Poas Volcano Crater
Poas Volcano Crater

Costa Rica is home to some of the most active and ancient volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire. These mighty mountains tower over the country's rainforests, offering breathtaking views and an opportunity to see this tropical paradise from an entirely new perspective. If you're looking for an active way to see the real Costa Rica, come with me and let's go hiking up some of the country's volcanic peaks!

1. Poas Volcano

Surrounded by mist and towering over the nearby cities of Heredia and San Jose, Poas Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. It also boasts the largest crater of any active volcano in the world, with a diameter of almost one mile. The views from the summit of this mighty mountain are among the most impressive in Central America, and the hike to the top is a real adventure.

There are two main trails leading to the peak of Poas Volcano. The Botos Trail is a gentle incline that branches off from the primary path leading from the visitor's center to the scenic overlook platform at the summit. At around one mile long, it's not terribly demanding, but the views of the crater lake at the peak are impressive nonetheless. The Escallonia cloud forest trail winds through the national park at the base of the volcano, and is an excellent place to spot species native to the area such as Poas squirrels, and lush groves of Escallonia trees.

Botos Lagoon at Poas Volcano
Botos Lagoon at Poas Volcano

2. Turrialba Volcano

If you're looking for a more adventurous hike, head to Turrialba Volcano in Cartago. Although there is only one safe hiking trail to the summit of Turrialba, it's not for the faint of heart. The inclines vary in difficulty, and during the wet season, conditions can be muddy. However, the views from the peak are breathtaking, and on a clear day, you can see the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Start your hiking adventure at Turrialba by departing from the Volcán Turrialba Lodge.

Turrialba Volcano erupting
Turrialba Volcano erupting

3. Irazu Volcano

While the hiking at Irazu Volcano isn't as tough as some of Costa Rica's other volcanic peaks, there are several easy paths leading to the summit of Irazu that offer impressive views of the surrounding countryside. To check out the dramatic views of the crater, you can drive most of the way to the summit before setting out on foot along the several paths that wind around the ridge of the fissure. Even during the dry season, temperatures at the peak of Irazu Volcano can be a little chilly, so bring a jacket just in case.

Irazu Volcano Cater from above
Irazu Volcano Cater from above