Tourist Attractions in Costa Rica’s Central Valley – Poas Volcano

Welcome to the second in our series of Costa Rican tourist attractions near the San Jose airport.

Undeniably the beautiful beaches found along the entire length of the Pacific Coast are of major interest to most tourists arriving at the San Jose International Airport.  However, the number one most popular National Park in Costa Rica is actually in the Alajuela area.  Further, many travelers do not realize, but the San Jose Airport is not in San Jose, but in the province of Alajuela, significantly west of San Jose thus making it very easy and convenient to visit this incredible volcano.


Poas Volcano is an 8,885 foot or 2,705 metre high stratovolcano.  It is considered active and fumarole activity is easy to spot on most occasions.  The volcano is part of a string of four volcanos (Poas, Barva, Irazu and Turrilba) that form the northern edge of the Central Valley of Costa Rica.  It last erupted in February 2014 with a minor ash cloud extending 1,000 feet (330 metres) into the air.  The National Park was formed in 1971.

Main Crater at Poas Volcano National Park

Main Crater at Poas Volcano National Park


The main crater is one of the largest active craters on Earth and is spectacular to see on a clear day.  It is normally best to enter the Park before 10 am as the weather is normally better in the morning.  If staying at Hotel La Rosa de America, you can see the entire volcano from our pool area or from our reception area and can very quickly tell if the weather is suitable for good viewing.  The drive from La Rosa to the top is about one hour and is stunningly beautiful.  Once in the park, the walking trails and information centre are well worth the visit as well.

Botos Lagoon is the second crater of POAS.  It last erupted about 7,000 years ago and the lagoon is now lushly vegetated and includes a large, cold rain filled lake.  There is a trail that connects both craters and is a very pretty walk.  It is cut from, but with respect to the high altitude forest and it is like walking through a long green and brown tunnel.  If you feel a bit out of breath, it is because of the altitude!  Finally, there is an interpretive centre, a coffee shop and a small tourist shop all located near the parking area.  Combining a morning at Poas Volcano with a coffee tour, or a trip to La Paz Waterfall Gardens can make for a very rewarding and scenic day before hitting the beaches!

Botos Lagoon in the foreground with the crater of Poás volcano behind

Botos Lagoon, Poás Volcan National Park.


Directions:  One hour from Hotel La Rosa.  Turn RIGHT at the big “Drinks” sign on the main street and drive 2 km up the road.  Turn left at the “T” intersection and continue for 2 km further.  Take the RIGHT fork in the road until San Pedro de Poas, and continue through the town until you arrive at the small town of Fraijanes.  At the crossroads, take the LEFT road and this will take you directly to the Park Gates.  There are many beautiful viewpoints along this road where you can see the entire Central Valley of Costa Rica below you including San Jose.  Driving time is approximately 1 hour.

Address:  Parque Nacional Volcán Poas.

Contact Info:  Telephone: (506) 2482 2165

Hours:  Open 8:00am at 3: 30pm.