(CURRENTLY CLOSED; see note below.)
From San José, narrow roads wind through a landscape of fertile farms and dark forests to this active volcano. A paved road leads right to the top, although you’ll have to hike in about 1km (1/2 mile) to reach the crater. The volcano stands 2,640m (8,659 ft.) tall and is located within a national park, which preserves not only the volcano but also dense stands of virgin forest. The Poás crater, one of the largest in the world, is more than a 1.6km (1 mile) across. Geysers in the crater sometimes spew steam and muddy water 180m (590 ft.) into the air.
The information center has a slideshow about the volcano, and well-groomed hiking trails through the cloud forest ring the crater. About 15 minutes from the parking area, along a forest trail, is an overlook onto beautiful Botos Lake, formed in one of the volcano’s extinct craters.
Be prepared when you come to Poás: This volcano is often enveloped in dense clouds. If you want to see the crater, it’s best to come early and during the dry season. You can also call ahead and ask the staff whether the crater is clear. Moreover, it can get cool up here, especially when the sun isn’t shining, so dress appropriately.
Note: Due to increased and unpredictable volcanic activity the park was closed as press time, so be sure to call the park office for updated status before visiting.