One of the “must dos” in Costa Rica is to visit a waterfall. With many rivers and volcanoes, you have to visit one of the amazing waterfall sin Costa Rica!
So in this post, I list some of our favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica we recommend you to see.
Our Favorite Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Travel tip: Many hotels have a waterfall on their property that are exclusive to guests such as Arenal Observatory Lodge, Oxygen Jungle Villas, 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.
The entrance fee to La Fortuna waterfall is $18 USD for adult foreigners.
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 USD) 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 (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. The national park fee is $12 USD for adult foreigners.
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 discount off the tour you can get here! Click here to get our La Fortuna tour discount.
Grecia – Los Chorros Waterfalls
The waterfalls are a short walk from the entrance. The most accessible waterfall is the one on the left of the picture above. The other waterfall is around the corner and getting to the waterfalls is the fun part.
*The waterfall park is not officially open as of 2021 but I know some people who just go in on their own accord. However, do be careful since the park isn’t maintained so trails may be overrun or not well marked.*
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.
Another option is to go to Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park. They offer access to the waterfall by way of a tractor ride and then a 5-10 minute walk so they have a much easier access.
Alajuela – La Paz Waterfalls
The La Paz waterfall gardens nature park has 5 beautiful waterfalls on their property and it is worth the entrance fee. 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 is a really nice day trip, especially for families.
The park is not super cheap but it is beautifully maintained with an excellent restaurant. It’s a wonderful stop between San Jose and La Fortuna. Luckily we have a 7% 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!
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 a morning at the waterfall, swimming in the pool, having a picnic or climbing up the side to the top. *Do note you can’t swim under the waterfall or go behind anymore.*
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 (there are signs that say no swimming) 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 in the town of Ojochal.
The waterfall is actually a lot smaller than I thought it was. But the best thing is that not a lot of people go there and it’s free! The pool is really nice for swimming and we even saw some local kids snorkeling.
Alajuela – Catarata del Toro
Ahhh Catarata del Toro. This waterfall blew me away. It drops an astounding 270 feet in an extinct volcano crater. This is one of Costa Rica’s most magical places.
The Del Toro waterfall is located in the rural town of Bajos del Toro. The owners of the waterfall park 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 steep steps. And it’s worth every step!
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!
Blue Falls of Costa Rica
This is another incredible waterfall in the Bajos del Toro area, the Blue Falls of Costa Rica. They are two small, sky blue colored waterfalls deep in the rainforest. It’s a local favorite and not touristy, making it one of the best off the beaten path waterfalls.
The Blue Falls are owned by the same people as Catarata del Toro Adventures so you can easily do both in one day. You can’t miss these blue waterfalls!
And a 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. We visited as part of a tour with the company Costa Rica waterfalls.
I recommend going on the tour. You need to have a 4×4 and it’s not on Google Maps.
You can also do the Bijagual waterfall hike in Jaco. The entrance is near Carara National Park and costs $20 USD per person on private property. The hike is about 45 minutes. You can also take a horseback riding tour to the waterfall.
Map of the Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Here is a map with the location of the waterfalls in Costa Rica.
Read about other amazing places in Costa Rica below!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: Excellent place for hiking and birdwatching
Cano Island: 2nd best place in Costa Rica for snorkeling and scuba diving. Near Uvita in the South Pacific
Rio Pacuare rafting tour: Raft the famous Pacuare river through Class 3, 4 and 4+ rapids
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