The Pacific is no stranger to tourists flocking from all the corners of the world. It has some of the most amazing, versatile, and picturesque travel experiences to offer in the form of islands, natural landscapes, adventures, and great food.
But what you might not know or not have paid attention to is that it is also one of the densest volcanic regions.
There are many active volcanoes in the Pacific to visit and hike, mainly along the Ring of Fire. Like Mount Yasur, Mount Benbow and Marum in Vanuatu, Tavurvur and Ulawun in Papua New Guinea, Kilauea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii, or Mount Tongariro in New Zealand, and more.
In this definitive list, you are going to read about the best volcanoes in the pacific to visit, along with some that are closed for travel and some that are too dangerous and not everyone’s cup of tea.
So read on and stay alert lest you might start daydreaming about the perfect mix of scary, exciting, and awe-inspiring visions of Pacific volcanoes.
PS: We climbed the majority of these volcanoes ourselves and it is one of the most fascinating experiences you can have!
1. Mount Yasur, Tanna (Vanuatu)
Mount Yasur is an active volcano that lies on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Without a doubt, it has the credit of being one of Vanuatu’s must-see natural places.
At Mount Yasur, you can experience what it’s like to get closest to a volcano, something that you won’t experience with other volcanoes. It is 361 meters above sea level, with its circular summit covering around 400 meters in diameter. It happens to be one of the younger volcanoes and has been erupting continuously for many centuries.
Apart from seeing this magnificent volcano at its top, you can engage in other fun and exciting activities at the base, such as camping, mountain biking, or ash boarding.
Considering its height, it is one of the most accessible volcanoes. You must have a guided tour to trek it.
At the foot of the volcano, you pay an entrance fee and get a local guide. There is also a spiritual ceremony to ease the spirit of the Fire Mountain. A 4×4 vehicle takes you up a few kilometers through an ash desert to the beginning of the hiking trail, where you start your trekking to the summit. But the views and the experience once at the top are worth it all, and it is not even one of the difficult volcanic treks.
Clearly at the top of the list of volcanoes in the Pacific to visit and climb!
2. Mount Benbow and Mount Marum, Ambrym (Vanuatu)
Yet another great set of volcanoes with an unparalleled experience is that of Mount Benbow and Mount Marum. They both lie on the volcanic island of Ambrym, which is part of the Vanuatu archipelago.
It is a special kind of island because all of it is considered a volcano with its two peaks of Benbow and Marum lying at the height of 1159 meters and 1270 meters, respectively. Both peaks are clear of smoke for 40 days a year, which is the perfect time to visit them and experience their giant beauty.
The best thing to experience up there? A clear look into an active crater and seeing the red hot magma thrashing and boiling in front of your eyes.
But you must be willing to sacrifice one thing to experience that: Your comfort. The guided climb up these twin giants is not easy and is best suited for fit and sturdy. The terrain is steep, and it can’t be done without a guide. As a precaution, everyone must carry plenty of drinking water and skin protection. You might have to occasionally kick holes by your toes in the slippery crust around both volcanoes to keep your grip, which demands ankle support and a certain amount of physical strength.
At the base of these peaks, you’ll find a traditional village community that sticks strongly to its beliefs and customs. You will find each village decorated with sculpted tam-tams that are also used in sacred Rom Dances. These dances are held every year and are a one-of-a-kind experience if you happen to be on the island during that time.
All in all, trekking these two brothers is a rewarding experience if you think you are up for the challenge! Go for it as these are two of the most spectacular volcanoes in the Pacific to visit.
3. Ulawun, New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
Papua New Guinea is in no short supply for active volcanoes that call travelers to experience them.
But this volcano is no joke. It is known to be one of the most active volcanoes on the island and is notorious for being the most dangerous. It also has the credit to be the highest volcano in the 1000 kilometers long Bismarck volcanic range as it rises impressively on the north coast of New Britain, Papua New Guinea, up to 2334 meters above sea level.
Even though it has been part of tourist and travel activity, a recent major eruption in June 2019 led to the widespread dislocation of native communities. This resulted in the temporary closure of international Hoskins airport, the main airport closest to this threatening volcano.
So things are still unclear whether travel to the area will open any time soon, but we’ll be the first to update you when it does.
4. Tavurvur, New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
This fantastical volcano has a dark history. Back in 1994, an eruption of the Tavurvur volcano almost completely destroyed the town of Rabaul, and it is still one of the most active volcanoes on the island. Most recently, it erupted on September 12th, 2014.
It is situated near Rabaul, on the New Britain Island in Papua New Guinea. It lies at about 688 meters above sea level. You need the help of a local guide to trek the volcano as it is still considered dangerous.
But apart from climbing the volcano, there’s much else to do on the island.
You can visit the old Rabaul airport that still tells the story of destruction caused by the volcano and see Japanese warplanes still buried in ash. Moreover, you can enjoy many hot springs dotting the landscapes for a relaxing holiday.
As a souvenir, you can buy some amazing traditional handicrafts made by the local villagers or interact with them and learn amazing things about their local culture.
Papua New Guinea remains one of the most unexplored countries on earth, and so are its volcanoes. This is why they belong on the list of the best volcanoes in the Pacific to visit and discover.
5. Mauna Loa, Big Island (Hawaii)
Hawaii is no loser in terms of active volcanoes either, and the Mauna Loa on Big Island is the LARGEST active volcano on earth. Yes, you read that right.
Moreover, it is so big that it covers a width of around 120 kilometers, effectively taking up half of the entire big island. This is what the word Mauna Loa means, i.e., “long mountain”. It rises to a whopping 9167 meters from sea level, making it only second to the tallest mountain in the world from base to summit of Mauna Kea.
Considering the sheer height of this beast, trekking it is a significant challenge but equally rewarding.
The trail is jagged, rough, and dotted with loose lava. More importantly, the trail is marked with stacked rocks, locally known as “ahu”, which can be lost easily in low visibility.
What you’ll need to trek the challenge of a volcano is winter gear, plenty of water, sturdy boots, and extra food. This mountain is not forgiving, and you should always remember that. You also need to have considerable experience in the wilderness and high altitude trekking, along with being physically fit.
Word of warning: you won’t find any drinking water either at the Mauna Loa trailheads or even the Mauna Loa Observatory. You won’t find any public transportation or telephones either. So be very clear whether you want to do this and then prepare accordingly.
Yes, you will find guided tours, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging. However, it is an incredible experience to hike it.
6. Kilauea, Big Island (Hawaii)
Kilauea is the native word for “much spreading”. It is a volcano situated in the Hawaii volcano national park and happens to be the youngest and most active shield volcano in Hawaii.
Its highest peak reaches up to 1247 meters above sea level, and it has constantly been erupting since 1983.
You will find plenty of high-quality lodging within the park. There are also accommodation options available in the nearby volcano village. Apart from the rewarding trek that is usually guided and moderately difficult, the park has some great hiking trails, guided ranger tours, and points of interest. All in all, that makes it one of the easiest volcanoes in the Pacific to visit.
The constant state of a moderate eruption from the Kilauea has been a big reason for attracting many eager travelers with an adventurous spirit.
7. Manaro Voui, Ambae (Vanuatu)
Ambae is yet another popular volcanic island of Vanuatu; it lies in the Southwestern Pacific, with an area of around 154 square miles.
The most dominating spectacle on the island is that of Manaro Voui, a 1496 meter tall volcano cradling three lakes in its caldera.
The latest big eruption by this volcano was back in 2005, which forced nearby villagers to evacuate because of the steam, ash, and gases making their life difficult.
You can camp at the lakes and the volcano crater as well, while the hike up takes a full day.
Some of the other great and thrilling activities you can engage in are game fishing, bike riding, rock climbing, and a hypnotic massage by the hot springs.
As for accommodation, you will find some basic guesthouses to full-fledged island bungalows.
It is one of the ideal active volcanoes in the Pacific to visit, along with all the facilities and exciting features one could hope for.
8. Epi, Epi Island (Vanuatu)
The Epi island of Vanuatu literally used to be called Tasiko, “The volcano island”. It is situated at the northernmost end of the Shepherd Islands.
Since it is a volcanic island, it is dotted with volcanic craters, the highest of which is Mount Pomare, at about 833 meters from sea level.
Another important volcano worth mentioning is the Lopevi Volcano. Both these volcanoes, along with the island, have been popular tourist destinations.
The island itself is about 43 kilometers long and 18 kilometers wide, spanning over 444 square kilometers.
Two airports, namely the Lamen Bay Airport and the Valesdir airport, are in service several times per week. For an added adventure, you can choose to reach the island by ship.
The island does not run out of things to do. You can see the amazing spectacle of whales and dolphins thrashing and swimming from the shores or engage in exciting water activities like sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and water skiing.
The trek to the craters is moderately challenging, with guides available.
9. Mount Gharat, Gaua (Vanuatu)
The island of Gaua is the southernmost island in Torba province, which lies in the far north of Vanuatu. You can see the Solomon Islands in the distance from here on a clear day.
And sitting on top of the island, like a stunning jewel placed perfectly exactly in the center, is Mount Gharat. It is an active volcano standing over 700 meters tall. According to the locals, it lies at the center of Lake Letas, which is the largest freshwater lake in the South Pacific.
Mount Gharat most recently erupted back in 2010, causing the locals to evacuate on the Western area of the island.
Apart from trekking to the crater, this island is filled with some great nature experiences and adventures to engage in. It is a small and relaxing island with a stunning waterfall, a lake, and a deep-rooted traditional musical culture.
The trek to the summit is a steep one once you cross the lake. You can complete the trek to the summit and back in one day, but it would be a continuous trek with little to no pauses.
What you can do is stay overnight at lakeside camps that are more like cutesy little huts with beds. As for staying on the island, you’ll find pretty decent accommodation in the form of guesthouses that have double beds, breakfast, lunch at request, and evening meals.
Just so you know, the internet is scarce there, and so is running water.
10. Manam (Papua New Guinea)
Just like Tavurvur of New Britain, this volcano, too, has a dark past.
It is located 13 kilometers off the northern shore of Papua New Guinea and is one of the most active volcanoes on the archipelago. More importantly, this dangerous mountain has one of the longest eruption records in the Southeastern Pacific region.
In December of 1996, it erupted and killed 13 people in the local village of Budu. Since then, it has been called one of the most susceptible locations for natural disasters by none other than the official government website of Papua New Guinea.
It is unsafe for traveling and tourism, but we felt it worth mentioning here in the list to let our readers know which volcanoes are worth visiting and which should be avoided.
11. Mount Tongariro, North Island (New Zealand)
New Zealand can’t be skipped when discussing the world’s most active and interesting volcanoes is going on.
Mount Tongariro is a famous active volcano in New Zealand that is a part of the big Tongariro National Park, the country’s first and one of the world’s earliest national parks.
So it’s natural to assume that besides trekking up to the crater, you have plenty of other things to enjoy and adventures to experience.
The mountain itself is a compound volcano lying in the Northern region of New Zealand, and the highest point of the mountain is estimated to be at 1978 meters. It is also one of the three active volcanoes in the Northernmost region and one of the easiest and most accessible volcanoes. You can get to the park using well-built roads and enjoying picturesque scenery along the way.
The starting point of the trek lies about 20 minutes from the National park village. The hike takes you across almost 19 kilometers of landscape, and you also get to see the region filmed as Mordor from Lord of the Rings.
While in the park, you are in no short supply of stunning walks, bike rides, and hikes. There is plenty of high-quality accommodation and food around the neighboring areas of the park.
This national park makes up for a great trip while also letting you experience the magnificence that is Mount Tongariro itself!
12. White Island, North Island (New Zealand)
The White Island, locally known as Whakaari, is a volcanic island estimated to be about 150,000 to 200,000 years old. It is about 2 kilometers in diameter, with its highest peak at 321 meters above sea level. It is located about 48 kilometers off the coast of Whakatane on the North Island.
One of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand, its tragic eruption in December 2019 led to its closure for tourism.
There are currently no boat tours available to step on the island, and helicopter tours are also not allowed to land. But the beauty and magnificence can still be experienced through airborne tours.
With this definitive list at your disposal, you are set to explore the mesmerizing, dangerous, and magnificent volcanoes in the Pacific. Now you know what volcano is best for you, how to get there, and what to do once you’re there.
Be safe and Happy Travels!
If we have sparked your interest in the (South) Pacific, you can find out more about its fascinating islands on our IslandAwe website.