Popular Volcanoes Of Costa Rica: Active And Inactive Volcanoes

Costa Rica, located directly on top of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is home to over 120 volcanoes. Fortunately, only five are active. Notably, one of these five ranks in the top ten list of the most active volcanoes globally: Volcano Arenal. This volcano showcases its red lava flow whenever there’s clear weather, making it a remarkable sight to behold any day of the week.

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How many active volcanoes are in Costa Rica?

Out of the 110 volcanoes, there are only five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. And not enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone!

What’s even more amazing is that you can actually get up close and look down at their craters or dip in nearby hot springs while watching an ongoing lava show. Everyone should visit at least once while traveling in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s active volcanoes offer exciting visits:

These volcanoes not only fascinate with their attractiveness but also play a key role in Costa Rica’s miscellaneous ecosystems. Multitudinous eruptions over millions of years have refined the soil to promote flourishing plants and wildlife. Explore Costa Rica’s eminent volcanoes and make sure to endure at least one of the active sites.

Active Volcanoes of Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano

Woman in front of arenal volcano while traveling central america
Arenal Volcano is one of the most iconic volcanoes in Costa Rica, and it’s one of the most active too. There’s a whole adventure around this volcano and its national park, making it a must-visit, while in Costa Rica.

The Arenal Volcano, a famous and active natural geological park in Costa Rica, rises to a height of 1,657 meters (5,436 feet). Its last considerable activity was noted in 2010, with a significant eruption abandoning a mark in volcanic history in 1968. Although climbing Arenal is not allowed, a half-day hike can direct you to a stunning viewing point for an adventurous experience.

If you’re coming from San José, Arenal is only a 3-hour drive away. To fully appreciate its beauty, I highly recommend to visit in the early morning hours. Just a 15-minute drive away, La Fortuna is conveniently located nearby and makes for an ideal base camp. This town is charming. It has cozy amenities and also has therapeutic hot springs, which makes it a peaceful sanctuary.

You can Join a led tour into Arenal Volcano National Park to delight in a universal experience inclusive of transport, entrance fees, refreshments, and expert insights. Daily receptions are available from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with entry priced at $15 for adults and $5 for children.

Irazú Volcano

Crater Irazu volcano in costa rica

Venture to Cartago province, where you’ll discover Irazu Volcano. At 3,432 meters, this volcano is Costa Rica’s highest peak. Despite its last eruption in December 1994, Irazu remains active today.

Different from the secluded Arenal, Irazu is easily reachable, just an hour and 20 minutes from San José. Exploring Irazu doesn’t require a strenuous climb. A drive takes you to the upper parking lot of the park, where you can follow a brief, straightforward trail from anyone nearby to reach the crater’s edge in under 3 minutes.

The upcoming view is truly breathtaking:

  • The main crater at Irazu spans 1,050 meters (3,445 feet) across and plunges 300 meters (984 feet) deep.
  • Beyond that, there’s the Diego de la Haya crater, which is smaller but impressive and measures 690 meters (2264 feet) in diameter.
  • Entrance to Irazu National Park costs USD 15, and the operating hours are from 8 am to 4 pm.
  • I highly recommend a guided tour if you are a first-time visitor, it’ll truly enhance the experience.

Poas Volcano

people at Poas Volcano viewing deck in costa rica

Poas Volcano in Costa Rica is a popular destination known for its massive crater, which measures 0.3 km wide and 30 m deep to hold a striking turquoise acidic lake. The volcano also features another crater lake named Botos, set in a cool, clear environment within a cloud forest. Located in the Central Volcanic Range, nearly 50 km north of San Jose, the capital city, Poas Volcano is part of the Poas Volcano National Park which covers 6,559 hectares.

This active volcano has erupted a surprising 39 times since 1828, with the newest eruption happening in September 2019. It’s admitted for its geyser-like water and ash exclusion, and it reaches an altitude of up to 1,000 feet.

The National Seismological Network and the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica keep a close eye on the volcano – it’s active, so they might close the crater area if things get too exciting. On the other hand, for the best views, you’ll want to go during the dry season (January to April) when the skies are clear.

  • The park is open daily from 8 AM to 4 PM.
  • Entrance fee is $15 for foreigners, $5 for children
  • Guided tours available with local operators which may include lunch, transportation, and all local landmarks like waterfalls, coffee plantations, or wildlife sanctuaries

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Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is seriously impressive, it stands 1916 meters tall, has nine craters, and it’s all nestled in the Guanacaste Range. It’s about 23 km from Liberia, right in the heart of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which protects over 12,000 hectares of amazing forest. 

This volcano isn’t just for looking at, it’s active and has experienced multiple eruptions! The last eruption was in June 2021, and all that activity creates these incredible hot springs, mud pots, the whole deal. They keep a close eye on it, so check the weather before you go, as these trails get wild in the rainy season. 

The best time to visit is the dry season, November to April, for clear trails and awesome views.  And get this – unlike some volcanoes, it’s open every day except Monday, 8 AM to 3 PM.  Besides exploring the volcano and its different craters you can hike to check out waterfalls, soak in the hot springs, or even go crazy with a canopy tour!

Turrialba Volcano

Turrialba Volcano stands as a majestic stratovolcano, reaching 3,340 meters above sea level, ranking as the second-highest volcano in Costa Rica, next to the Irazu Volcano. It features three craters, with the largest spanning 50 meters in diameter. Above all, it is situated in the eastern region of the Central Volcanic Range, approximately 45 minutes from Turrialba town in Cartago province.

Key Points:

  • Located in Turrialba Volcano National Park, it covers 1,256 hectares of tropical rainforest and premontane and it’s a very humid forest.
  • The park is about 70 kilometers (approximately 43 miles) from San Jose which requires a 2.5-hour drive.
  • Significant volcanic eruptions took place in 2016 and 2017 which releases ash clouds that contrived neighboring regions, including the capital city.
  • Currently, intermittent eruptions persist which emit ash, gas, and steam plumes.
Arenal Volcano

Inactive Volcanoes of Costa Rica

Barva Volcano
Cacao Volcano
Cacho Negro Volcano
Chato Volcano
Congo Volcano
El Viejo Volcano
La Platanar Volcano
Miravalles Volcano
Orosi Volcano
Porvenir Volcano
Tenorio Volcano

All of you adventurers out there won’t let me lie; visiting an active volcano is a great experience, especially if it is one of the active ones.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2024

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