7 Beautiful Caribbean Island Destinations You’ve Never Heard Of

Looking to go on vacation? Dreaming of a warm destination with sandy beaches and bright sunshine? Instead of jetting off to Turks and Caicos or Aruba, check out these breath taking Carribean locations that don’t get nearly enough recognition for their beauty and vacation potential. Each boasting stunning beaches and palm trees swaying lazily in the warm tropical breeze, these islands will steal your heart and provide you with the relaxation and peace you need to rejuvenate after a long few months of work. Don’t forget your sunhat, sandals and bathing suit!

1. Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis is a two island country in the West Indes. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere and takes only two hours to drive around the entire country. It is jam packed with history such as the Brimestone Hill Fortress built in the 1400’s and Romney Manor that is now filled with beautiful local souvenirs to bring home to your loved ones. You can stay at the local Timothy’s Beach Resort or play it safe by booking a room at the Marriott.

Photo By: Shutterfly
Photo By: Shutterstock

2. Guadeloupe

Made up of five insanely beautiful islands, Guadeloupe is a French country known for it’s well maintained islands, superior diving conditions and jaw dropping sunsets. It has one of France’s National Parks which is protected by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and is classified as one of the top ten most beautiful bays in the world. With a combination of Creole and French cuisine, guests are never disappointed with their meals.  With an inter-island boat system, you can visit all five islands and stay at a beautiful hotel or two, like the Hotel Le Bois Joli or La Toubana Hotel.

Photo By: Shutterstock
Photo By: Shutterstock

3. Monserrat

Monserrat is one of the most under rated and unknown locations in the Caribbean for vacationers. Two thirds of the island was completely destroyed by a volcano which erupted from 1995-2004. With the portion of the island that is left, it is stunning, beautiful and filled with culture and life. Hotels are extremely well priced, and if you are curious to learn about the history of the volcano, with the permission of local police, you and a tour guide are able to go see the “Exclusion Zone” where the volcano erupted.

Photo By: Shutterstock
Photos By: Shutterstock

4. Dominica

Not to be mistaken with Dominican Republic, Dominica is a paradise all on it’s own. There is 750 square kilometres of stunning land that is waiting to be explored. Don’t miss Champagne Reef where you can snorkel and see beautiful kinds of fish. It is called the Champagne Reef because the water is bubbly, much like champagne! With Horseback riding on the beach and delicious local food made for you on the spot, Dominica cannot be missed! If your looking for a place to stay, check out the luxurious Rosalie Bay Resort. If you travel in between the months of March and October, you will be able to see baby turtles hatching on the black sand beaches.

Photo By: Shutterstock
Photos By: Shutterstock

5. Martinique

A mountainous and sandy island, Martinique is a French island filled with Bamboo Forests, Waterfalls, once in a life time snorkelling opportunities and so much more. Many of the locals prefer to rent out apartments instead of allowing massive hotels to be built on the beach. Because of this, Martinique helps you experience the Caribbean in a non-commercialized setting that will take your breath away.

Photos By: Shutterstock
Photos By: Shutterstock

6. Anguilla

Anguilla is the luxurious option for those wanting to spend a little extra on their relaxing vacation. Find yourself at a busy beach? Not to worry. Travel 15 minutes down the road and you’ll find yourself the only ones on the next beach. Locals here are extremely kind and welcoming to tourists and want to involve them in their day to day traditions and life. The best way to experience this island is by staying at a luxury resort, hitting up Venus Spa and getting a mixed drink at a local beach bar. This island will truly rejuvenate your body, mind and soul.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

Photo By: Shutterstock

7. Grenada

Where to begin? Grenada is one stunning location that you will definitely want to put on your bucket list. Grenada is known for it’s vast farms that grown Nutmeg, and you can visit many historic sites that also produce Rum. Don’t forget to go on a jungle adventure to swim under waterfalls and then take a dive into the deep ocean to visit the Underwater Sculpture Park created by locals to assist with growing coral reefs. With a Sandals Resort on site, Grenada has everything you need for a vacation and so much more.

Photo By: Shutterstock
Photos By: Shutterstock

Island Hopping in the Caribbean: 10 Pristine Getaways

For the ultimate paradise experience, head to theses 10 pristine getaways filled with tropical wonders. In a world of underwater coral gardens teeming with marine wildlife and lush tropical rainforests, the islands of the Caribbean are some of the most cherished natural wonders in the world. In fact, vacationers travel from all corners to witness the clear, turquoise waters and scuba dive in the rare marine sanctuaries.

10. Guadaloupe

Set sail for a magical adventure in the tropics of Guadaloupe, a natural paradise filled with unforgettable activities like snorkeling the reefs, swimming with dolphins, and relaxing on white sandy beaches with a bright colored cocktail. With a minimum of tourism infrastructure, the large island is ideal for exploring pristine waterfalls and rivers in Basse-Terre, the mountainous western half and the smaller islands that float nearby in a stunning turquoise hued-sea. Other highlights can be found on the north coast at the Port D’Enfer and Pointe de la Grande Vigie with dramatic cliffs scattered across the dazzling aqua waters. Nature lovers can go on mountain treks through tropical jungles in Basse-Terre on a trail leading to the magnificent Cascade aux Ecrevisses on Route de la Traversee. And for an unforgettable scuba diving excursion, grab your gear and head to the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, a protected underwater oasis.

Pointe de la Grande Vigie

9. Cuba

With Cuba’s vibrant cultural and history starting with the Spanish influence, get ready to enter a world of café con leches, vintage 1950s cars, and the cherished Buena Vista Social Club. Part of the Greater Antilles, Cuba is a perfect getaway spot for experiencing their distinctive cultural mecca of Havana and discovering some of the most untouched marine ecosystems in the world. For a scuba diving adventure of a lifetime, head to La Costa de las Piratas, an underwater sanctuary of 56 reef sites teeming with marine wildlife. Along the way, make a stop at the beachside town of Varadero to sample some Cuban cigars and drink rum with the sociable locals. All-inclusive hotels line the island’s most popular beach and could be a useful home base for afternoon water excursions.

cuba varadero

8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

What sets St. Vincent and the Grenadines apart is its dramatic natural beauty and like many islands in the Caribbean, a great way to see the sights is by sailboat. You might recognize the white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and lush rainforests in scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean, which was filmed here. It also is home to Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s private islands outside of St. Vincent. With its jagged mountain terrain and La Soufriere volcano in the north, it’s a haven for eco-tours and nature trekkers. The hike up the 4,000-ft volcano is about a four-hour climb and along the way, you’ll pass through a series of diverse vegetation like tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, and a cloud forest with stunted growth.

Grenadines

7. Martinique

With its tropical flowers covering the countryside and lush mountain rainforests in the background, Martinique is a beautiful getaway that inspired the famous landscapes by French artist Paul Gaugin. To see the vibrant natural wonders up close, head to the Carbet Mountains on a scenic drive through the interior rainforest. The drive starts at Route de la Trace that follows an old path laid by the Jesuit priests in the 1700s. Scuba diving excursions are also popular, especially the graveyard of sunken ships off Saint-Pierre and the caves and tunnels off Rocher du Diamant. For the novice diver, a good place to get your fins wet are in the shallow coral gardens near Cap Enrage, a underwater habitat filled with tropical fish and sea turtles. The Main Hull, a sunken Canadian barge, is also an ideal spot for the beginner wreck diver.

Martinique

6. St. Lucia

When it comes to tropical island getaways, you can expect all the standards of paradise in St. Lucia, a small island in the Windwards and neighboring Martinique and St. Vincent. Get swept away in a natural wonderland filled with turquoise waters teeming with fish and corals, tropical rainforests, and unspoiled, white sand beaches. A good place to get into the island spirit is at Discovery, a high-end resort in the popular Marigot Bay. Flanked by lush, green hills, the bay is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean and has been the setting of several films, including Firepower (1979) and Dr. Dolittle (1967). For stunning bay views and lounging poolside with cocktails, Discovery suites are nestled high in the hills overlooking the bustling marina. From here, you can take excursions to nearby coral sites for an afternoon of snorkeling.

St. Lucia

5. Barbados

With its beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters and natural wonders abounding, the tiny island of Barbados encourages exploration, particularly along the coastline of Bathsheba, which is known for its massive rock formations and boulders scattered along the shore. Another popular eco-destination is Harrison’s Cave near St. Thomas, a spectacular labyrinth of hidden waterfalls and underground rivers. On the west coast, you’ll find pristine sandy beaches that are ideal for sunbathing under coconut and palm trees swaying in the breeze and with a coast lined with luxury resort hotels in the distance. The island is also full of colonial relics like St. Nicholas Abbey, a grand stone mansion built on a sugar plantation in the mid-17th century.

Harrison’s Cave

4. Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire

Just outside the Atlantic hurricane belt are the Dutch isles of Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, which are protected from storms by their strategic southern Caribbean location. In Aruba, you’ll find a mix of lively street scenes at the action-packed casinos and resorts lining the coast. Close by is the Arikok National Park, a change of pace with its natural tranquility and thriving wildlife. Meanwhile, over in Bonaire, the flamingo colony in southern Pekelmeer enjoys protected seclusion in between trips from Venezuela for nesting obligations. The isle also has several protected marine sanctuaries, making it one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.

Bonaire, flamingo

3. Anguilla

Standing out among the beautiful islands of the French Antilles is Anquilla, a modern resort island that is cherished by vacationers for its bright turquoise waters that glow from the surrounding ancient coral base. All around the island you’ll find cays and coral reef sites for unforgettable scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. Back on the mainland are some of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts like the swanky Carimar Beach Club on Meads Bay Beach or Cap Jula lining the west end of the coastline. The flatlands of the interior are also ideal for a horseback ride through the tropics and the horse handlers at Seaside Stables are always ready to help you saddle up for a romantic sunset trail ride in paradise.

Anguilla

2. Virgin Islands

The jewel of the Virgin Islands is St. John and the Virgin Islands National Park is the major highlight, a tropical Eden filled with pristine natural beaches, verdant hillsides, and reef patches in Caneel Bay. The great thing about tiny islands is that you’re never far from a strip of coastline that invites afternoons of swimming and snorkeling year round. Day sailing is also a favorite activity and a great way to explore the waters and inlets surrounding the islands. Boats leave daily from Cruz Bay and venture out to offshore cays and snorkeling meccas. Back on the mainland are excellent wooded hiking trails like Reef Bay Trail and Lind Point Trail, which have impressive views of Cruz Bay.

Virgin Islands

1. Trinidad and Tobago

Situated in the southernmost part of the Caribbean chain, the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a fascinating getaway with its diverse natural habitats and thriving tourism infrastructure. The shorelines range from wild, hilly terrain carpeted with verdant foliage to calm, sandy beaches that encourage blissful seaside afternoons and tranquil sunset strolls. Tobago’s central forest preserve is also full of wildlife and exotic plants in the oldest protect rainforest in the Western Hemisphere. More lush rainforests dominate the northern landscape of Trinidad next door while peaceful waters lap onto the serene shorelines on the east coast.

Tobago

The 7 Most Beautiful and Underrated Caribbean Islands

When the temperatures drop in the Northern hemisphere people tend to flock down south to get a little escape from the winter’s chill. One of the easiest places to find the sunshine we seek is the Caribbean, with so many choices available to us depending on the experience we’re looking for. When we think Caribbean vacation, the popular places like Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and The Bahamas tend to come to mind first. Or the slightly more adventurous may think of the resort laden islands of Saint Lucia, Barbados and Turks and Caicos. These destinations, while popular for good reason are not your only choice in the vast expanse of the Caribbean Sea. Here are 7 lesser-known, hidden gem islands that are definitely worth checking out the next time the Caribbean is beckoning.

7. Guadeloupe

The island of Guadeloupe is actually an overseas region of France and has a total population of 403,750 as of 2014. While commonly referred to as one island, Guadeloupe is actually two islands, Basse-Terre to the west and Grande-Terre to the east. These 2 are separated by a narrow strait and crossed by bridges. Part of the French West Indies, the official language spoken is French, though almost everyone also speaks Antillean Creole. The currency used throughout Guadeloupe it the Euro, give that this island is part of the European Union. There’s tons to see and do on these islands, including swimming in hot springs, climbing an active volcano and visiting the many parks and historic sites throughout Guadeloupe. The winter months of January, February and March are an excellent time to visit this Caribbean destination as average rainfall is at its lowest.

Guadeloupe

6. Barbuda

You may be familiar with Barbuda from hearing it mentioned alongside its more popular sister island Antigua. Together the two make up the twin-island country that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Those looking for a quite piece of island paradise will enjoy the island of Barbuda and it’s small, relaxed charm. The island is pretty tiny and only hosts a population of about 1,600 but the beaches are simply breathtaking. The only town on the island, Codrington is where you’ll find most of the island’s residents as well as the public airport. With only a handful of accommodations available, you won’t have to sift through pages of resorts before deciding where to stay. If quiet reflection in a world of untouched beauty sounds enticing, Barbuda is the paradise you seek.

Photo by: Lighthouse Bay Resort
Photo by: Lighthouse Bay Resort

5. Grenada

The slogan of the island country of Grenada is ‘The spice of the Caribbean’ and that’s not just a clever tagline either. The nickname is due to the fact that Grenada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of Nutmeg and Mace crops. It’s also the largest in the string of islands known as the Grenadines, with a total population of 110,000. Grand Anse Beach is world famous for its 2 mile stretch of soft white sand and calm waters, or if you’re looking for more seclusion and less crowds, visit any of La Sagesse, Bathway or Levera Beaches. If waterfalls are your thing, you’ll love the 4 falls that can be found throughout the island and beg to be jumped in. Annandale Falls is only a short drive from the capital city of St. Georges and has a paved pathway leading to the falls. It’s the perfect place for a hike and a picnic by the falls.

St. Georges Grenada

4. Tobago

This next island is another half of a larger picture. Tobago is the smaller sister island to Trinidad and together they form The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Fun fact: Tobago was the filming location for the classic Walt Disney film ‘Swiss Family Robinson’. This island is a divers paradise with some of the best dive spots in all of the Caribbean and 3 underwater shipwrecks around the shores which make for some awesome marine life exploration. Despite being the smaller of the country’s islands with a population of around 62,000, visitors to Tobago will have no problem finding an abundance of hotels, bars, restaurants, shopping, golf and many more activities. Oh and of course no shortage of beautiful beaches as well.

Tobago

3. Martinique

Another overseas region of France, the island of Martinique, like Guadeloupe is part of the EU and its currency is the Euro. It is the third largest island in the region of The Lesser Antilles with a total population of 386,486 as of 2013. With little other trade and industry, tourism plays an important part in this Caribbean island’s economy and it’s estimated that 7% of the population and 16% of all businesses are in the tourism sector. There’s no shortage of exciting things to see and do around the island, like taking a trip up Mount Pelée, a 1,397 meter high volcano that marks the highest peak in all of Martinique. As a result of the historic volcanic activity in the island’s north end, there are several grey and black sand beaches to be found, but if you head down south you’ll find the fine white sand you’d expect in the Caribbean at beautiful beaches like Les Salines.

mont pelee Martinique

2. Anguilla

The small island of Anguilla lies directly north of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea. It is actually a British overseas territory and as such, visitors will notice that cars drive on the left side of the roads. The total population of the island is approximately 13,500 which drives home it’s small size compared to some of the other islands mentioned in this list. None the less, there are still countless activities and opportunities for fun in Anguilla. The beaches are truly something to behold with the Travel Channel even going so far as to call this destination “number one in the world for best overall beaches.” There’s 33 beaches in total and over 12 miles of powder white sand lining the inviting turquoise waters. And because of the lesser-known nature of Anguilla, these beaches are uncrowded and unspoiled.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

1. Dominica

Don’t confuse the number one island on our list with similar sounding countries like the Dominican Republic, the beautiful island of Dominica is a country all its own. This piece of paradise located in the southern portion of the Caribbean Sea between Martinique and Guadeloupe is dubbed as “the nature island”. One visit here will show you how it’s numerous waterfalls, springs, rivers and expansive rainforest with unique flora and fauna have earned it such a title. The island is also home to the world’s second largest hot spring, Boiling Lake which is located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park on the islands southern end. This nature-lovers paradise never ceases to amaze visitors with its endless unspoiled natural beauty.

Dominica

The 15 Best Volcanoes Hikes in the World

What does it take to climb a volcano? In some cases it takes permits purchased months in advance, technical climbing skills and a paid guide. In other cases one can simply drive right into the volcano, or spend an hour hiking up a moderate hill to reach the top. How about the best volcanoes to hike, how do you determine that? We looked at hundreds of volcanoes and determined the 15 best hikes to take based on a number of factors including ease of access, views from the top, lava activity and the reward factor. From around the world, here are our top 15 choices for the best volcano hikes in the world.

15. Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

This long but challenging hike takes trekkers through scenic landscapes including snow, ice and ash from the most recent eruptions. The trek starts at sea level and goes all the way to the top through a crevasse riddled glacier and finally to the summit where you can view an enormous crater that was left by past eruptions. Glacier equipment such as crampons are required as you literally will be climbing on ice. If you happen to reach the top on a clear day, expect unbelievable views of half the entire island including glaciers, more volcanoes and the Vestmannaeyjar islands. April to September is the time to go and if you are feeling extra adventurous it is possible to ski back down. The climb can take eight to 10 hours and although challenging, you will certainly feel on top of the world on this glacier volcano.

Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

14. Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Arenal was one of the most active volcanoes from about 1968 to 2010 and since then has slowed down but this volcano still is known to spit out ash and sometimes even lava. It is classic in shape, being tall and symmetrical and there is no worry about being cold up here. Climbing to the summit of this volcano is actually both illegal and very dangerous, but luckily there are a few worthwhile hikes that are totally legal and still get you up on the mountain. The main trial inside the park is about 5 km in length and takes you through the rain forest with several opportunities to view the peak. Expect lots of wildlife including toucans and monkeys along with explosions from the peak. Expect to hike over old lava flows and hit many viewing areas where you can actually hear the volcano breathing, which is really quite impressive.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

13. Mount Fuji, Japan

It is the highest volcano and highest peak in Japan where tourists and locals’ alike swarm to climb this volcano, known as one of the three Holy Mountains. More than 200,000 people a year to be exact. The last eruption of Mount Fuji occurred in 1707 and spread ash as far as what is now Tokyo forming a new crater on the east flank. July to September is the official climbing season where trails and mountain facilities are open. The most popular way to climb this volcano is to climb halfway up to one of the huts, take a break and set off again in the night, reaching the summit for sunrise. Worshipping the sun from the top of Japan’s highest peak creates something of a spiritual experience, no matter if you are religious or not. Avoiding the crowds is not possible on this mountain and some trekkers believe that climbing amongst so many like minded people just adds to the overall experience.

Mount Fuji 1

12. Mount Etna, Sicily

The largest active volcano in Europe, Etna soars into the sky often surrounded by mist and steam. Mount Etna is special in that it has this unique relationship with the people that live as the foot of it. They believe that Etna gives them fertile ground by spitting out lava and respect must be granted as it can also take away life. This volcano can be climbed year round and does not require any sort of permit or guide, but it is recommended to be informed about the activity status as it sometimes shuts down to hikers. It has recently come to the attention of many trekkers that the actual summit is unavailable to anyone who doesn’t have a guide, but that fact is up for debate. Plan on seeing solidified rivers of lava, views of the sea and the mainland, provided the top isn’t covered in clouds.

Mount Etna

11. Pacaya, Guatemala

You aren’t allowed quite to the top of this volcano but it should be on your list of things to climb for a number of reasons. First up, this trek can be done in half a day, which makes it perfect for someone on a time crunch. Secondly, not only are you climbing on an active volcano but you can actually see a second active volcano nearby and a third that is now a crater lake. The trek begins through lush green foliage and views are of surrounding fields and hills. The trail eventually turns into lava rock and dust, becoming really slippery. This is when it pays to have a walking stick. At the “top” the lava is literally running underneath you and it becomes clear as to why you need shoes with really good soles, they will literally melt. Marshmallows and hot dogs are routinely busted out and cooked over the lava.

Pacaya Volcano

10. Mount Vesuvius, Italy

This volcano is known worldwide as being responsible for covering the city of Pompeii with a blanket of ash in 79 A.D., which in turn preserved it until the re-discovery of it in the 1700’s. Since that time this volcano has blew its top more than 30 times throughout history and most recently in 1944. The climb to the summit is the easiest climb on this list and only takes about 30 minutes. It is best done in hiking shoes or running shoes and there is no need to carry any gear with you. What awaits visitors at the top is a stunning panorama of the city, islands and part of the Apennine Mountains. Admission to the volcano actually includes a guided tour of the crater at the top which many climbers are unaware of. You won’t find any spewing lava here but steam is often seen coming out of the crater. On a sunny day expect to see views out to the bay of Naples. If you are wanting to climb a famous volcano and don’t want to worry about tackling snow, steep ridges or carrying gear; this is the one for you.

Mount Vesuvius

9. Pinatubo, Philippines

This active volcano is actually located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines and last erupted in 1991, producing one of the most violent eruptions of the 20th century. As of now the volcano is quite quiet and it is the perfect time to summit and enjoy the blue green crater lake that didn’t exist 30 years ago. January is the best time to go as temperatures are at the coolest and the lake color at its finest. The one day trek is actually quite easy as a 4X4 will take you part of the way. The trek is done within a few hours at a moderate incline. If one desires it is actually possible to pitch a tent at the summit and spend the night, an outhouse is even provided at the top. Hikers will make their way up the path, passing sandy cliffs along the way as well as small tribes of indigenous people.

Pinatubo, Philliphines

8. Kilauea, Hawaii

Located on the Big Island, Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano and one of the most easily accessible. In the 20th century alone this volcano has erupted on 45 separate occasions with the most recent eruption beginning in 1983. To date this eruption continues and has spewed over 32 billion cubic yards of lava, forever changing the landscape. You can actually drive into this volcano, but hiking throughout is most recommended as it’s one of the only places on earth you can literally walk through an active volcano. Walking around Crater Rim Drive is one of the most popular activities as you can witness lava oozing out of it, witness steam vents and walk across the land that is only a few days old. There are numerous hiking trails throughout and although one can’t plan a visit around when and where to see the lava, helpful guides at the visitors center will point you in the right direction.

Mount Kilauea

7. Mount Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

Hiking up this volcano is only permitted with a guide and there is a strict limit on how many people are allowed to visit the crater each day, thus make sure to book your trip in advance. The trip to the top isn’t for the faint of heart and will take anywhere from two to four hours to reach the summit. The most popular time to reach the top is at nighttime and thus more tours leave around 4 pm. A gentle incline awaits hikers at first, taking you through lush vegetation. It quickly becomes steeper and one should expect to walk through volcanic sand that is strewn with black rocks. There are actually three craters at the top that billow out steam and smoke, making strange gurgling sounds. The light show at the top is what everyone waits for though as the craters explode with red fiery sparks, shooting high into the air.

Mount Stromboli

6. Mount Bromo, Indonesia

Indonesia is home to over 100 active volcanoes and daily earthquakes, making it a popular place for adrenaline junkies and hikers alike. Although Mount Bromo isn’t the tallest of the active volcanoes in Indonesia, it is the most visited and is quite easily accessible. The volcano has a constant stream of white smoke coming out of it, reminding visitors that it could explode at any time. Getting to the summit is easy without a guide and is best done in time to see the sunrise, meaning a 3 am wake up call is necessary. The well-defined path up should only take you an hour or so. An interesting fact about this volcano is that the Tengger people believe that in order to appease the Gods here they must offer food and money to them by throwing it into the crater of the volcano during the annual Kasada festival.

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

5. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

It is the second highest peak in Ecuador, lovely looking with its white snow and cone shape. This trek is not for inexperienced hikers though as it is more of a mountain climb than just a hike up the side. In the 18th and 19th century this volcano had a violent spell but now it is mostly just a plume of steam that comes out the top and melts its glacier surroundings. To get here most climbers take a 4X4 up to the border of the national park. They then climb with their guide up to a mountain hut and spend the night, summiting the next morning. It is currently illegal to climb to the summit without a guide and recent signs of eruption have limited the climbing that is allowed. If you have the chance though, summiting the world’s third highest active volcano is certainly something to put on the bucket list.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador

4. Mont Pelee, Martinique

In 1902 this dramatic volcano erupted and destroyed the entire town of St. Pierre killing about 30,000 people. Luckily since then you can climb this volcano without worries and without tourists at every bend in the trail. Being an integral part of France, visitors climbing here face no red tape or fees but will need some French to get by as English is not widely spoken. Because of the immense vegetation on the island there are three established routes that trekkers can take. The most popular of these is the Aileron Route as it is a well-constructed and wonderfully varied trail. Climbing before dawn is recommended as the clouds roll in day after day just after dawn and prohibit hikers from the magical views that await. Gorgeous lush green vegetation, flowering plants and jagged peaks surprise visitors along the way of this volcano that really looks nothing like the grey, lava strewn volcanoes you are used to.

Mount Pelee, France

3. Telica Volcano, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is full of volcanoes, both dormant and active and it can be hard to choose which one to climb but we highly suggest heading to Telica. The majority of the way up tends to be flat, through farm lands and over dirt roads. It is only the last hour or two where you finally start to hike to the top. The best season for climbing this mountain is up for debate as the dry season tends to be hot whereas the rainy season can make the lava harder to witness. Camping at the top of Telica is one of the most popular trips to do as seeing the lava at night is something special and the sunrise in the morning is truly spectacular. The lava is below the crater rim at a depth of about 120 meters and visitors should expect to have to lie down on their stomachs to look into the crater.

Telica Volcano, Nicaragua

2. Mount Aso, Japan

It is Japan’s largest active volcano and climbing it is certainly an adventure that should be on the top of your bucket list. There are three trails you can use to get up to the summit, with one of them not actually leading up to the volcano (hint: do not take the left trail). The hike itself can take anywhere from an hour or three depending on which trail and how many stops you take along the way. There are actually five separate volcanic peaks here and Mt. Nakadake is the most active spewing a constant stream of sulfuric gas from its peak. If you are feeling really lazy and still want to get to the top of the volcano, there is a choice of two cable cars that will get you there.

Mount Aso, Japan

1. Mount St Helens, United States

It is mandatory to have a permit to hike this active volcano, no matter what time of year and there are only a number of permits that are handed out each year if you want to make it to the top of the crater. Although it is not a technical climb it is strenuous and presents hazards such as ice, loose boulders and fast-changing weather. The scene at the top is what people climb for an it has been described as ‘surreal, unbelievable and awe-inspiring’. A huge crater with a dome that grows in size each year and has a horseshoe glacier around it, not to mention incredible views of Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier, as well as the blue green hills that surround them are all sights to take in from the top. This is truly one of the best volcano hikes in the world and must be at the top of your list to climb.

Mount St Helens, US