Nicknamed the Lighthouse of the Pacific, Vanuatu’s Mt. Yasur has been continuously erupting for what's believed to be 800 years. Legend has it that the light from lava at the summit was noticed by Captain Cook, who then decided to explore the islands while mapping the South Pacific.
The 1,184‐foot (360-meter) high crater, perched above the plains of Tanna Island, is one of Vanuatu’s most popular attractions because it offers one of the world’s best opportunities to observe an active volcano. Standing atop the summit rim or the visitor viewing area, you can feel the earth quake and rumble beneath your feet, watch smoke and ash swirl up into the sky, and follow the path of magma-covered rocks as they spew from below.
Mt. Yasur’s remote location means that it is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicle as part of a guided tour. There are three ways to view the volcano: fly overhead on a scenic flight, hike up to the crater rim (a steep 30-minute hike), or visit the lower viewing area (reached via steps from the parking lot).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Remember that Mt. Yasur is an active volcano and wandering off the designated trails can be extremely dangerous. Make sure that you listen to your guide and follow safety guidelines.
- You will need a sturdy tripod in order to take decent photos of the volcanic action.
- Bring appropriate clothing: warm layers because it can get cold at the summit, and closed-toe shoes because you will be walking over rough volcanic rocks.
- Bring a flashlight if you take a sunrise or night tour.
- Due to its remote location and tricky terrain, Mt. Yasur is not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Mt. Yasur is located in the southeast part of Tanna Island, 1.5 to 2 hours’ drive from White Grass Airport. Reaching Mt. Yasur is an adventure in itself: After driving for up to two hours on rugged, off‐road terrain, you’ll either hike for 30 minutes to the crater rim or climb a flight of stairs to reach the viewing area.
When to Get There
Mt. Yasur is most active during the wet season from February to April, but it will be closed to visitors if the volcano becomes too volatile. The most dazzling views are at sunrise and sunset, and most tours come at these times, either arriving or leaving in the dark.
Volcanic Activity at Mt. Yasur
At around 100,000 years old, Mt. Yasur is considered a young volcano and it lies on the fault line of the Australian and Pacific plates. It’s also a strombolian volcano, meaning that it erupts almost constantly, ejecting lava bombs or lapilli up into the air every five minutes or so.