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Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica: Ultimate Guide of How to Visit

The Nauyaca Waterfall in Costa Rica consists of two cascading waterfalls near the Pacific Coast beach town of Dominical. These waterfalls are very impressive and you can even swim under the lower fall!

There are two access points for visiting as well as multiple ways to get to the falls from hiking to taking a 4×4 shuttle. We created this guide to give you the pros and cons of each entrance, fill you in on how to visit, and give you all the must-know tips to ensure you have an amazing experience.

So, let’s get to all things Nuyaca Waterfalls!

Nauyaca Waterfalls at a Glance

  • The waterfall is located in the hills above Dominical and below San Isidro de El General.
  • The waterfall access points are all located on private property. This is not a national park.
  • There are two access points for the falls. These are Don Lulo’s Nauyaca Waterfalls (the original entrance option) and Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park (the new entry point).
  • We recommend Don Lulo’s entrance because it is the easiest to get to, has the best hiking options, and is the best for people who don’t want to hike and need transportation directly to the base of the falls.
  • The perk of Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park is that they offer an option to hike one way and trolley back. Also, this entrance is not as popular so there are often fewer people accessing from here. 
  • Here are both entry points on Google Maps
  • No matter which access point you choose, you can still swim under the lower falls in the natural pools and hike to the top. Don Lulo’s will be on the right side of the falls and Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park brings you out to the left side of the waterfalls.
  • Be aware that if you opt to hike (from either entrance) it can be intense due to the strong sun and high humidity.
  • The Nauyaca Falls makes a great day trip from Dominical, Uvita, and Manuel Antonio. They are definitely the best waterfalls in the area.

Don Lulo’s Nauyaca Waterfalls Info

nauyaca waterfall view

This is the original access point to the waterfalls and our preferred way. 

Don Lulo’s has multiple tour/ hiking options from this entrance. These are:


You can hike to and from the waterfall on your own. This hike is 2 miles (4km) from the parking lot.

The hiking trail is wide in most spots and consists of packed-down dirt. It is hilly and in direct sun at several points. 

Luckily, there are also some spots in the lush jungle with tree coverage as well.

We have done this hike many times and it is our preferred way to visit the falls. 

If you opt to do this, the entrance fee is $10 for entry.

Tour 4×4 Economy

This is a 4×4 ride that will bring you close to the base of the waterfall. From where the shuttle drops you off you will only need to walk 150 meters to the first waterfall and 100 meters in steps to the upper waterfall. 

The downside of this is, you will only get to spend two hours at the waterfall before it will be time for your transportation back. In my opinion, this is enough time though. Even with swimming, we have never spent more than two hours here.

The timetable for this tour is as follows.

  • 07:00 am – 09:30 am
  • 08:00 am – 10:30 am
  • 09:00 am – 11:30 am
  • 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
  • 11:00 am – 01:30 pm
  • 12:00 pm – 02:30 pm

Tour 4×4 Premium

This premium tour option starts at the main entrance where you will be picked up by a 4×4 vehicle. Half an hour later, you will reach a ranch where you can enjoy a snack and observe white-faced monkeys, peacocks, agoutis, and other animals in the surroundings.

Next, the 4×4 will take you to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, where you can swim and enjoy the spectacular scenery of two beautiful waterfalls for about 2 hours.

On the way back, you’ll stop again to enjoy a delicious typical Costa Rican lunch and a good coffee.

This tour starts at 9:00 a.m. and finishes around 1:30 p.m.

Horseback Riding Tour

The horseback tour basically follows the exact schedule as the premium tour, but instead of a 4×4 you will instead get to enjoy horseback riding.

This tour has a weight limit of 220 pounds for people without experience riding horses and 240 pounds for experienced riders.

Driving Directions

This waterfall entrance is located on the right side of Route 243 (the main road heading into the mountains from Dominical along Rio Baru). From Downtown Dominical it will take about 12 minutes to drive here.

Here is the location on Google Maps

You can pull your car off at the main entrance which is just next to the road to buy tickets. From here, you can drive your car down the steep road to their parking lot.

In the past, you needed a 4×4 to do this, but it is now paved, making the parking lot accessible for all cars. 

Opening Hours

The main office is open from: 

  • Mon-Sat: 7 a. m. – 2 p. m.
  • Sunday: 8 a. m. – 2 p.m.

This means you can enter until 2pm. The waterfalls close at 3:30pm.

We suggest going here in the morning before it gets too hot. 

Admission Cost

  • Parking: $5
  • Hiking both ways: $10 per person
  • 4×4 Transportation to and from the falls: $32 per person (includes parking)
  • Tour 4×4 Premium: $80 per person (lunch is included)
  • Horseback Riding to and from the falls: $80 per person (this also includes lunch)

If you plan to do a tour we suggest pre-booking your tickets on their website. If you just plan to hike, you can buy admission at the ticket office on their property.


There are basic restrooms at the main entrance and at the waterfalls. The parking facility is guarded.

Find out more and book your tickets on their website here

Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park Info

This is the newer access point to the falls. 

They offer two different ways to get to the base. These are:

Enjoy the Ride (Trolley Both Ways)

With this option, you won’t need to do any hiking. Instead, you can enjoy a comfortable ride to and from the waterfall.

From the rancho where you are dropped off, it is only a 10-minute walk to the falls.

This costs $38 for adults and $35 for kids ages 3 to 11.

Enjoy the Walk (Trolley One Way)

With this option, you will hike to the waterfall on your own. When you are done exploring you just need to call the front desk and they will come pick you up with their trolley driven by a tractor.

The hike to the waterfall is about 1.6 miles (2.7 kilometers).

This costs $28 per person for adults and $25 per person for children

Driving Directions

This is a bit more remote to get to. It is located on remote dirt roads. They are well packed down though. You shouldn’t need a 4×4 rental car to get here (unless there has been a lot of rain recently), but we do recommend at least having an SUV with decent clearance.

Here is the location on Google Maps

Opening Hours

This place is open daily from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. The last pick-up from the waterfall is at 4:00 pm.


I think this place has better facilities. The rancho near the waterfall has clean bathrooms, showers, covered picnic tables, and hammocks.

For more info, check out the Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park website

What to Expect at the Falls

No matter which company you choose to access the waterfalls from, you will still be able to swim under the lower falls and walk up some stairs to view the upper falls.

You can not swim under the upper waterfall.

When swimming under the lower waterfall there are a lot of rocks to climb on and places where you can set your towel while swimming.

Usually, the water is really cold, but its refreshing after an intense hike.

During the dry season, there will be less water in the falls. It looks slightly less impressive, but at least you don’t need to worry about rain!

Tour Options

Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica: Ultimate Guide of How to Visit
  • If you are staying in Manuel Antonio or Uvita and won’t have a rental car, you might want to opt for a day tour instead. 
  • If you will have a rental car, we instead suggest driving to the Nuyaca Waterfall entrance and arranging your experience directly through one of the companies I listed above. This will be more affordable. 
  • If you are staying in Dominical and won’t have a rental car, it will likely be more affordable to take a taxi to the entrance rather than book a day tour

All-Inclusive Full-Day Nauyaca Waterfall and Beach Town Tour (from Manuel Antonio)

This is a 5 to 8-hour tour from Manuel Antonio with an experienced guide. On this perfect day trip you will visit:

  • Portalon Waterfall: Here you can swim in the rainforest river. 
  • Playa Linda: This is a remote beach 
  • Dominical: Explore the downtown area of this beach town and grab a fresh drink
  • Nauyaca Waterfalls: You will hike to the waterfall with your experienced guide and get the chance to swim under the falls

Transportation from Manuel Antonio area hotels, a delicious Costa Rican lunch, snacks, and water are included

Check Availability and Book this Tour

Nauyaca Waterfalls Tour (from Uvita)

This tour includes transportation from Uvita to the waterfall. You will then enjoy a hiking experience with a guide before being transported back to your hotel. 

Check Availability and Book this Tour

What To Wear and Bring

Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica: Ultimate Guide of How to Visit

Here are the items we suggest bringing and wearing for your adventure.

What to Wear

  • Sun-blocking hat (we love this one from Columbia)
  • Shoes to hike in (we like Keens because you can also use them in the water)
  • Breathable sun-blocking clothing
  • Your bathing suit if you plan to enjoy a refreshing swim

What to Bring

  • Microfiber towel (these are great because they dry fast and can easily fir in your suitcase)
  • SPF 50 Sunblock
  • A lot of drinking water (We like LifeStraw bottles for Costa Rica for the added bacteria protection)
  • Snacks
  • A change of clothes
  • Pocket binoculars (we have never seen much wildlife here, but these are always great to have in Costa Rica)
  • Waterproof backpack (We have this day pack and it is our go-to for all activities in Costa Rica. Things always get wet here!)

Check out the complete Costa Rica National Park Packing List for more ideas

Safety at the Nauyaca Falls

Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica: Ultimate Guide of How to Visit

Your biggest concern here needs to be safety. There are no railings blocking you off from the top of the falls and the smooth rocks can be very slippery. It is up to you to use your best judgment and not get too close to the edge. 

Keep in mind that things can be more slippery than usual if you visit during the rainy season.

I say this because there have been deaths here in the past from people slipping. In fact, a girl I knew from college actually died from falling here. So, I am a little over-the-top cautious here (and at all waterfalls in Costa Rica).

Also, be careful when swimming under the lower falls. Sometimes people try to climb on rocks to stand directly under the waterfall stream. These rocks can be very slippery. There is typically a lifeguard here who will blow their whistle at people doing dangerous things, but still, use your best judgment.

Your other safety concern should be getting overheated. It is so easy to do here! As I suggested above, make sure to wear sun-blocking items, bring a lot of drinking water, and consider bringing some electrolyte-replenishing snacks.  

Our Opinion on the Waterfalls

Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica: Ultimate Guide of How to Visit

We have visited the Nauyaca Waterfalls a few times. In my opinion, it is the most impressive waterfall in this Central/ South Pacific area. I think if you are staying nearby (or in Manuel Antonio or Uvita) it is definitely worth a visit here.

Just be prepared that the hike can be intense. Even if the hike is not overly long, you likely aren’t used to the high humidity and heat that we have in Costa Rica. So, take it slow and don’t overdo it. Luckily, you can take a nice swim in cool waterfall waters once you get to the waterfall.

Our favorite way to visit here is by hiking. It is the most budget-friendly option and even though the hike can be somewhat intense, it is very nice. 

Fun Things to Do After

Here are some of our favorite things to do in the area near Nauyaca Waterfalls.

Relax on Dominical Beach


If you drive through downtown Dominical you will come to this beach area. It’s somewhat rocky, but is a popular spot for surfing and taking a long beach walk.

Visit the Uvita Waterfall

uvita waterfall

Ok, I know this picture is horrible quality. But, yes, that is Thomas sliding down a waterfall. This is possible at Catarata Uvita located in the hills above Uvita.

We recommend only sliding down when the water level is high enough. You can ask at the main office when you buy tickets if it is possible to slide down the waterfall on that day.

Check out Marino Ballena National Park

marino ballena whales tail

Marino Ballena National Park is the protected beach area in Uvita. During low tide you can walk out onto this tip that resembles the tail of a whale.

This area also happens to be an amazing place to enjoy whale-watching tours.

Get more info with the Marino Ballena National Park Guide

Nearby Hotels and Restaurants

There are tons of amazing hotel and restaurant options in this area.

In Dominical, our favorite hotels are:

Some other great nearby options are:

Our favorite restaurants in the area are:

Check out our complete guide to Dominical for all the best nearby activities, travel tips, weather info, hotels, and more!


In conclusion, no matter which access point or transportation option you choose, the Nauyaca Waterfalls are definitely worth a visit.

If you have any questions about planning your trip to these majestic waterfalls, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

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