Perhaps nothing is as beautiful and terrifying at the same time than an active volcano. Some volcanoes around the world offer the rare opportunity to peer into a molten lake of lava or watch it hiss into the ocean. Others abound in lush flora that houses abundant wildlife, offering little clue to the tumultuous conditions that lie below until you feel a tremor beneath your feet.
The cost for a volcano tourism adventure might be cheaper than you’d think. Take a journey to some of the world’s potentially deadly active volcanoes and get the thrill of a lifetime on your next vacation.
Crater Lake in Oregon
- Flight from Los Angeles: $102
- Flight from Chicago: $284
- Flight from New York: $362
- Lodging: $107
Crater Lake is the deepest U.S. lake at nearly 2,000 feet. It’s also home to one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which gives it a very high threat rating based on its proximity to population centers — and its eruption history.
The sparkling blue lake and its crater pose a more immediate threat to bold visitors, from unstable terrain along the rim that can cause hikers to fall to their death to a steep, 700-foot hike to the lake’s only safe swimming beach.
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Cerro Negro in Nicaragua
- Flight from Los Angeles: $391
- Flight from Chicago: $430
- Flight from New York: $363
- Lodging: $104
At 1,312 feet high, climbing the steep Cerro Negro will take you only about an hour — and the descent will take less than 10 minutes. After you enjoy the treeless 360-degree views, take a running start and slide down the western slope covered in black volcanic sand.
The volcano often smokes, but it hasn’t erupted in the 21st century. Reaching the volcano is an adventure in itself — you have to bump along 16 miles of unpaved roads outside of Leon to reach the Cerro Negro visitor center.
Kilauea in Kauai, Hawaii
- Flight from Los Angeles: $477
- Flight from Chicago: $688
- Flight from New York: $683
- Lodging: $121
Kilauea is the youngest, most active and most spectacular volcano on the islands — and there are a number of ways to visit it. See Halemanumau crater’s bubbling lava from a helicopter, take a drive along Chain of Craters Road or view volcanic landscapes up close as you make your way along hiking and biking trails.
Take a one-hour walking through the Kilauea Caverns of Fire and the Kazamura Cave, which contains the deepest and longest lava tubes in the world. Easy access through Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park doesn’t come without dangers, though. Stay on trails, wear adequate clothing to protect you from sharp lava, stay away from vents and avoid breathing poisonous fumes.
Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland
- Flight from Los Angeles: $440
- Flight from Chicago: $683
- Flight from New York: $300
- Lodging: $155
Iceland is known as one of the great places to see the northern lights, but it’s also home to an active volcano. Erupting as recently as 2010, the ice-capped Eyjafjallajökull volcano is visible from the time you drive east out of Reykjavik. Just 86 miles southeast of Reykjavik, the little town of Þorvaldseyri opens a visitor center during the warm months.
Tucked between two other active volcanoes, Hekla and Katla, Eyjafjallajökull offers a close-up view from the Fimmvörðuháls ridge that connects it with Katla. Don’t think about climbing the volcanoes themselves — deep, unstable crevasses make it too dangerous.
Unexpected flooding is also a danger in the area surrounding the volcanoes because hot lava melts the glacier from underneath. For a bird’s eye view of things, join a helicopter tour departing from Reykjavik and see black sand beaches, geysers, old lava flows and scenic waterfalls.
Mount Vesuvius in Italy
- Flight from Los Angeles: $917
- Flight from Chicago: $1,156
- Flight from New York: $847
- Lodging: $86
Mount Vesuvius is one of the world’s most famous volcanoes, known for its 79 A.D. eruption that buried the city of Pompeii. Book a certified guide and hike around its crater, which is roughly 1.2 miles in diameter.
You’ll see the ancient ruins of Pompeii from the top of Mount Vesuvius — as well as Naples, the Apennine Mountains and the Amalfi Coast. Don’t miss the other eight nature trails in the park that feature volcanic landscapes like the Lava River or Valley of Hell.
Redoubt and Iliamna in Alaska
- Flight from Los Angeles: $277
- Flight from Chicago: $395
- Flight from New York: $458
- Lodging: $75
Nestled 30 miles apart in the lonely wilderness of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska, the volcanoes Iliamna and Redoubt preside over the Cook Inlet Coast, their summits visible as far away as Anchorage. Mount Redoubt towers above the rest of the Aleutian Range at 10,197 feet.
The remote nature of Redoubt and Iliamna beckon adventurous mountaineers, and their proximity invites summiting one after the other. If an all-out mountain expedition isn’t your thing, book a flight tour from Port Alsworth or communities along the Kenai Peninsula. Check out up-close views of steam plumes over the active volcanoes, although Redoubt hasn’t erupted since 2009 and Iliamna since 1876.
Sakurajima in Japan
- Flight from Los Angeles: $843
- Flight from Chicago: $1257
- Flight from New York: $847
- Lodging: $79
One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Sakurajima erupted as recently as Sept. 5, when a plume of smoke more than a mile high rose from its crater as it spewed volcanic ash and other material. The phenomenon is nothing new.
Sakurajima erupted more than 1,000 times in 2013 and 471 in 2014. The volcano remains on a Level 3 alert on a scale of 5, meaning it could erupt at any time — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit it.
Check out the Sakurajima Visitor Center to learn about disaster-prevention and the volcano’s history. Ride a Sakurajima Island view bus to see the volcano up close at Yunohira Observation Point. You can also visit a lava observatory and beach on the island.
Lassen Volcanic National Park in California
- Flight from Los Angeles: $117
- Flight from Chicago: $288
- Flight from New York: $227
- Lodging: $89
Of the four types of active volcanoes in the world — cinder cone, plug dome, composite and shield — you’ll find each within the boundaries of Lassen Volcanic National Park. In fact, every rock in the park was created by one of the local volcanoes.
Head to Bumpass Hell to witness some of the hottest and most active hydrothermal features in the park. Big Boiler, a volcanic gas and steam vent, is the largest fumarole in the park, spewing 322-degree steam.
Check out other reminders of intense volcanic activity happening underground at Cold Boiling Lake, Devils Kitchen Boiling Springs Lake. Although the several hot springs seem inviting, don’t think about taking a dip. The coolest waters are 126 degrees, which will give you third-degree burns in a minute or two, and the acid levels aren’t safe for bathing.
Whakaari/White Island in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
- Flight from Los Angeles: $996
- Flight from Chicago: $1,211
- Flight from New York: $1,133
- Lodging: $77
Travel across the royal blue waters of the Bay of Plenty to visit New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Step off your tour boat and into the main crater to check out the bubbling mud pits, steam vents and searing hot streams and acid lakes. Helicopter tours of the volcano are also available in any town along the Bay of Plenty.
Most of the volcano is below sea level, protected by crater walls rising about 1,000 feet above the water. You’ll also visit an old sulfur factory, abandoned after a mudslide swallowed up all the workers without a trace. The factory’s sole survivor was a cat, aptly named Peter the Great.
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Arenal in Costa Rica
- Flight from Los Angeles: $201
- Flight from Chicago: $335
- Flight from New York: $280
- Lodging: $168
Arenal isn’t just the most famous volcano in Costa Rica, it’s one of the most active in the world. The once-dormant volcano rumbled back to life in 1968 and erupted frequently during the next four decades until 2010.
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park to view the volcano up close, witness its gaseous and steamy emissions and explore four major life zones around its base. Bring your bird-watching glasses — more than 500 species call the park home. Be on the lookout for monkeys, tapirs, anteaters and red brocket deer as you wander trails that lead to lookout points and lava fields.
Mayon Volcano in the Philippines
- Flight from Los Angeles: $557
- Flight from Chicago: $519
- Flight from New York: $461
- Lodging: $43
Mayon Volcano’s perfect cone shape makes a picturesque backdrop for a visit to Legazpi City below its western slope. Head up to Lignon Hill Nature Park in the city to capture the best views.
See if you have what it takes to ascend the summit on the Kapit Tuko Trail — the name aptly means “lizard grip” — or ramp up your adventure with zip lining or rappelling. When you’ve admired the volcano from afar, head for Mayon Volcanic Natural Park, which encompasses the 80-mile base of the mountain. The Mayon Volcano is located more than 460 miles from where the U.S. State Department warns against non-essential travel — in the southern cities of Marawi, Mindanao and Sulu — because of civilian kidnappings and armed conflicts with terrorist groups.
Mauna Loa in Hawaii
- Flight from Los Angeles: $538
- Flight from Chicago: $672
- Flight from New York: $690
- Lodging: $157
The biggest volcano in the world, most of Mauna Loa is beneath ocean level. Roughly 16,400 feet of volcano descends to the sea floor and another 13,100 feet juts above the water, making Mauna Loa 55,700 feet tall.
The active volcano sees plenty of action — it has had 33 eruptions since its first documented blast in 1843 — and it’s constantly monitored for signs of unrest. Take a backpacking journey in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to see Mauna Loa up close and spend nights snuggled up in a hillside or summit cabin.
The rugged, backcountry adventure comes with dangers that include altitude sickness, volcanic smog and the occasional blizzard. If you’re more of an indoor person, you can see the volcano by helicopter.
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Cotopaxi in Ecuador
- Flight from Los Angeles: $502
- Flight from Chicago: $452
- Flight from New York: $385
- Lodging: $59
Venture into the Andes Mountains to explore the stunning Cotopaxi volcano. The vast park has three separate entrances, but you’ll want to head in from the south, El Chasqui, to visit the museum and visitor center.
Visit the scenic Limpiopungo Lagoon to capture reflections of the volcano in its water. Keep your camera ready, too — black-faced ibis birds and llamas are often spotted at the scenic watering hole. Cotopaxi last erupted in 2015, and scientists continually monitor it for seismic activity and gaseous emissions that could signal another blow.
Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica
- Flight from Los Angeles: $1,340
- Flight from Chicago: $1,249
- Flight from New York: $961
- Lodging: $153
As the southernmost volcano on the face of the earth, Mount Erebus isn’t easy to access. Hop on a cruise heading to Ross Island where Erebus and several other volcanoes loom over a landscape populated by Adelie penguins. Or take an Antarctic cruise from Australia, New Zealand or Ushuaia, Argentina.
Travel during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, which runs from November through March, but prepare for freezing temperatures during even the warmest months. Mount Erebus has been consistently active since 1972 and its lake of lava is one of the must-see features of Antarctica.
Mount Merapi in Indonesia
- Flight from Los Angeles: $911
- Flight from Chicago: $990
- Flight from New York: $1,011
- Lodging: $26
Indonesia has about 500 volcanoes, and just miles north of Yogyakarta — in one of the world’s most densely populated areas — is Mount Merapi, one of the most active on earth.
Merapi is a stratovolcano with an active, summit lava dome. If you visit, don’t miss the Museum Merapi, Kaliurang Observation Tower and a lava tour at Kaliadem.
Yellowstone in Wyoming
- Flight from Los Angeles: $220
- Flight from Chicago: $338
- Flight from New York: $354
- Lodging: $116
Yellowstone National Park might already be on your bucket list of U.S. destinations: Buffalo and elk graze peacefully by the road in this great park, belying the volcanic tumult beneath the earth’s crust. Besides its natural beauty and prolific wildlife, the park is famous for its geothermal activity and geyser, Old Faithful.
Yellowstone has more geysers and other geothermal features than anywhere else on earth. And the supervolcano appears on the USGS High Threat list, but don’t let that scare you — the agency reports that an eruption in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years is very unlikely.
Piton de la Fournaise on Reunion Island, France
- Flight from Los Angeles: $1,475
- Flight from Chicago: $1,609
- Flight from New York: $1,411
- Lodging: $209
Delve deep into the heart of Piton de la Fournaise as you marvel at lava tubes that look like they’re formed from melted chocolate. The underground excursion is just one way to explore the active volcano, which serves up adventures ranging from playing on the beach at its base to ascending its summit that rises more than 6,500.
Take an adventurous hike along the coast-to-summit trail or drive to the top along tree-lined roads. Both options take you from lush forest to stark desert, where nothing can grow in the acidic volcanic soil. Explore the moon-like landscape of Plaine de Sable on a horse, mountain bike or Segway.
Mount Rainier in Washington
- Flight from Los Angeles: $81
- Flight from Chicago: $237
- Flight from New York: $305
- Lodging: $106
Washington’s most iconic mountain is more than just a pretty place to ski or hike. It’s also an active volcano with a very high threat potential, according to the USGS.
Mount Rainier’s summit houses the world’s largest volcanic ice cave system, created by toxic steam undercutting the glacier on its crest. Rainier’s beauty might leave you weak in the legs, but if you feel the ground move beneath your feet, it’s likely just one of the mountain’s 20 small annual earthquakes. Take an air tour that leaves from Seattle to experience Rainier’s majesty.
Mount Yasur in Vanuatu
- Flight from Los Angeles: $1,356
- Flight from Chicago: $2,506
- Flight from New York: $2,623
- Lodging: $40
Mount Yasur has had constant activity since explorer Captain Cook first witnessed it erupting in 1774. Various size explosions from its vents are common, but it has spewed ash as recently as Aug. 10, 2017.
You can hike your way up to the edge of the crater and peer inside without a guide, but be careful because there are no safety barriers. Or, catch a 4WD tour to the top and forego the 45-minute, uphill hike.
Of course, you’ll want to take lots of pictures during your time at the crater, but leave time to send some postcards, too. Vanuatu Post maintains the world’s only postbox on top of a volcano and even has special-edition stamps and postcards you can send to your friends.
The volcano closes when its activity becomes unsafe. Check the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department website before you head out.
Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Flight from Los Angeles: $955
- Flight from Chicago: $1,160
- Flight from New York: $757
- Lodging: $180
Bustling villages circle the base of Mount Nyiragongo, one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth. And see one of the largest lava lakes in the world — with depths of up to 10,700 feet –within its crater.
Unlike slow-moving, molten lava you might find in other parts of the world, Nyiragongo’s lava is highly fluid. It raced down the hill in 1977 at 60 mph and killed at least 70 people in a village below. Its last deadly eruption was in 2002 and it claimed 147 lives. Officials at Virunga National Park feel they can predict the next eruption two weeks in advance.
Methodology: Flight prices are based on the lowest fares available on Sept. 12, 2017, originating from airports in the Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City areas. Hotel prices are based on double occupancy from Oct. 23 through Oct. 27, 2017.