The Poas Volcano hike is a short and easy trail leading to an awesome active crater (Poas Crater). Certainly, visiting Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica should be high on your Central America to-do list. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Poas Volcano National Park. We’ll include details about how to buy Poas Volcano tickets and visit independently. But, we’ll also talk about the best Poas Volcano tour options. Then, after describing the Poas Volcano hike, we’ll look at nearby accommodation options, including the amazing Poas Volcano Lodge.

We hope you find this guide helpful. For other great adventures in Costa Rica, read our La Paz Waterfall Gardens, La Fortuna Waterfall and Irazu Volcano Hike guides.

Poas Volcano National Park

The Poas Volcano National Park is a popular national park in Costa Rica. It was established in 1955 to help with the preservation and protection of the area. At the national park, you’ll find one of Costa Rica’s most recognisable natural wonders – the Poas Crater! Indeed, it’s one of the biggest craters in the world! So, many people visit Poas Volcano to simply marvel at the immense crater.

Thankfully, visiting Poas Volcano National Park is straightforward. Certainly, it’s quite easy to buy Poas Volcano tickets online and visit independently. By the same token, it’s even easier to join a Poas Volcano tour. Either way, accessing Poas Crater is very simple. The Poas Volcano hike involves a short trail from the main entrance to the observation point. So, where abouts is the Poas Volcano hike located in Costa Rica?

Views during the Poas Volcano hike

Location

The Poas Volcano National Park is located in the Alajuela province in central Costa Rica. It actually falls inside the Central Conservation Area. This is an area managed by SINAC, an organisation that cares for the preservation of volcanic areas in the Cordillera Central Mountain region.

Certainly, Poas Volcano isn’t too far from San Jose – the capital of Costa Rica. Nor, is it too far away from the Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in Alajuela. So, the location of Poas Volcano makes it easy to visit from San Jose or Alajuela. We’ll describe how to get to Poas Volcano from these locations in more detail below.

Dan wears a helmet during the Poas Volcano hike

Poas Volcano Map

For your reference, please find an interactive map of Poas Volcano in Costa Rica.

Everything You Need To Know About Visiting

Let’s look at the Poas Volcano National Park opening hours and Poas Volcano entrance fee. There are also some safety rules to follow during the Poas Volcano hike that we’ll discuss.

Poas Volcano National Park Hours

The national park is open daily from 8am to 4pm, including holidays.

Poas Volcano National Park Entrance Fee

Poas Volcano Price: for tourists, it’s $15USD for those over 13 years and $5USD for children aged 2–12 years. For residents and nationals, it’s much cheaper! The entrance fee for residents and nationals is ¢1,000 ($1.50USD) if you’re 13 years or older and ¢500 ($0.75USD) for children aged 2–12 years. Also, children under two years and those over 65 years can enjoy free entry.

FYI – you cannot buy Poas Volcano tickets at the national park. Poas Volcano tickets must be booked in advance online. Find more information on how to purchase Poas Volcano tickets online here.

Parking: if you drive to Poas Volcano National Park, there’s a ¢1,000 ($1.50USD) fee for motorcycles and a ¢2,000 ($3USD) fee for cars.

Poas Volcano National Park checkpoint

Rules During Your Visit

There are quite a few safety rules when doing the Poas Volcano hike. This makes sense, given Poas Volcano is an active volcano, which has recently erupted. Most of these rules are explained upon arrival. But, for those who want to be prepared, here’s what you can expect when doing the Poas Volcano hike:

  • There are allocated time slots for entry (see Poas Volcano Tickets for more information). If you arrive early, you’ll wait in line before entering Poas Volcano National Park.
  • The national park can close on short notice. If there are excessive harmful gases in the environment, national park staff will close the area temporarily or permanently until it’s safe to visit. Personally, because of this, Beck and I had to wait an extra 40 minutes to enter.
  • All visitors must watch a safety presentation before doing the Poas Volcano hike.
  • Visitors must wear a helmet. You aren’t allowed to take off your helmet during the Poas Volcano hike.
  • Due to volcanic gas exposure, you’re only allowed 40 minutes at Poas Volcano National Park. Roughly, this includes 10 minutes to walk to and from the main observation point and 20 minutes at the observation point.
  • To ensure safety, there is a traffic light system at the main observation point. If gas levels rise to an unsafe level, the lights will flash red. There may also be an alarm or announcement to leave the area immediately.
  • In the worst-case scenario of an unexpected eruption, there are small concrete bunkers to shield yourself from volcanic debris. Hopefully, you won’t need to use these!
Traffic light system at the main observation point
Traffic light system at the main observation point

How to Get to Poas Volcano Independently

Getting to the Poas Volcano National Park independently is fairly straightforward. The two main ways to visit independently are by renting a car or catching the bus.

Renting a Car

Renting a car gives you the most flexibility for visiting Poas Volcano National Park independently. That’s because the public bus only operates on the weekend. Also, the schedule of the bus is very limited. This means there are only certain time slots you can choose to visit (more information on the Poas Volcano bus below). By renting a car, you can visit any day you please. Also, you’ll have more freedom to visit at whichever time suits you.

Many visitors choose to rent a car in Costa Rica. That’s because, typically, group tours are expensive. Additionally, visiting natural attractions by public transport is notoriously difficult. We recommend using RentalCars.com to rent a car abroad. Most importantly, they’re trustworthy and offer an excellent free cancellation policy. You know, just in case!

Alajuela to Poas Volcano Bus

Getting to Poas Volcano National Park by bus is the cheapest option. Unfortunately, there is a very limited bus service operating to Poas Volcano. In addition, catching public buses is tricky business in Costa Rica. There’s often minimal to no information on bus routes and schedules available online.

In early 2022, the bus company, Coopetransasi, operates a once-daily service to Poas Volcano from Alajuela on Saturday and Sunday. It departs from the FECOSA Terminal in Alajuela at 9am. This terminal is located between Central and 2nd Avenue, and, between 6th and 10th street in downtown Alajuela. It’s around 100 meters south of TUASA Terminal. Admittedly, we couldn’t find the FECOSA terminal on Google Maps. In fact, there are many different private bus companies terminals located around the FECOSA Terminal. So, finding the terminal isn’t so straightforward.

The Alajuela to Poas Volcano bus takes around 1.5 hours. It costs around $5USD, one-way. You’ll arrive at the Poas Volcano National Park at around 10:30am. So, when purchasing Poas Volcano tickets online, you should book the 10:40am or 11am time slot. This will give you roughly 1.5 hours to do the Poas Volcano hike. This doesn’t sound like a lot of time. But, don’t worry! There’s a 40-minute maximum time allowed in the national park. So, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Poas Volcano! The bus then returns from Poas Volcano National Park at 12:30pm. So, you should arrive back in Alajuela around 2pm.

How to Get to Poas Volcano From San Jose Independently

San Jose to Poas Volcano: if you want to visit Poas Volcano from San Jose independently, you’ll need to get a bus to Alajuela. Then, you’ll get the direct public bus from Alajuela to Poas Volcano as described above. From San Jose, buses run to Alajulea regularly. Many private bus companies operate this route, such as TUASA. From 4:30am, buses to Alajuela depart from the TUASA Terminal in San Jose every 5–10 minutes. The journey time is around 1 hour and costs around $3USD.

Once you arrive at the TUASA Terminal in Alajuela, you’ll need to walk around 100 metres to the FECOSA Terminal. From there, you can catch the direct bus to Poas Volcano, which operates on the weekend. In case there’s traffic, we recommend getting the bus from San Jose to Alajuela at around 7am. This should give you enough time to arrive at Alajuela for the 9am bus to Poas Volcano.

Dan stands next to the Poas Volcano National Park sign

Buying Poas Volcano Tickets Online

To visit Poas Volcano National Park independently, you’ll need to buy tickets online. When we visited, we found tourists arriving at the national park who hadn’t purchased tickets. They needed to go on their phone to purchase them online without much reception in the area. Save yourself that hassle and simply book your tickets before you arrive. Thankfully, buying tickets online is really straightforward!

How to Purchase Poas Volcano National Park Tickets

You can easily purchase Poas Volcano tickets on the SINAC website. Simply, create an account, then register and buy your tickets. You’ll need to select ‘Parque Nacional Volcan Poas‘ and then choose the time that suits you. Tickets are available in 20-minute intervals starting from 8am. The latest time slot is 2:20pm.

Thankfully, the website has an English version. This makes things super easy if you’re Spanish isn’t up to scratch (that’s me!) Once you’ve purchased tickets, you can save a digital copy or print the tickets to show on arrival.

Screenshot of purchasing Poas National Park tickets

Poas Volcano Tour

There are many tour companies in Costa Rica operating trips to Poas Volcano. By doing a Poas Volcano tour, everything will be taken care of! This is appealing if you can’t be bothered navigating public buses. Besides, they only run on the weekend. What if you’re wanting to do the Poas Volcano hike during the week and don’t plan on renting a car? In that case, a Poas Volcano tour is your best option.

Although, most tour companies don’t offer tours that singly visit Poas Volcano. Often, companies offer a combined tour of Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens and a coffee plantation. This is a great option if you don’t have much time in Costa Rica! You’ll find most companies charge $150–160USD for this tour.

Poas Volcano Tour From San Jose

In San Jose, you’ll find many tour companies offering a similar combined Poas Volcano tour. Based in San Jose, Willy Tours offers the combined Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens and coffee plantation tour (Eco Tour) for $140USD. Indeed, it’s the cheapest combined Poas Volcano tour that we could find in San Jose.

All companies offering the combined tour share a similar itinerary and schedule. This includes a local guide, roundtrip transportation from your accommodation in San Jose and all entrance fees. By doing the combined tour with Willy Tours, you’ll be picked up from your accommodation at around 7:30am. You’ll then make your way to a coffee plantation near Poas Volcano. After a caffeine hit, you’ll then head to the national park for the Poas Volcano hike! Afterwards, you’ll spend your afternoon at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. You can then expect to arrive back at your accommodation in San Jose by 5pm. Beck and I really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend it. Our guide, Larry, was welcoming, charismatic and informative.

To book the combined Poas Volcano tour or any other tours in Costa Rica, simply contact Willy Tours on Whatsapp (+505 8362 1717). Otherwise, you can drop into their office in San Jose for more information. Of course, feel free to check them out on Facebook and Instagram. They are an eco-friendly company offering brilliant tours.

Dan and Larry, from Willy Tours
Dan and Larry, from Willy Tours

Poas Volcano Half Day Tour

Not many tour companies offer exclusive trips to Poas Volcano. As mentioned, Poas Volcano is often included in a combined tour. But, if you’re only interested in doing the Poas Volcano hike, without visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Willy Tours offers a half day Poas Volcano Tour for just $75USD. It’s called the Awesome Volcanoes Tour and exclusively visits Poas Volcano National Park. As a bonus, you’ll also visit a coffee plantation before arriving at Poas Volcano. Similarly, Willy Tours offers a half day Irazu Volcano tour for the same price.

Hiking Preview

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.75 km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 24m
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Trailhead: Poas Volcano Main Entrance
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Poas Volcano Hike

Following the safety presentation, you’ll join a flat asphalt path heading towards the main observation point. The Poas Volcano National Park hike is an easy stroll through lovely cloud forest, brimming with wildflowers. Keep in mind, that you’ll be hiking with a group who have purchased the same tickets. So, expect the trail to be crowded.

Sure, hiking Poas Volcano isn’t quite what it used to be. That’s because many of the hiking trails at Poas Volcano National Park have closed due to safety concerns following eruptions in 2017. Prior to these eruptions, there were trails leading around Poas Volcano and to Lake Botos (inactive crater lake). It’s a shame that these Poas Volcano hiking trails remain indefinitely closed. Beck and I were super keen to experience some of these other Poas Volcano hikes. Hopefully, these hiking trails will re-open to the public soon.

Since 2018, what remains is an easy path to the main lookout. So, the Poas Volcano hike isn’t the most adventurous trekking experience. But, for minimal effort, you’ll be rewarded with mindblowing views of Poas Crater, once you’ve speed hiked to the viewing platform.

What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking at pace! It helped us arrive at the main lookout before a large group of people arrived. Find out more about speed hiking here.

Main Observation Point

The main observation point is an outstanding vantage point to enjoy views of Poas Crater. Beck and I were thrilled to arrive at the viewpoint with clears views of the active crater. Certainly, a whiteout at the viewpoint is common. We hope you also get to enjoy clear views when you visit. Good luck!

Poas Volcano, as seen from the main observation point

Interestingly, around the viewpoint, you’ll find yellow circles painted on the ground. These indicate damage to the viewpoint which has occurred during violent volcanic eruptions. It’s definitely a gentle reminder that you are indeed next to an active volcano!

Other Things to Do Near Poas Volcano

After doing the Poas Volcano hike, there are plenty of other things to do in the area. If you’re doing a combined tour, you’ll also be visiting the nearby La Paz Waterfall Gardens and exploring a coffee plantation. If you’re visiting independently, you could also follow suit! But, if the price of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens entrance is a bit eye-watering ($50USD+ per person), you can still visit La Paz Waterfalls for free.

In terms of coffee plantations, there are tonnes of them surrounding Poas Volcano. But, one of the most popular is the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia Coffee Farm. Here, you can mooch around the plantation or take a guided tour. Sure, Starbucks coffee is readily available all over the world. But, having a Starbucks coffee straight from the farm is certainly a memorable experience!

Poas Volcano Weather

Similar to other countries in this part of the world, Costa Rica has a dry and rainy season. In Costa Rica, the dry season (summer) spans from January to April. Whereas, the wet season is from May to December. So, the weather at Poas Volcano can depend on what time of year you visit! Although, there are microclimates throughout Costa Rica. At Poas Volcano, you can expect more rain and cloud cover compared with other parts of the country. So, even in the dry season, be prepared for wet weather and poor visibility!

Bonus Tips For Seeing the Crater

Make sure to visit Poas Volcano National Park early in the day. This will increase your chance of good weather and visibility. It’s common for Crater Volcano Poas to be shrouded in clouds. You don’t want to make all the effort to visit and have no views of the crater.

The typical weather pattern at Poas Volcano is increasing cloud cover from 10am onwards. Usually, before this time, you can expect fewer clouds and mist to obstruct your views of the volcano. Of course, the weather is unpredictable and may not always follow this pattern. Just make sure, that if you do a tour, the operator intends on visiting Poas Volcano at the start of the day.

Thick clouds begin to approach Poas Crater at around 10:30am
Thick clouds begin to approach Poas Crater at around 10:30am

Poas Volcano Lodge Costa Rica

When it comes to accommodation near Poas Volcano, it’s hard to beat the Poas Volcano Lodge. It’s a sensational eco-lodge positioned at the base of the volcano in Vara Blanca. In fact, the lodge is beautifully set at the edge of a protected cloud forest. Because of its serene setting, the Poas Volcano Lodge is a popular lodging option for tourists visiting the area. Indeed, it’s a convenient place to stay if you’re wanting to explore Poas Volcano. Overall, it’s one of the most highly-rated and affordable accommodation options in the area.

The Poas Volcano Lodge offers excellent facilities including a bar-restaurant, lush gardens, a living room with an open fireplace and even a small library! You can expect the rooms to be stylish. All of which feature a balcony, which provides superb forest and mountain views. If you’re looking for accommodation near Poas Volcano, it would be hard to beat the Poas Volcano Lodge.

Hotels Near Poas Volcano National Park

There are plenty of accommodation options near Poas Volcano. The Poas Volcano Lodge is a fantastic mid-range option. But, it might not suit your needs! Below, you’ll find hand-picked recommendations spanning from luxurious to budget stays near Poas Volcano.

  • Luxurious optionPeace Lodge: this award-winning eco-lodge is the most highly-rated accommodation option near Poas Volcano. Located inside the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, the Peace Lodge offers excellent facilities. These include an indoor pool, spa baths, a dining area, restaurants, a bar and a terrace. When it comes to eco-lodges in Costa Rica, the Peace Lodge is the best.
  • Mid-range optionVilla Calas: alongside the Poas Volcano Lodge, the cabins at Villa Calas are another highly-rated mid-range option. There are bungalows and private suites to choose from. So, there are different accommodation options to suit your needs. Here, you’ll find a restaurant, bar and lovely garden views.
  • Budget optionPoas Volcano La Paz Tiquicia Lodge: not to be confused with the Poas Volcano Lodge, the Poas Volcano La Paz Tiquicia Lodge is your best budget option near Poas Volcano. But, this lodge definitely doesn’t have budget vibes. It has modern facilities, exceptional features and exquisite natural surroundings.

Poas Volcano Facts

It’s time for some fun facts about Poas Volcano! Sure, the safety presentation will cover some of these facts and figures when you visit. But, why not equip yourself with some knowledge about the history of Poas Volcano before you visit?

Poas Volcano Eruptions

Since 1828, Poas Volcano has erupted at least 39 times!

Poas Volcano Eruption 2019

Poas Volcano Last Eruption: in 2019, there was significant volcanic activity at Poas. On the 11th of February and 30th of September, there were mild-moderate eruptions.

Poas Volcano Elevation

The elevation of Poas Volcano is 2,697 metres above sea level.

Poas Volcano National Park FAQs

Poas Volcano National Park sees many visitors! So, naturally, people have many questions about the volcano. Here are the most common questions regarding Poas Volcano. If we’ve covered information about a question in the guide, we’ll provide a link to that section. There, you can find additional information.

Where is Poas Volcano Located?

Poas Volcano is located in the Alajuela province in Costa Rica. For more information, head to the Location section.

What Type of Volcano is Poas?

Poas Volcano is a stratovolcano.

How Far is Poas Volcano From San Jose Costa Rica?

The Poas Volcano National Park is 50km from San Jose. It takes around 1.5 hours to drive to Poas Volcano from San Jose.

What is The Poas Volcano Hike Time?

The Poas Volcano hike time is around 40 minutes.

Dan completes the Poas Volcano hike

When Did the Poas Volcano Park Close?

Following eruptions in April 2017, Poas Volcano National closed for 16 months. The national park re-opened in September 2018!

Are There Poas Volcano Hot Springs?

No, you’ll find hot springs around Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

What is the Best Volcano to Visit in Costa Rica?

Other than Poas Volcano, the best volcanoes to visit in Costa Rica are the Arenal and Irazu volcanoes.

Would You Dare Visit an Active Volcano in Costa Rica?

Given the safety precautions at national parks in Costa Rica, visiting an active volcano is fairly safe. Of course, visiting any active volcano is a little daring and not totally risk-free!

Other National Parks in Costa Rica

Other than Poas Volcano National Park, there are many other worthwhile national parks in Costa Rica to visit. Here’s our pick of the bunch!

  • Irazu Volcano National Park: another great day trip from San Jose.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park: a magnificent coastal rainforest.
  • Corcovado National Park: one of the world’s most biodiverse regions with varied tropical ecosystems.
Irazu Volcano
Irazu Volcano

What to Pack and Wear

Hiking Essential

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These hiking boots are super comfortable. Their waterproofing and versatility make them a great pair of hiking boots for Costa Rica

This camera is super lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for hiking in Costa Rica. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos

Even during summer, the high altitude at Poas Volcano means cold weather is inevitable

The gaiter can help cover your airways during times of increased gases in the atmosphere

Wet weather is common at Poas Volcano. Make sure to pack a waterproof jacket!

For the Poas Volcano hike, you should also pack water, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.

For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a general list of everything you’d need for a backpacking trip, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

Bonus Travel Tips

  • Improved Poas Volcano visibility: visit early in the morning. If possible, book Poas Volcano tickets for 8am – the earliest time slot!
  • Poas Volcano day trip From San Jose: to make the most of your time, you should also visit the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and a nearby coffee plantation during your trip to Poas Volcano. If you aren’t renting a car, then a combined tour will help you visit all of these places.
  • Go to the bathroom before you hike: there are no bathrooms along the Poas Volcano hiking trail. You’ll find bathroom facilities at the entrance and in the gift shop.
Poas Volcano hike pinterest

Have you visited Poas Volcano National Park? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.


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