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Poas Volcano is, in my opinion, the most beautiful volcano you can visit in Costa Rica by car rental. While Arenal volcano is the most popular due to its lava shows (which are not all that frequent) and classic conical shape, it is not possible to view the smoldering crater they way you can at Poas, where the landscape is very volcanic and other-worldly. Add Poas Volcano to your tour of Costa Rica by car rental.
I mentioned Poas Volcano and Costa Rica in a recent blog post about Hot Volcano Tours, and how it was a highly underrated tourist attraction. Located in the town of Poas in the Costa Rica's central valley, it is only one hour away from the San Jose Airport by car rental, where as the famous Arenal Volcano is around 3.5 hours drive from the main international Airport. While Arenal is surrounded by beautiful thermal spas, the entire town of La Fortuna around Arenal is very touristy. Poas is a very quiet, relaxed place with little more than a few restaurants and gift shops.
On my most recent visit to Poas about two weeks ago we took the longer trail down from the crater and it was such a beautiful hike. Instead of reading signs that list the distance of the trails I was chatting with my friend so we embarked on this hike not realizing it was a 30-40 minute hike through the forest as opposed to the 10-15 trail we took to reach the crater.
Completely beautiful and a little spooky, the twisted branches and fog, spotted with little yellow birds make this dark forest appear like something out of a fairy tale. You expect to see the flash of the dragon's tail or a mischievous little gnome dash between the trees. I love Poas Volcano because I feel like its surroundings live up to the magical idea of how a tropical volcano should be.