The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of those sites you see in pictures and think it looks pretty, but when you finally see it in real life, you are completely blown away by its epic proportions. This waterfall is (in our opinion) a must-see spot while traveling in Costa Rica. 

We take every single person who comes to visit us here in Costa Rica to the La Fortuna Waterfall. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that Thomas and I tend to just drop our family and friends off to check it out because we have been so many times.

Sometimes I feel like we live in Jurassic Park

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Important Info about the La Fortuna Waterfall


The waterfall is open every day from 7am until 4pm. We suggest getting there by 2pm if you want to have enough time to fully enjoy the waterfall. If you go early in the morning you will have the whole place mostly to yourself, but swimming in that freezing water around 8am is a little too much for us. It usually starts filling up around mid-morning.


There is a large paved parking lot on site which you are welcome to park in for free. As always, please don’t leave anything of value in your car. We have not heard of anything bad happening in this parking lot, but we also have never noticed any parking attendants actively keeping an eye on vehicles.

la fortuna waterfall


The cost for foreigners is $15 per adult. Children under 8 are free. The price is $8 for Cosa Rica nationals. This price is a little high, but we feel OK about paying this much because the profits go to maintaining local schools, the cute park in the center of La Fortuna, and other things around the city.

To bring:

-A bottle of water

-swimsuit (there is a bathroom with changing stations at the top of the trail)

-towel (we are recently obsessed with microfiber towels because in a country where nothing ever dries, these dry fast)

– Your camera (if you want to take pics in the water GoPro is the way to go)

– strong sunscreen

– bug spray

To wear: 

I usually opt for shorts, a t-shirt, hiking sandals which I can wear in the water (like Chacos), and a backpack. If visiting during the rainy season you may want to bring a rain jacket and a rainproof cover for your backpack.

Amount of time you need:

We usually spend about 2 hours here. You could definitely spend a lot longer if you want to hang out in the water for awhile.


We suggest driving to the waterfall. We think renting a car is the best way of getting around La Fortuna. You can read more about that in our complete La Fortuna guide here (as well as get a 10% discount on your rental car). 


The reason I say this is because without fail, every time we go to the La Fortuna waterfall we see tourists walking from town to the waterfall. It may look like a short distance on a map, but it’s not! Just to give you an idea, from the park in downtown La Fortuna it is a 3-mile walk. That might not sound too bad but then when you factor in the 500 steps down to the waterfall and back up again, it’s a lot of walking!

If you do not have a rental car, we suggest taking an Uber instead of a taxi if you’d like a ride. Uber is always about half the price of a taxi in Costa Rica.

Also, if you are driving and feel like being nice and trusting, we always stop and offer a ride to some people who look like they are about to pass out.

From downtown La Fortuna it will take you about 10 minutes to drive here. There are plenty of signs so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it.

Part of the road is unpaved but it is very flat and well maintained so a 4×4 is not necessary. You will be fine getting there in any car.

Helpful La Fortuna Waterfall Tips

Take it slow:

To get to the very bottom of the waterfall consists of going down about 500 steps. It’s not so bad going down, but on the trip back up your legs will be hurting for sure. You can definitely skip you leg workouts for the next week after this. The path down to the waterfall is pretty nice. They have been fixing it up over the past few years and it is now almost fully paved with stable railings.

la fortuna waterfall

Stop at the viewpoints:

There are some great spots along the way to stop and get a nice picture. It’s a great excuse to take a break from all the steps. 🙂

Swim under the waterfall:

We have been twice where we were allowed to swim under the waterfall and once where we were not. It all depends on the water level at that particular time. Just ask when you buy your ticket if you are able to swim that day or not. 

Just a warning it is freaking freezing! Also, be careful here. The push from the waterfall can be really strong and the rocks are slippery.

la fortuna waterfall

Swim in the stream next to the waterfall:

If you cannot swim under the waterfall that day you can always go to the stream next to the river and swim. The water is equally as freezing, but it can be refreshing after all those steps. This area is much calmer and fun to wade through.

Check out the flower gardens:

There is small loop trail at the top of the path with some lovely plants which are all labeled. It’s a nice way to catch your breath after all the stairs while looking at pretty plants.

la fortuna waterfall flowers



What to do after the La Fortuna Waterfall

If you are looking for something fun to do after or before the waterfall check out Rainforest Chocolate Tour. They are located on the same road as the La Fortuna waterfall and we really enjoyed their chocolate tour. It’s best to book a spot ahead of time though because they fill up fast.

We also have tons of other ideas on our La Fortuna page.


Have any questions about the La Fortuna waterfall? Leave them in the comment section below and we’ll help you out!



The La Fortuna waterfall is a must visit spot in Costa Rica near Arenal volcano. Find out useful tips for visiting including directions, what to wear etc. #CostaRica #waterfall #travelguide The La Fortuna waterfall is a must visit spot in Costa Rica near Arenal volcano. Find out useful tips for visiting including directions, what to wear etc. #CostaRica #waterfall #travelguide



  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for this great information! We are going to CR in January. My husband and I love to travel with our two very grown kids. This will be our holiday get-together since they live in different states. We will be renting a car and love local food and cool spots. We are staying in Arenal at the lodge for three nights, a guesthouse the last two nights in La Fortuna. We are trying to avoid driving long distances because of the short time we all have. Biking, waterfall rappeling, walks/hikes and nature are in our interest. I’m going to be combing your blog for info and if you have anything/vendors/providers, please pass them along!
    Thanks, Stacy

  2. Hiii! Thrilled that I came across your blog. It’s been very informative so far, so thanks a lot! We’re looking to make a trip to Costa Rica in March, and would love to make our way to the waterfall. Do you think this would be a difficult and/ or dangerous activity to do with a 4 year old? He loves hiking and is pretty good for the most part, aside from the typical clumsiness of a small child. Thanks!

    • Hi Danielle,
      It won’t be dangerous it’s just a lot of steps. I don’t know if he will make it all the way down/ back up. However, you can still see the falls from all the lookout points even if you don’t make it all the way to the bottom with him. Also, if you do make it to the bottom, you could let him get in the water at the stream next to the falls. There are always a lot of kids swimming there. Swimming under the falls themselves may be allowed but the push from the water can be really strong. Hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions!


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