Best Hotels near a Volcano in Costa Rica
With five active volcanoes (and over 60 inactive ones), there are plenty of opportunities to experience a volcano resort in Costa Rica. These are our recommendations if you want to stay around three of our favorites - Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, or Poas Volcano.
Arenal Volcano— a Sleepy Giant Towering over Costa Rica’s Countryside
Arenal is the best known volcano in Costa Rica. Over the last 30 years, many hotels have encircled her base, and once you head there, you'll see why. Arenal is a perfect cone-shaped volcano, built over the course of 7,000 years by ash, rocks and lava.
The area around Arenal became popular as a tourist attraction in the 1990s, when the volcano began producing regular lava flows with intermittent explosions of gas. You could see the orange lava spilling down at night. As a result, hotels started popping up at a safe distance, enabling guests to sit in their rooms, hot tubs, or plunge pools fed by hot springs and watch the spectacle.
While still active, the volcano no longer pours molten lava, although occasional fumarole activity still occurs. The rainforest is slowly but surely creeping higher up the slopes of Arenal, but its iconic shape still stands as a reminder of her power.
Arenal Volcano Resorts and Hot Springs
Some of the hotels around the Arenal Volcano feature elaborate networks of on-site hot springs surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Some are more modest, but still sit within lush, tropical landscapes. Pretty much all of them have amazing volcano views to enjoy.
Aside from volcano-watching and hot spring relaxing, the Arenal Volcano area offers a myriad of activities. In fact, this area has more to see and do than anywhere else in Costa Rica. Adventure activities abound.
Arenal Volcano is a major tourist destination in Costa Rica, high on the bucket lists of many travelers and adventurers. Tropical nature, thrilling activities, and the unique setting of a towering volcano is what attracts them, even without the lava flows.
Arenal's location also plays a role in its popularity. You can combine it with almost any beach in the country. It’s three hours away from most Guanacaste beaches, and three to five hours from the Central Pacific or Caribbean coast. A few days in Arenal followed by time at the beach comprises the most popular Costa Rican vacation itinerary.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano—Bubbling Mud and Fumaroles
The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is in Guanacaste, northern Costa Rica, around an hour away from the Guanacaste International Airport in Liberia. Here, you'll experience tropical dry forests and incredible nature.
Rincón de la Vieja means “The Old Woman’s Nook,” and references a local Romeo and Juliet story of a tragic love, featuring an indigenous princess who lost her lover to her father's ire, sacrificed their son to the volcano, and continued to lead a recluse life.
While not as popular as Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja has many fumaroles and hot springs, along with areas of bubbling mud. It's an active volcano and hiking to its crater is no longer allowed, due to safety measures.
Several lodges, resorts, and hotels in around the Rincón de la Vieja National Park offer guided hikes, canopy tours, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, bird watching, waterfall hikes, all-terrain-vehicle riding, hot springs, healing mud baths, and more.
Poas— a Quintessential ‘Hot, Sulfuric Acid Lake Crater’ Volcano
Poas is most likely the first thing you’ll notice when landing at Costa Rica’s SJO airport near San Jose. If you’re lucky enough to see it peeking through its ever-surrounding cloud cover as your plane makes its approach, that is.
The barren slopes and pale, sulfur-laced, bright green lake of Poas sits on north side of the Central Valley in the mountains above Alajuela.
This volcano is the easiest one to visit in Costa Rica. It's not only the closeness to the capital city and Central Valley, but also because you can drive almost right up to the crater's edge at the summit.
You'll also find an informative and well-designed visitor's center and well-kept trails close to the summit. No extensive hiking needed here!
There are two crater lakes near the summit. The northern lake is known as the Laguna Caliente "The Hot Lagoon", at 7,500 ft, and is one of the world's most acidic lakes.
Due to volcanic activity in 2017, Poas National Park was closed for a while, reopening in 2018 with limited access to the main crater. Poas eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of steaming crater-lake water.
Poas Volcano: Places to Stay
The area around Poas is very fertile and arabica coffee grown on the volcano's slopes often wins awards. This rural area also produces strawberries, artisanal cheeses, and more. And then there are natural wonders like the lush cloud forests, rivers, and waterfalls you'll find in this area.
Cozy lodges and inns, focused on sustainability and offer visitors a great immersive experience. We also recommend visiting some of the popular wild-life rescue centers in the area.
As for the waterfalls, whether you choose to visit a cloud forest valley on the west side, vividly named Bajos del Toro— “Below the Bull” (bull being the volcano) or the La Paz Waterfall Gardens (the #1 most visited privately owned ecological attraction in Costa Rica), you'll be happy. Both places showcase stunning waterfalls and other natural wonders.
FAQs About Best Places to Stay Near a Volcano in Costa Rica
Are there any active volcanoes in Costa Rica?
There are five active volcanoes in Costa Rica - Arenal, Turrialba, Poas, Rincón de la Vieja, and Irazu. To consider a volcano active, it must have erupted in the last 10,000 years. So don't expect to see explosions and lava flows everywhere when visiting these volcanoes.
Which is Costa Rica's most famous volcano?
The most famous volcano in Costa Rica is Arenal, due to its perfect cone shape. It's also the most popular, with many places to stay and things to do.
Is there a volcano erupting in Costa Rica?
Yes, the most recent erupting volcano is Turrialba. See below.
When was the last active volcano in Costa Rica?
The most recent erupting volcano is Turrialba Volcano, which is currently active since 2017 with intermittent eruptions.
Can you stay near a volcano in Costa Rica?
You sure can! There are plenty of places to stay around Costa Rica's volcanoes. You just need to figure out what type of volcanoes you want to see and what you want to do while there.