The hike to the viewpoint for the principal crater was easy, but the wait for the cloud cover to disappear was not. It was an early January morning and it was windy and misty. From a distance, the Poas mountain top was covered by dense fog. We tried the same visit two weeks back on the first day in Costa Rica, but there was a dense cloud cover too. Even after waiting for 2 hours, we could not see anything.
But today the differentiator was the chilly wind gust. After only a 10 minute wait the majestic crater with the dreamy sulphur fumes showed up. It was a show indeed to see the cloud curtain getting lifted slowly and the intricate details of the panorama unveiling at an leisurely pace. But the clear skies did not last long, and once the principal crater was covered in dense cloud again, we hiked 10-15 minutes to the secondary crater which is now a lagoon.
The last eruption in the principal crater was in the 1950s but that in the secondary crater was way back. Therefore we don’t see any fuming gas in the secondary one. Nevertheless it was a sight not to be missed too. It is definitely worth the hike to the lagoon.
There’s also another trail that goes around the lagoon that does not have much view of the craters but has some wildlife and a lot of plants to spot. It took us about an hour but we took time to take photos, and explore the trail. That trail starts from the viewpoint of the secondary crater and ends near the parking lot.
Tip 1: In a day trip from San Jose, combo tours of Poas, Doka Coffee estate and Sarchi village is really convenient. But for visiting Poas only, try booking a ‘only Poas hike’ tour from San Jose area. Should cost no more than $60 pp. Taxi ride one way is about $60, and uber costs a tad less. Park entrance is $15 pp in high season ($10 in low). Also, for the savvy traveler, there’s a public bus from Alajuela autobusera around 8:30am, and returns from Poas at 2:30pm. Costs ~$2 one way. You can find the details of the bus schedule at visitcostarica.com.
Tip 2: do not go by weather forecasts. There are a few microclimates that change by the minute. On a day when the valley may be dry and bright with sunshine, the mountain top can be densely packed with clouds and rain. Try going there on a day of your choice and stay up there for a while hoping for the cloud cover to go away.
Tip 3: keep your camera ready and eyes wide open once you’re up there. The window of opportunity to view this majestic crater could be extremely short lived.