Poas Volcano Costa Rica is an active volcano with one of the largest craters in the world, a symbol of natural forces that contribute to the formation of Costa Rica and the whole continents.
Poás Volcano is located in the Central Mountain Range, in Alajuela Province, close to the capital city of San José, near the Pacific Coast.
The protected area around the park has a total surface of 5.550 hectares and is home to a wide range of habitats like cloud forest and tropical Costa Rica rainforest.
Mario Boza is the main contributor to the foundation of this park and he had the idea after seeing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the end of the 1960s.
Poas Volcano National Park Costa Rica was founded in January 1971 and offers one of the interesting experiences as you might walk to the edge of the main crater if the volcanic activity is low.
Inside the park, there are 3 craters: an active one known as the main crater, an extinct one known as Von Frantzuis and the crater Lake Botos.
The main crater from the park is 290 metres tall and is an active crater with small geysers around and lava eruptions.
Botos Crater is famous for its crater lake with a diameter of 370 metres and crystal clear waters; the last known date when this volcano erupted was about 7.500 years ago.
A strong smell of sulphur is in the air and the effects of the acid rain can be seen all over the place, on plants, trees and leaves.
The park is accessible to everyone interested in nature and its paved trails are accessible also for people with disabilities.
Getting to Poas Volcano Costa Rica
The national park is conveniently located 30 miles northwest of San Jose and you can easily reach it by car, public bus, private tours or taxi.
The distance between San Jose Costa Rica to Poas Volcano National Park is about 1 and a half or two hours, depending on traffic conditions.
If you plan to rent a car to reach the park you have to know that you don’t need a 4×4 as the entire road is paved and in about 2 hours you get to Poasito, the town from where you have access to the park.
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Private tours can be hired for day trips from San Jose or directly from your hotel and the price varies depending on the distance, length of the tour and what you have included in the price.
Besides the private tours and driving yourself a rented car there is also the public bus which schedule is influenced by COVID 19 crisis so you’d better check the timetable before planning your trip.
Stay safe while you travel
- medical safety abroad
- medical assistance including COVID-19
- emergency medical evacuation
- trip interruption -up to $5.000
- travel delay - up to $100/day
Tickets for Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano National Park Costa Rica is open on a daily basis (including weekends and holidays) from 7 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon, with the last entrance group at 2.20 p.m.
Unlike other national parks from Costa Rica, Poás Volcano tickets cannot be bought from the park ranger station located at the entrance of the park.
You need to reserve your tickets in advance, as there is a limited number of daily guests allowed to enter the park.
The price of a ticket for an adult is 15 USD, while children between 2 to 12 pay just 5 USD and residents have a special fee.
In order to purchase tickets for the park, you need to create an account and register yourself on the SINAC website and then purchase your tickets.
Once you buy them, print them as you need to show them at the entrance of the park to the person responsible with access to the protected area from the visitors center.
It might be quite hard to get your money back once you pay the entrance fee so before buying your tickets be sure that you will be able to get to the park.
Things to know before you go to Poas volcano Costa Rica
- Pregnant women or people with heart disease are strongly advised to avoid this park because of the high altitude and strong smell of sulphur
- All visitors have to wear the helmet received at the entrance of Poás Volcano national park
- All park visitors have to watch a safety presentation before entering the park. Until 2019, the park had been closed due to increased volcanic activity so safety is important.
- Bring with you a raincoat and warm clothes as the area is considered a cloud forest
- Bathroom facilities are available only at the entrance of the park, at the visitors centre.
Best time to visit Poas Volcano
Volcano Poas is almost all the time covered in clouds, except for a few rare moments when the clouds are gone and it appears on the horizon.
These rare moments are most likely to happen during the dry season, and that is from December to April and not anytime in the day, but quite early in the morning.
However, volcano Poas has its own microclimate, so clouds and rain are quite often in the area and it is quite hard to have a sunny day even during the dry season.
As the park is situated at around 2650 metres above sea level, it might get quite cold sometimes so pack with you warm clothes.
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Things to see in Poas Volcano National Park
1. Main Crater is about 1300 metres wide and 300 metres deep and is surrounded by ashes, bombs and blocks as well as old lava.
Inside the crater, there is an acid lagoon with hot water ( 20 to 50 degrees Celsius or 68 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Van Frantzius Cone which is on the northern side of the active volcano and is almost completely destroyed, having a horseshoe shape with small patches of vegetation
3. Laguna Botos is the oldest crater that today is a beautiful lagoon with 400 metres diameter and 4 metres deep.
4. A few species of animals, out of which I would name coyotes, rabbits, skunks and the very common Poas Squirrel
5. There are also a few birds inside the park-like jungle soterrey, hummingbirds, Tangara de monte and quetzal
In the vicinity of the park, there is the beautiful La Paz waterfall as well as many coffee plantations that offer interesting tours of the coffee farms.
There are a few interesting options for your overnight stay close to the entrance of the park out of which I would mention:
- Peace Lodge Costa Rica with an incredible outdoor and indoor pool, a fancy restaurant and spacious rooms, located just one hour from San Jose in the vicinity of the national park
- Poas Volcano Lodge Costa Rica located right near the protected cloud forest offers amazing views of the volcano and features large rooms with modern architecture and rustic elements combined in a pleasant way.
If this is the first time in your life when you see an active volcano, then you definitely have to book a tour across this protected area.
The park gets quite crowded during the dry season so you’d better get at the entrance early in the morning when there are no clouds and the crowds are not there yet.
It takes you about 2 hours to hike the paths from the park and the reward is a unique ecological system of forests, lava fields and volcanic rocks.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.