During the day, Mount Yasur appears as a steaming mountain. At night, red flares of molten magma erupting from the crater become visible against the dark sky. Visit Tanna Island to view the volcano from a distance or take a guided tour to see activity from a spot near the rim of the volcano’s 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) crater.
For centuries, Mount Yasur has been not just a mountain, but an active volcano. The explorer Captain Cook reported ash eruptions in 1774. Some call the mountain the “lighthouse of the Pacific,” recognizing its constant visibility over the ocean from frequent, moderate eruptions known as Strombolian activity. Learn about this type of volcanic flares as opposed to one-time, violent eruptions.
The crater’s height is reported as 361 meters (1,184 feet) above sea level, although the elevation of the peak and surrounding land can change from lava buildup or tectonic movement. The volcano is most active from February through April, which is also the rainy season, so prepare for wet weather. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring a jacket for possible chilly temperatures approaching the rim.
Observe the local culture that has been impacted by the constant presence of the active volcano. Tanna’s 30,000 residents include members of the John Frum cult, believers that the volcano is a sacred area for an American messiah, John Frum, who will bring the islanders great wealth.
Because Mount Yasur is an active volcano, it can be very dangerous due to projectiles, avalanches and toxic gases. Pay attention to local information on the specific day’s hazard level. When the potential for flying rocks is greatest, visits to the rim are banned. Arrange a reputable guide with experience getting the best access to good viewing spots and a high regard for safety concerns.
Mount Yasur is on the southeastern side of Tanna Island, one of the southernmost islands in the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Fly to Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila and catch a small plane to Tanna, the island’s primary city. The access trail to Mount Yasur’s rim is about a 20-minute drive from Tanna.