VOLCAN POAS, COSTA RICA. Costa Rica has six active volcanoes, one of which is Volcán Poas. I had the pleasure of visiting this Volcano this past year in May. The National Park is a popular day trip for many tourists and natives in Costa Rica, especially because of its proximity to San Jose, the capital. From San Jose, the trip to Volcán Poas is about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive. You can take a taxi but it tends to cost around 30,000 colones (60 USD) for a one-way trip (of course this can be split among however many people you are going with); taking the bus to the Volcano would be the most affordable.
The Tuasa bus, which is located in San Jose between calle 12 and 14, leaves for the volcano everyday at 8:30 AM, and returns to San Jose around 4:30 PM. The cost for this is about 3,500 colones (7 USD) round-trip. The phone number for this bus, as well as other transportation information can be found here. The admission to get in to the park where the volcano is located is 5000 colones per person (10 USD), and the hours are from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
Once arriving at the National Park where the volcano is located, there is a hike for about half a mile in order to see the actual crater. The hike was really beautiful since it was covered with forest vegetation and beautiful plants along the way. After the hike, you will arrive at the top. I arrived here around 8:30 AM and at that time the area was very foggy, it was difficult to see the crater clearly. Apparently, this is normal for this time of the day as the clouds do cover up the crater, but after around 20 minutes, we were able to see everything clearly. It is recommended to arrive at the crater as early as possible due to the fog, and because the volcano does get a lot of visitors later in the day. Around the main crater is the Botos Lake, which is a beautiful deep turquoise color.
When visiting Volcán Poas, it tends to be chilly, especially in the morning when the sun is not shining yet. I would recommend dressing in layers so that if you do get warm, you won’t be stuck wearing a heavy jacket. Of course, while hiking and walking around, you will warm up as the day goes on and becomes more humid. Of course in Costa Rica, it rains very often so I would also carry an umbrella or a poncho to cover up. Don’t forget to bring water to drink as well.
Located only 20 minutes away from Volcán Poas, La Paz Waterfall is a must-see attraction due to its proximity and it’s beauty. There is also a hike required to get to the waterfalls with many trails, all with similar to forest vegetation on the hike to Volcán Poas. Before the hike, they have a wildlife refuge called La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Peace Lodge, where they have a butterfly garden -the largest in Costa Rica- and an area where you can see wildcats, monkeys, birds and other tropical animals. All of these animals, for various reasons, cannot be released back into the wild so they are kept here in order to protect them.
The admission to get into the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is 17,500 colones for adults (35 USD), 11,000 colones (22 USD) for children, and free for children 2 and under. In addition to the Wildlife refuge, there is a cafeteria style restaurant that had a wide variety of food! It was a very nice place with desserts, American food, Costa Rican food, and drinks; the cost of this is an extra 6,000 colones for adults (12 USD) and an extra 3,000 colones (6 USD) for kids. It may seem like a lot, but it is an all-you-can-eat buffet. I think it is definitely worth it, as you will have worked up an appetite from the hike to the summit. Plus, you will need the energy for the hike you are about to take to the waterfalls.
The hike to the waterfalls, for me, was longer than expected. I did not realize we would be walking for so long. It takes about 45 minutes, so definitely wear good hiking shoes and comfortable clothes. Along the way, you will see streams and you will probably stop at the various waterfalls and take pictures; here the umbrellas and ponchos will come in handy, as waterfalls spray mist everywhere. If you can get a waterproof cover for your camera or phone, even better. The waterfall is absolutely amazing. It is surrounded by beautiful flora which adds to the serenity of the countryside. After all the hiking it is definitely worth it to see this natural beauty! For more information on the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, click here.