Costa Rica has plenty of natural attractions but one of the most treasured ones are their waterfalls. Waterfalls can be found in every corner of the country and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica.
When it comes to one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica, Nauyaca waterfalls are definitely one of our favorites. Here is our guide to visiting this amazing natural beauty including tips for what to wear, how to get there and what you need to know about these waterfalls before you go.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Location
The Nauyaca Waterfalls are in the Costa Ballena, or the Central/South Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
How to get to Nauyaca Waterfalls
The Nauyaca waterfalls are located 10 kilometers from Playa Dominical in the South Pacific of Costa Rica. The waterfalls are located on a private property owned by a Costa Rican family, Don Lulo. These are the GPS coordinates to plug into Google Maps or Waze: 9.280789 , -83.822594. If you look in Waze for Nauyaca Waterfalls, you will find it there too.
The office for the waterfalls is on the road from Dominical to Platanillo, about a ten minute drive from where you turn left onto Route 243 from the Costanera highway on the way to San Isidro de General. If you have crossed the bridge and pass Playa Dominical, you have gone too far. The turn is at a very obvious intersection with signs to Platanillo.
Once you turn left, you will see signs leading to the entrance and you will see a large “Nauyaca waterfall” sign at the office. When you see the office, you will see a road entrance about a kilometer north. The trail head is below from this entrance and you can park in the lot where the horse stables are.
The road is well paved but there is a small section when you drive down from the office to the parking lot that is steep and unpaved. You can go in a sedan but go slow! A 4×4 is highly recommended for the South Pacific area however so it will be very useful to rent a SUV.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Entrance Fee and Hours
The entrance fee for the waterfalls is $8 per person. If you want to take the horseback riding tour, it is $70 per person and you need to make reservations before hand. You can book the tour through a tour company if you don’t have a car or book directly through their website if you do. The pick up truck ride is $25 per person.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Hike, Truck or Horseback Ride
There are three ways to get to the waterfall. You can hike, go on a truck or go horseback riding. The trail is about 4 kilometers through the dense rain forest.
We have gone horseback riding twice and it’s a very nice ride through the forest. You can see pictures and read about the horseback riding tour to Nauyaca Waterfall here.
The trail is the same for both hiking and horseback riding so if you are hiking, make sure you are prepared to get a little bit dirty and wet, especially in rainy season. There are some puddles and muddy spots along the way (not to mention some horse poo).
The hike takes about 1-1.5 hours one way depending on how fast you walk to the waterfalls.
The third option is brand new – a pick up truck! It costs $25 per person and you go in a truck to the waterfalls. This is by far the easiest and fastest way to get to the waterfalls.
The Nauyaca Waterfalls
The upper falls comprises of several cascades and you can’t swim or bathe in this area. You can walk around the rocks (careful it’s slippery) to get amazing views of the upper fall and the top of the lower falls.
This upper falls is a 45 meter drop. Also keep your eyes out when you go up there because I saw an otter jump into the water once!
This is where most people spend their time, the lower falls. There is a lovely deep pool you can swim and bathe in and plenty of rocks to sit on. You get a stunning view of both waterfalls surrounded by lush green jungle and the sounds of nature.
This second fall is a tiered waterfall of 20 meters and the pool is six meters deep.
You can have a picnic, lay around, swim, or jump off the ledge of the waterfall. The local guides tie a rope onto the rocks and help visitors up so they can climb up and jump off. Be very careful and don’t try to climb up there on your own if there’s no guide, it is quite slippery!
See the Nauyaca Waterfalls From the Air
Yeison brought his drone and took an amazing video of the Nauyaca waterfalls from the air. See what it looks like from above and watch one of the guides leap off a high ledge of the waterfall. Truly amazing!
What to Wear to Nauyaca Waterfalls
- You can bring your swimsuit and change there. There are facilities in the area where you walk down to the waterfalls.
- Bring lots of water, bug repellent and sunscreen. It is humid there with lots of bugs!
- There are no food or snack stands so bring your own.
- Bring waterproof equipment if you plan on bringing electronics. A waterproof backpack is highly recommended.
- Wear closed toed shoes (not flip flops) since it get muddy/steep on some parts of the trail and the rocks are slippery at the waterfall. We wore our KEENs hiking sandals and they were perfect since they are perfect for going from water to land. If you wear tennis shoes, you’re going to have wet socks and shoes by the end of the hike.
- You can wear shorts and a tank top/short sleeve shirt. If you are visiting in rainy season, I do recommend a rain jacket.
I recommend going there as early as possible if you want to have it for yourself. This waterfall has gotten very popular and it gets crowded in the afternoon, particularly the months of December – April.
When it comes to water levels, we visited in February and August. The photos and video is from our visit in February and when we visited in August, the waterfall was SO full, we couldn’t walk down to the pool at it because it wasn’t there! It was extremely windy and not nice for swimming. During rainy season the waterfalls are a lot fuller, so if you’re visiting August – October, make sure to see how the conditions are because when we visited in August, all we could do is stay near the steps as it was raining too hard.
Remember, this is the South Pacific of Costa Rica where it is very humid and can rain even in the dry season so pack appropriately. When we visited in February, it poured every day for almost a week! Check out our ultimate Costa Rica packing list and rainy season packing list for more tips.
Where Can You Visit From?
You can visit the Nauyaca Wateralls from Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Uvita and even Ojochal. From Manuel Antonio, it is about a 45 minute drive. From Uvita, it is about 25 minutes. But you do need a car! If you don’t have a car, there are some tour companies from Manuel Antonio who offer this tour such as Paddle 9.
If you are in Dominical and want to do the horseback riding tour, the company, Don Lulo offers transportation for an additional cost.
Hike, Truck or Horseback Ride?
For the Nauyaca Waterfalls hike, I do recommend people to be in moderate shape as it is a good hike through the dense rain forest. It is hot and humid with bugs so if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then I recommend going on the horseback riding tour. And if horses don’t appeal to you, then there is the pick up truck option.
The horse back riding tour is from 8 AM to 2 PM so I recommend getting there 30 minutes before to sign in and get ready. Kids over 3 years old can do the horseback ride by themselves, if they are younger they must be accompanied with an adult. The weight limit for the horseback ride is 104 kg or 230 lbs.
But the hike is wonderful since you can take your time, take pictures and spot wildlife (lots of sloths and toucans in this area). Definitely worth every step!
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This is one of the most magnificent natural attractions I’ve ever seen in Costa Rica and now one of my top favorite waterfalls along with the Catarata Llanos de Cortes in Guanacaste and Catarata del Toro in the Central Valley. Another waterfall in Uvita is Uvita Waterfall, it’s right off the road so it doesn’t require a long hike like Nauyaca.
After a long hike, it’s the perfect way to cool off in the beautiful Costa Rican jungle and will create long lasting memories for your amazing trip to Costa Rica. It was certainly the highlight of our Dominical trip!
Looking for more things to do in Dominical? Check out our top 10 things to do in Dominical and Uvita post!
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