The Montezuma waterfall consists of three cascading falls along a river in the bohemian beach town of Montezuma, Costa Rica. Some serious risk-takers and locals will jump off of the top of the highest fall, but we suggest not risking your life and just enjoying a nice hike and swim under the falls instead.
There are a variety of ways to access the falls. Let’s go through all of your possibilities…..
About the Falls
There are three waterfalls close together along the Montezuma river. The waterfall closest to town is the largest. It is about 80 feet tall. Although we strongly suggest that you do not jump from the top of the lower waterfall, there is a nice pool for swimming at the base.
The middle waterfall is lower with a height of about 40 feet high. People do jump from here, but again, we suggest that you don’t. To get here you will have to swim across the pool at the top waterfall.
The top waterfall is the lowest with a height of about 15 feet high. There is a rope swing here. It is super fun to leap into the deep waterfall pool from the swing. You can also jump from the top if you want to be like Tom Brady and his daughter.
Note: For all you football fans, Tom Brady also jumped off the middle falls.
Accessing the Falls from Downtown Montezuma
The most popular place to access the falls is from the main parking lot near downtown Montezuma. It is free to access from here but you will have to pay a few dollars to park your car in the lot.
There are no specific opening and closing hours here, so come whenever! Just note that the sun sets at about 5:30pm every day. You will not want to try and get back to the waterfall entrance once its dark out!
We suggest taking this route if you do not have a car and are staying in downtown Montezuma. You can easily walk here from town.
This route is also great if you really only care about seeing the big lower fall and don’t plan on venturing further up.
Just be warned it can be a bit strenuous to get here because you will have to climb over slippery rocks and sometimes hoist yourself over tree roots and branches. There are some places with ropes which will help you hoist yourself up.
If you are attempting this hike during the dry season your life will be much easier. The river bed tends to dry out and you can easily navigate up the rocks.
If you would like to access the upper falls after viewing the lower fall you will have to climb up a ton of stairs and pay 1,000 colones to access the rest of the trails.
Accessing the Falls from Above
You can access the falls from above at SunTrails. SunTrails is a local tour company that owns the property abutting the Montezuma river waterfalls.
You can either park at the SunTrails parking lot or park at Mariposa Butterfly Gardens.
If you park at SunTrails you will pay about $5 per person to access their trails. This is a nice hike which includes walking across hanging bridges. It will put you out at the top waterfalls. You will then need to walk down a lot of steps to get to the lower fall. This obviously means you will then have to walk back up all those fun steps.
If you are interested in zip lining, SunTrails also has zip-lining over the falls with 9 platforms for $45. We have not done the zip-lining here, so we can’t comment on the quality.
Their trails are open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm.
If you opt to access the trails from the Mariposario Butterfly Gardens you will pay about $2 to park your car in their lot. You then walk down a short trail and access SunTrails from a different entry point. It will cost about $2 per person to access through here.
However, if you access this way you will miss out on the hanging bridges. It does save you a few dollars though.
The Mariposario Butterfly Gardens is also home to Butterfly Brewing Company. They make excellent craft beer and their restaurant is super tasty.
We personally like to park here and enjoy some good brews and delicious food after our hike.
Here is a map of all the Montezuma waterfall entrances so you can get a better idea of what we are talking about. ↓
Important Tips for Visiting the Montezuma Waterfall
What to wear
We wore fast drying shorts and T-shirts, our bathing suits underneath, water shoes, and a hat. This was perfect for this hike.
We swear by Keens or Tevas for our feet while hiking. These shoes have great grips, provide enough foot coverage, are breathable, and are perfect for trekking through the water.
What to Bring
A dry bag – We suggest putting all your valuable electronics in a dry bag if you plan to cross the river or want to swim under the falls. There is nothing worse than having all your electronics get soaked.
Bug spray and sunscreen– You will be in the woods so it can get a bit mosquito-y. Although you will be in the woods there is still sun and the sun is super strong here. It is best to put sunscreen on even if you feel as though you are walking in the shade.
A towel- This is not absolutely necessary, but we were happy to have our microfiber towel in our bag to dry off a bit before our walk back from the falls. On a hot day, you may be happy to stay as wet as possible before hiking.
A bottle of water– Definitely bring plenty of water with you for your hike. It gets super hot and you will find yourself getting dehydrated quickly.
Snacks– If you plan on checking out all the falls and want to do some swimming, you may want a few snacks. There is a small grocery store in downtown Montezuma. You can grab some snacks like granola bars and apples here.
-We strongly suggest not jumping off the highest and second-highest falls. You may see locals doing this, but that does not mean it is safe for you. They have spent many years figuring out the best way to climb up and how to jump properly. There have been tourist deaths in the past due to slipping from the edge or not jumping out far enough and hitting rocks on the way down.
-Be careful while climbing on the rocks in the river. They can be really slippery. As we previously mentioned, some type of water shoes like Keens or Tevas are super helpful.
-Flash floods can happen at any moment (this mainly applies to during the rainy season). If the river seems to suddenly change its strength in flow it is best to get to higher ground.
We started our walk from Mariposario Butterfly Garden. They charge 1,000 colones (about $2) to park in their lot, but if you tell them that you will be getting a meal at their restaurant or visiting their butterfly garden after your walk, they will usually not charge you to park.
We walked down the path to the woods until we reached a stand from SunTrails. We then paid 1,000 colones per person and got a wrist band for accessing the SunTrails trails.
From there we went to the left and visited the smaller falls. We also enjoyed a nice walk along some wooded trails. There were a lot of signs along the path that detailed info about the different animals you can see in the area.
Eventually, we ended up on a suspension bridge that ended with a sign for private property.
We then turned around and headed back to our starting point and headed down to the biggest falls. There were a lot of steps involved in that walk down!
From the bottom, you could see a small sliver of the larger waterfall in the distance, but we would have needed to cross the river to get closer.
A local guy offered to help us cross. I stayed back (I definitely would have fallen in) but Thomas went with the guy (I make him do a lot to get pictures for this site 😉 ).
About ten minutes later I saw the guy jumping across rocks and heading back to where he came from. I thought he either robbed Thomas or Thomas hadn’t paid him and he took off.
Then I looked and there was Thomas struggling to cross the river again to get back to where I was.
He luckily made it back on his own without falling in and losing his phone.
When I asked what happened his response was, “That guy was nuts! He climbed up the waterfall and jumped off of it. He swam to shore and then ran off. I thought he was a guide and would help me back here so I could give him some money, but he just left!”
Who knows! However, there are actually locals there who will guide you for a tip. Apparently that guy just wasn’t one of them and was just being nice to help Thomas cross.
From there we headed back up the millions of stairs and went to enjoy a nice cold beer at Butterfly Brewery.
What to do After the Montezuma Waterfall
Montezuma, on the Nicoya Peninsula, is one of our absolute favorite towns in all of Costa Rica. It may be a small town, but there is a lot of fun stuff to do!
-Get lunch and a beer at the Butterfly Brewery
As we previously mentioned in this article, the beers and food at Butterfly Brewing are top-notch.
-Tour the butterfly garden
The Mariposario Butterfly Garden at Butterfly Brewery is definitely worth a visit. In fact, they will even let you bring your beer into the butterfly garden. There are tables inside and you can enjoy your beer while watching butterflies fly around. Admission is $7 per person and includes a detailed intro explaining all things butterflies!
-Get lunch in downtown Montezuma
Montezuma is a super cute town. There are plenty of delicious restaurants within the downtown area. We suggest just walking around and seeing what jumps out at you.
-Hang out on Montezuma beach
Montezuma beach is one of our absolute favorite beaches in all of Costa Rica. It is not only beautiful but you can walk for hours and hours along pristine beaches with parts of wooded wildlife refuge sprinkled in between. If you are feeling really ambitious you can walk for two hours to end at a beautiful waterfall. You, of course, then have to walk back.
Find out more about this walk in our Montezuma beach guide.
For more tips, check out our complete guide to Montezuma. The guide includes all the best activities, great restaurants, good hotels, transportation tips, and more!
You Might Also Like: The Complete Guide to Costa Rica Waterfalls
If you have any questions about visiting the Montezuma waterfall please leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out! Also, if you would like to share any tips for visiting the falls with other travelers, we always love to hear those as well.
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