Islands with volcanoes that deserve a visit

Islands with volcanoes offer incredible sights, and if you haven't experienced them, you have all the reasons to plan a trip. While some parts of the world have fantastic sceneries, there are always some volcanic islands that will suit your holiday taste. Many destinations feature spectacular mountains, beautiful beaches, water sports, spas, and hiking trails. 

  1. Ischia (Italy)
  2. Nisyros (Greece)
  3. Maui (Hawaii)
  4. Sakurajima (Japan)
  5. Montserrat (Caribbean)
  6. Lombok (Indonesia)
  7. Lanzarote (Spain)
  8. Sicily (Italy)
  9. Soufrière (St Lucia)
  10. Azores
  11. Iceland  

If you adore sea views and ancient architecture, then islands with volcanoes are worth a look. You will never get enough of a landscape with rolling hills and sweeping valleys. From the Tyrrhenian Sea, Caribbean, Greece, Hawaii, Japan to Indonesia, take the plunge into one of these places and learn how volcanic islands are formed.

1. Ischia (Italy)

There's only one way to describe Ischia vacations: living island life the Italian way. It is among the biggest volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, with lively harbour towns, clifftop botanical gardens, hot springs, sandy beaches, and medieval castles. At its heart is Mount Epomeo, where hikers trek around the sloping trails and wander past pine-green forests and caves. Unwind in a thermal spa as you soak in the surrounding mountainous landscape. Holidaymakers have been coming to Ischia since the Roman period to take a dip into the mineral-rich waters that are said to have healing powers. Along the coast, there are half-buried necropolises to discover, among other wonders of the ancient towns. Still in this paradise of relaxation, you can try the most sought-after wines in Europe in local bars or old vineyards.

Volcano height: 787 m 

Besides the volcano: San Pietro Beach has shallow waters for swimming

2. Nisyros (Greece)

So you've been wondering, 'What are volcanic islands in Greece like?' Nisyros, the most famous archipelago after Santorini, should give you an overview of Greece's volcanic arch. Partake in hiking around the largest, dormant crater of Nisyros—Agios Stefanos—measuring 30m in depth. Visit the gigantic caldera to see the steep slopes tumbling down like lava into the sea. Or you could hike along the paths to discover stones and stratum that were formed during volcanic and seismic eruptions. The Nisyros lands are warm year-round but avoid the crater's centre at midday, when temperatures are extreme.

Volcano height: 698 m 

Besides the volcano: Mandraki village with pebble mosaics on white alleyways 

3. Maui (Hawaii)

Maui should be on your bucket list of tropical islands with volcanoes if you want a whole experience of the laid-back Hawaiian atmosphere. Gaze at the world's most spectacular sunrise spots by taking Haleakala Sunrise Tour. About 77% of Maui Island is covered by the dormant Haleakala Volcano that sits in a national park. If you love golfing, take your adventure to the Kaanapali golf course overlooking the ocean. In the evening, consider taking a stroll through the boardwalk that is lined with galleries, shops, pools, and restaurants. Pass by the art stalls selling hats, tikis (humanoid stone carvings), and wooden statues.

Volcano height: 3.055 m

Besides the volcano: There are world-class hotels at Kaanapali 

4. Sakurajima (Japan)

Longing to visit islands with active volcanoes within a short distance from a city? Thankfully Sakurajima is only a few minutes' drive from Kagoshima. Being the most outstanding geographical feature standing at 1117m high and 50km in circumference, you can see its sheer size from the surrounding buildings and adjacent bay. Grasp the island's historic feel by taking a walk on the footpaths winding through the lava plains. Stop at the larva formations and the Kurokami Shinto shrine gate that was buried in 1914 by a volcanic eruption. Sakurajima town is famed for the most oversized daikon radish in the world and the smallest mandarin in the world. You may buy these specialty products in addition to biwa and sweet potatoes from a gift shop.

Volcano height: 1.117 m

Besides the volcano: Visit Torishima Observatory 

5. Montserrat (Caribbean)

Montserrat, the Emerald Isle, stands out with lush green backcountry in the rainforests and the jungles, and around beaches. Like most islands with volcanoes, Montserrat beckons adventure seekers with luxury beach hotels, hiking trails, and secluded coves. Two-thirds of the island is covered in volcanic ashes that have now cooled down, so it is very safe to visit. On the south-western side of Montserrat is a very active volcano in the Caribbean: Soufrière Hills. The exclusion zone is highly controlled, but you can scale to Jack Boy Hill or head to Cedar Drive to get a better view over the chisel-shaped mountain. The remaining lava flows from the 1997 eruption are the reason behind Plymouth's rugged state. When you need to unwind, go to Little Bay Beach for an authentic Caribbean vibe. Enjoy the soft sand that glows in yellow colour and the shallow waters that are great for swimming.

Volcano height: 1050 m 

Besides the volcano: Montserrat Volcano Observatory in Salem 

6. Lombok (Indonesia)

Lombok ranks highly in the best volcanic islands for trekking. Bali is only two hours if you travel by boat and 20 minutes away via flight. Though it doesn't have the Hindu culture that characterises Bali, Lombok is a more peaceful and modest holiday destination. The green rice paddles, jungle interiors, and low-key white-sand beaches invite you to explore. This is where you want to escape crowds and experience original Indonesia while having a beach all to yourself. Mount Rinjani, the second tallest volcano in the country, dominates the national park on Lombok Island. Its majestic 3,726-metre peak scrapes the sky, offering jaw-dropping views from the summit. To reach the crater summit, set 2 or 3 days in your itinerary and expect a more challenging climb than most volcano treks on Flores or Java.

Volcano height: 3.726 m 

Besides the volcano: There are three islands (Gilis) in the Northwest of Lombok 

7. Lanzarote (Spain)

The easternmost of the Canary Islands is famed for its volcanic landscape, a barren red and black desert sprouting alienesque rocks, hardy cacti, and little else. You can access the Fire Mountains in Timanfaya National Park by car or, more popularly, with a guided tour that handily delivers you to all the key volcanic sights. We recommend starting early, as traffic queues at the entrance form at around 10 a.m. in high season. Once in the park, you'll feel like you've stepped onto Mars. You're surrounded by jagged calderas, impossibly smooth dunes of volcanic dust and impressive volcanic bombs (pyroclastic rock) that once catapulted from the volcano (many centuries ago – no need to duck). The fascinating landscape is famed for its silence, so take a moment to drink it in. While you're there, complete the surreal experience with a stop at El Diablo, a famous restaurant designed by César Manrique, where your steak or seafood is cooked using the heat of the active volcano. There are also tons of other activities to enjoy nearby, including diving and snorkelling, swimming and surfing, and exploring the tiny neighbouring islet of La Graciosa.

Volcano height: 670 m 

Besides the volcano: Indulge in seafood and snorkelling, or visit El Golfo bay

8. Sicily (Italy)

In Sicily, you actually get two volcanoes – double the fun! Stromboli is one of the best chances to get up close and personal with an active volcano, as it's been erupting around every twenty minutes since records began. You can take a boat trip from Milazzo or Palermo to witness the event. During the day it's an impressive plume of gas, while at night you can see the fiery fountains arching upwards. A little fitness is required, but the third option is to hike up the volcano (with a guide only, and if conditions permit). You'll set off in the late afternoon and hike for a few hours to get a ringside seat come dusk. On the other side of the islands, big sister Etna is best visited from the cities of Catania or Taormina. You have a range of options for touring one of Europe's highest active volcanoes. Take a coach or cable car, and lace up your boots for a caldera walk. Smaller Jeep tours allow you to explore less busy areas, get in-depth geology insights, and even visit the vineyards and farms to sample the stunning local produce – the fruit of the volcano's fertile soil.

Volcano height: 3,357 m (Etna)

Besides the volcano: Visit picturesque Taormina and eat plenty of gelato

9. Soufrière (St Lucia)  

With its lush, mountainous landscape and crystal-clear waters, St Lucia ticks all the boxes for an island idyll. The town of Soufrière is the colourful former capital, nestled in the caldera of dormant volcano Qualibou. The town is flanked by the two Pitons (Gros and Petit Piton), cone-shaped volcanic plugs that rise dramatically from the forest canopy. They're UNESCO World Heritage sites for a reason, and hiking to the top of the biggest peak will reward you with epic views as far as Martinique and St Vincent. For a more sedate trip to the top, book a ride on the aerial tram and glide through the canopy on an open-air gondola, enjoying a close-up encounter with the local flora and fauna. After a stroll through the pastel-coloured streets, perhaps stopping at a bar with a balcony view, you can sample the geothermal activity at both the Sulphur Springs, with their healing mud and hot pools, and the Diamond Estate, a former plantation that is now home to the Diamond Botanical Gardens, an impressive waterfall and relaxing mineral baths. Alternatively, take a dip in the sea to witness its rich marine life by booking onto popular diving or snorkelling excursions.

Volcano height: 798 m (Gros Piton)  

Besides the volcano: Thermal baths, snorkelling, diving and hiking

10. Azores

A delicate chain of nine islands strewn across the fierce Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are an inherently wild and adventurous destination with changeable weather (pack your sunglasses and your waterproof). The islands are famed for whale-watching opportunities, natural swimming pools hewn from black rock, and phenomenal (and cheap) seafood. São Miguel is alive with geothermal activity: visit the hot lake at Terra Nostra Botanic Gardens and sample local delicacies in Furnas, where they slow-cook dishes in the underground hot springs. Why not visit Ferraria’s naturally hot rock pool for free? Here, the spring water reaches up to 28 degrees Celsius at low tide. Pop your walking boots on and explore the many dormant craters and calderas, like Lagoa do Fogo, Sete Cidades, or the twin lakes Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. Pico Island is named after its Fuji-like volcano, which is the highest peak in Portugal. A climb to the top rewards you with unrivalled panoramas. The island is also strewn with lava fields, geothermal springs, and the largest visitable lava tunnels in the world, the Gruta das Torres. A visit to this natural cathedral, stretching 5 km and decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, is definitely recommended.

Volcano height: 2,351 m (Pico)

Besides the volcano: Island hopping, surfing, pineapple plantations

11. Iceland

Iceland is famous for its geothermal activity, fabulous hot springs, and that volcano nobody can pronounce properly...Eyjafjallajökull. (That's the one that closed European airspace for weeks.) There are actually dozens of volcano tours on offer in the Land of Fire and Ice, including one that sets off from Reykjavik heading to Geldingadalur, offering the chance to see a moving lava flow. It's not a walk in the park, so you'll need a guide and a good level of fitness. In 2021, volcano Fagradalsfjall also experienced what locals describe as a 'tourist eruption' – one that's interesting to look at and safe enough to go and visit. You can take a bus or drive a short way from Reykjavik and enjoy an approximately 1.5-hour hike to get a glimpse of it. If you're feeling like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you could even book a helicopter ride over it. Of course, Iceland is bubbling with other adventures too: from sedate bathing in the Blue Lagoon to spotting the Northern Lights and adventures for the truly intrepid – traversing glaciers, exploring ice caves and heading down into a volcano itself.

Volcano height: 2,110 m (Öræfajökull)

Besides the volcano: Snowmobiling, Westfjords and Dettifoss

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