1. Hawaii The group of volcanic islands in the Pacific has reached our number 1 destination for volcanic islands. And what makes it number 1 in our top 10? Well, we think it really has it all. Big Island is home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea. Located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, it is one of the many volcanoes in Hawaii. But perhaps the reason why it is most fascinating is the fact that you can witness the red-hot stream of lava flowing over the park and into the sea. Thousands of tons of lava are produced every day, increasing Hawaii’s landmass and changing the landscape since the early 1980s began to erupt and have continued since. Hawaii offers rainforest, deserts, incredible surf, exotic sea life, romantic bays, fantastic hotels and something for every age group and type of traveler.
2. Bali In Indonesia is our 2nd place in our top 10 of volcanic island destinations, one of the world’s favorite holiday islands. One of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, Batur Volcano is located here in Bali. It has had quite a few minor eruptions in recent years, but it is one of the main tourist attractions here. When it is safe, take a hike up the volcano in time to watch the incredible sunrise and spectacular views of the surrounding Caldera. Tourists flock to this tropical location for its stunning azure waters, white sands, and beautiful weather, often in the mid-1930s during the dry season from April to September. Don’t be put off by the rainy season as this can sometimes mean just an hour of tropical rain in the afternoon, and slightly cooler temperatures can be a refreshing change from the humid peak season.
3. Azores A group of volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which is now inactive, is an always popular tourist destination. While none of the volcanoes are active, it still offers some incredible sights, such as the Santiago Lagoon on São Miguel Island. This is an old volcano caldera, and it also has a beautiful blue lagoon next to it. Filled with history, beautiful cities, and beautiful beaches, the weather here is very mild but also changeable. Whale watching is one of the main tourist activities and the sights of the famous jumping dolphins. The Azores islands are often described as garden-like with about 60 plants completely unique to these islands.
4. Montserrat This small island lies below St Kitts and Nevis, above Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The active volcano of the Soufriere Hills is located in the south of the island, and recent eruptions have flooded almost the entire southern half of the island with lava that has destroyed the capital and many roads. The volcano that erupted in the 90s is still alive, but many tourists still visit the rich green contrast of the northern part of the island outside the exclusion zone to see this incredible phenomenon of Mother Nature. You’ll still find plenty of hotels and beautiful silver beaches at the back of this mighty towering caldera. Enjoy all the usual benefits of the Caribbean Sea, such as snorkeling, diving, boat trips around the island and warm temperatures all year round.
5. Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa is fast becoming a top vacation destination and is in our top 5 of the world’s best volcanic islands. Much less traveled than the other islands in the top 10 means you won’t find the crowds here yet, but hurry they will be here soon! Numerous volcanoes are spread across the 10 islands, the most active being on Fogo Island, right on a volcanic hotspot, with eruptions as recent as the mid-1990s. The fertile soil surrounding it provides rich growing space for coffee and wine plantations. You will find a lot of cultures here, both African and Portuguese, and as a fairly new vacation spot, you will find some very new modern hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Both black volcanic sandy beaches and pristine white sand beaches along the banks, and one of the biggest activities – windsurfing, thrives on the aqua water. Cape Verde is an important breeding ground for loggerhead turtles and a lot is being done here to protect this endangered species.
6. Reunion Island Far in the Indian Ocean, this French island has 2 volcanoes, but Piton de Neige is extinct, leaving a fascinating crater to explore. Reunion is also home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Piton de la Fournaise, the volcano is freely accessible with some fantastic viewpoints surrounding it, smoldering away with very recent eruptions leaving the ground around it warm and smoking. Not far from Madagascar and Mauritius, this tropical destination is known for its many waterfalls that sparkle and flow over the island’s high plateau. One of the more modern islands of the Indian Ocean with good roads, beautiful French cities, and a relaxed surfing atmosphere. Some of the best surf spots can be found in St Leu and a beautiful view of the deep blue Indian Ocean will enchant you while hiking the steep heights or cycling the many trails.
7. Dominica This heavenly little island veiled between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean has several volcanoes that mainly sleep, with a small chance of eruption in the next 100 years. Thanks to science, we can be warned well in advance of an eruption so that we can enjoy visiting this lush green island and enjoy the many natural delights. Visit Dominica’s boiling lake and natural hot baths and cool off in waterfalls. Get a glimpse of Dominica’s sea turtles at this amazing snorkeling destination.
8. Iceland We all know this volcano after the chaos it caused in 2010, but can we pronounce it? Eyjafjallajokull, which caused so much travel chaos, is just one of Iceland’s many active volcanoes. But this densely populated volcanic island still ranks high on the top vacation destinations. The incredible scenery caused by the volcanic properties has delivered Iceland some of the most exciting natural attractions, such as geysers, steaming blue lagoons, bubbling mud pools, contrasted by dramatic glaciers overseen by ethereal ribbons of the Northern Lights. As the largest of our Top 10 islands, it has the big city of Reykjavik as its capital and is a great starting point to discover this fascinating island.
9. Fiji This beautiful volcanic island in the South Pacific radiates life and color, with exotic wildlife and rich marine life. One of the few benefits of a volcanic destination, or in this case an extinct volcano, means that the soil is wonderfully fertile and allows for a thriving ecosystem around it. Fiji is known for its scuba diving, but for those of us who aren’t the biggest fans of deep underwater strapped with an oxygen tank on our back, there is so much to see in Fiji just by snorkeling. There are many coral reefs just off the beach in many areas for a range of colorful reef fish and soft coral. Flora thrives in Fiji’s many parks, such as the sleeping giant’s garden in Nausori, or wildlife in Kula Eco Park. The deep white coral sand makes Fiji one of our top 10 vacation destinations on the volcanic island.
10. The Canary Islands start our top 10 volcanic islands. This group of Spanish islands in the Atlantic Ocean northwest of Africa is made up of many volcanoes and is one of the oldest islands on Earth created purely through volcanic activity under the sea. Today, the Canary Islands are one of the most popular holiday islands in the world all year round and especially for winter sun getaways, with a constant flow of sun-loving vacationers to the black powder beaches. Hot, dry winters make it an ideal holiday destination and we can be reassured by the fact that the volcanoes are currently inactive.
Mount Aso, Kyushu, Japan
There is some concern that Mount Fuji is showing signs of eruption in the near future, but as things stand, Japan’s most-active volcano is Mount Aso, in Aso Kujū national park on the southern island of Kyushu. It has one of the largest calderas in the world, offering myriad viewpoints over its twisted, pitted landscape. Aso town can be reached by train (one hour from Kumamoto, two from Beppu, fares between £6 and £12). There are two cable car lines, called ropeways, from which to explore the Aso area. Aso Nishi (west) cable car station is a short bus ride from Aso station (£3 each way). Aso Higashi (east) cable car station can be reached by taking a local train to Miyaji station and then walking up the road to the cable car station. A toll road (about £3.50) goes right to the summit of the crater where there is a large car park. There is a lot to explore within the caldera but visitors must remember to check on accessibility before setting off: Aso is a gassy beast and its emissions often see areas of the caldera closed off.
Whakaari (White Island), Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
The White Island, New Zealand
At 321m, Whakaari is not much higher than Leith Hill in Surrey, and is only a couple of kilometres in diameter, but measured from its submarine base it rises to a respectable 1,600m above the sea floor. A convenient gap in the crater walls means visitors can disembark straight into the volcano without having to do any climbing. Whakaari, 49km off the North Island coast, last erupted in 2013 but it is fully suitable for guided tours, thanks to its relatively stable nature and intense monitoring, although its current branding by scientists is “restless”. Visitors can expect to see fumaroles expelling steam and hot gases (masks provided), hot rocks and springs, an acid pool, bubbling mud … and a lot of seabirds.
Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy
School group overlooking Mount Vesuvius Crater, Campania, Italy Possibly the world’s most famous volcano – though it hasn’t erupted since 1944 – and the most touristy, too. So much so that serene contemplation of nature’s ferocity might not be possible given the crowds who ascend each day. At 1,281m it would only be the fifth highest mountain in the UK but its squat form lurks sinisterly over Naples. From the car park at 1,000m visitors climb the remaining 200m (about 30 minutes, tickets €10). The most popular path goes to the edge of the main crater where guides are on hand. Steam can be seen rising from parts of the crater and, as with nearly all volcanoes, there is a strong smell of sulphur. There are no public toilets or a visitors’ centre (although there is the historic museum observatory halfway up the road from Ercolano) but the views are spectacular and the sense of history profound
Arenal, Costa Rica
A three-hour drive from the capital, San José, this is an explosive cone admired, like Japan’s Mount Fuji, for its aesthetic qualities. But its beauty can be brutal: in 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, having been dormant for centuries, destroying the small town of Tabacón. Arenal is set with its own national park, within which there are numerous trails from which to explore the area’s fauna and flora. Trails cross lava fields from previous eruptions and take visitors through bird, butterfly and snake-filled rainforest. There are several operators offering guided tours in the area. Anywhere Costa Rica has a one-day tour taking in hot springs, waterfalls and the scars of the 1968 eruption. Food and drink, park entrance fee and transport are included for £124 adults, kids £95
Mount Batur, Bali, Indonesia
An active 1,717m volcano that’s a moderate 2½-hour climb near the town of Kintamani and one hour and 20 minutes’ drive north from popular Ubud. The mountain has “mild-to-moderate explosive activity” and lava flows, although during 2015 it has entered a quiet period. The best route up the hill is from the village of Toya Bungkah because from here much of the climb is through shady forest. The village is also, handily, HQ to the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides (open 3am-1pm). The entire area is volcanic and the higher Mount Agung dominates the south-eastern horizon. The view of forest, volcanoes and lakes is superb but often clouds build up during the afternoon, obscuring the view. For this reason – and to catch the sunrise from behind Agung volcano, the guided trips set off at about 3am. Although the climb is relatively easy, trips are best undertaken with a guide (about £20 from Toya Bungkah). Some travellers have reported over-aggressive touts offering trips up the mountain, but whatever the logistical irritations, the views over Lake Batur and the various live craters should make it worthwhile