A common misconception about active volcanoes is that they are too dangerous to visit. Everyone has seen Dante’s Peak, right? While it remains a standard to caution visitors about the dangers of visiting active volcanoes, they are actually very popular tourist attractions. There is nothing quite like seeing the bubbling streams of active volcanic lava inside the base of a monstrous cave-like natural wonder.
If you’ve been contemplating visiting an active volcano yourself, there are some in particular that you should add to your bucket list. If you're a more adventurous traveler, check them out and decide whether a trip is in order!
10 Mount Bromo (East Java, Indonesia)
This active volcano is a part of Tengger massif, where a section of the Earth’s crust can be defined. It is in the middle of a plain within the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
Mount Bromo is surrounded by a “Sea of Sand” as a protective measure. Depending on the volcano’s activity, visitors can experience its glorious features on a guided tour. This volcano has seen frequent activity, with the last eruptions taking place in 2010, 2011 and most recently in 2015.
9 Piton de la Fournaise (Reunion, France)
Piton de la Fournaise ("Peak of the Furnace”) is an active shield volcano. Shield volcanoes are made up of almost all fluid lava that can be seen flowing the volcano’s narrow crevices. The volcano is located on Reunion Island, where visitors can indulge in adventurous hikes or even Segway tours.
Before 2007, guests could even explore the outer ridges of the main crater, known as Dolomieu. The area has since collapsed, but there is still the option to explore routes such as Enclos Fouqué, which is the heart of the volcano.
8 Kīlauea (Hawaii)
Another shield volcano, this is the most active of the five volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii. It came to the Earth’s surface over 100,000 years ago but is thought to have formed nearly 280,000 years ago.
Kīlauea erupted continuously from about 1983 through 2018. Eruptions caused a massive surge of Puna lava to flow through the island, causing considerable damage to local establishments. Despite this, there are still tours available when conditions are safe, for those interested in driving around the volcano on the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive.
7 Mount Etna (Sicily, Italy)
Mount Etna is your not-so-typical tourist attraction in the city of Sicily in Italy. It is a stratovolcano, which is probably the most simplistic volcanic form. It is one of the highest peaks in Italy, with five distinct craters. Etna is a fairly active volcano, with eruptions occurring frequently at its summit. However, visits are available as conditions allow.
Visitors can indulge in the exquisite views that this mountain has to offer. You can also taste the unique wine which is made exclusively from the on-site vineyards. Apparently, volcanic ash makes for some premium soil, which, in turn, leads to magnificent wine.
6 Mount Stromboli (Aeolian Islands, Italy)
This active volcano is a neighbor to three other active volcanoes on the island of Stromboli in northern Italy. Mount Stromboli erupts on a regular basis, though this activity doesn't tend to be cause for major concern. Many of these eruptions can actually be seen throughout the island, which is why locals have named it the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.”
When it erupts, burning red lava can be seen streaming down the volcano’s side (called the Sciara del Fuoco) and straight into the sea. Many visitors enjoy this mesmerizing spectacle by boat or while dining on the island’s beaches.
5 White Island (New Zealand)
Also known as Whakaari, White Island sits 30 miles off the coast of northern New Zealand. White steam is frequently emanating from the top of the volcano, giving meaning to its name.
Visitors can go on a five-to-six-hour expedition to tour the entire volcano complex. White Island is a marine volcano, with most of its body sitting below sea level. This allows visitors to get up and close and personal with its roaring steam vents and active lava flow without having to hike. You can also explore the volcano’s inner crater while learning the history of White Island’s 150,000-year-old existence.
4 Mount Yasur (Tanna Island, Vanuatu)
In the South Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Vanuatu acts as the home base to the island country of Vanuatu. Within this region, explorers will find the active volcano of Mount Yasur. Its crater is roughly 400 meters in diameter, with a peak of 361 m (1,184 ft) above sea level.
It is one of Vanuatu’s largest tourist attractions. The volcano will cough up molten flares on a regular basis, which looks stunning against the night sky. During the day, visitors take an air taxi to see the otherworldly views of Mount Yasur, followed by a 4-wheel safari at the base of the volcano.
3 Pacaya (Guatemala)
Pacaya is one in a string of volcanoes that make up the Central American Volcanic Arc. Its first eruption happened over 23,000 years ago and it has remained active ever since. Pacaya hasn’t erupted since May of 2010. That eruption caused slight tremors and falling ash in the nearby region of Guatemala City. However, it was barely cause for concern and tours resumed as normal shortly after.
The Volcano Pacaya Hike is the most prevalent attraction for this rare adventure. On the trek, hikers can get up close to the molten lava. There are even food stands along the way, with some even offering marshmallows to toast against the fiery lava rocks.
2 Mount Aso (Kyushu, Japan)
Mount Aso is the greatest active volcano in Japan today. Located on the island of Kyushu, Aso, it stands in the Aso Kujū National Park at 1,592 meters (5,223 ft) above sea level. Travelers can camp out at the foot of the volcano or investigate the steaming crater of Mount Naka.
A popular attraction of this active site is the hot springs, where visitors can relax in a bubbling nest of volcanic water.
1 Katla (Iceland)
Katla has been documented spitting out sparks of hot lava as early as 930. The last violent eruption happened in 1918, but Iceland locals haven’t accounted for anything other than minor eruptions which last took place in 2011. Katla derives from the Old Norse word meaning “kettle,” in reference to the mountain’s continuously steaming peak.
Katla is located underneath Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap, Mýrdalsjökull. Because of this, Katla offers the remarkable opportunity to explore blue ice caves and volcanic sandy beaches, complete with a view of luscious green mountains.