It's not every day you come back from a vacation with stories about the volcanoes you explored, but that's exactly what you'll be doing when you visit Costa Rica's volcanoes. Within Costa Rica, there are hundreds of volcanic formations that run along the Volcanic Corridor from Guanacaste in the north to the border of Panama in the south. Whether you choose one of Costa Rica's volcano lodges, or simply enjoy the view from your accommodations, you're sure to get a bit of a thrill from knowing you're near 'the action.'
In truth, many of the Costa Rica's volcanoes are dormant and in remote locations, which makes them great for a day trip. The volcanoes listed below, however, are full-fledged attractions with a range of accommodation options nearby. You're going to have a great time exploring the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Poás Volcano, and more! Observe the wildlife that thrives in the midst of these looming giants, and indulge in one of the hot springs they geothermally heat — a Costa Rica volcanic vacation has a lot to offer.
#1: The Picture Perfect Arenal Volcano is Just an Appetizer
What's it really like to be near a volcano? The answer to this question is waiting for you within the region of La Fortuna, Costa Rica — more commonly known as Arenal. Standing at approximately 1,633 metres (5,358 ft) high, Arenal Volcano will entrance you with the amazing views and activities it offers.
Choose accommodations near the volcano to be ready for early morning birdwatching and hiking excursions through Arenal Volcano National Park; stay a little further away and you'll enjoy Arenal Volcano looming over the skyline every morning and evening. When you're not admiring the sights, you'll be busy exploring the great outdoors. Treat yourself to horseback riding, zip line tours, waterfall rappelling, and more.
When you're ready to slow it down, you can kayak on Lake Arenal or go for a bike ride near the lake. Pick up some fresh food in town and you can have yourself an afternoon picnic — listen to the roar of the La Fortuna Waterfall or take the plunge into its fresh cool water. Who would have thought one volcano could offer so many options?
#2: Plug Into Adventure — Not Outlets! Explore The Great Outdoors in The Tenorio Volcano Area
There is one word which best describes a volcano, and that is: majestic. Costa Rica's Tenorio Volcano may be dormant, but it remains impressive nonetheless. At 6,287 feet (1,916 m) tall, how could it not be?
Situated within the Alajuela Province, you're in for quite a vacation when you stay in the Tenorio Volcano region. This looming giant is just the beginning — you'll enjoy access to luscious forests, roaring waterfalls that are worth the hike, rafting excursions on raging rivers, and volcanic expeditions.
It's nothing but you and the outdoors when you stay at an internet and cellphone free family-owned ranch (a great option if you have kiddos who don't know how to unplug). Simplify your life when you choose an eco-friendly cabin that offers humble amenities. Looking to indulge a little? There are upscale options if you're celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary.
Enjoy horseback rides, extraordinary views, and more importantly, fresh air and nature when you discover how beautiful a volcanic region can be in Tenorio, Costa Rica. For a special treat, visit the nearby Miravalles Volcano!
#3: Rincon de La Vieja Volcano Trek and then Hot Springs?
Amidst 34,800 acres (14,083 ha) of national park is where you'll find Costa Rica's Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. This cinder volcano is 6,217 feet (1,895 m) tall, and consists of nine contiguous craters. Not to be outdone by Rincon de la Vieja's namesake volcano, Santa Maria Volcano is amidst the craters with a peak height of 6,385 feet (1916 m). This active volcanic region is sure to add some extra adrenaline to your treks.
As you make your way through the park, you may come across monkeys, kinkajous, sloths, insects, and plants too numerous to mention. Double your pleasure by enjoying nature and adventure at the same time. If you're feeling intrepid, pack a lunch and plan on making your way to the volcano's summit. It'll take the better part of a day, but if the skies are clear, you'll be rewarded for your efforts with an extraordinary view of Costa Rica — including both coasts. See? Well worth the hike!
One of the perks of this volcanic region is the hot springs it produces, which are perfect for soothing your body after your day of rugged adventure. If you prefer to cool down, you can go back to your hotel or lodge for a refreshing dip in the pool. Many accommodations offer a complimentary breakfast, so you'll always be able to fuel up for your next adventure — whether that's zip lining, rappelling, or horseback riding.
Frequently asked questions
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- What Are Costa Rica's Most Accessible Volcanoes?
The easiest volcano to view up-close is Irazú. Visitors to this volcano can drive directly to its summit. From the parking lot it's only a 2-minute walk to the viewpoint, where visitors can gaze into its incredible crater. If you decide to see this volcano's summit, you should arrive no later than 10 am, as clouds have a tendency to obscure the crater during the afternoon.Poás is another volcano that is quite easy to see, but instead of a 2-minute walk to the rim, it is closer to a 5-minute walk. You should arrive no later than 9 am to see the crater.
If it isn't cloudy, it's possible to see the Arenal Volcano from nearly everywhere around the town of La Fortuna, and from the hotels that are scattered around its massive base. You can walk around the lower slopes of Arenal at the national park, but you cannot get close to the top, as it is far too dangerous.
Cerro Chato flanks the Arenal Volcano and is a crater volcano as well. Dense forests blanket its hillsides, making it one of the most beautiful hikes in Costa Rica. But take note - this hike includes a steep ascent along an often very muddy trail.
Rincón de La Vieja is another crater volcano, but it is a grueling 5 mile (8 km) hike from the entrance of the national park to the crater's rim. The ascent up Rincón typically takes around 3.5 hours and should only be attempted by determined hikers.
Turrialba is also a crater volcano, but it has become unpredictable and is therefore no longer accessible to visitors. If the park were to re-open, it is a short hike from the parking lot to the crater.
The Tenorio and Mirravalles volcanoes are up-and-coming destinations. Visitors come for the hiking, the bird watching, and the view of the stunningly blue waters of the Río Celeste.
- How Many Volcanoes Are There in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica sits on top of the Ring of Fire, a zone characterized by several shifting tectonic plates. These shifts result in volcanic activity. Currently, five volcanoes are steadily active, including Poás, Irazú, Turrialba, Arenal and Rincón de La Vieja. Other notable volcanoes include the Tenorio, Miravalles, Cerro Chato, and Barva volcanoes.