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 (246 feet) into a bright blue pool, this waterfall paints a perfect postcard of the Costa Rican jungle.
Sitting just 6 km (~4 miles) outside of the town of La Fortuna and at the base of the Cerro Chato volcano, the waterfall makes for a great half day trip. 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.
In this guide, you will read about how to visit this stunning waterfall to help plan your trip.
La Fortuna waterfall map
La Fortuna waterfall is 1 kilometer (.6 mile) south and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) west of the main church in downtown La Fortuna. It i inside the Ecological Reserve Fortuna Waterfall, owned and operated by a local Fortueño family.
How to get to the waterfall:
You can drive or take a taxi to the waterfall park. A taxi one way from downtown is around $10-15 USD. Uber also exists in La Fortuna and you can check the app to call one.
To drive there, take the road south from town across a little bridge. Drive for about 4 kilometers and then turn right (you will see a big sign for the waterfall). Continue on this road for about 5 kilometers (3 miles) to reach the parking lot. You can find La Fortuna Waterfall on Google Maps and Waze.
You do not need a 4×4 or 4wd to get to Fortuna waterfall. The road is all paved.
Entrance Fee and Hours
The Fortuna waterfall entrance fee is $18 USD for adult foreigners, $5 USD for children.
The Fortuna waterfall hours of operation are 8 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. The latest you can enter the park is 4 PM.
La Fortuna Waterfall Steps
After you pay your ticket at the entrance office, walk across the bridge to get to the trail head. You’ll see a gift shop and bathrooms and beyond that is an observation platform with a great view of the waterfall.
Make sure to stop by there first to take some pictures before embarking on the epic walk down.
The beginning of the trail is over to the left so when you’re ready, start going down the many steps. They have built a brand new platform so it’s much easier and more comfortable to walk to La Fortuna waterfall.
The new platform is super nice with handrails. When we first visited in 2013, it was all dirt! Now there are bars and benches to make it easier to walk.
After about 10 minutes, you’re going to start wondering exactly how many steps down to La Fortuna waterfall there are. But trust me, it’ll be worth it when you get there!
Walk across another bridge to get to the 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.
As soon as you reach the bottom, you can enjoy the beautiful tropical rainforest nature sights and sounds.
Can you swim in La Fortuna waterfall?
Yes, you can swim in the La Fortuna waterfall. However, the water is cold! And the current is super strong where the water falls into the pool, so make sure to stay by the rocks (like the people in the photo). Do not swim further out into the pool closer to the cascade.
Some times of the year, like September, October or November when it has been raining very hard, the waterfall can be a brown color. The current may also be too strong to swim.
Down to the left, there 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, be prepared to walk around 480 steps up!
Personal tip: This waterfall does get busy on weekends and holidays. For less people, go on a weekday morning. And make sure to be very careful on the rocks as they may be slippery.
Tips for Visiting the Waterfall
- 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 get lunch, snacks, drinks, food.
- You can wear flip flops but it’s better with good shoes for the steps. If you plan to swim or go in the water, wear water shoes or hiking sandals.
- 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 are not able to go up and down steps for a long period of time, we don’t recommend going down. In the heat, the steps going back up can be very tough.
- If you don’t want to pay $18 USD for the waterfall or want something more local, head to El Salto. This is a local swimming hole at the Fortuna river that has a rope swing. It’s free so lots of locals go there. You don’t see the waterfall but you can swim in the river. On Google Maps, look for “El Salto Rope Swing”
Fortuna Waterfall Tours
If you have a car or don’t mind to taxi, you can visit the waterfall on your own. It’s easy to get to and you can do the walk down by yourself. A guide is not really necessary to visit the waterfall.
But if you don’t have a car, you can take a tour. This waterfall is usually part of a combo tour such as the Arenal Hanging Bridges + La Fortuna Waterfall or the Arenal Combo Tour. Get 7% off this tour and other tours in the Arenal area!
We did the hanging bridges + waterfall tour which you can watch below. Skip to 2:26 to see the waterfall.
Here are some other ideas of things to do the same day you visit the waterfall:
- Canyoning (waterfall rappeling) in the morning, lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
- Bogarin Trail (easy walk in downtown), lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
- La Fortuna waterfall morning, lunch, safari float afternoon (or other way around)
- Kayak/SUP in Lake Arenal, lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
- Horseback riding morning, La Fortuna waterfall
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)
Poza Azul (Sarapiqui)
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