Vanuatu is an incredible destination, but it wasn’t really on my “must see” list until I started preparing to move to the South Pacific last year. While researching places to visit in the area near where I would be living, I came across Vanuatu – a destination I’d completely forgotten about. I did some quick googling and realized that Vanuatu actually has several active volcanoes. And you can visit them. Or, at least a few of them. Some of them are inaccessible to the public due to safety concerns.

But after reading about Tanna Island and Mt. Yasur I knew then that Vanuatu would be one of the first destinations I’d try to visit after arriving in Fiji.

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View of the erupting volcano from the distance

So when the time came to leave Fiji for visa reasons, I booked a short flight to Port Vila and took off to go climb one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes: Mt. Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

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Near the top of the caldera – I’m almost there!

Based on the research I had done, I decided to book a package excursion to Tanna Island instead of booking it all myself, something I rarely do. But considering the fact that just a commercial flight from Port Vila to Tanna cost more than the excursion which included a charter flight, an overnight at a resort, transfers to and from the volcano, entrance to the volcano, and breakfast and dinner at the resort, I quickly signed up for the tour. A few minor hidden fees aside, everything went smoothly and I highly recommend Unity Airlines for getting to Mt. Yasur.

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There are really no words to describe the feeling of standing on the edge of an active volcano caldera while the volcano erupts every minute or so while the sun sets and and you realize that you are doing what few people will ever get the chance to do.

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Some of our group standing on the edge of the caldera

It’s not a cheap excursion, but I highly, highly recommend it. It is worth every penny. I met people in Vanuatu who couldn’t bring themselves to spend the money to go to the volcano, but if you go all the way to Vanuatu, why not spend a bit more to do something that you will rarely get the chance to do?

A few tips:

  • The ride to and from the volcano will probably be the bumpiest ride you have ever been on. The best way I can describe it is that at the end of it you will probably wonder if all your internal organs are still in the same place they were when you started. I don’t recommend it if you have any sort of health problems (back, neck, etc.)
  • It can be very windy at the top of the volcano and the flying ash can really sting your bare skin. I recommend you wear long pants and long sleeves. I had read before I went that it could get very cold up there as well, but I was there in the summertime and didn’t notice it being too cold. I was still thankful for my jacket though due to the flying ash.
  • There are no ATM’s on Tanna Island, so make sure you bring cash before you go. The ATMs at the airport in Port Vila charge hefty fees, so if you have a way to get Vanuatu Vatu before you go, you might want to consider doing that.
  • Wear good shoes! It’s a bit difficult walking up the ash, and your shoes will be completely full of ash by the time you get back down (as will your ears, hair, etc.), but I definitely recommend wearing at least tennis shoes, if not something better.
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This trip was definitely one of the highlights of my year and I won’t soon forget the feeling of being at the very edge (literally) of an active volcano and watching it erupt against the night sky.  You should go!

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