Ever since my school geography lessons I’ve been fascinated by volcanoes, but I’ve never visited one that’s active. Where’s the best place to go to experience one? Rachel, Surrey
There are lots of places in the world to see volcanoes, but you can’t always guarantee that there’ll be any activity or that there are facilities in place to allow you to safely get close.
Currently the most active volcano in the world is Mount Kilauea on the island of Hawaii. It’s been erupting constantly since 1983! Apparently, Kilauea’s frequent eruptions are usually ‘non-explosive’ and offer spectacular views, especially before dawn. Getting close to the crater means hiking through some difficult terrain. But there are plenty of viewing points in the surrounding national park and several companies offer guided tours of the area.
Closer to home, one of the most famous volcanoes in the world is Mount Vesuvius, towering over Naples in Italy. It’s currently dormant but regularly emits smoke and lava and apparently is well overdue a big eruption. One advantage of visiting Vesuvius is that there’s a viewing platform at the top that allows you to look down into the crater. It’s a short hike up from the visitor centre, which can be accessed by local transport from Naples.
And if you’re a volcano fan, visiting Vesuvius has the added attraction that you can take in Herculaneum and Pompeii while you’re in the area, giving you a chance to learn about the devastation caused by a volcano at first hand.
If you want to avoid a steep walk, one of the easiest volcanoes in the world to visit is Whakaari, otherwise known as White Island in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. It rises 1600m from the seabed, with only 320m showing above the water line. It means you can effectively step right out of the boat into a gap in the crater wall. It’s 49km off the coast and there are regular boats taking visitors on the six-hour round trip.