Many vacation destination features wonderful beaches, scuba diving, hiking, mountain climbing, golf, tennis and spectacular spas. But some getaways also have all those activities plus volcanoes and geysers. From the Caribbean, to Iceland, to the Canary Islands, some people decide to vacation on volcanic islands. Here are our picks for the Best Volcanic Islands to enjoy and discover.
Soufriere, St. Lucia
With many direct flights from the U.S., black sand beaches, world-class hotels and the majestic piton mountains, St. Lucia is not just another lush tropical paradise. It’s natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, fine dining and year-round hospitality makes it a truly beautiful and exotic location.
To fully experience the diversity of St. Lucia, visit Soufriere. This town on the West Coast of Saint Lucia is filled with a variety of things to do and plenty of natural wonders. The Diamond Botanical Gardens, mineral baths and the Diamond Waterfall will have you astonished.
Two miles south of Soufriere, is where you will find the only “drive-in” volcano in the world. You can actually drive down the edge of the volcanic crater and join a park guide who guides you towards pools of boiling mud and clouds of steam that shoot 50 feet up in the air.
Pro Tip: Join a street party. A hotspot for locals and visitors, the Gros Islet Friday Night Street Party is the longest running street party in St. Lucia. The streets are alive with pulsating rhythms, dancing and plenty of delicious food.
Full of great resorts, laid back Hawaiian atmosphere, and plenty of activities to do, Maui should be on your list of places to explore. If you’ve never been, experience one of the worlds most beautiful and unique sunrise spots during the Haleakala Sunrise Tour. Haleakala National Park is home to the dormant Haleakala Volcano, which covers 77% of the Island of Maui.
Not sure where to stay? The Kaanapali region is full of world-class hotels, including the Sheraton. If you are a golfer, do a round at the Kaanapali golf course. Overlooking the ocean and a volcano, it’s a sight you simply can’t miss.
The boardwalk takes you from resort to resort. Full of shops and galleries, you can also go from restaurant to bars to pools to shops. You’ll also see local art vendors that have wooden statues, grass hats and tikis.
Pro Tip: Take a day trip to Lanai. Check out the resorts or go scuba diving. The rock formations off Lanai are far more pristine than the coral in Maui.
A place of volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, tectonic ridges, fjords, waterfalls, black-sand beaches and other natural wonders, the Land of Fire and Ice is captivating. In fact, the terrain is so spectacular it even once served as training ground for Apollo astronauts preparing to walk on the moon.
Before or after you go to the airport, take a trip to the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. Although there are plenty of natural hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is the result of a nearby geothermal plant.
After, go snorkeling between the two tectonic plates, which you can do in the summer or the winter. Another popular day trip is driving to the Golden Circle, home to the famous geysers- Geysir and Strokkur.
Pro Tip: Enjoy a helicopter tour. You’ll fly over many unforgettable sights and potentially stop at places you wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
If you’re an adventure seeker and looking for an incredibly unique outdoor experience, look no further. Known as the Island of eternal spring, full of black sand beaches and home to Mt. Teide, the third highest volcanic structure in the world, Tenerife is calling your name.
Planted on Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teide is Spain’s highest peak at 12,198 feet above sea level. The views are so astonishing that more than three million people visit each year to view the majestic and breathtaking treasure.
During the day, visit the Anaga Mountains and enjoy the volcanic typography while you go hiking and cycling. At night, go stargazing and surround yourself with the lunar-like terrain of Mt. Teide and the unadulterated skies of Tenerife.
To learn more about Tenerife’s activities visit http://www.TravelToTenerife.com
Pro Tip: With plenty of world-class resorts and accommodations, you won’t need to worry about where to stay. Nine golf courses are sprinkled across the Island and with black sand beaches and typography incorporated into the designs; it’s a golfers paradise.
Sao Miguel, Azores
A quintessential Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic, the Azores is a nature lover’s paradise. Only a four- hour direct flight from Boston, how could you not visit this beautiful volcanic island? Sao Miguel is the largest island of the Azores. Incredibly green and lush with six volcanic zones, don’t be surprised to find hot spring baths in this towering volcanic origin.
Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the town of Furnas. This little village is full of hotels, restaurants and spas. It also has lots of hot springs and thermal activities. You can even have a typical Azorean cooked meal- cozido das furnas, steaming pots of sausages and potatoes cooked for hours on end by the steam of the volcano.
Visit www.questtraveladventures.com or call 1800-693-1815 to book your trip to the Azores. Save $200 off per couple when you mention code MONEY.
Pro Tip: If you really want to experience all the Azores has to offer, visit between May and September and bask in the warm weather.
Sergio Barros represents Tenerife Tourism in the United States – ( http://www.traveltotenerife.com ). He is based in Boston