I knew there were cool waterfalls in Costa Rica before we moved here, but I guess I didn’t realize the extent of the amazing natural waterfalls that can be found in this country. Costa Rica waterfalls are not limited to the popular spots which most tourists visit. There are also some amazing waterfalls (which I’m going to share here) that you’ve probably never even heard of.
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Safety Info
Before we get started talking about some freaking cool waterfalls, I need to get this out there.
Costa Rica does not always regulate things as is probably done in your home country. Although all of these waterfalls are amazing, they do come at a risk. Some (in fact almost all) of these waterfalls I’m going to list are a bit off the beaten path. This means there are no blocked off areas telling you not to cross and no staff members saying not to go in certain spots.
The reason I say this is because it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. A girl I went to college with recently died by falling off the top of Nayuaca waterfall here in Costa Rica while on vacation. It is a popular spot for people to try to cross, but it can be very slippery. She, unfortunately, did not make it to the other side. I do not know the exact circumstances surrounding her fall, but Nayuaca, and many other waterfalls listed here are not easily accessible to emergency vehicles for fast assistance in case of emergency.
Her death has been an unfortunate but eye-opening lesson for Thomas and I. The picture above was taken by Thomas at the top of Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Thomas freaked me out when he got that close to the edge to get a picture. We both now realize just how risky that was and that we sometimes need to think a bit more about our actions in Costa Rica. Just because something is open to the public, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
All of this especially applies if you are traveling during the rainy season. After heavy rains, everything can be slippery and the earth can shift.
I’m sorry to start such a fun post on such a heavy note, but the main reason we started this site was to help all of you plan a great trip to Costa Rica. I feel a lot of responsibility if you use our site and then something goes wrong on your trip. For that reason, I needed to address this safety issue. If something looks dangerous it’s best to skip it even if other people are doing it.
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Llanos de Cortez
This is one of our favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica because of its sheer magnitude and the fact that you can swim under it. This waterfall is easily accessible to the public. We liked this spot so much that we wrote a full guide to visiting. You can find more about visiting the Llanos de Cortez waterfall here.
Location: Near Liberia
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Nayuaca
We have not actually been to Nayuaca yet, but my mom visited this spot when she was in Costa Rica last year. She said there are two options for visiting this waterfall. You can either take a horseback riding tour or hike to the falls yourself. She opted to hike here on her own.
She found info on where to buy tickets and how to do the hike here before visiting. My mom said the hike to the waterfall was ridiculously intense, and if she says something was intense it means I would not have been able to do it. She is in ridiculously good shape!
The cost of admission is $8 per person and we suggest having a 4×4 rental car so you can get a bit closer to the falls and don’t have to walk as far.
Location: Near the town of Dominical
Costa Rica Waterfalls – La Fortuna
Probably the most famous of all the waterfalls in the country. The La Fortuna waterfall is one of those must visit places. We send everyone here! It can be really full of people and the walk down to the waterfall is hell, but it looks amazing! We have a complete post about visiting this waterfall here.
Location: La Fortuna
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Los Chorros
A friend took us to this somewhat hidden waterfall and what a surprise it was! Not only is it free to enter, but you can walk through the stream and enjoy standing under the waterfall.
Please note, when we were there someone was trying to collect money for parking at the front gate. The guy in the car in front of us told the man that he knew this was a free reserve and to go away. Apparently, people try to stand at the entrance collecting money and not actually working there.
It’s obviously up to you what you do with this information. If this happens to you and your Spanish is decent, I’d tell him you have heard you don’t have to pay.
The hike down to the waterfall is about a mile on a dirt path. It’s not too difficult going down, but you might get a little worn out going back up.
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Montezuma Waterfall
We actually have not visited the Montezuma waterfall because when we were in the area there was way too much rain. However, we got the whole scoop on visiting from our friends over at Montezuma Gardens.
They told us that it was possible to park on their property and walk to the falls. You will need to pay a few dollars to park your car on their property or it is free if you are visiting their butterfly garden or eating a meal at their restaurant (we highly suggest doing both). They told us the trail from their place involves a lot of stairs and can be a bit physically exhausting, but doable.
Your other option is to drive up the street to Sun Trails. They offer tours in the area, but you can also do your own self-guided walk on their property to the waterfalls. The people at Montezuma Gardens said the Sun Trail trails are well maintained and include a nice hanging bridge with a good view. Sun Trails charges about $5 per person for this walk.
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Rio Celeste
Have you ever seen such blue water? I can assure you this is not a filter. Rio Celeste is just that amazing!
Rio Celeste is located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, about two hours north west of La Fortuna. You could easily make this a day trip from La Fortuna or spend the night at one of the few nearby hotels.
Getting to the waterfall involves a bit of a hike from the parking area. The trails are well maintained though.
Just be warned, if you plan on visiting during the rainy season it can be really muddy and the color tends to be dull. You also can not swim at this waterfall.
Location: Tenorio National Park
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Catarata de la Paz
When Poas Volcano used to be open to the public, before it started erupting, we would always make a stop at this waterfall when we visited. You can also pass by Catarata de la Paz if you want to take a more scenic, but curvy route back from La Fortuna to San Jose.
This waterfall is an extension of the popular La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. We have never been to the park because tickets are a bit pricey at $44 per person. From pictures, it looks absolutely beautiful, but we have always been satisfied with this free waterfall on the side of the road.
We love it because it is a great cultural experience. There are always people selling food on the side of the road, making it the perfect place to stop on your drive. This waterfall is free. You just park your car on the side of the road and can check it out. It is possible to walk behind the falls (that is how this picture was taken ↑ ) but be careful, it can get really muddy back there. You can’t swim in this waterfall, or at least we’ve never seen anyone swimming here.
If you would like to visit this waterfall just put in “Catarata de la Paz” into your GPS and you’ll be good to go!
Location: Near Poas Volcano
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Portal de la Montana
We recently splurged and took a little weekend getaway to the mountains. We were able to stay at the Villa in the Forest at Portal de la Montana because of a last minute cancellation. The price was more than we would usually pay per night for a quick getaway, but we had both been working so hard recently that we decided we deserved it. Thinking about it now, the price was worth it. The villa was ridiculous, the included breakfast was great, and the rate included a free horseback ride and a visit to the waterfall with one of the men working on the farm.
Juergen, the owner, told us that nobody even knew about the waterfall when he bought the land. He discovered it after some exploring of his new property. The walk to the waterfall is intense. It’s pretty much an almost sheer drop through the woods. I definitely slid down a few times.
This waterfall is the epitome of what I talked about earlier with safety. Because this is on private property nothing is regulated. You will visit with someone who knows the area, but it is still a steep and dangerous, so please be careful.
The walk back up is crazy! I was so ready for a jump in the pool after this adventure. It was worth it though for the amazing view.
Location: The middle of nowhere….aka near Sabanillas
Costa Rica Waterfalls – El Chorro
The El Chorro waterfall is a nice reward for doing the entire beach walk in Montezuma. It’s not a big waterfall, but it’s beautiful with the ocean next to it. We have a complete post about the Montezuma beach walk here if you want more info.
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Rio Savegre Waterfall
Rio Savegre waterfall is in one of our favorite places in the country, San Gerardo de Dota. We love this sleepy cloud forest town! It’s never busy, everyone on town is super nice, it’s a birding paradise, and it’s always cold! Yes, you read that right, I’m excited about the cold! I need a break from the heat from time to time. Not often, but on rare occasions, I want nothing more than to be bundled up in San Gerardo de Dota.
To get to this waterfall you need to do the Rio Savegre hike. It is located at the edge of town, but if you just ask at your hotel they can direct you to where to go. The hike can be a bit intense (lot’s of stairs and not well-marked spots), but it is so fun! I loved this walk! The reward of the waterfall at the end is totally worth it as well.
Location: San Gerardo de Dota
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges
The Mistico Hanging Bridges are not a budget activity. In fact, the admission is $26 per adult. However, if you want to experience hiking some hanging bridges while in Costa Rica, this is the perfect place to see them. We especially like coming here on clear days because you can get a really clear view of Arenal Volcano.
Unlike the other waterfalls, this one is blocked off by a little fence. You can not swim under this waterfall, but it definitely is nice to look at!
Location: La Fortuna area
Costa Rica Waterfalls – Our Suggestions
– Ask at your hotel about any secret waterfalls nearby. As you can see, some of the waterfalls we mentioned were complete surprises for us. We had no idea they even existed until someone else told us about them. There are waterfalls all over Costa Rica that are not well known so definitely ask at your hotel.
– Don’t forget water, snacks, and sunscreen! Some of these waterfalls involve a bit of a hike. This country is hot! You’ll definitely want water and snacks to sustain you. Also, the sun is crazy strong. Definitely, bring sunscreen so you can reapply as you walk.
If you have any questions about these falls just leave them in the comment section below and we will help you out. Also, if you know of any other amazing waterfalls in Costa Rica, we’d love to hear about them!
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