Popular Central American Volcanoes to Visit

If you're visiting Central America on holiday this year, some of the biggest natural attractions are the many volcanoes that populate the region. While most are dormant and provide fun opportunities to climb and explore lush forests to get amazing views of Central America, there are also a few that are still active and offer tourists the chance to see nature's fury when gas, ash, and even lava burst from these ancient features.

Because Central America is so full of volcanoes, which helped shaped the geological features of the area, you're likely to find a volcano serves as the backdrop for many of the popular tourist destinations in the region. However, some of these volcanoes and their surrounding cities offer a more enriching experience than others.

Following are the names of five of the best volcanoes to visit in Central America and the reasons why they are so cool to explore. Check out the following list and plan your vacation to Central America today. 

  • 01 of 05

    Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

    Arenal volcano, Costa Rica
    ••• Arenal volcano, Costa Rica. Oliver Gerhard/Getty Images

    By far one of the most visited destinations in the region, most people who visit Costa Rica also take a moment to check out the active volcano on the island known as Arenal.

    Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and lies right next to a gorgeous man-made lake. Aside from looking great from afar (especially at night), there are a few areas that you can climb between eruptions.

    Arenal is also surrounded by gorgeous forests where you can hike, walk across massive hanging bridges, relax in naturally heated hot springs, or go on a canopy adventure like ziplining or hang gliding.  With plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, visiting Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano is certainly worth the trip.

  • 02 of 05

    Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua

    masaya.jpg
    ••• Masaya Volcano - Nicaragua. Marina K. Villatoro

    Nicaragua's Masaya Volcano is more of a crater complex than a single active volcano, whose special formation allows visitors to drive up to the edge of these active craters and stand just meters away from the active lava pits below.

    There is also a lookout point just meters above the crater that allows you to look in, but if you want a truly amazing adventure, you'll have to take one of the many night tours, when you are most likely to see the lava inside the crater.

    When the Spaniards first arrived at this volcano they called it “La boca del infierno” (the mouth of hell), so if you're looking for a chance to stare into the mouth of the inferno, this is the ideal destination in Central America to do it.

  • 03 of 05
    ••• Pacaya Volcano Guatemala. Lourdes Díaz

    Guatemala is probably the country with the largest amount of volcanoes in Central America, and some of them are currently still active.

    Among the active volcanoes in this country, Pacaya Volcano became very popular because it remains active at a very low level, so visitors can hike up one of its sides and walk right next to lava rivers—plus the views from the top are simply breathtaking! 

    Taking a trip to Pacaya Volcano is a full day trip from most major attractions and cities, but you don't need to be an athlete to be able to do the hike, and there are even opportunities to rent a horse if you feel like you can’t make it up the mountain. 

  • 04 of 05
    Volcano boarding at Volcan Cerro Negro, Leon, Nicaragua
    ••• Volcano boarding at Volcan Cerro Negro, Leon, Nicaragua. Getty Images/Christian Heeb

    One of the younger volcanoes of the region, Cerro Negro formed only 150 years ago, but in its short life, it has been the protagonist of at least 20 significant eruptions, the last of which happened in 1999. 

    It became famous because of the fine sand that can be found on the surface of one of its slopes. This fine ash-like sand is perfect for volcano boarding, a popular pass-time in Central American countries that's definitely something you should try if you're an adventure lover. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Tajumulco Volcano in Guatemala

    File:Tajumulco volcano 01.jpg
    ••• Wikimedia Commons Getty

    Tajumulco Volcano is the highest one in the country and in Central America in general, and a fun way to explore it is by taking an overnight hike and camping adventure.

    At 14,000 feet tall the volcano is a relatively easy to hike, plus it has been dormant for a while, making it a safer option than most on this list. Furthermore, Tajumulco is the only place where it has ever snowed in Guatemala, so if you'd like the rare opportunity to see snow in the region, consider heading down here at the height of winter!

Have you visited any of these? Which one is your favorite?