Visiting Volcan Poás, Costa Rica

Is Poás volcano open or closed?

The Poas Volcano National Park recently reopened its doors for visitors, after being closed since April 12, 2017, due to strong volcanic activity. Visitation is only happening under strict security measures. Only 50 people are allowed at once near the crater and they can only stay for 20 minutes at the time. We can help you reserve a time slot if you would like to visit this destination as part of a Costa Rica Escapes itinerary.

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica
Poas Volcano, Costa Rica

Before starting your journey to the national park, ask at a tourism information center if it has been open and what are the conditions for visiting.

Poás Volcano National Park Facts

One of six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, this amazing volcano has historically been the second most visited national park in the country, after Manuel Antonio National Park.

Known to be active since the 1700s, there are three big eruptions that have marked Poás Volcano’s recent history, in 1910, mid-1950s and recently in 2017. The damage caused by the volcano has been always to the vegetation, plantation, and stock that populates its slopes.

The volcano is located in the province of Alajuela, where the airport is located, only 37 km (23 miles) north of town, up to a very well marked but winding road. Getting there is easy by car, but also by bus or taxi from downtown Alajuela City, therefore, don’t be surprised if there is a lot of Costa Ricans visiting, especially entire families, school buses, and organized excursions.

The origin of the name of the volcano is uncertain, but there are two possibilities. One is related to the vegetation found in this lush mountain, specifically plants that have thorns, or as the Latin word reads, “puas.” The second theory says that there was an indigenous group that lived very close to the volcano called “Púas.”

However the origin of its name, Poás is now known around the world because it has one of the largest craters in the world, with a diameter of over 1300m (4300 feet) and a bottom that is usually filled with hot and dangerously acid water at an altitude of 2700m (8600 feet).

Even though the crater is of incredible proportions, getting to see it can be hard! Don’t let those thick clouds trick you, it can clear any moment, so as you explore the national park always spend a good amount of time at the crater’s viewpoint and come back after exploring the other wonderful trails in the park.

Poás is part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range and it is covered with cloud forest. The vegetation in this particular type of forest is characterized the “sombrilla de pobre” or poor men’s umbrella (Gunnera insignis), a plant that has really big leaves that could be used as umbrellas. The native oaks that can reach up to 20m (60 feet), and the abundant and very varied type of epiphytes plants like ferns, bromeliads and orchids, and the healthy looking muss. Everything in this type of forest is humid and dense.

There are many species of birds that can be spotted in the cloud forest of Poás, like the Emerald Toucanet, Created Guan, several species of hummingbirds and if you are very lucky it’s even possible to see a Quetzal. The mammals are harder to see but they are around, from several species of bats to coyotes, rabbits and some cats.

Next to the impressive crater of Poás, up to a short but inclined trail (that feels like a green tunnel) is a lagoon called Botos, an extinct crater of 400m (1200 feet) of diameter and 14m (43 feet) of depth, filled with cold dark-blue water.

What to do at Poás Volcano National Park & Nearby

This national park has all the amenities one could need: guarded parking areas, recreation, and picnic areas, visitors center, exhibition room, coffee shop, crafts, and souvenirs store, bathrooms, and it is wheelchair accessible. It has several trails that visitors cans enjoy usually under a very light rain characteristic of the cloud forest.

The national park is open every day from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Park entrance fees are $15 for adults and $5 for children between two and six years old.

On your way to the park, you must stop to visit some of the small towns like Poasito, Fraijanes, Vara Blanca y San Pedro de Poás. They are all charming places to stop for lunch, buy and eat local produce like strawberry and cheese, and take a closer look at the Costa Rican traditional way of living.

If you feel like having some diversity during your day trip, or you are visiting this corner of the country for more than one day, consider the Coffee Tour at Doka Estate, located just between Alajuela and the volcano. Doka is one of the largest coffee plantations in Costa Rica, and their coffee tour will teach you will everything related to cultivating and processing coffee.

Also very close to the volcano, near Vara Blanca, you can visit La Paz Waterfall Garden, a private park that protects a section of cloud and rainforest, including five waterfalls. In ten grounds of the park you can find an aviary with numerous species of birds, toucan feeding demonstration, insect exhibit, butterfly observatory, capuchin (white-faced) monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, hummingbird garden and hand feeding demonstrations, serpentarium (snake exhibit), jaguars, pumas, ocelots, margays, ranarium (frog exhibit), orchid exhibit, heliconia exhibit and more.

Weather at Poás Volcano National Park

The average temperature at the Volcano is 12 C (53 F). It can be very rain due to the constant formation of clouds. During the dry months of December to April, there are more chances of clear sky and less rain.

Learn more about the best time to visit Costa Rica for your family vacation, honeymoon or adventure vacation!

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