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5 BEST Poas Volcano Tours in Costa Rica

5 BEST Poas Volcano Tours in Costa Rica

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So you want to visit one of Costa Rica’s most famous volcanos, good choice! It’s not every day that you get a chance to get right up close to an active volcano, which is why Poas Volcano is a must-see.

Whenever we’re in San Jose, we’re always itching to get out and explore. But since the Poas Volcano is a 1.5-hour drive from the capital city, the easiest way to visit is on a tour. I won’t even get into the hassle of trying to take a bus!

We’ve done some fantastic tours to Poas Volcano while living in Costa Rica and we definitely think it’s the most stress-free way to visit. Besides, lots of tours include fun stops along the way, like La Paz Waterfall and coffee farms. But which tour is the best? Keep reading for our top five choices!

Quick Pick: Our Favorite Tour

To book right now, we have you covered! This Poas Volcano Tour is our FAVORITE tour and it’s available daily – often with next-day availability for last-minute bookings. It’s a 3-in-1 tour starting with freshly brewed coffee at a local farm. Then there’s time to explore Poas on a walk to the famous viewpoint of the crater and finally a stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens where we saw hummingbirds, sloths, and monkeys!

This highly-rated tour (it has tons of 5-star reviews you can read here!) is only $155 USD, which includes transport, entry fees, breakfast, and lunch. Plus, there’s FREE cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.

Best Poas Volcano Tours

Day Tour to Poás Volcano, Café Doka and La Paz Waterfalls

Sunny Poas Volcano crater
Poas volcano is such a cool experience
Bailey sits at a freee waterfall just outside the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens!

We already mentioned this as our top choice and this full-day adventure tour is perfect if you’re looking to visit more than one attraction in a convenient all-inclusive package. We loved kicking off the day with a coffee plantation visit because there’s really no better way to fuel up for the day. This guided visit is super hands-on, with plenty of opportunities to try your hand at roasting and grinding coffee. 

After breakfast and a strong coffee at the plantation, it’s onto Poas Volcano National Park. There’s an initial talk to give you a little background on the volcano, which we found super interesting, and then it’s time to walk to the viewpoint for stunning views of the crater and the milky-blue water in the lake. The hike is short and we found it super easy, so it’s suitable for travelers of all ages and abilities.

We like the fact that this tour stops at La Paz Waterfall Gardens on the way back to San José. The waterfall is beautiful and all, but what was most exciting for us was seeing sloths, hummingbirds, and monkeys along the walking trails! 

This tour costs $155 USD, which we think is good value since it includes all entry fees, breakfast, and lunch. It’s so well-priced for an all-inclusive tour!

Full-Day Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Coffee Plantation Experience

Smoke comes from the crater of Poas Volcano, Costa Rica
Poas is still an active volcano!

For us, what sets this full-day tour apart is the guide, Olman! He’s so friendly and the kind of guy you can’t help but love. This makes such a difference, especially when visiting so many interesting places. 

This tour is quite a long day, but we much prefer that over feeling rushed and missing out on things! We think that visiting the Casa del Cafe plantation on the way out to Poas National Park is a nice touch because it’s the perfect place to enjoy coffee with a view – and who doesn’t love starting the morning that way? 

Of course, Poas Volcano is the highlight, although I think that the La Paz Waterfall comes close because of all the wildlife here. We loved the butterfly garden and the jewel-colored hummingbirds. 

Basically, this tour perfectly encapsulates what Costa Rica is all about: coffee, wildlife, and crazy landscapes. It costs $165 USD per person, including a buffet lunch in the Waterfall Gardens. We were also impressed by the fact that it’s a small group tour, with a maximum of 14 people because it just feels so much more personal – especially with a guide as great as Olman! 

Póas Volcano and Alsacia Coffee Farm from San José

The big tanks at Hacienda Alsacia - Starbucks Coffee Farm
Hacienda Alsacia – Starbucks Coffee Farm!

We think that this Starbucks coffee and volcano tour is ideal for anyone trying to do Costa Rica on a budget. It’s also a good choice if you’ve already planned the La Paz Waterfall for another day.

One thing that we like about this tour is how much time you get at Poas Volcano. There’s plenty of time to explore the National Park and take in the beautiful scenery, which is nice because we hate feeling rushed on tours. We also love that you stop for lunch at Freddo Fresas, a super popular local spot that does some of the best chorreadas we’ve ever had!

In the afternoon, the tour visits the first commercial coffee farm that Starbucks ever purchased, Hacienda Alsacia. In fact, it remains their only one! Of course, this is exciting for Starbucks fans but we also like that it’s a bit different. We usually opt for coffee tours at small, family-run farms, so it’s nice to shake it up a bit!

The tour costs $120 USD per person, which includes transport and all admission fees.

Related Read: Need a hotel in San Jose? These are the best hotels near the airport!

Poas Volcano + Coffee Plantations & La Paz Waterfall Gardens Trip from San Jose

Cloudy Poas Volcano
Sometimes it can be a little cloudy at Poas Volcano
Bailey at the waterfall along the highway outside the La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are magical

This tour is a little more expensive than the others, but we’re so impressed with how well-organized it is. Everything runs super smoothly, which means that you actually end up getting more time at each stop, rather than feeling like you’re being herded around. 

We liked that there was plenty of time to enjoy learning (and participating in) coffee farming at the Casa del Cafe plantation, as well as to explore the Poas Volcano and visit the viewpoints. The group sizes are kept fairly small, so you get to learn plenty about geothermal activity in Costa Rica. We certainly learned a ton – did you know that the volcano has erupted 40 times since 1828?

We also think that La Paz Waterfall Gardens are 100% worth visiting, so we loved getting to spend 4 hours here! Exploring the cloud forest is amazing, and there are so many animal exhibits where you can see butterflies, snakes, and majestic jungle cats.

This tour costs $189 USD including breakfast, lunch, and all admission fees. We love all-inclusive tours because they just make budgeting so much easier for us! 

Poas Volcano National Park Half-day Tour from San Jose

Daniel and Bailey at the Poas Volcano viewpoint, Costa Rica
It’s hard to look away!

This half-day tour is definitely the best option for those who are short on time! As much as we love La Paz Waterfall Gardens and visiting coffee farms, if you don’t have long in San José, then a half-day tour will be much easier to fit into your itinerary. 

Poas Volcano tops our list of the best volcanoes to visit in Costa Rica. If you’re only going to see one, make it this one! So we like the fact that this tour gets to the point and means that you don’t have to miss out on seeing its epic craters and puffs of steam, even if you don’t have much time. And to be honest, a lot of travelers only spend a day or two in San Jose, so we’re glad that there’s a shorter tour available. 

Edgar, the guide, is so knowledgeable about the volcano and has so many stories to share. Honestly, for $119 USD, we think that this tour is not only great for those short on time, but also those traveling on a budget, because this is a small group tour that includes all admission fees and breakfast! 

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Related Read: If you don’t have long in San Jose, check out our step-by-step guide on spending 24 hours in San Jose!

About Poas Volcano

People at the edge of Poas Volcano taking photos
People from all over the world come to see Poas volcano
Bailey at Poas Volcano in Costa Rica
You can see why!

Poas Volcano National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country. It’s an easy day trip from San Jose at only a 1.5-hour drive. If you do choose to drive, our guide on how to get from San Jose to Poas Volcano will be helpful!

If you want to get a nice view of the crater, pick a sunny day to go and get there as early as possible to avoid clouds that typically cover the volcano by late afternoon. This is very important because the clouds can completely obstruct your view of the volcano – believe me on this, I once went and saw nothing but clouds!

Since the mid-1800s, Poas has erupted 39 times with explosions of varying intensity. Some more significant eruptions have ejected steam and debris over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above the lake!

The last strong blast happened on September 30, 2019. Experts consider the volcano to be in a constantly active state. However, most eruptions are incredibly mild and are caused by the interaction of the hot lava with the water in the crater lake. This lake, known as Laguna Caliente (or “Hot Lake”) is considered the world’s largest geyser and is a spectacular shade of greenish-blue.

Lucky visitors (like you!) will get the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with an active volcano – there are not many places in the world you can do that! For all our tips on visiting, check out our full guide on Poas Volcano!

Where to Stay in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose city
People out and about in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose is definitely not lacking when it comes to accommodation options! There are actually hundreds of hotels to choose from in San Jose, and most of them are extremely affordable! Below you’ll find our favorite options for each budget.

Grano de Oro Hotel – $$$

Want a more luxurious experience? Grano de Oro Hotel is right in the heart of San Jose and features an on-site gourmet restaurant, massage services, and a rooftop garden! The entire place is absolutely gorgeous, with vaulted ceilings and a beautiful interior design. You can walk to many of San Jose’s attractions, and you’re just a 15-minute drive to the airport.

Room rates start at $174 USD/night. For luxury in a great location, book the Grano de Oro Hotel right here!

Terrazas de Golf Boutique Hotel – $$

For a great mid-range option, Terrazas de Golf Boutique Hotel is absolutely stunning. The whole place is quiet, cozy, and clean. Each room provides garden or golf course views with a furnished balcony. They offer laundry, room service, and an airport shuttle for a fee – and they’re just a 10-minute drive to the airport. The staff are super accommodating and happy to answer any of your questions.

Prices here start at around $90 USD per night. For a relaxed and reliable choice, reserve a room at Terrazas de Golf Boutique Hotel online.

Costa Rica Backpackers – $

If you’re looking for a budget option in San Jose, I recommend Costa Rica Backpackers. This hostel has excellent ratings, is in a great location, and even includes an airport shuttle and swimming pool! They also have free coffee, a great on-site restaurant, and super helpful staff. The best part? Shared rooms start at $10 USD/person per night and a private room is only $30 USD a night. You can book your stay on Booking.com or through Hostelworld.com.

If you want to stay closer to the airport as opposed to in the city center, consider staying in Alajuela. This city is where the airport is actually located (connected with San Jose), and believe it or not, there are actually lots of fun things to do in Alajuela too!

Getting Around Costa Rica

Bailey with our rental car near Rio Celeste Costa Rica
Our rental car!

How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level. 

Renting a Car

Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.

One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.

Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.

Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.

You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.

TPL Cover Costa Rica
TPL Cover Costa Rica

Book Shuttles

If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.

Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)

To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway! 

You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.

Public Bus

Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!  

The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!

It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.

Pura Vida!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Poas Volcano Crater in Costa Rica
Thanks for reading!

There you have it, all the best tours that take you to Poas Volcano! This volcano is so cool to see and I never get tired of visiting! A tour takes all the stress out of planning a visit and I love the extras they offer like visiting coffee farms and La Paz Waterfall. Hopefully, you found a tour that’s calling your name!

For more ideas of some of the best things to do in Costa Rica, check out our blog or these related articles below:

15 BEST Tours and Day Trips from San Jose, Costa Rica

Is Costa Rica Safe? Travel Scams, Safety Advice & More

7 Day Costa Rica Itinerary: How to Spend One Week in Costa Rica!