Costa Rican volcanoes are one of the main touristic and scientific attractions. The country belongs to a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where most volcanoes and earthquakes are formed. There are more than 200 known volcanic formations, most of them are located in the northern part of the country, and 5 of them are currently active.
1. Arenal Volcano
Probably the most famous volcano due to its constant activity and touristic area. La Fortuna de San Carlos is a populated town right at the base of the volcano with amenities like 5-star resorts, villas and lodges, tour offices and typical food restaurants. At nights, if you have a clear view of the peak you will see smoke coming out of it or even some small orange splashes of lava. During daylight, you will also be able to admire the smoke and the grey tip of the mountain with less vegetation than the rest of it. You will find all kinds of outdoor activities while enjoying the astonishing views of the volcano. Thermal waters are a must! These waters heated by the veins of the volcano are known to be a natural treatment with tons of minerals and multiple benefits like cleaning your blood through sweat, reactivating metabolisms, relaxing and rejuvenating the skin between others. You will also find the Tabacon River and Lake Arenal allowing you to enjoy water sports like kayaking and wake-boarding. There are also activities like horseback riding to through the volcano, zip-lining through the rain forest, hiking to cascades and many more. Come and discover this famous town of La Fortuna and enjoy the amazing views of the Arenal volcano!
2. Poas Volcano
Located in Alajuela, this volcano is only an hour and a half away from the center of San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. It is an active volcano with 8,900 m high and 2 craters, the biggest one measuring 1.5 km with a large green lagoon constantly expelling gases. The national park where it is found reopened in 2018 after the last explosion which led to modifying the park’s hours from 7 am to 1 pm and a maximum of 1000 visitors per day. The ideal time to visit the craters is during the morning since you’ll have more probability of a clear view. In adjacent towns, you will find restaurants with some of the best typical food and street sales with fresh fruits, especially some juicy strawberries! Close to the park, you will also find La Paz Waterfalls, a privately owned ecological park with a chain of waterfalls and an animal sanctuary with more than 100 species. This is a great hiking experience where you will learn both from the volcano and the animals that inhabit the area.
3. Irazu Volcano
Irazu is the highest existing active volcano in Costa Rica measuring 11,260 feet tall with a 500 km2 base. It has the main crater which measures 300 meters long called Diego de la Haya. It contains green waters and fumaroles constantly releasing toxic steam. The name Irazu is an indigenous word which means “thunder and earthquake mountain”. Located in Cartago, you will find the Volcan Irazu National Park open to the public but closing at 3:30 pm. The best time to visit is in the early morning during the months from December to April, the dry season. There is an abundance of vegetation due to the fertile soils that has been nourishing naturally after the last eruption. You will find a chilly climate with a breeze and some rainfall. If you are visiting this volcano be sure to make a pitstop in the gardens of Prusia for a picnic.
4. Turrialba Volcano
This is the most active volcano in the country and the second largest one! It is located in Cartago but not the most popular volcano to visit since there’s not much development nearby. You will find some small hotels and rental villas in the base of the volcano as well as tour offices to visit the national park although they are constantly regulating the entrance since it’s still very active. You will be amused by the abundance of flora and fauna in the area. Animals like giant toads, toucans, howling monkeys can be found in the park as well as green lush valleys with milk farms where they produce the famous Turrialba cheese.
5. Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
Located in Guanacaste this volcano is located in a 34,000 acres national park which includes two volcanos and a variety of flora and fauna. There are more than 32 rivers and streams and thus a numerous amount of activities to enjoy the views of the volcano. There are thermal waters, fresh lagoons, zip lines and horseback riding tours through the park. The abundance of animals here is impressive! You’ll some of the biggest felines like pumas and jaguars that inhabit the area. There is a 6-mile excursion to the peak of the volcano where you will find the Von Seebach crater constantly releasing vapor. During the trench to the tip, you will encounter several ecosystems. From the highest point, you are able to admire astonishing views of the Nicoya Peninsula and the Nicaragua Lake, if you are lucky and you get a clear view you can almost admire most of Costa Rica.
Much of Costa Rica’s economy rely on volcanoes which have contributed with the formation of soils rich in minerals. In Irazú and Turrialba you will find fresh vegetables with a big amount of minerals, in Poas volcano you have the juiciest and most delicious strawberries.
Volcanoes also help by producing geothermal energy and provide construction materials for our roads and homes with the rocks expelled from the explosions. One final key detail to remember is that, as a byproduct of these touristic sectors generated around volcanoes, local producers get to grow and expand their businesses.