big Island from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii
Looking at Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii
There are many other active “volcanic” sites throughout the world. Always interesting to see what our old world is doing to relieve itself. Certainly interesting photography.