Costa Rica is known mainly for its biodiversity and outstanding natural resources. One of its undeniable attractions for both travelers and researchers from everywhere in the world is its volcanoes, which play a key role in the landscape of this beautiful country.
Geologists have spotted more than 200 volcanic formations in Costa Rica, however only 5 are considered active: Arenal, Irazú, Poás, Rincón de la Vieja, and Turrialba volcanoes.
In this article, you will get to know interesting data not only about these 5 active volcanoes but an extra bonus volcano that should be on the list of tourists who love these unique mountainous formations, as they all have different experiences to offer.
Arenal is one of the few volcanoes in the world that has an undeniable perfectly symmetrical conical shape. Its main crater is 140 meters (460 feet) in diameter.
It remained dormant for hundreds of years, showcasing only one crater. Its sudden major eruption in 1968 destroyed the nearby town of Tabacon, resulting in the formation of three well-defined craters. From 1968 to 2010, this colossal volcano continued its activity, turning into the 10th longest span volcanic eruption on the planet since 1750.
This majestic giant has become one of the favorite tourist spots due to the variety of activities that entertain and relax its visitors. At the base of this famous volcano, you can find Lake Arenal, considered by many as one of the world’s premier windsurfing and kite riding regions (mainly from November to April where winds are stronger and more dependable).
From natural thermal springs to canopy tours, biking, rappel, spas, horseback riding, kite surfing, kayaking, and much more, one thing is sure, you will not run out of options to have a great time there.
Irazú is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica, located within the Irazú Volcano National Park. It is located close to San José and it is highly accessible, which makes it a great choice for a one-day trip.
With five craters, indisputably differentiated and magnificent views, the Irazú volcano cannot be missed. The two most relevant craters due to their activity are the main crater and Diego de la Haya crater.
The color of the lake water is absolutely amazing, the tone depends on its hydrothermal activity as fluids raise and affect the water. It can vary from emerald green to crimson red.
Weather in that area is usually cold and foggy, (a reason why warm clothes are highly recommended) however, if luck is on your side and you get a clear day, the Pacific and Atlantic
Poás volcano has one of the largest craters on the planet with a diameter of 1,320 meters (4.330 feet) and 300 meters (984 feet) deep. Inside the crater, there is a magnificent lagoon rich in sulfur and acids, capable of causing acid rain when it dries up.
Tourists can expect an up-close scene of the crater of gray and black tones, together with fumaroles. Although the Poás does not expel lava, it keeps a constant activity of gas emanation in the fumaroles and sporadic gasses and rock eruptions.
The unique view offered by the crater along with the trails of the Poás Volcano National Park offers tourists the opportunity to experience the characteristic flora of highlands and the cloud forest combined with the damage caused by volcanic gasses.
Be aware that the Poás Volcano National Park may close suddenly if a volcanic activity is present.
Rincón de la Vieja is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. It is around 600,000 years old and it has nine volcanic craters and at least 32 rivers flowing down its sides.
The impressive Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and its sleeping sister, the Santa María Volcano, form the center of the amazing Rincón de la Vieja National Park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Guanacaste Conservation Area.
One of the main features of the magnificent Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is the presence of a large number of secondary activities (solfataras, fumaroles, mud volcanoes, hot springs, and others), some of which are used for the production of geothermal energy.
Turrialba Volcano is Costa Rica’s second tallest volcano. Its formation is the result of explosive and effusive lava events. Turrialba Volcano has three craters with the presence of dry lava flowing on its flanks.
This volcano is located inside the delightful Turrialba National Park, where you won’t encounter big groups of tourists or locals as much as you would at other parks in Costa Rica.
Take into consideration that, unlike the other volcanoes, Turrialba requires an extensive walk to get close to it. Once at Turrialba National Park, the walk to the volcano takes approximately 4 km uphill with a duration of around 2 hours to reach the viewpoint of the craters, 30 minutes at the viewpoint, and 1.5 hours downhill, which is classified as a medium to a high level. Therefore, the total walk lasts about 4 hours but it’s 4 hours that you won’t regret.
Barva is the third tallest volcano in Costa Rica, located at the highest point of Braulio Carrillo National Park at around 10,000 feet above sea level.
The Laguna Barva (Barva Lagoon) is its main crater, it is circular and has steep walls, covered with abundant vegetation. The lagoon is 8,600 meters deep and 70 meters in diameter; it maintains an average temperature of 11°C.
The area around the volcano has many hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. Most of the protected area is covered by primary forest, and there are around 6,000 species of plants.
It is also home to approximately 515 species of birds, resident and migratory, making Barva Volcano a treat for sightseeing and hiking.