We love the northern Guanacaste region of Costa Rica for its beautiful beaches and amazing day trip opportunities. One of our absolute favorite spots here is the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. This waterfall is seriously impressive, easy to access, and inexpensive!
We visited this waterfall while staying near Playas del Coco. After a few days of non-stop beach action, we were ready for a little variety so we took the hour-long drive to check out Llanos de Cortez Waterfall after hearing about how amazing it is from some friends.
It did not disappoint!
Important Info about the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Llanos de Cortez is open from 8:00am until 5:00pm. We suggest getting there by 3pm at the latest if you want a chance to fully enjoy the falls.
We did not pay for parking, but there was a man directing people to park. We did hear from other people that the parking attendant collected a dollar or two from them, but this was not the case on the day we were there.
The parking attendant was watching the cars, but as it is a pretty big lot he couldn’t keep an eye on all the cars at once. Don’t leave anything of value in your car and put everything left behind in the trunk just in case.
There were some ladies at the entrance to the parking area collecting a donation. They said the donation goes towards supporting local schools. We gave about $5 per person, but feel free to give what you would like! There is no entrance fee, just this donation.
-A bottle of water
-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
– snacks or a picnic (if you want)
I usually opt for my bathing suit under a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, hiking sandals which I can wear in the water (like Chacos), and a backpack.
Amount of time you need:
We usually spend about 2 to 3 hours here. It really depends on if you want to make it a longer event. If you bring a picnic lunch you could potentially spend a half a day here.
You will need a rental car to get here. The last road is dirt, but a 4×4 is not necessary. You will most likely be heading to Llanos de Cortez Waterfall from either Liberia or the Guanacaste beaches. It’s super easy to get here. If you are coming from the Playas del Coco area just hop on route 21 up to Liberia. You will pass the airport and then come to a main intersection in Liberia.
Take a right onto route 1 and continue about 14 miles. This highway was recently redone and is super nice! Just a warning, for whatever reason the posted speed limit changes constantly. I haven’t seen any police paroling this road, but definitely, try to stick to the posted speed.
After about 14 miles you will take a right onto a dirt road. There is a sign, but if I remember correctly it’s not a very big sign. Definitely, keep an eye out. Just continue down the dirt road and you will come to the parking lot.
Helpful Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Tips:
-There is one bathroom located in the parking lot area, but it’s best to wear your bathing suit rather than attempting to change there.
-The hike down to the waterfall from the parking lot is a little steep, but nothing crazy. It will take you about ten minutes to get to the bottom
-The “beach” area gets crowded so get there early if you plan on setting up and spending several hours here.
– You can swim in the pool of water under the falls. It’s cold, but not freezing like some other waterfalls. This spot gets a lot of sun so it’s actually pretty refreshing to jump in.
– You can swim behind the falls and climb up on the rocks. The rocks get a little slippery though so we suggest some kind of stable water shoes like Chacos.
– On the left side of the falls, there is a nice hike to the top. We actually had no idea if we were on a path or not because it wasn’t labeled very well, but we made it to the top after some climbing up rocks. It will only take you about 5 minutes. Definitely wear some kind of shoes with good grips for this.
-Once you are on the top you can wade through the little stream which supplies the water for Llanos de Cortez. You can then get a nice view to below. Thomas was seriously freaking me out because he kept getting so close to the edge to snap pictures. I actually had to walk away at one point because I was getting too anxious.
-After exploring up top you can continue on the trail up there and you will come out back at the parking lot.
Have any questions about the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall? Leave them in the comment section below and we’ll help you out!
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