Last updated on January 30th, 2021 at 09:10 pm EST
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Poas Volcano National Park operations have changed
Ever since the Poas Volcano National Park reopened in August 2018 (it closed to the public in April 2017 due to an increase in volcanic activity), the park’s visitor operations have been different. Prior to 2017, Ricky and I would head up to the Poas Volcano National Park on a whim from time to time, which was only a 2.5-hour drive from our home in La Fortuna. We’d pay the entrance fee, stroll up to the volcano’s principal crater, and hang out for a while, waiting for clouds in the area to dissipate and display Poas’ beautiful, light-blue pool. Gone are the days of impromptu, self-guided visits, however. Nowadays, the process of visiting the Poas Volcano requires prior planning. What’s more, the time you’ll have to spend at the crater is kept to a minimum.
How to buy tickets for the Poas Volcano National Park step by step
If you’ve decided you want to visit the Poas Volcano National Park during your trip, there are two things you need to do:
- Register a free online account with SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación), Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas.
- Reserve the date and time of your national park visit, which requires online prepayment of the Poas Volcano National Park’s entrance fee.
How to create a free account with SINAC
Visit SINAC’s website
Head to this specific page on SINAC’s website: https://serviciosenlinea.sinac.go.cr/ (see below for a screenshot of the webpage)
Register your free SINAC account
Click on the “Check In” link under the “Forgot Your Password” text. Doing so will load a webpage that looks like the following screenshot:
Complete the form by selecting an account username (a.k.a., “user”) and password where prompted, and by entering your name (first and last), email address, birthday, country of residence, and profession. When complete, read the terms and conditions then click the checkbox (a.k.a., “Accept Terms and Conditions”) near the bottom-left corner of the screen to agree to them. Finally, click on the “To Register” button at the bottom of the screen to officially register your new account.
Following account registration, you should receive an automated email from SINAC (email@example.com) that confirms your name/username and provides a copy of the terms and conditions.
How to reserve the date and time of your visit to the Poas Volcano National Park (and how to prepay the park’s entrance fee)
Log-in to your SINAC account
Visit SINAC’s account log-in page at https://serviciosenlinea.sinac.go.cr/ (see the first screenshot above for a copy of what the log-in page should look like). If you’re not automatically logged in to your SINAC account, log-in by using the username and password you selected during the account registration process.
When you’re logged into your SINAC account, you should see the following page:
Make an online reservation for Poas Volcano National Park tickets
On the left-hand side of your SINAC account page, you should see a tab titled “Buy”. When you click on the “Buy” tab, a sub-menu should appear. Click on the sub-menu option that says “Online Reservation”.
The next webpage, which is displayed in the screenshot immediately below, prompts you to select the following:
- The national park that you’d like to visit (a.k.a., the “Wildlife Area”). Be sure to select Parque Nacional Volcán Poás, which is the Poas Volcano National Park.
- The time of day that you’d like to visit the Poas Volcano National Park (a.k.a., the “Sector / Schedule”). Select the time of day you would like to tour the Poas Volcano’s crater. Tour times are offered every 20 minutes throughout the day, 7 days per week, between 7:00am and 2:30pm.
- The date that you’d like to visit the Poas Volcano National Park (a.k.a., the “Entry Date” and the “Departure Date”). Both the “Entry Date” and the “Departure Date” should be the same date.
Click the arrow near the bottom-right corner of the screen to proceed to the next page.
Prepay the Poas Volcano National Park’s entrance fee
The next webpage, which is displayed in the screenshot immediately below, prompts you to select the number of park visitors. You’ll be required to identify whether the visitors are:
- Adults (age 13+ years) who live in Costa Rica (a.k.a., “Adultos Residentes”)
- Adults (age 13+ years) who do not live in Costa Rica (a.k.a., Adultos No Residentes”)
- Children (age 2-12 years) who live in Costa Rica (a.k.a., Niños Residentes)
- Children (age 2-12 years) who do not live in Costa Rica (a.k.a., Adultos No Residentes”)
- Children who are under the age of 2 years old (a.k.a., “Menores de 2 años”)
- Senior citizens “Cuidadanos de Oro”)
Residents of Costa Rica are charged in Costa Rican colones. Non-residents of Costa Rica are charged in American dollars. If your group includes a mix of Costa Rican residents and foreigners, you’ll see two separate price totals at the bottom of the webpage, one in colones and the other in USD.
At the time of publishing, the following were the Poas Volcano National Park entrance fee costs:
|Visitor type||Entrance Fee|
|Adults (13+ years) who live in Costa Rica:||1,000 colones|
|Adults (13+ years) who do not live in Costa Rica:||$15.00 USD|
|Children (2-12 years) who live in Costa Rica:||500 colones|
|Children (2-12 years) who do not live in Costa Rica:||$5 USD|
|Children who are under the age of 2 years old:||FREE|
Poas Volcano National Park entrance fees are subject to change without notice.
For illustration purposes (see the screenshot below), we reserved two Poas Volcano National Park tickets, one for a Costa Rican resident and one for a foreigner (i.e., a non-resident). For this reason, you’ll see the image below displays the totals of 1,000 colones and $15.00 USD.
Click the arrow near the bottom-right corner of the screen to proceed to the next page.
If you’ve completed all of the necessary information, and assuming the Poas Volcano National Park can offer availability for your desired visit date and time, a pop-up box will appear and will confirm that your spaces are being held. You’ll have only a few minutes to complete the payment process, which is required to secure your Poas Volcano National Park reservation, so be sure to have your identification and credit card handy. Click the “Accept” button to load the next webpage and proceed with the payment.
On the payment page (see the screenshot below), complete the form by providing the full name, country of residence, and identification number (cedula number for Costa Ricans and passport number for foreigners) where prompted for each member in your travel group. SINAC requests that you provide an asterisk (*) beside the identification number of each child. Complete the remainder of the form that asks for your payment information (don’t forget to click on the checkbox for the “reCAPTCHA” in the bottom-left corner of the screen). Finally, click on the “Confirm Payment” button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to issue the payment. You’ll be charged automatically for the total cost of the tickets.
If the payment went through successfully, a pop-up box (see the screenshot below) will appear and confirm that a proof of purchase was sent to your email.
Your Poas Volcano National Park reservation confirmation (a.k.a., your ticket verification number)
The automated proof-of-purchase email you’ll receive from SINAC (firstname.lastname@example.org) will contain all of the applicable reservation information. It will also contain a ticket verification number, which acts as your Poas Volcano National Park reservation confirmation number. You must provide this number to staff upon arrival at the Poas Volcano National Park. It’s best to have a printed version of the number (a printout of the email you receive from SINAC will suffice), but providing an electronic version of the number is acceptable assuming it has been saved to your electronic device and doesn’t require internet access to be retrieved. You must also be able to show park staff the identification documents of each member in your travel group (the same documents that you detailed online when placing your park tour reservation).
In addition to receiving a reservation confirmation via email, you’ll also be redirected to a proof of purchase page within your SINAC account following successful payment. The proof of purchase page within your SINAC account displays the same reservation details as the email you’ll receive from SINAC, including your verification code (see the screenshot below).
Paying for parking at the Poas Volcano National Park
If you plan to drive yourselves to the Poas Volcano National Park, you must pay for parking. At the time of publishing, the going rate to park a car at the Poas Volcano National Park (regardless of the number of passengers) was 2,000 colones (the equivalent of roughly $4.00 USD). It’s not possible to prepay the parking fee; It must be paid in cash upon arrival at the park.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to the Poas Volcano National Park since it reopened and began requiring reservations? What do you think about the new operation?