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, this waterfall paints a perfect postcard of the Costa Rican jungle.
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 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
How to get to the waterfall:
You can drive or take a taxi to La Fortuna waterfall. A taxi one way from town is around $15 but it will be much more if you are staying further north near Arenal Volcano.
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 to reach the parking lot.
Entrance Fee and Hours
The Fortuna waterfall entrance fee is $15 for adult foreigners, $5 for children.
The 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
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. 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.
During dry season the pool is low enough you can swim in. Be extra careful to not go in too far though. The water is cold and the current can be very strong. Last time we were here we actually saw people jumping off the big rocks!
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, be prepared to walk around 480 steps up!
See Catarata La Fortuna in our short video!
Tips for Visiting
- 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 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 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 $15 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.
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. Since the Fortuna waterfall takes at most a couple hours, you can do another activity. Another popular one is ziplining and waterfall.
We did the hanging bridges + waterfall tour which you can watch below.
If you want to do a tour, we have a partnership with Jacamar tours to give 10% off to our readers here!
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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)