Poas Volcano National Park
Thanks to amazing craters, spectacular views and easy access, Poas Volcano is the most popular national park in Costa Rica, with over 250,000 visitors yearly.
Where is It?
55 km from San Jose, or about an hour from Alajuela
How Big is It?
How High Is It?
8,900 ft. (2708m)
When was it Created?
January 25, 1971
Did you Know?
It is one of the most accessible volcanos in the world! Only about an hour outside of San Jose, this park will please everyone. With a paved road to the park and a wheelchair accessible, paved trail to the crater, you will have no trouble
looking down to the second widest crater in the world (9/10 of a mile wide).
Poas is one of the five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. You might just be around when its main, active crater shoots water up like a geyser in one if its frequent phreatic eruptions. The last big, recorded eruption was in 1996. Read more about the Volcano...
Interesting flora can be found here due to the high altitude and acid rains generated by the volcano. One in particular is called the poor man's umbrella. Their huge leaves are over 3 feet in diameter and really are big enough to be used as an umbrella.
The main crater is green due to its acid content. It is one of the largest volcanic lagoons in the world with a depth of almost 1000 feet and with a ph of near zero-- it is probably the world's second most acidic natural lake.
Only one of the 3 craters at Poas is active, one of the others has transformed into a cold-water lake, Laguna Botas, which flows down the mountain feeding
the Sarapiqui River. This crater has not erupted in 7500 years.
There are exciting day tours combined with coffee plantations, La Paz Waterfall & Gardens and rafting trips that you can join.
Contact us for a great tour.
How's the Weather?
The weather changes extremely rapidly. One minute the crater might be sunny and clear, and the next minute windy and misty with the crater completely clouded in. Bring sunscreen and a wind breaker or rain jacket.
Average annual temperature:
Ranges from 45 °F – 70 °F
Average annual rainfall: 140 inches
There is a visitor center near the parking lot with a cafe, gift shop, museum, restrooms, and auditorium.
Hours: Open daily from 8 am to 3:30 pm
- Hiking and a wheelchair accessible path up to the main crater
- Bird watching
- Camping is not permitted
There are three trails open to the public.
- Crater Trail (750 mtr.) leads you to the lookout point of the main crater.
- Botos Lake Trail (1 Km) winds thru the cloud forest to Laguna Botos -
a cold-water lake occupying an extinct volcano crater. It also brings
you to a great picnic spot.
- Want to try the less traveled path? The Escalonia Trail (1 Km) begins at the picnic grounds.
Wildlife & Plants:
The high elevation and unique habitat surrounding the volcano provide homes for many species of birds and unique plants. Hummingbirds, mot mots, quetzals and other birds thrive in Poas' avian habitats, while tree ferns, epiphytes and mosses are prevelant.
If You're Lucky, You'll See:
- Baird's tapirs
A very notable species of pioneer plant is the poorman's umbrella. It has the largest leaves of any Costa Rican plant and is found in abundance here.
How do I Get There?
Contact us to organize a guided tour of the Volcano or for bird watching specialty tours.
You can take a taxi from San Jose or Alajuela. It will cost about $55 dollars from San Jose.
The public bus (TUASA) leaves daily from San Jose (Avenida 2, Calles 12/14) at 8:30 am. It stops in Alajuela at the main bus terminal on the way. The journey lasts about 2 hours each way (from San Jose). You can return via bus, but there is only one departing Poas for San Jose at 2:30 pm.
From Ajajuela, there are numerous brown signs with a picture of a volcano navigating you all the way through Alajuela and to the Volcano.
- Best time to visit is early morning before the clouds roll in. However, even if it's cloudy, you
might get lucky and the clouds will dissipate enough for you to get a glimpse of the crater.
- Try to visit during the dry season (December through April). Crater visibility is most consistent.
- It's chilly up there, bring a light jacket / sweater even if it looks like a sunny day. The weather can literally change in minutes.
- Weekdays are less crowded.
Places to Stay:
Around the park in the town of Poasito
are sweet rustic cabins with heaters and fireplaces, and in Vara
Blanca, are more luxurious accommodations. Contact us and we'll help you find what you're looking for.
Contact us to organize a combo tour of Poas Volcano and La Paz or look at our La Paz Packages
Nearby Parks & Attractions:
- Juan Castro Blanco National Park
- Braulio Carrillo National Park
- La Paz Waterfalls - part of the La Paz nature park which is also a
wildlife refuge with an enormous butterfly garden and serpentarium.