Volcanoes in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known as the Land of Fire due to it being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is an amazing place to visit volcanoes.
One of the highlights had to be waking up on our first morning in Arenal to see the volcano dominating our view from our hotel room. Wow.
There are over 200 volcanoes in Costa Rica. Five are active (Poas, Arenal, Irazu, Turrialba and Rincon de la Vieja) but ‘active’ is a relative term when it comes to volcanoes as they may not have erupted for hundreds of years and still be classed as active. The rest are either dormant or extinct.
- Arenal Volcano: Arenal is the number one volcano on the wish list of most visitors. With its typical volcanic cone shape, it stands proudly over the surrounding countryside which is lush with rainforest and coffee plantations. Arenal is also an adventure playground with zip lining, cable car gondolas, and walks on hanging bridges in the foothills, mountain biking and river drifting. On the nearby lake, you can also enjoy kayaking. It last erupted in 2010.
- Irazu Volcano: Irazu is also in the central valley not too far from San Jose. It’s Costa Rica’s highest volcano and it has two craters, one with a milky-green lake. The vegetation surrounding the volcano is also fairly young due to the last eruption being as recent as the 1960s but the views of the crater at the summit are incredible.
- Poas Volcano: In the central valley, Poas is currently one of the world’s most active volcanoes so it’s not always possible to visit it despite its proximity to San Jose. However, if it’s safe, it’s an amazing sight. It has an enormous crater with a strikingly blue/green acid lake in the middle and impressive geysers which blast steam high into the air. It last erupted in 2017 (this is written in 2021). As long as the rangers deem it safe when you’re there, you get up to 20 minutes to enjoy the lookout point.
Away from the main caldera, you can take walks in the cloud forest and rainforest (again depending on safety). Botos Crater Lake, reached by a 1.4km trail near the viewing platform, is a popular destination with beautiful jade-coloured water and abundant birdlife. A walk along the Escalonia cloud forest trail is usually rewarded with sightings of birds and squirrels.
- Rincon de la Vieja Volcano: The largest and most active volcano in northwest Costa Rica, accessible from Liberia and the Guanacaste region. There are quite a few ranches in this region which offer adventure activities in this region (Rincon de la Vieja National Park is also good for wildlife) but you are not allowed to hike to the summit.
- Tenorio Volcano National Park: Tenorio is one of the dormant volcanoes but there are still hot springs in the national park around the volcano which is north of Arenal. One of the highlights of this beautiful park is the waterfall of Rio Celeste which you can hike to on one of the trails. The waterfall and the river are very photogenic as the waters are almost turquoise and the emerald forest surrounding it makes for stunning landscape shots. The park is also a great bird-watching spot and there are various mammals here too such as monkeys, tapirs, sloths and even some (rarely seen) cats.
- Turrialba Volcano: Turrialba is the most easterly volcano in Costa Rica. It has 3 summit craters and its flanks are covered in agricultural land and forest. It’s currently considered too imminently active to allow many or any visitors.