Take a Look
Volcanoes in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a worldwide reputation as being an amazing destination for adventure vacations that include climbing, exploring and just marveling at the sight of volcanoes.
Active doesn’t mean eruptive where a volcano is concerned
While there are six ‘active’ volcanoes in Costa Rica, this does not mean they are prone to violent eruption, but instead simply show signs of ‘activity’ at the summit, either in the form of the slow release of molten lava or hot gases. Many of Costa Rica’s volcanoes have caldera lakes which have formed in the crater at the summit and which help to create a remarkable sight. However, be careful if you think these lakes look inviting for a swim as some are highly acidic owing to the release of sulfur dioxide from the volcano which dissolves in the water to create sulfuric acid, as well as the direct release of hydrochloric acid.
More plates than a dinner service!
The main reason for Costa Rica having so many volcanoes is because it lies close to the intersection of several tectonic plates which go to make up the surface of the Earth. These plates are constantly moving, and at times, that movement creates a weakness in the Earth’s crust up through which molten lava can flow. Volcanoes are formed over the passage of millennia, and are ‘weak spots’ when pressure caused by tectonic plate movement below is released.
Costa Rica lies close to the intersection of four major tectonic plates, the Caribbean Plate, the South American Plate, the Cocos plate and the Nazca plate. Costa Rica also lies atop the Panama Plate, and adjacent to the Andes Plate, two smaller tectonic plates sandwiched between the larger ones mentioned.
Costa Rica’s 6 active volcanoes (from north to south)
- Rincón de la Vieja – one of nine volcanoes in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park in the Guanacaste mountains. No major activity since the 1960s, but regular steam escaping and the occasional minor eruption let you know this volcano is still very much alive!
- Arenal – without doubt Costa Rica’s best-known volcano, having been subject to a major eruption in July 1968 and which tragically killed 87 people while totally destroying three villages. Arenal Volcano was very active thereafter up until 2010, since when it has remained quiet. Arenal Observatory Lodge is 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) from the south side of Arenal Volcano.
- Poas – located in the Central Highlands, Poas is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Standing at 8,885ft, the volcano’s crater is approximately one mile in diameter, and contains very acidic water which bubbles regularly and constantly emits steam and smoke. On a clear day you can see both the Caribbean and Pacific from the summit!
- Turrialba – though the last major eruption was back in 1866, the constant release of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide make it clear that this volcano is certainly not dormant.
- Irazu – Costa Rica’s tallest volcano at 11,260ft, this volcano is renowned for its mineral rich caldera lakes contained within the three craters which can dramatically change color from a rich emerald green to a crimson red. On a clear day, the Caribbean and Pacific can both be seen from the summit.
Specializing in adventure vacations in Costa Rica, here at Costa Rica Rios, aside from our 8-day Adventure Tour, we can create individual, bespoke adventure packages, including a Honeymoon Adventure Vacation, which can include guided tours of many of Costa Rica’s exciting volcanoes.
It is hard to resist the allure of Costa Rica if you like exploring and are looking for the adventure of a lifetime, so take advantage of our local knowledge and give us a call. We’ll be glad to talk you through all you can expect from an adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and happily answer any questions you may have.