A visit at Poás Volcano National Park takes 45 minutes – 5 minutes to present your entrance ticket (required advance purchase online), sign waivers, and queue up which is followed by a 10 minute walk on the paved path from the parking lot to the overlook, 20 minutes at the overlook, and 10 minutes walk back to the parking area in a group of up to 50 visitors and 6 guides.
When clouds or mist obscure the crater there are NO refunds. You must begin your walk at the time printed on your ticket and are not allowed to wait for the clouds to clear. If you would like a second chance to see the crater you must purchase an additional ticket (subject to availability) and repeat the process.
The National Park is open from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every day and viewing groups depart every 20 minutes until 1:20 p.m. It is less than 30 miles on the paved road from San José (see map and routes) but it will take around two hours to drive (plus up to an additional hour for traffic).
The park service cautions against visits by children under 12, pregnant women, the “elderly”, and anyone with respiratory, cardiac issues or limited mobility.
We recommend purchasing tickets at least a few days in advance – the government website is notoriously unreliable and may go down for a day or more at a time. There is no reliable public wi-fi or cell phone service at the entrance and no office for on the spot purchase.
To purchase tickets please either use the unofficial instructions below or visit YouTube for the official reservation & ticketing instruction video (in Spanish).
Take the Easy Way Instead -> many people choose to visit the crater as part of a full day tour of the cordillera central volcano region. Whether with a guide or on your own we highly recommend supporting the local family owned and operated farms, artisan workshops, restaurants, natural areas and other attractions not only because they suffered a year and a half of economic hardship while the park was closed but also because they are some of the highest quality and most interesting and beautiful in Costa Rica.
Instructions for Reserving Admission to Poás Volcano
Create an account
Your first step will be to create an account using this link (if you have climbed Cerro Chirripó you already have a SINAC [Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación] account and can just login)
1) There is no “registrarse” button as shown in the instructional video. Instead you must click the small blue text that says “Check In” to get started (above the question mark in the lower left corner)
2) Create a username/password, and enter your personal information.
Be very careful entering your e-mail address. There is no registration confirmation required and if you make a mistake your tickets WILL be sent to the incorrect e-mail address. You may have to repeat the entire process and purchase new tickets.
3) Accept the “Terms and Conditions” and click the “To Register” button. You will be redirected to a login page to begin the reservation process.
Purchase tickets to view the volcano crater
Please gather your information before attempting to purchase tickets – in step 11) you only have 8 minutes to enter the full names and passport/cedula number for every member of your party plus all of your credit card information. If the timer expires or you click “back” everything is erased and the form resets to step 1) forcing you to start over.
1) log into your account with the username and password you just created
2) click Buy >> Online Reservation
3) Under “Wildlife Area” select “Parque Nacional Volcan Poas”
4) Under “Sector/Schedule” select the time you would like to depart the parking lot (early is better and it takes 2-3 hours to drive – see details)
5) Under “Entry Date” select the day you would like to visit. Remember, dates are reversed compared to U.S. conventions so if you are visiting in March and have reservations for 7:30 a.m. 03/09/2019 you will have to wait six months to get in because 03/09/2019 is September 3rd.
6) Ignore “Departure Date” this is only used when making reservations for Cerro Chirripo National Park
7) Select the Nationality and Age range of each visitor
Adulto(a) No Residente – is anyone over the age of 13 who does not have a Costa Rican passport or cedula.
Niño(a) No Residente – is anyone between 2 and 12 years of age who is not a Costa Rican resident or citizen.
Note: After entering the quantity of each type of ticket you must click the blue + each time to add the tickets to your order
8) The “Services” section of the form is extraneous – do not select any services, quantities or days.
9) Check to make sure that the total amount is correct. If it seems too low you may have forgotten to click a blue + and the tickets may not have been added to your order. If you click the back button to fix it all of your entries are erased and you have to start over.
Make sure you have everyone’s passport and your credit card ready before clicking the blue next -> arrow. Once you click you have 8 minutes…
10) Review the information at the top of the “Purchase Confirmation” page
11) In the “Facts Visitors” section enter the full name of each person you are purchasing a ticket for. Under “Identification” enter each persons passport number (Costa Rican citizens and residents use their government i.d. number).
Click the blue + to add another person. Don’t forget to click the blue + after the last person.
12) In the “Pay Data” section enter the credit card information. “Id Number” is the cardholder’s passport/cedula number.
13) Click “Confirm” to purchase the tickets.
14) Your tickets should be e-mailed within a few minutes. We recommend that you copy all of the information on the “Proof of Purchase”
15) Print your tickets (images on phones are not currently accepted) and present them to the National Park Ranger in the parking lot 20 minutes prior to your reserved time.
Simple enough ;-) Sign the waiver and enjoy your visit!
Remember driving from anywhere in the central valley will take 1.5 hours (Alajuela) to 2 hours (San José, Escazú) plus an hour or more for traffic during rush hours. (see map and routes).
Other Poás Volcano Information and Details
There is more visitor information (but no ticket purchase link or info) on the official National Parks Poás Volcano page.
No refunds. If you miss your appointed time you may be allowed to reschedule. If the park is closed and/or your visit is cancelled because of dangerous volcanic activity you will be provided with information on how to reschedule your visit. The park may be closed for several hours/days/weeks in case of increased activity – Please contact the park directly for official information on closures
Restrooms are available but potable (drinking) water is not – please bring your own.
The park is open from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every day including holidays BUT the last viewing group enters at 1:20 p.m.
You must pay for Parking in cash in person upon arrival. Cars ¢2000 (~$3.50), mini-vans and buses ¢4000 ($7.00), Motorcycles ¢1000 ($1.75)
Informed Consent Waiver of Liability
In order to enter the park you may be required to sign a waiver that includes the following disclaimer that you already agreed to by purchasing tickets…
This activity involves risks to human health associated with:
Increase in the concentration of some gases of volcanic origin in the air such as Sulfur Dioxide, Sulfuric Acid, Hydrochloric Acid and Carbon Dioxide, that could be sudden or gradual, depending on the direction of the winds. In this case the impact on health manifests as: respiratory problems, conjunctivitis, allergies, asthma and when the concentrations are too high they could cause respiratory arrest and death.
Fall of ash which is also associated with the direction of the winds. In this case the impact on health manifests as: respiratory problems, allergic rhinitis, sore throat, cough, asthma, conjunctivitis and skin irritation. Falling of larger particulate material (rocks of variable size from millimeters to centimeters), depending on the height of the eruptions and the direction of the winds, which can cause traumas mainly to the head, shoulders and back and even death by the fall and impact of those solidified fragments at high speed.
The entrance to this sector under the current conditions is assumed by the person entering and SINAC is exempted from any responsibility. For entry into this area, the use of protective material is recommended, including: N95 type mask, safety glasses, long and thick fiber trousers and shirt, as well as carrying drinking water.
By signing this document, I declare that I am aware of and accept the entry conditions established for the Poás Volcano National Park in the document entitled: “Informed Consent of Entry Conditions to the Poas Volcano National Park. Act of Attention”
Phone (506) 2482-2165 between 7 a.m. at 2 p.m. or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org