Curving along the edge of the Pacific Rim’s Ring of Fire, Costa Rica’s volcanic peaks form a line of over 61 magnificent, and often active, volcanoes. Surrounding the volcanoes are rainforests full of amazing plants and animals, rushing rivers, and gorgeous beaches where you can explore to your heart’s content.
The volcanoes are concentrated in the northern half of Costa Rica, accessible from the cities of Liberia and San Jose.
What to Do
wildlife viewing, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, canopy tours, ziplining, waterfall rappelling, camping, biking, kayaking, canoeing, boating, paddleboarding, rafting, fishing, swimming, hot spring soaking, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving.
When to Go
The Costa Rican climate varies by region, with a dry season and a wet season. Temperatures are usually mild year round, between 68-90°F. Check regional weather for more details.
Piercing through the cloud forest of San Ramon, the Arenal Volcano is one of the most breathtaking sights in all of Costa Rica. You can hike the numerous trails of Arenal Volcano National Park, or take a walk in the sky on the Arenal Mistico Hanging Bridges. Sixteen bridges, hundreds of feet up in the forest canopy, allow for close up sightings of rainforest flora and fauna as well as spectacular views of the volcano.
The Irazu Volcano comprises many fascinating and active craters, including one which forms a stunning lake that changes from dark green to crystal blue to crimson red. You can drive right up to the main crater on a paved road and hike around the summit. Take a side trip in the area to the Sanatorio Duran, the most haunted historical site in Costa Rica, which has been a hospital, an orphanage, and a prison.
Located inside the remote Miravalles Volcano National Park, the Miravalles Volcano has all the beautiful surroundings of the other volcanoes but far fewer tourists. Miravalles has the largest geothermal field in Costa Rica, and the Yoko Termales offers five relaxing hot spring pools of temperatures around 100°F.
The Poas Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica, emitting steam and gasses from its crater and occasional geyser-like eruptions that have reached up to 820 feet. You’re required to wear a helmet near the crater. A short drive away, you can hike to the Catarata del Toro, a 270-foot waterfall plunging into an extinct volcano crater.
HIking around the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Park, you’ll see monkeys and toucans and visit fumaroles, mud pots, waterfalls, and natural volcanic hot springs where you can take a relaxing soak. The beaches of the Gulf of Papagayo, not too far away, are a great place to surf, swim, and chill.Read More...
Though some of the water near volcanoes is full of harsh chemicals, you can swim in many of the hot springs and volcanic waters. Ask before you jump! Rinse your suit in clean water after your dip as the volcanic water can make your suit stink.
Costa Rica is a top destination for whitewater rafting where you can float through countless walled canyons and pass underneath majestic waterfalls. On the Rio Pacuare, you can enjoy exciting rapids and then watch for monkeys and sloths along the calmer passages. For adrenaline junkies, the Rio Balsa rushes with thrilling rapids that require some muscle and concentration.
Bring waterproof bags for your phone and electronics and a light waterproof jacket for yourself. Costa Rica is full of water: rivers, ocean, misty rain forests, and lots of showers from above.
Visit the Finca Libertad Pura, a family-owned farm nestled in the highlands of San Ramon, and take a horseback ride, enjoy ocean views, and have traditional Costa Rican food and coffee all at a dirt-cheap price.
Bioluminescent algae consistently fills the waters of the Nicoya Peninsula with glowing blue light. A night kayak tour gets you close to the algae blooms where your kayak and paddles will leave an otherworldly, glittery stream in the water.
Who needs a hotel when you can stay in a treehouse? Costa Rica has a lot of them, and you can choose from a whole range of accommodations, such as a rustic treetop hut deep in the rainforest or a swank treehouse with WiFi and waterfront views.Read More...