Top 5 Volcanoes
When visiting Costa Rica one can feel overwhelmed by so many options of things to do. It is true to be a small country but still manages to offer so many incredible adventures, tours, and more.
This time I will be sharing with you some of the best volcanoes I visited during my time in Costa Rica.
For all of them, I recommend you have comfortable shoes, long pants preferably due to snakes and other toxic insects, always bring water and healthy snacks. Many of them are also active volcanoes, which is why the entrance might be closed due to recent volcanic activity.
The weather in Costa Rica is always warm. You only have to know that from December to May is the dry season, and from June to November is the rainy season. So make sure you either have a swimsuit in handy or a raincoat.
1 - RINCÓN DE LA VIEJA
This is an amazing place with so many options for you to choose and do. You can stay at a lodge and just stay there, enjoying its activities, hiking trails, hanging-bridges, water slides, and more. Or you can stay in town and go on a self-guided tour through Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which has a very beautiful waterfall and landscapes. Another option is to stay on the coast and have a Day-Tour to the Volcano.
When staying at a lodge, you will find everything you need on-site. From hikes, mud baths, natural hot springs, jungle trails, water slides, coffee making tours, amongst many others. These vary according to each hotel. But the main idea is for you to enjoy it at its maximum capacity while staying in one place. This is a great plan if you are traveling with kids or older people.
If you are looking for a bit more adventure then you might want to consider either staying in town or at the coast and having a day tour to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Remember to bring a swimsuit, hiking proper shoes, and water. You have different trails to go through. When I went the one to the crater was closed due to recent activity.
The waterfall was really something. The water has a light pastel blue-green color. It is somewhat cold and refreshing. It is very relaxing and a great spot to rest after the hike.
2 - ARENAL VOLCANO
This is the most visited volcano in Costa Rica. A few years ago you could still see and hear the eruptions from the volcano. Nowadays the volcano has not shown any recent activity. In the distance it is very hard to see because of the clouds; most of the time is very cloudy which makes it impossible to see the volcano. It is considered an active volcano as well.
Due to being such a popular place, there are many accommodation options, tours, and activities. Some of the most common options are National Park Arenal Volcano, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Lake, Venado Caves, La Fortuna Waterfall, Hot Springs, and many more.
If you have the chance, I recommend you stay here at least 3 days to have a full grasp of the whole place. Like most places in Costa Rica, you have the option of going on all-inclusive tours or staying at lodges where you have access to many activities or you can go on a budget and do most things at a very low cost. Either way, I assure you will be amazed by its nature, flora, and fauna. It’s incredible how much nature has to offer us.
Remember to keep your distance from wild animals and do not interact with them. After all, we are the intruder in their space. Don’t feed, nor tough the animals and remember to bring long pants and hiking shoes. Here in the jungle spiders, snakes and more toxic insects are a given.
So, I feel obligated to give you a heads up. Stay safe and dress accordingly. If you have binoculars: bring them. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to do some bird watching. You might even be able to spot a toucan or a true parrot, amongst many other species.
3 - POAS VOLCANO
Another active and very popular volcano is the Poas Volcano. You can either drive or hire a tour to go there. Only an hour’s drive away from San Jose, you will be able to see this volcano’s crater, lake, and have a short walk through the National Park’s Trail.
On your way there you will also see a lot of local shops selling strawberries. I recommend you try them, they are exquisite!
There is a maximum stay at the crater due to its high levels of sulfur. Due to the weather and constant clouds in Costa Rica, it is suggested to go early to have the best shot in seeing the crater. Sometimes it gets so cloudy that you are unable to see it.
Most tours take you to the Poas Volcano, a Coffee Plantation, and/or La Paz Waterfall. This is a volcano you can see from some points in Heredia and Alajuela. It’s not as tall and pointy as Arenal Volcano, but easy to identify once you know.
While living there I’ve had the chance to see it go under action a few times. I could see it from my house and when this happened I would see the huge cloud of smoke. Sometimes it was so strong you could even smell it.
4 - IRAZU VOLCANO
Our fourth volcano of the list is the Irazu Volcano. This volcano has the particularity of having colder weather with strong winds. It is recommended to bring a coat and long pants.
You can also bring your camera and binoculars, although due to its harsh environment few species you will be able to observe. But if you are lucky and it has recently rained a fair amount, you should be able to see the lake with water. The lake is usually dry and it’s unusual to see it with water anymore. This is one of many factors caused by global warming and its climate crisis.
The trail shows you around the crater and lake. Going up the hill, you will get to a big lookout where you will be able to appreciate the view of other volcanoes such as the Turrialba Volcano and others. If the Turrialba is under activity, you will be able to see a cloud of ashes, sometimes it’s so strong you can even smell it from San Jose.
You might want to start before noon. The park closes at 3:30 p.m. and even though it is very close to San Jose traffic can be tricky.
5 - BARVA VOLCANO
Last but not least, one of my favorite places in Costa Rica: Barva Volcano. This National Park has many entrances, activities, and adventures to offer. From Night Tours through the Jungle, to Aerial Trams, and Self-Guided Hiking Trails.
My favorite and most recommended is going to National Park Braulio Carillo to go see the Barva Volcano’s crater. You can go to my full article about this tourist attraction for more specific information.
This place also requires an early start, especially to appreciate its quiet and silent forest. It has so many species to appreciate and observe you will not want to forget your camera gear as well as your binoculars. Many birds can be seen here and other animals. Funguses are also very popular in this National Park due to its perfectly humid and very moist environment.
For more information, you can go check my previous article with recommendations and more for a great Day Tour! Barva Volcano Day Tour.
Each volcano has its own particularity, fauna, and flora. Respect each one of them as they are. Remember to bring water, snacks, and comfortable and appropriate clothes.
I hope you found this information useful and I look forward to hearing about your experience!
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A True Nomad - Sol Acevedo