A tale of two volcanic tourist destinations

A tale of two volcanic tourist destinations
An aerial view of the Sundhnúkur eruptions in Iceland.

The above aerial photo of the volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (taken from a Kottke post) is of interest to me because, in the blue circle, is the Blue Lagoon spa, which Fi and I went to on our honeymoon in 2015.

Me in the Icelandic hot springs.

The spa is obviously closed at the moment, because of the volcano, but I'm sure it'll eventually re-open when it's safe to do so. Even so, the location of that photo of my wet bald head is currently within walking distance of red hot lava.

In 2009, while visiting family who had emigrated to New Zealand, I went on a trip to Whakaari, aka the White Island volcano. New Zealand has a few active volcanos and this one was a island you could visit relatively easily, like going to a mountain summit by boat. We were given gas masks, hard hats and were told to wear proper shoes but any real danger was underplayed. I had great fun and took load of photos.

The tour group on White Island, 2009

If you know about White Island it's probably due to the 2019 disaster when the volcano got a bit more active than normal and 22 people died. I remember this news quite vividly because I'd been on that island. The guide had casually said that while we'd be following a plan, the landscape tends to change weekly, because you know, volcano.

Tourist trips to White Island has been suspended since 2019 and don't look likely to resume any time soon.

So I've been to two volcano-related tourist attractions that have been shut down by volcanic activity. One was done pre-emptively, one in the terrible gaze of hindsight. The thing is, I rationally know I shouldn't have been taken to the island – the option should not have been available to me – but I'm really glad I went.