5 Volcanos in Costa Rica That Should Be in Your Travel Checklist

Of all natural attractions, volcanos are representative of Costa Rican natural beauty, and they have triggered the formation of fertile valleys and diverse ecosystems. The country is home to over 200 volcanic systems located across the national territory, 20 of which are considered to be active.

Naturally, several activities involving contact with nature are available. One of them is the popular hot springs that result from hot magma rising near the surface.

Also, there are challenging trails for going on walks. Here, slight changes in altitude allow for a hotbed of biodiversity not found anywhere else in the planet, attracting tourists and scientists alike.

Why are there so many volcanoes in Costa Rica?

Being part of the Central American Volcanic Arc–a chain of volcanoes extending for 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from Guatemala to Panama–Costa Rica has high levels of volcanic activity.

An impressive fact about the arc is that it has the highest volcano density in the world: approximately one volcano every 35 kilometers (22 miles). It is thus known as the most volcanically active region in the western hemisphere.

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The volcanic arc originated as a result of plate tectonics. Specifically, the Cocos Plate underlying the Pacific Ocean, located to the west of Central America, subducts beneath the Caribbean Plate. This process, called subduction, is responsible for frequent earthquakes in the region and regular volcanic activity. As the edge of the Cocos Plate sinks, it melts, producing gigantic columns of magma that rise all the way up to Central America. When magma breaks the surface volcanos are formed.

Volcanoes in Costa Rica.

Volcanoes in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Most Striking Volcanos

While planning your trip to Costa Rica, read our list of the major volcano sites you can’t skip.

Arenal Volcano

  • 1968-2010: most active period
  • Costa Rica’s most famous volcano
  • Responsible for geothermal activity in La Fortuna
  • World’s 3rd volcano with a geographically perfect cone

Poás Volcano

  • Only one of its three craters is active.
  • It has the world’s largest volcanic lake.
  • It has the world’s second widest crater.

Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

  • It has 9 eruptive craters.
  • There are over 40 km (25 miles) of trails for walking
  • It houses a diversity of habitats: Cloud forest, tropical rainforest

Irazú Volcano

  • Costa Rica’s highest volcano: 11,260 ft.
  • Its name comes from the indigenous word “l ara”, the “l” meaning “tremor” and “ara” meaning “thunder.”
  • Among its main features is its green-tinted lake.
  • Temperatures at the top drop below the freezing point.

Turrialba Volcano

  • Stratovolcano with 3 summit craters
  • Last volcanic activity recorded in 2017, with strombolian eruptions
  • Slopes surrounded by fresh cloud forests and dairy farms

Visit these amazing volcanos in your next adventure!