The Caribbean is home to some of the most inviting beaches with warm, golden sands and wide, turquoise waters – from Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos to The Baths of Virgin Gorda. While these beaches are what appeal to most, there exists a diverse, versatile landscape in the Caribbean. There are thunderous waterfalls, skyscraping mountain peaks, expansive lakes, and volcanoes. Yes, actual volcanoes!
These volcanoes are not present on every island, but are concentrated on the islands of the Lesser Antilles, forming the volcanic arc of the eastern border of the Caribbean. Though there hasn’t been a deadly eruption for almost twenty years, there have been smaller eruptions and many of them are still considered very active.
Stare in amazement at these nine volcanoes on the islands of the Lesser Antilles.
Note: A few of them have “Soufriere” as part of the name, but don’t be confused – soufriere only means sulfurer
Though it is located underwater and just to the north, Kick ‘em Jenny is considered one of two volcanoes on the island of Grenada. A vent for magma beneath the ocean, it is considered an active and very dangerous volcano. The largest eruption occurred in 1939 and sent a plume of smoke into the sky and caused multiple tsunamis. The last documented eruption occurred in December 2001.
Morne Trois Pitons
The Nature Island, or Dominica, as it is properly named is home to Morne Trois Pitons, or mountain of three peaks. The surrounding park consists of the Valley of Desolation which is home to hot springs, mud pots, small geysers, and the infamous Boiling Lake. Morne Trois Pitons is one of many volcanoes on the island of Dominica, including Morne Diablotins and Morne Watt.
La Grande Soufriere
The Big Sulphur Outlet, to which the name translates in English, was created over a wide base of volcanic rocks on Basse-Terre Island in Guadeloupe. Basse-Terre, is the highest island of Guadeloupe, because of the active volcano. The area around the volcano is part of the Guadeloupe Natural Park, which includes much of the island’s tropical forest, in addition to mountains – Échelle and Grand-Sans-Toucher, and the twin peaks of the Mamelles. The last known eruption occurred in 1976, but resulted in no casualties.
Montagne (Mount) Pelée
Located at the northern end of the French Island of Martinique in the Le Parc Naturel Régional de la Martinique (Martinique Natural Regional Park), this active volcano is most famous for its obliteration of the town of Saint-Pierre – which consisted of approximately 30,000 people – in May 1902. Its name translates in English to mean the Bald Mountain, because a 1635 eruption created a dome at the summit of the volcano and ruined much of the vegetation. There are two routes to reach the peak, but the climb is very difficult because of the fluctuations in the weather – it’s hot and humid at the base, and chilly, foggy, and windy towards the top.
The southern coast of the island of Montserrat is unlike parts of any other island of the Caribbean — it is sullen and filled with ash from the volcano – Soufrière Hills. In July 1995, the volcano thundered from its slumber resulting in the evacuation of several residents. Two years later, Soufrière Hills erupted again resulting in nineteen deaths and covering Montserrat’s capital city – Plymouth – in layers of debris. Since that time, the government deemed more than half to the island’s southern coast, uninhabitable. Since 2010, the volcano has been fairly quiet but its activity is closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Built upon alternate layers of lava and ash, Mount Liamuiga forms the western part of St. Kitts, the apex of the island, as well as the highest point of the entire British Leeward Islands. Though once referred to as Mount Misery, it was renamed for the original Kalinago (Island Carib) name of the island – Liamuiga – which means fertile land. There is roughly a two and a half hour hike to the peak, which vaunts a crater lake and impressive views of the island and its neighboring islands.
Nevis Peak is located at the center of the island of Nevis, which is part of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis. Though this volcano has low activity, it houses, along its slopes, hot springs and openings that allow the passage of steam and gases. The peak is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Dry, humid forest exists towards its base, at the pinnacle there is a fog forest, and in between there is a rainforest layer.
The Pitons of St. Lucia are two volcanic plugs, which result when magma hardens within the vent of an active volcano. The Pitons consist of a small peak – Petit Piton – and a large peak – Gros Piton – and are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge. The Pitons are host to a wide range of biodiversity and are listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a site of cultural and natural importance to the common heritage of humanity.
St. Vincent is home to the active volcano – La Soufrière. This volcanic peak is the summit of the island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Located in the northern part of the island, it is home to a crater lake and incredible views. The last violent eruption occurred in 1979, but resulted in no fatalities. However, in May 1902, La Soufrière erupted and destroyed much of the Carib population that existed there at that time.