When it comes to natural attractions in Costa Rica, beaches, volcanoes and rain forest take the spotlight. However, there is one other natural attraction that has been gaining more attention: waterfalls. Costa Rica’s lush forests, full rivers and impressive volcanoes mean that wherever you go in the country, there are waterfalls.
In this post I list our favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica. Some well known, some not so. Social media has popularized many of them so they are no longer local secrets but these waterfalls are popular for a reason – they are gorgeous!
Our Favorite Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Costa Rica waterfalls map
Travel tip: Many hotels have a waterfall on their property that are exclusive to guests such as Arenal Observatory Lodge, Oxygen Jungle Villas(Get 15% off), Finca Bella Vista, Buena Vista Lodge, Hacienda Guachipelin, Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge and Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Consider staying at one of those hotels if you want an exclusive waterfall.
Arenal/La Fortuna – La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is one of the most popular waterfalls in Costa Rica. This place can get very crowded but that doesn’t lessen its beauty any less! This breathtaking waterfall drops 75 meters into the lush rain forest.
The local community built nice facilities to make this waterfall easily accessible. There are bathrooms, changing rooms, a large parking lot and a gift shop. They have also built a nice path with bridges and handrails since you need to walk a whopping 475 something steps to get to the bottom!
Visitors can swim in the pool but it’s advised not to go towards the middle because the water gets very strong. There are large rocks around the pool or you can walk down to the river and swim in there.
You can visit this waterfall on your own or as part of a tour like the Arenal combination tour.
The entrance fee to La Fortuna waterfall is $15 for adult foreigners. If you’re looking for a cheap thing to do in La Fortuna, you can head to the El Salto swimming hole, the local spot. It’s under the bridge south of the waterfall and has a fun rope swing and swimming area there. Plus it’s free!
South Pacific – Uvita Waterfall
The South Pacific of Costa Rica is full of waterfalls due to the verdant jungle and surrounding mountains. Some of them are fairly hidden and you need to go on tour to get there. Others like Uvita waterfall are easily accessible.
Uvita waterfall is a small waterfall but it’s extra fun because it’s a natural slide! You can climb up to the top and slide all the way down into the pool! It’s also very easy to get to from Uvita and only a 1000 colones (~$2) entrance fee. The owners built a small cafeteria next to the parking lot and it only takes 2 minutes to walk down to the waterfall.
Head towards the Uvita Info Center and continue driving up the unpaved road a couple hundred meters. You’ll see signs of Uvita waterfall and you’ll see the parking lot on the right hand side.
Nicoya Peninsula – Montezuma Waterfall
Tom Brady made this waterfall famous when he posted a video of himself jumping off the top. This three-tiered waterfall is in Montezuma and if you want to go up to the top, you should walk the Sun Trail (2000 colones entrance fee) since it’s a well maintained trail.
Most people don’t jump from the top since it’s about a 60 foot drop so it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re looking for some excitement, you can jump off like Tom!
Guanacaste/Alajuela – Rio Celeste Waterfall
The Rio Celeste waterfall is the cream of the crop when it comes to waterfalls in Costa Rica. Although it’s not the country’s best kept secret anymore, it’s still one of the most magical places.
It’s part of Rio Celeste, the sky blue river that runs through the lush Tenorio Volcano National Park.
Swimming is not allowed anymore but the observation platform and stairs make for plenty of excellent photo spots.
Since this river has been featured in many travel videos on Costa Rica, it gets incredibly busy and crowded during January – April. Go early as possible (park opens at 8 AM) to avoid the crowds. It’s about a 30 minute walk from the entrance and you can continue on the trail to see the rest of the river.
Most people visit Rio Celeste as a one day tour from La Fortuna or Guanacaste. If you want to do this tour from La Fortuna, we have a 10-15% discount off the tour you can get here! Click here to get our La Fortuna tour discount.
Grecia – Los Chorros Waterfalls
The jets, or the Los Chorros waterfalls are one of our favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica. They are inside a recreational park in Grecia, a small town in the Central Valley. Grecia isn’t a super popular tourist destination so if you visit, you’ll most likely see just a few locals and foreigners.
The waterfalls are a short walk from the entrance and you’ll see the waterfall on the left side of the photo first. The other waterfall is around the corner and getting to the waterfalls is the fun part. You have to cross a river! The park has kindly put a rope so you can pull yourself through the fast running river to get to the first waterfall.
To get to the other one, you need to walk around the rocks through another river. I recommend wearing hiking sandals that you can get wet and have good traction on the rocks since it can be slippery.
This park is extremely nice for a fun and cheap day trip in Grecia. The entrance fee is around 3,000 colones ($6) and they also have picnic tables and a short hanging bridge.
South Pacific – Nauyaca Waterfalls
Right before the entrance to Playa Dominical at the bridge, turn left from the Costanera Sur towards Platanillo. You will see a large sign for the waterfall office entrance on the right hand side.
The first waterfall you can see in the picture on the top, the second is the bottom one with the large pool suitable for swimming. These waterfalls are the best reward after a hot hike in the jungle because it’s a 4 kilometer walk each way to get there! It is an amazing feeling to cool off the refreshing water in the humid jungle.
There are 3 ways to get to the waterfalls: you can hike, take a horseback riding tour, or go on the truck. The latter two are offered by the owners of the property the waterfalls are on. The horseback riding tour costs $75 per person and includes a guide, snacks and lunch. The truck is $25 per person. The entrance fee for the hike is $8 per person.
Alajuela – La Paz Waterfalls
The La Paz waterfall gardens nature park has 5 beautiful waterfalls on their property and it is worth paying the entrance fee to see them! All 5 of them are completely different, and you can see with your own eyes why one them is called “White Magic waterfall.”
The nature park also has an animal sanctuary and butterfly garden so it makes for a really nice day trip, especially families with little kids.
It costs $59 per adult and $38 per child for entrance and buffet lunch or $45 per adult and $27 per child for the entrance only. It’s not super cheap but the park is beautifully maintained, the buffet lunch is excellent and it is a wonderful stop between San Jose and La Fortuna. Luckily we have a 10% discount so you can save on the La Paz waterfall garden entrance!
Additionally, it’s not very far from Poas Volcano National Park so you can do both in one day for a wonderful day trip from San Jose.
Guanacaste – Catarata Llanos de Cortes
Guanacaste gets extremely dry and hot during January – April so if you’re seeking shelter from the heat, head to Catarata Llanos de Cortes. It’s an oasis in the desert, literally!
This waterfall has gotten more popular the past few years and they are now building a hotel, restaurant and more facilities to make it more easily accessible. With a large pool that gets shallow enough to stand under the water during dry season, it’s the best way to cool off in the dry tropical rain forest.
You can spend all day at the waterfall, swimming in the pool, having a picnic or climbing up the side to the top. It’s excellent for children since there are plenty of sitting areas and shade.
Catarata Llanos de Cortes is in Bagaces, about a 25 minute from Liberia. It’s one of the best day trips from Playas del Coco.
Guanacaste – Catarata La Cangreja
Catarata La Cangreja is one of the least visited waterfalls in Costa Rica and is one of our favorites. It’s located inside the Las Pailas sector of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park and is about a 3.5 kilometer hike from the park entrance.
You’ll walk through the dry tropical forests and various fields to reach this breathtaking waterfall. During dry season, it seems impossible that there is a waterfall in the park since it is so yellow and dry! Once you think you can’t take the heat anymore, you come upon this beauty.
Unfortunately you can’t swim in the pool anymore but the waterfall is absolutely stunning.
South Pacific – Cascada El Pavon
I saw this waterfall on Pinterest years ago and put it on my list of places to see in Costa Rica since the rock in the middle looks so cool. I found out that the name is Cascada el Pavon down by the town of Ojochal in the South Pacific so we visited last year when we stayed in Uvita.
The waterfall is actually a lot smaller than I thought it was. It’s still really cool to see but there’s not much of a sitting area since the trail goes straight to the pool. But the best thing is that not a lot of people go there and it’s free! The pool is really nice for swimming, we even saw some local kids snorkeling since there are fish.
Alajuela – Catarata del Toro (Tesoro Escondido)
Ahhh Catarata del Toro. This waterfall blew me away. Supposedly, it is the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica, dropping an astounding 270 feet in an extinct volcano crater. This is one of Costa Rica’s most magical places and is still not quite as popular as Rio Celeste or Llanos de Cortes.
The Bajos del Toro waterfall sits inside the Catarata del Toro Adventure Park in the rural town of Bajos del Toro. The owners created a nice garden and trails with great view points along the way. The hike down to the base of the waterfall is about 200 something steps. It’s worth every single step going down however, when you get to the bottom you can’t help but stare at it in wonder.
Swimming is not allowed but you will feel the strong spray of the water as soon as you get to the bottom. You can walk around the rocks to see the different colors of the crater and the river. This is truly one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica and probably Central America!
Besides Catarata del Toro, there are other waterfalls and rivers in Bajos del Toro such as Catarata Rio Agrio and Tesoro Escondido. Some of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets!
And a Super Hidden One – Waterfalls Outside Jaco
We visited these on a Jaco waterfall hike and it was one of my favorite things we did there. These waterfalls are located in a private farm up in the mountains of Jaco.
I recommend going on the tour since you need to have a 4×4 and it’s not on Google Maps or any GPS. I remember passing Rainforest Adventures and going up on a bad road until we saw a large gate below the curve.
The family that owns the property charged us $5 per person and after we passed the gate, we drove down an extremely steep hill with gorgeous views of Jaco until you reach the bottom. Even though the waterfalls aren’t very big, you can swim in the pools, sit under them and jump in them. One of them even has a little pocket that you sit in right under the water!
You can also do the Bijagual waterfall hike in Jaco. The entrance is near Carara National Park and costs $20 per person on private property. The hike is about 45 minutes.
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