There is no power on Earth greater than the power of Mother Nature. No matter how advanced we become as a species and how incredible the technology we have at our disposal might be, we’re largely still powerless when nature decides to throw a fit. Earthquakes can still rip apart even the most resilient of our buildings, and there’s nothing that a tornado can’t rip into the air and throw around.
Nobody in their right mind would ever deliberately travel to see an earthquake or a tornado, but there is another example of nature’s awesome power that makes for a good tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about volcanoes. Volcanoes might be a little scary when they’re in the middle of erupting, but when they’re quieter, they’re more like big dramatic mountains with added fireworks – and who doesn’t like fireworks?
It’s perfectly safe to go and see some of the world’s greatest volcanoes, and in some locations, whole tourist resorts have grown up around them. If you’re looking for an unusual vacation destination with an added thrill from mild peril, add these volcanoes to your travel list!
Sicily’s Mount Etna holds a couple of records on mainland Europe – it’s both the tallest volcano on the continent and the most active. When it blows its top, it lights up the sky around it with an incredible pyrotechnic show, and its twin peaks dominate the landscape all around it for miles. Despite its imposing size, the mountain has quite a gentle slope – one that’s manageable for climbers of almost any age and any level of experience. It might be close to thirteen thousand feet tall, but there’s no reason you can’t get up and down it in the space of a single afternoon. It’s puckered and marked on all sides by solidified lava from previous eruptions, and there’s an observatory close to the top that allows visitors a remarkable view of an ominously smoky crater. There hasn’t been a really serious eruption from Mount Etna since 1669, which destroyed the nearby town of Catania. The town was rebuilt, and it’s still densely populated today. That makes it a great bet for accommodation.
It’s not for us to say which of the world’s many volcanoes is the most famous, but Krakatoa in Indonesia has to be in the argument. This volcano is, in fact, so well known that there’s an UK slots called ‘Wild Krakatoa’ currently doing strong numbers on online slots websites. You can say what you like about the other volcanoes on our list, but nobody’s made an online slots game about them. In fact, it’s quite rare that any geographic location or natural feature is immortalized as an online slots game, so really, it should be considered quite an honor! There are actually four different small islands surrounding Krakatoa – one of which didn’t exist until it was created by a colossal eruption in 1883 – so you won’t be short of places to stay. You might be more inclined to stay in nearby Jakarta, though, and take in Krakatoa as part of a day trip. Hiking up the mountain is a two-day trip, though, so if you really want to make the best of the experience, you might want to consider bringing a tent.
We know we’re listing two different Italian volcanoes by including Vesuvius as well as Mount Etna, but how could we possibly not include Vesuvius? After all, this was the volcano that famously buried Pompeii and turned it into one of the most famous and incredible archaeological sites anywhere in the world! New discoveries are made all the time in and around the site of Pompeii, but the star of the show is and always will be the volcano. It hasn’t erupted since 1944, but it’s still considered to be active. Vesuvius is ‘only’ four thousand feet tall – a baby compared to Etna and Krakatoa – but it’s still tall enough to provide you with a breathtaking view of Naples from the top. Beware of when you choose to travel, though – it’s a popular visitor attraction, and it can become crowded at the busiest times of the year. Even without a recent eruption, there are still smoky craters and a constant stink of sulfur to remind you that you’re only separated from hot lava by a thin strip of rock. Maybe combine this and Mount Etna into a single visit to Italy if you can?
Perhaps you’re the sort of tourist for whom seeing the scars of previous volcanic eruptions isn’t enough. Maybe you’d feel cheated if you didn’t get to see hot, boiling red lava flowing over the ground with your own eyes. If that’s the case, pack your bags and head for Hawaii, where you’ll find Kilauea. There’s been lava oozing out of the volcano for more than thirty years, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. Fortunately, it’s moving very slowly, so you can see the flame and feel the heat without having to turn and run for your life. The Jaggar Museum is right next to an active lava lake within the mountain’s deepest and most volcanic crater, so that’s the best place to stop for a while and get a long look at one of nature’s most spectacular shows. Many visitors say the best time to go is after dark, when the red glow from the lava literally lights up the clouds.
We understand that climbing isn’t for everyone. Some people physically can’t climb, and other people just don’t want to. That doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on amazing volcano scenery, though – you might just have to travel a little further. Thanks to the unique layout and structure of Whakaari – the White Island volcano in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, you can get a full volcano experience without doing any climbing at all. That’s possible because there’s a huge gap in the walls of one of its craters, making everything inside it visible from ground level. If you wanted to, you could walk straight into the volcano. We don’t recommend doing that, though, even if it hasn’t erupted since 2013. The location is beautiful and the volcano is largely peaceful, but you’ll still want to opt for a guided tour just to make sure you don’t accidentally stumble into one of the acid pools or walk into an area full of hot gases.
With apologies to the rest of the world’s volcanoes, those are our top five spots for tourists and thrill-seekers. Now it’s all over to you – which do you like the look of most, and where will your next travels take you?