The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Roughly 90% of all earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, and the ring is dotted with 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth (Nationalgeographic.org). Costa Rica is a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and has over 200 identifiable volcanic formations. Today, however, only 100 or so show any signs of volcanic activity, while just five are classified as active volcanoes (govisitcostarica.com). So visiting volcanoes is a must while living in or visiting Costa Rica.
One of the most popular volcanoes in Costa Rica is the Poás Volcano. It is the most accessible volcano and has 3 craters, one of which is active. The active crater is house to a boiling acidic lake. The Poás volcano is located inside the Poás National Park. Entry to the park is $15 for foreigners and less for locals. Tickets must be purchased online. It is about a 1.5 hour drive from Santa Ana.
I visited the park this weekend and a lot of things I read online about what a visit there would be like was outdated. At the entrance gate a guard asked for a verification number and then we were whizzed into the parking lot. I never showed my ticket or provided my number but my friend gave hers which was admission for one person only. The parking lot fee was 2700 colones. But I noticed that you can park outside of the park for free. Once parked, we basically just walked up a few hundred meters to the crater. We were not escorted by a guide, nor provided a helmet or given a time limit. Many blogs that I read said it took multiple visits to see the crater due to cloud cover.
However, we must have picked thee perfect day. We had a clear, unobstructed view of the crater on our first visit. We arrived at approximately 9am, which was perfect timing because within minutes the clouds moved in and the crater disappeared. Just look at it.
The acidic lake had the appearance of the sky on the ground, with light blue hues and clouds of hot smoke rising from it. To be that close to something so magical is amazing.
There are several levels you can climb with landings you can stand on to take in the sights from different angles and heights.
A short walk east of the crater look out and you arrive at the viewpoint of Laguna Botos- a circular crater lake surrounded by forest and vegetation. The clouds began to cover the volcano while we admired it, so by the time we made it to the lake we didn’t have the clearest view.
Currently there is a 3 mile hike through the park. The trail has a fairytale countenance with a green carpet, trees that bend and meet, and colorful leaves. You can get short winded during the trail due to the elevation and steep walkways but it’s a good workout with pleasant temperature and scenery.
Tips: Take a jacket with you as it’s quite cool at the volcano. Take an umbrella; it’s Costa Rica. If you can, park your vehicle outside of the parque. Go early to beat the clouds and crowds. Go during the rainy season to beat the crowds too. If the clouds roll in before you get to enjoy the view of the crater, do the hike and circle back. View the crater first before the hike. Take a bottle of water; there is a bathroom upon entry. Take a friend to get those magnificent shots of you and the volcano.
Side Note: There are many cafés along the road near Poás and after our hike we were quite hungry. On our way there, in the small town, we noticed that there were several small businesses selling strawberries. We picked up 2 packs on the cheap. Let me tell you, these were some of the best strawberries I’ve had. I also purchased some strawberry wine. I wish I had taken a picture of the shop, but it is at the top of hill. You can’t miss it. I recommend patronizing them and they will allow you to sample some drinks too.
We also stopped in a little Soda for a small bite. It’s a nice little restaurant built right outside a home. The small touches make this such a pretty place and the Gallos and Empanadas are really good.
What a lovely experience. Have you ever visited an active Volcano? Leave a comment about your experience. If you haven’t visited a volcano, would you? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.