Arguably the most visited waterfall in the whole country, La Fortuna waterfall has attracted travelers from all over the world for years. Dropping 75 meters into a bright blue pool, La Fortuna waterfall in Arenal paints a perfect postcard of the Costa Rican jungle and is usually one of the highlights of an Arenal trip for its beautiful views and scenery.
Sitting just 6 km outside of the town of La Fortuna and at the base of the Cerro Chato volcano, the waterfall makes for a great day trip for travelers of all ages. The water is fed by the Tenorio River that goes through the rainforest in the Arenal area until it reaches a cliff to create this waterfall. Visitors can get several different views as they make the somewhat arduous hike from the visitor’s station to the base of the fall.
We’ve visited this waterfall several times but it never ceases to amaze us every time we visit. It’s one of those natural attractions that really take your breath away!
Location of La Fortuna Waterfall
The waterfall is 1 kilometer south and 4 kilometer west of church in La Fortuna town. You will see a lot of signs for the La Fortuna waterfall. You don’t need a 4×4 or big car to drive there, even though a portion of the road is unpaved, it is not bad.
It’s only a 10 minute drive from town making it very easily accessible and a great half day trip.
Entrance Fee and Hours
The La Fortuna waterfall entrance fee is $15 for adult foreigners, $5 for children.
The La Fortuna waterfall hours of operation are 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM, open every day. They have a big parking lot and there are bathrooms, a small cafe and souvenir store at the entrance.
La Fortuna Waterfall Steps
At the entrance office, walk across the bridge to get to the trail head. You’ll reach the beginning of the trail and there is also a nice platform with a beautiful view of the waterfall. Make sure to stop by there first to take some pictures before embarking on the epic walk down.
They have built a brand new platform so it’s much easier and more comfortable to walk down. When we first visited in 2013, it was all dirt! Now there are bars and even benches to take it slow and enjoy the walk.
Walk across another bridge to get to the La Fortuna waterfall base (don’t forget to look right to see another small waterfall). Hear the roaring sound of the water and see the white ribbon cascading down surrounded by a deep green rainforest.
Down to the left is a lovely calm water pool area that is better for swimming and more suitable for little ones.
When you’re all done and ready to go, the only way back up is the way you came down so be prepared to walk around 480 steps up! But every step is worth it once you see how beautiful the waterfall is.
See Catarata La Fortuna in our short video!
Tips for Visiting La Fortuna Waterfall in Arenal
- This popular waterfall fills up with people once it hits about mid-morning so to enjoy it with less people, get there early.
- There are facilities so you can bring a swimsuit/clothes to change into.
- There is a restaurant and souvenir shop at the trail head.
- You can wear flip flops but it’s better with good shoes for all the steps. If you plan to swim or go in the water, wear water shoes or hiking sandals like our KEENs.
- Make sure to bring water (there are water dispensers in the gift shop too).
- The climb back up can be tough, so take it slow. Be advised that this hike doesn’t have a handicap trail.
- If you don’t have a car, you can get there by taxi or go with a tour company. A taxi costs about $15-20 one way depending on where you are coming from. You can visit the waterfall on your own or do a guided hike (read our post on pros and cons on guided tours).
This waterfall is usually part of a combo tour package such as the La Fortuna Hanging Bridges + La Fortuna Waterfall or the Arenal Combo Tour. Since the Fortuna waterfall takes at most half a day, you can definitely do another activity. We have a partnership with Jacamar tours to give 10% off to our readers here!
If you like this article, follow us on Facebook for more Costa Rica travel tips and inspiration!
Want to read about other waterfalls in Costa Rica? Check these out!
Nauyaca Waterfalls (Dominical area)
Catarata Llanos de Cortes (Guanacaste)
Catarata del Toro (Central Valley)