The most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica

The countless waterfalls scattered around the country are among the most beautiful and interesting wonders of the nature of Costa Rica. In my opinion, they are more characteristic of Costa Rica than paradise beaches. I was absolutely amazed by them and still couldn’t get enough of their magic, mysterious location in the dense tropical jungle and wildness. I have visited several waterfalls in various parts of the country and I have prepared for you a list of those that are the most unique in my opinion.

La Paz Falls

La Paz Falls are the most important part of La Paz Waterfall Gardens Natural Park, which is actually a private ecological park. It is a group of five waterfalls: Templo, Magia Blanca, Encantada, Escondida, and La Paz, between which there are hiking and educational trails. It’s the perfect place to start exploring Costa Rican nature right after landing in San José, as they are located close to the capital. There is also a private zoo in the park where you can see representatives of local species including wild cats, snakes, frogs, birds, monkeys, butterflies, and insects. La Paz Waterfall Gardens Park is one of those well-developed, tourist places with extensive infrastructure. There are restaurants and a luxury hotel here. As the area is huge, the presence of other tourists is not that overwhelming. I visited La Paz in February during the pandemic and there were barely any people. If you do not plan to travel all over Costa Rica and venture further into the country, you should definitely visit La Paz, which will allow you to experience the unique Costa Rican nature.

Location and how to get there

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park is located in the heart of Costa Rica, north of San José. Getting here from the capital is very easy and fast, and the distance is about 40 km. Road 126 depending on the traffic will take you there in 1 – 1.5h.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • Fee covers all trails and attractions – USD 44 per adult, USD 28 for children 3-12 years old.
  • every day from 8 am to 5 pm.

The Blue Falls

The Blue Falls –  seven waterfalls scattered along the same river. The water in the river has a characteristic blue color and this is where their name comes from. The river flows between the Paos and Viejo volcanoes. This causes volcanic minerals to get into its waters, and color it blue. When visiting Blue Falls, you can choose a short, two-hour trip, which will allow you to see the first two waterfalls – Las Gemelas. You can also see all seven on a nearly seven-hour hike. The admission fee also includes a ticket to the nearby (equally magnificent) Catarata del Toro waterfall. In my opinion, these are one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, because they are really wild, undeveloped and you have to get through the jungle to get to them. An amazing place for a real outdoor adventure and spending time actively.

Location and how to get there

The Blue Falls are located in the immediate vicinity of the Juan Castro Blanco National Park, near Catarata Del Toro in Bajos Del Toro. The trip from the capital by car, approximately 70 km away, takes more or less 2 hours. You are driving along the paved, but also bumpy, steep, and winding Road no. 708, so you should plan a little more time for it. On the other hand, a trip from Sarapiqui, 55 km away, takes 1.5. If you are coming from La Fortuna it is less than 80 km which should also take about 1.5h.  The easiest way will be to type “Catarata del Toro” in Google Maps navigation, and it will take you to the reception and free parking lot. There are also many “Catarata del Toro” signs along the way. You can also use a combination of public buses and taxis or private transport.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • basic trip  USD 15 per person – includes 2 waterfalls
  • all-day trip –USD 15 per person – includes 7 waterfalls
  • combined trip – basic Blue Falls and Catarata del Toro –USD 25.
  • Monday to Friday: from 7 am to 4 pm

Catarata del Toro

Catarata del Toro, or Bull’s Waterfall, is another hidden gem of Costa Rica. 90 meters of height make the Catarata del Toro waterfall the highest here. What makes it so special is its location. It plunges into the crater of an extinct volcano, the rim of which is now covered with lush green tropical forest. You can reach the foot of the waterfall hidden inside an inactive crater. Catarata del Toro is right behind the ticket office and it doesn’t take a long to get there.

In my opinion, it is best to start your adventure early in the morning, to avoid crowds of tourists. Or you can also stop here for a coffee and admire the beautiful garden with hundreds of hummingbirds roaming around it.

Location and how to get there

The entrance and ticket offices for Catarata del Toro and The Blue Falls are in the same place. Both attractions are very close to each other. The same route leads to both of them.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • foreigners – USD 2 – admission fee to Tenorio Volcano National Park, hiking costs USD 12 per adult, and USD 5 for children up to 12 years of age
  • citizens and residents of Costa Rica – CRC 800 per adult, CRC 500 for children up to 12 years of age.
  • every day from 8 am to 2 pm

La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall is about 70 m high. Apart from the beauty of the waterfall itself, one of its greatest attractions is its location in the heart of the rainforest. From the entrance gate, you can go down a staircase of about 500 steps. On the way, there is also a viewpoint from which you can admire this incredible nature, take photos or make videos. At the foot of the waterfall, there is a pool where you are allowed to swim.

Location and how to get there

La Fortuna Waterfall is located in the central part of Costa Rica, near the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, north of San José, near the tourist town of La Fortuna. From San José to La Fortuna, it is best to take Road 1 (Pan-American Highway), in San Ramon take Road 702, which will lead you to the city of La Fortuna. A local road leads from the town, (approx. 3 km), directly to the entrance. You can come here by car, order a taxi, use the services of a local travel agency, go hiking or come on horseback.

Admission fee and opening hours:
  • USD 18 per person.
  • every day from 7.30 am to 4 pm

You can find more information about must do and must see in La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano here: La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica – a practical guide and must see attractions

Nauyaca Falls

The Nauyaca Falls are by far the most beautiful in my opinion. In the middle of tropical vegetation, they run down the rocks of the canyon creating a double cataract, each made up of minor streams. All this makes this group of waterfalls remain in your memory for a long time. They are located in a canyon that is almost 80 m wide. One of the waterfalls is about 45 m high – it is characterized by a free fall, the second is 20 m wide and has is of a cascade waterfall. At their foot, there is a pool with an area of ​​almost 1000 m2 and a depth of about 6 m. In other smaller pools, swimming is allowed. You can also go horseback riding, go climbing or admire the beauty of the tropical forest. It is the perfect place if you love actively exploring nature because it can be reached either on foot or on horseback. However, take into account the fact that although the waterfalls belong to a Costa Rican family and are located on private property, it is a very popular place. In my opinion, it’s best to visit them only in the morning (seriously, be there first) and during the week. Only then will you have a chance to see the waterfalls without the crowds of tourists and have them at least for a little for yourself. And it’s worth it because they are absolutely amazing.

Location and how to get there

The Nauyaca Falls are located in southern Costa Rica, relatively close to the Pacific coast. The best way to get here from San José is on taking Road 2. In San Isidro, make a turn and take Road 243, which will lead you to the waterfalls. From Quepos or Uvita, take Road 34 to Dominical. From Dominical to the Nauyaca Falls take Road 234.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • admission to waterfalls USD 10 per person
  • horseback tripUSD 85 per person
  • drive back and forth in a 4 × 4 truck USD 32 per person – available at 7.00, 9.00, 10.00, 11.00, and 12.00.
  • Premium package – breakfast, admission, round-trip truck ride, lunch, and guide – USD 85 per person – start 8:00 and end 1:30 pm
  • parking – 3 USD.

The full post about this amazing place you can find here: Nauyaca Waterfalls – incredible waterfalls of Costa Rica

Rio Celeste

On the Turquoise River – Rio Celeste, there is a waterfall, the waters of which flow forcefully into the blue – turquoise surface of the pool located at its foot and which is part (like the waterfall itself) of the Rio Celeste River. The waterfall and turquoise pool are surrounded by rocks and tropical vegetation. The river and the waterfall are part of the Tenorio Volcano National Park. To reach the waterfall, it takes about an hour to walk along the Turquoise River from the park entrance at Rio Celeste. It is no less impressive than the waterfall itself, and the color of the river is not caused by chemicals, but by a type of light scattering – known as the Mie scattering.

Location and how to get there

Rio Celeste is located in northern Costa Rica and is part of the Tenorio Volcano National Park. From the main tourist town of Costa Rica, the best way to get here is from La Fortuna. From the town of La Fortuna, first, take Road no. 142, and then turn left into Road no. 4. From this point follow the signs by the road. First, follow those to Upala, and then the signs will lead to Tenorio Volcano National Park, Rio Celeste, and Bijagua.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • foreigners – USD 2 – the admission to Tenorio Volcano National Park, hiking costs USD 12 per adult, USD 5 for children up to 12 years of age,
  • citizens and residents of Costa Rica – CRC  800 per adult, CRC 500 for children up to 12 years of age.
  • every day from 8 am to 2 pm.

Eco Chontales

Eco Chontales is a paradise waterfall with crystal clear water surrounded by jungle. The owner of the territory is a Costa Rican family the members of which are also guides. From the parking lot, you go about 600 meters down to the waterfall. One of the biggest attractions is the viewpoint with an epic view of the Eco Chontales waterfall. It is the perfect place to take photos or make videos. From the viewpoint, you go down to the foot of the waterfall. Here you can rest for a while, admire it and swim in its pool. The Eco Chontales waterfall is approximately 60 m high.

Location and how to get there

The Eco Chontales waterfall is located in the south of Costa Rica, near the Pacific coast and the city of Dominical, in Barú de Pérez Zeledón. The access road is in good condition and it shouldn’t be a problem for any vehicle. From San José, it is approximately 231 km to the Eco Chontales waterfalls if you are taking Road 27 and Road 34 (Costanera Sur). This takes approximately 4.5h. You can also get here taking Road no. 2 (Pan-American Sur). From this route, take Road 243 towards Dominical, then take approximately 45 minutes to the intersection in Torito de Barú, where you have to turn right and go down the road for half an hour following the signs for Eco Chontales until you reach the house with a parking lot where the entrance is.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • foreigners – USD 6,50 USD per adult, USD 5  for children 3-9 years old.
  • citizens and residents of Costa Rica – CRC 3000 per adult, CRC 2000 for children 3-9 years old.
  • every day from 8 am to 4 pm.

 

Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

Llanos de Cortes Waterfall is a group of majestic waterfalls. Here, a few narrow streams fall to form a wide wall of water along the moss-covered rocks. The rocks shine through the transparent cascade. The waterfall is surrounded by a dense forest. In its foot, there is a pool where you can swim. If you have more time, take a walk around in the rainforest. Here you can see many species of birds, lizards and sometimes even hear monkeys.

Location and how to get there

Llanos de Cortes Waterfall is located in the northwest of Costa Rica, near the city of Bagaces, near the Pan-American Highway – Road no. 1. It is approximately half an hour south of Liberia and its International Airport (LIR) and less than two hours’ drive from Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Playa Hermosa, and other coastal towns in Guanacaste. Free parking is very close to the waterfall, the walk takes about 5 minutes mostly via concrete stairs.

Admission fee and opening hours
  • foreigners –  USD 7 per adult,  USD 4 for children up to 6 years of age.
  • citizens and residents of Costa Rica – CRC 2000 per adult, CRC 1000 for children up to 6 years of age.
  • every day from 8 am to 4pm.

Read more of my posts from Costa Rica.  I’ll show you places that many Costa Ricans don’t even know about.

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