When most people think of Costa Rica, the first things to come to mind are beautiful beaches, lush jungle, exotic wildlife and the iconic ‘pura vida’ lifestyle. While Costa Rica does do an immensely good job at all of these things, the country also boasts fourteen volcanoes, each impressive for its own unique characteristics. While you likely won’t want to spend your Costa Rican vacation hopping around each and every one, here are three volcanoes to consider incorporating into your itinerary:
It might not spew red lava any longer, but Arenal Volcano is just as mighty and majestic today as it was in the past. Looming behind the otherwise bland city center of a La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano is considered by many to be the highlight of their trip to Costa Rica. This is partially because there are a million and one adventures to be had around Arenal, including everything from whitewater rafting to canyoning to canopy walking to coffee tours.
That said, don’t forget that a journey to the Arenal Volcano National Park itself is an enthralling day trip. It is recommended to take a guide on the intermediate hike; though the path is fairly well marked, a guide will be able to shed light on the interesting history of the ever-changing volcanic landscape—not to mention provide any real hope of finding wildlife along the way. It is best to visit the volcano during the dry season, as the looming clouds during the rainy season can make it difficult to see the volcano in its entirety.
Poas Volcano is most famous for its stunning crater and large lagoon. At just an hour and a half from San Jose, this is also an easy day trip from Costa Rica’s capital city. The hike to the volcano is broken up into two parts—the initial ten-minute stroll to the first crater is easy enough, while the second hike along Botos Trail is significantly more challenging. However, the views of the crater and lake make the effort well worth the reward. There is also a cloud forest trail where it is sometimes possible to see animals and birds endemic to the area.
At the first crater you’ll find a modern visitor’s center, including a small museum and café.
Irazu is unique in that it is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica, though what made it famous was an eruption in 1963 on the day that former President John F Kennedy visited the country.
Hike up Irazu’s slopes and allow the clouds to envelop you. In addition to its awe-worthy height, a visit here will also reveal a unique lunar-like landscape, along with coyotes, squirrels, armadillos, rabbits, foxes, owls, robins, woodpeckers. On a side note, Irazu’s massive black crater was once filled with aquamarine water, but as a result of weather conditions it is now dried up.
Irazu is also an easy day trip from San Jose, just be sure to time your visit during dry season to take advantage of the sweeping valley views.
Have you ever considered visiting Costa Rica’s volcanoes?