5. Kelimutu Volcano, Flores Island, Indonesia
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.
Why Go? Although Kelimutu hasn’t erupted in the last fifty years, that’s not to say it won’t at some time in the future. If and when it does blow its top once again, then the unique natural wonder of its summit lakes will be lost forever. So go and see it before it becomes just another photographic memory on the internet.
When To Go? Unless you like to see your volcanoes in the rain, avoid the Indonesian wet season which is from October to April. Anytime between May through to the end of September is ideal, but expect to encounter more visitors during the high tourist season of July and August. Go early morning, and you’ll be able to see the sunrise before trekking around the lakes. Simply stunning.
Last Eruption: 1968
Height: 1,639 meters; 5,377ft
Map Location: Kelimutu Volcano, Indonesia
4. Eyjafjallajökull, Suðurland, Iceland
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.
Why Go? If hiking or climbing up steep mountains is not on your agenda, Eyjafjallajökull is the volcano for you. Why? You can actually drive up to the summit in a jeep. Okay, more specifically, a professional driver will drive you up on a guided tour. It’s not a self-drive route because of the icy conditions and dangerous nature of the roads.
When To Go? Unless you’ve got the blood of an Eskimo, avoid the winter months as sub-zero temperatures are typical. If you want extra daylight hours to take more photographs, then visit Iceland from June to August when the days literally never end. To see the aurora borealis dancing over the summit of Eyjafjallajökull then plan on going in September and October.
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
Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland
3. Mayon Volcano, Albay, Philippines
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.
Why Go? The Mayon Volcano’s perfect shape is unique, but considering the amount of volcanic activity it undergoes, that could change any time. Nothing stays the same forever and one big blast too many could damage its stunning profile leaving it less than geometrically perfect.
When To Go? The best time to go and see the Mayon Volcano is when it’s not erupting because when it does, it means business. Homes get evacuated, and lava and mudflows can cause widespread devastation. That said, you can still admire it from a reasonable distance. Though it’s advisable to check the current state of the volcano before planning a trip. You can do that on the website of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
If all is calm, visit the Philippines from May to November and you’ll miss the rainy season though if you’re there in September or October be prepared for the occasional typhoon. To see Mayon at its best, you’ll need to make an early start. Go at dawn or just after as by mid-morning the peak is frequently hidden from view by cloud coverage
Last Eruption: 2018
Height: 2,463meters; 8,081ft
Map Location: Mayon Volcano, Philippines
2. Mount Fuji, Tokyo, Japan
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.
Why Go? Apart from being a sensational and very iconic landmark, it’s relatively easy to reach the peak of Mount Fuji. If three hundred thousand people a year do it as a pilgrimage, why can’t you, as a fledgling volcano tourist, do it too?
When To Go? If you want to go up Mount Fuji, then plan your visit for July and August when the climate is at its best and the walking routes are open. Go early morning as it’s a full day trek and a popular one. If you want to admire it from a distance or photograph it with its characteristic, white-capped peak, you’ll need to go during the winter months of November to the end of February after the snow has fallen.
Last Eruption: 1708
Height: 3,776 meters; 12,389ft
Map Location: Mount Fuji, Tokyo
1. Mauna Loa and Kilauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
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: 2018
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