Costa Rica is a Central American country full of wonders of nature. Its greatest treasures are waterfalls, and one of the most beautiful are The Blue Falls Waterfalls – a group of waterfalls on a river known for its bright turquoise water – all in the middle of the country and in the middle of the jungle. The Blue Falls are the beauty of Costa Rican nature in its purest form and the opportunity to experience an unforgettable adventure.
Where are The Blue Falls Waterfalls and what do they look like?
Blue Falls are located in the central part of Costa Rica – in the heart of the country, north of San José. They are located in the immediate vicinity of the Juan Castro Blanco National Park, in Bajos Del Toro, nearby the Catarata Del Toro waterfall, which is literally a short walk away. The Blue Falls consist of seven waterfalls located along the same river with turquoise water. The waterfalls even owe their name to the turquoise color. This characteristic color of the water comes from the fact that the river flows between the volcanoes Paos and Viejo and volcanic minerals penetrate into the water.
How to get to The Blue Falls Waterfalls?
The easiest and most convenient way to travel around Costa Rica is by renting a car (read more about it here: How to rent a car in Costa Rica – the ultimate guide). Thanks to this, you become independent in terms of departure times or breaks in bus traffic. The trip from the capital city, approximately 70 km away, by car takes approximately two hours. It is a paved road No. 708, but it is also bumpy, steep, and winding, so be aware that it may take longer than expected. The trip from Sarapiqui is 54.5 km long and takes 1.5 hours and the trip from La Fortuna, which is 76.6 km long, also takes about 1.5 hours. To get here efficiently, it is best to google: “Catarata del Toro” in Google Maps navigation, and it will take us to the reception and free parking lot. There are also “Catarata del Toro” signposts which will show you directions. You can also get here by a combination of public buses and taxis or by private transport.
When to visit The Blue Falls?
For several reasons the best time to visit The Blue Falls Waterfalls is during the dry season, between December and April. In the rainy season, the water level can become too dangerous, especially for swimming, and the trails too muddy and slippery. Usually, there is only one trip in the morning at the discretion of the owners. It is also much more difficult to get from San José to Bajos del Toro – bumpy, steep mountain roads can be dangerous during rainy weather.
The Blue Falls Waterfalls: Entrance Fee and Opening Hours
The Blue Falls are open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you decide to visit all seven waterfalls- it will be necessary to make a reservation in advance, for example via e-mail. You will get feedback with a specific date and time of arrival – this will probably be 7:00 AM – 8.30 AM. However, if you want to visit only the first two waterfalls – no prior reservation is required. Tickets can be purchased at the location – admission is paid directly at the reception of Catarata del Toro Waterfall. This is also where you rent the guide (renting a guide is obligatory, he will take you to the waterfalls hidden in the jungle). If you have any doubts – for me, renting a guide also seemed unnecessary, but after I went the whole route and saw what it was like to get to the waterfalls, I realized that the local guide is a great support and his knowledge of the area is essential. Additionally, by renting a guide, you support the work of the local community.
There are different options for visiting Blue Falls
- the basic tour costs USD 15 per person and takes about 2 hours – the guide will take you to two waterfalls where you can swim. The entire route is 4.5 km long, and the round trip takes an hour,
- the all-day trip costs USD 50 and takes about 7 hours – your guide will show you seven waterfalls, as well as the rapids (the place on the river where the local acceleration of water flow occurs) and the lake. A visit to Catarata del Toro is also included in the price. The entire route is approximately 6 km,
- The basic Blue Falls and Catarata del Toro trip costs USD 25 and takes approximately 4 hours, two hours for each attraction.
I did it differently. I started my day exploring Catarata del Toro on my own and then I went with a guide to discover the seven waterfalls. It took many all day, mainly because I was taking a lot of photos along the way.
Starting with Catarata del Toro Waterfall hidden in the volcano crater
Catarata del Toro, or Taurus Waterfall, is a hidden gem of Costa Rica. It is 90 meter high, begin the highest waterfall here. Its uniqueness comes down to the fact that it plunges into the crater of an extinct volcano, the edge of which is now covered with lush green forest. You can reach the base of this waterfall located inside the inactive crater. Catarata del Toro is right behind the ticket office and getting there doesn’t take a long hike.
In my opinion, it is best to start here in the morning to avoid other visitors. You can also stop here for a coffee and admire the beautiful garden and the hundreds of hummingbirds.
There are two trails to choose from:
First trail 350+steps
The first 500 meters of the trail are flat and have some fantastic viewpoints. The second part is over 350 steps of concreted stairs leading to the bottom of the extinct volcano crater. All of this will take about 1.5 hours.
The second route runs through the forest and garden
The second easy route takes you through the forest and garden to the crater, where you can easily admire the waterfall from different angles. In addition, the trail passes through a primeval forest with beautiful trees. It also guarantees a spectacular view of the canyon and national park. It takes approx. 45 minutes.
The next part of the trip are the Blue Falls Waterfalls …
Hike to the first two twin waterfalls Blue Falls – Las Gemelas
The Blue Falls are located on private property, so the trail begins with a gate that can only be opened by a guide. It is approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the reception and parking of Catarata del Toro Waterfall.
I started the trip with a 20-minute hike along an easy trail surrounded by farmland. Then I got to the next gate, at which the guide advised me to take a specially prepared wooden cane (I did not want to carry it at first, but it turned out to be useful). The next stage of the journey was going down the steep stairs that lead to the river bank. To reach the waterfalls, we had to cross the river. This is where the cane came in handy as you can easily lose your balance on slippery stones and in a very fast current of the river. Especially if you are carrying photographic equipment – it’s not worth the risk.
After crossing the river, I already knew that I had just found myself in the hidden gem of Costa Rica. The first waterfall in a shade of light turquoise, contrasted with the green of the rainforest. It was stunning! A second emerged right next to it, hidden among the trees. Seeing them side by side is incredible. After discovering them, the most enjoyable part awaited me – swimming in the pools of both of these waterfalls. These two waterfalls are called Las Gemelas, which means Gemini. You should definitely dedicate some time of your trip to taking photos, this place is beautiful!
This is where the basic trip ends and you have the choice of either a half-hour return trip along the same trail or to begin the real adventure…
Hike through the jungle to other Blue Falls waterfalls – challenging trekking
If you want to all seven waterfalls prepare yourself for are quite an intense trek through the rainforest, crossing rivers, and some steep sections of the trail requiring the use of ropes. But I guarantee you that you will have a great, active day and you will experience the best of Costa Rica.
This part of the journey is like venturing into the unexplored jungle in search of hidden treasures. Each one of them is different and magical in its own way. They are addictive and make you want to wade through the jungle, again and again, to see if this time this one will turn out to be the most beautiful.
Unlike the basic option, this option – is not limited in terms of time. The guide will always give you as much time to stop as you need. I stretched my day endlessly because I couldn’t let the camera go away. Well, that is the inseparable part of my job ;)
The river has carved its bed quite deep, so while hiking I walked along the top of the forest hills on one side of the river. Every time I reached the next waterfall I had to take a steep descent to the river, then climb back up and continue my trek along the edge. Sometimes accessing a waterfall required me to cross a river and walk over wet and slippery rocks, or use a rope to go down steep sections of the trail. Anticipating the questions – I did not have trekking shoes. I was wearing my Vans and had no problems on the trail : )
The next stop on the trail was the Turquoise Lake, which is located in the lower reaches of the river. You will also find here another beautiful waterfall – to be more specific a group of small waterfalls. The water was freezing cold but also crystal clear and it would be a shame not to jump in. It was also the last relatively easy stage of this trip. The hike to the next four waterfalls was much more difficult.
I had to get out of the riverbed to find myself in a dense, overwhelming jungle within just a moment. The trail led along a steep and slippery path. The landscape changed dramatically and we were in the middle of a dark, tropical forest. The sounds around were reminding me that the jungle was alive. From time to time, meandering, we reached the next waterfalls. Sometimes we had to climb the rocks, sometimes we trod in the mud or water, but it was all worth it! We were alone in the heart of the most beautiful wild nature of Costa Rica, far away from tourists, human influence, or any distraction. I don’t know about you, but I visited Costa Rica for the purpose of seeing such places.
To get to the next waterfall, we had to cross the river once again, and as soon as we crossed the river, there was another turquoise treasure awaiting! It was not too high, but it had a beautiful blue pool where we could also go for a swim.
We admired the next one from a certain height, and the last one was located next to the dam. The return trekking led through hilly areas with trees looking like those from the Avatar movie.