Costa Rica has 5 active volcanoes: Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Poas, Irazu and Turrialba. There are 7 inactive volcanoes, that could become active at any time: Barva, Miravalles, Orosi, Cacho Negro, and Platanar. There are over 100 extinct volcanoes on land and about the same number in Costa Rica’s marine territory. Seismic activity occurs throughout the year, although most of the thousands of tremors are not felt by residents. The large number of volcanoes, and related seismic activity, causes a extreme variations in Costa Rica’s topography, which in turn contributes to the famous “microclimates” of Costa Rica. The main active and inactive volcanoes are some of Costa Rica’s most visited tourist attractions. Following are some details about the most famous volcanoes:
Poas Volcano is located in Alajuela (well to the north of the International airport!). One of the most popular tours leaves from Central Valley hotels in the early morning, visits the volcano crater (see lake to right) and then continues on to the La Paz waterfall. While active and monitored closely by scientist, Poas only rarely vents itself in an overt fashion. If you go there, be sure to try a cup of coffee and enjoy the spectacular valley views, and buy fresh strawberries from one of the roadside stands.
Arenal is a great area to visit and the only volcano to consistently provide live fireworks on a daily basis. You can also enjoy hot springs fed by the volcano, there are several in the area open to the public. Another attraction near the volcano is the Arenal Lake, which provides hydroelectric power to all of Costa Rica. Many hotels and homes in the La Fortuna area have views of the lava flow or volcano peak, while homes in Nuevo Arenal have lake AND volcano views. The Lake also offers fishing and nature tours.
Located near Cartago on the east side of the GAM, (Gran Area Metropolitana) the Irazu volcano is also a popular day trip. The slopes of the volcano are fertil and the drive up features picturesque views of the vegetable and ornamental plant farms located along the way. The drive down features panoramic vistas of Cartago.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
Like Arenal, this is a volcano that is worth staying for a few days to enjoy all the activities. Nearby resorts offer mud baths and hot springs. The main park entrance has mud pits and vapor vents (fumaroles) on the Las Pailas trail, very near the entrance. There is also a beautiful swimming hole. Most visitors make an all day hike to the crater at this entrance, along the way you can visit the “Blue Lagoon”, a pristine waterfall pool. The second area (entrance) of the park is Santa María. Four-wheel drive is recommended. The Santa María crater does have a campground near the peak. The trail (round trip) passes many attractions – waterfalls, mud pits, and lakes colored by minerals.
**Article from the archives of the American-European Real Estate Group**