If you love waterfalls, then you will have to put Catarata del Toro on your list of places to see in Costa Rica. This stunning waterfall stands at an impressive 270 feet inside an old volcano crater on a private reserve in the rain forest.
Owned and operated by a Costa Rican-Dutch couple, they transformed a little piece of the rain forest into a welcoming visitor’s center so travelers can enjoy the nature and wildlife of the area.
In this guide you will find information on the waterfall, how to get there, what the trails are like and more.
This post was updated March 2018.
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Location and Directions
Catarata del Toro map.
How to Get to Catarata del Toro
It is highly recommend to rent a car because there is only one bus a day to and from the waterfall so you will have to spend a night.
How to get to Catarata del Toro from San Jose
There are several ways to get there but we like the scenic route through Sarchi. The views are gorgeous!
Take InterAmericanca 1 (Route 1) to San Ramon/Guanacaste. Take the Grecia exit and continue on this road to reach Grecia downtown with the red church on your left. Take a left after the church and follow the signs to Sarchi past the Plaza Grecia. Continue on this road to Sarchi until you reach a big field on your left and a Maxi Pali on your right. Turn right at the Maxi Pali and continue on this road high up into the mountains. Continue on this road for about 25 minutes until you reach the small town of Bajos del Toro Amarillo. Continue through the town about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), you’ll see a huge sign for the reserve on your left.
You can find the route on Waze. A high car is recommended as the part of the route goes through a hilly unpaved section so a 4wd or a mid size SUV will work. Click here to get our Costa Rica car rental discount to save up to 20%.
There is one bus from Grecia to Catarata del Toro at 3 PM and a returning bus to Grecia at 6:15 AM so if coming by bus, staying a night is mandatory.
There are no shared shuttles to the waterfall park, you must take a private shuttle. If you’re landing in San Jose Airport, you can take a private shuttle from San Jose to Arenal that includes a stop at Del Toro waterfall on the way. The park closes at 5 PM and on Sundays. It is about a 2 hour drive so you must arrive during the day. Jacamar Naturalist Tours, a transfer and tours company in La Fortuna charges $300 for this transfer tour. You can contact us to book your shuttle.
Entrance Fee and Hours
The Trails and Hummingbird Gardens
When you arrive at the waterfall park, you’ll first see their visitor center which consists of a restaurant, nature trails, hummingbird gardens. There is a nice viewing spot from the hummingbird garden where you can see the waterfall.
Before going down to the waterfall, I recommend walking through some of their nature trails through the garden. It’s a very nice walk and not long so you can see some of the various flowers and trees on the property.
Once you’re ready, walk down to the main path to the waterfall. It’s to the right of the visitor center and there are signs you can follow. Get ready for a steep walk down to the waterfall!
The Waterfall Trail
There are several excellent viewpoints along the trail so don’t skip these. Each one offers a different angle so you can see the spectacular waterfall from all perspectives.
The beginning of the trail is easy but it doesn’t last long. It goes through the nature trail on a dirt path and then you will see the concrete steps going down.
Take your time on the steps because they are steep but they put up rails to help you keep your balance. Don’t forget to look around every so often because there are nice views of the waterfall along the trail.
Once you get down and the path flattens out to a dirt path, you get the perfect view of the waterfall. I took a photo of Yeison standing at the bottom, you can see just how tall the waterfall is because he looks tiny!
Carefully climb down the last section (it’s a bit muddy), walk over the rocks on the right hand side and you’ll get to the closest point where Yeison is. The waterfall looks awe-inspiring from far away, but when you’re that close up, you get a real sense of how impressive this waterfall truly is.
The spray of the water is so strong that if you get close, you’ll get wet! It was hard for me to get photos when I was standing close since my camera kept getting wet. As you can see, swimming in Catarta del Toro is not allowed or is it possible because it will be too dangerous. Be extremely careful when walking on the rocks because it is super slippery!
Tips for Visiting
- Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
- They have a small restaurant so you can buy snacks or have lunch after the waterfall hike. Lunch costs $12.
- They don’t recommend people with heart conditions or walking disabilities, pregnant women or senior citizens to go down because of the steps. There isn’t a universal trail so it is not handicap friendly. They can stay at the top where the visitor center is and see the waterfall from there.
- If you want to stay in Bajos del Toro Amarillo, we recommend El Silencio Lodge & Spa. Gorgeous hotel on the luxury side in the forest with amazing views. Very close to the waterfall and has excellent bird watching.
- The reserve also has three small standard rooms. Rooms are $65 and $80 for two people. You can also find some small Airbnbs in the town of Bajos del Toro Amarillo.
- The reserve also offers other activities such as the Blue Falls which are blue rivers and waterfalls (like Rio Celeste), a hummingbird photo shot and a canyoning tour. The canyoning tour is $50 and the entrance to the Blue Falls is $15 or you can purchase a combined day pass to both del Toro waterfall and Blue falls for $25.
What to Wear and Weather
You will need closed toed hiking sandals or sneakers. Flip flops will not be good shoes because it can get muddy and slippery on the bottom and you will be climbing a lot of steps. Yeison wore sneakers and I wore my KEEN hiking sandals.
The weather in Catarata del Toro is usually hot and experiences typical tropical weather with dry and rainy seasons. Dry season is from beginning of December to end of April and rainy season is beginning of May to end of November. Average temperatures are around mid 80’s so you can wear shorts and a tshirt because it is hot!
During the rainiest months of September – November, the rains may be too hard to walk down to the bottom. If you’re visiting in rainy season, go as early as possible when it opens because normal rainy season days are sunny in the early morning and rains in the afternoon.
We visited in March which is one of the hottest months. We had amazing weather but it was very hot!
How to Visit
You can visit as a day trip from San Jose if you have a car. You can also stop by La Paz waterfall gardens or Poas Volcano National Park (when it re-opens in April 2018) for a full day trip. You can also include it as a stop if you’re driving from San Jose to La Fortuna or vice versa since it’s not too far. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from La Fortuna from Del Toro going through Muelle San Carlos.
See the waterfall in action! You can see what the steps and trails are like in the video.
For more information and to purchase tickets, check out the reserve’s website.
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Read about other waterfalls in Costa Rica here!
Nauyaca waterfalls (Dominical)
Cascada El Pavon (Uvita)
Los Chorros waterfalls (Grecia)
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