Poas National Park is nice place to stop between two places, or, if you have time, at St José, given how close the volcano is to the capital...and, for once in Costa Rica, its accessibility.
Honestly, I have to say that I was a bit disenchanted when I arrived. Having only looked briefly at the information on the site I was expecting to have a good hike surrounded by nature...what a mistake! Getting off the bus and seeing people of all ages (mostly seniors) in flip flops I quickly understood that my specialized trekking equipment was a bit much!
On the menu: a short, asphalt path leading to an immense, magnificent crater, 1.3 km in diameter. A breathtaking view onto the turquoise blue lake nestling at the bottom but be careful of the toxic sulphur fumes rising from it. Its completely unexpected, superb and different. There's a second crater close by with its own lake, but apart from a deeper blue and much more vegetation it's much the same.
There are two half-hour walks that let you explore the park a bit more and get to a good viewpoint. Lovely surroundings for a picnic! An ideal place to go if you're traveling with your family. You can't spend more than half a day there as the park closes at 3.30 p.m.
You get to Poas Volcano, which is still active, via a fairly wide mountain road. During the journey you can see characteristic coffee and banana plantations. At the summit, which is at 2,704 meters, there is an immense park (6,506 hectares) which gives you a view around the crater.
The smoke rising constantly from the boiling crater is evidence of the volcano's activity. It's not dangerous although one of its latest eruptions, in October 2014, led to the site being temporarily closed.
Among the animals in the park I saw some very cute coatis, a sort of lemur with a head like a dog. On the way back, I stopped at the La Paz Waterfall gardens to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica.