The 20 Best Costa Rica Waterfalls to Visit
Costa Rica is a land of liquid beauty. From the calm, cerulean waters of the Caribbean to the perfect, pumping waves of the Pacific, Costa Rica is surrounded by water, especially flowing, plummeting water.
That water has to get there somehow, and in Costa Rica, the mountainous and volcanic terrain throws flowing rivers over the edge, creating some of the most beautiful and breathtaking waterfalls in the world.
Many waterfalls are in National Parks or on private land and will have a small fee to get in. However, this goes right back to keeping the area as pristine and clean as can be, which you will surely notice.
Read on to learn more about the best Costa Rica waterfalls to add to your Costa Rica bucket list, and how you can visit them and experience them for yourself.
A waterfalls in Costa Rica map and Costa Rica travel tips have also been included below for your convenience.
- 20 waterfalls
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20 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica
- La Fortuna Waterfall
- Bijagual Waterfall
- Diamante Waterfall
- Montezuma Waterfalls
- Oropendola Waterfalls
- Catarata del Toro Waterfalls
- The Blue Falls of Costa Rica
- Nauyaca Waterfalls
- Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
- Rio Celeste Waterfall
- La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park
- Uvita Waterfall
- El Pavon Waterfall
- La Leona Waterfall
- Sueño Azul Waterfall
- La Cangreja Waterfall
- Los Chorros Waterfalls
- San Luis Waterfall
- El Santuario Waterfall
- Rio Agrio Waterfalls
Costa Rica Waterfalls Map
Using the map of Costa Rica, you can explore all the waterfalls.
La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna is one of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica, for a reason. With that being said, don't be disappointed when you turn up and other people are there to enjoy its beauty too. It's located in the Arenal Volcano National Park.
La Fortuna plummets 200 feet into an ice-blue pool where you can either hike down to or ride down on horseback. The stairs take 20-40 minutes to walk and are steep and slippery. You can take a dip in the refreshing water near the falls, or there are calmer swimming holes further down the river.
Onsite you will also find public toilets, a cafe, a souvenir shop, and free parking.
The Bijagual Waterfall is one of the biggest waterfalls in Costa Rica. Also known as "Manantial de Agua Viva," the falls plunge nearly 600 feet. The falls are located on private property and are always less crowded as they are a bit harder to find than some of Costa Rica's other legendary waterfalls.
The hike takes about an hour through the lush jungle. The hike is steep and slippery at times and takes about an hour one-way. You're likely to see monkeys, frogs and if you're super lucky, you might spot a Scarlet Macaw.
Once you get to the bottom, there are swimming holes both close to the base of the falls and further away from where you can cool off.
The Diamante Waterfall is also located on private property, and you can no longer get to it without booking a tour guide. With that being said, you can combine it with an overnight in a cave behind the falls! This is the only one in Costa Rica! The guide takes you to the top of the 600-foot falls, and the cave is located behind two other 85-foot twin falls.
If you just want to hike out and back to see the falls, be prepared for a steep, strenuous hike out and back with loads of steps, with one way taking about 2.5 hours. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and a snack if you're planning on doing this hike, and wear durable shoes.
Whether you plan to spend the night or just the day, the guides make it well worth it. They will keep you safe on the dangerous trail, meals are provided for you, and they can give you priceless information about the flora and fauna and point out all the hidden jungle creatures.
The Montezuma Waterfalls are a set of 3 cascading falls, popular with locals and tourists. The Riverbed Trail will take you to the base of the falls, where you will see people swimming, jumping from rocks, and swinging from rope swings.
Take caution where you jump from, and only jump where other people are jumping from. There have been accidents and deaths here, so be careful. Just follow where most people are jumping, and watch out for sharp and slippery areas. There are usually designated areas for jumping, or sometimes rope swings are set up.
The hike starts out easy but gets rocky and tricky at certain points. There are stairs and hand ropes along the way. To get to the swimming spot, you have to take a set of stairs to the left of the lower waterfall.
One of the most accessible Costa Rican waterfalls to visit, Oropendola Falls is a must-see. The hike is less than a mile but can get a bit muddy during the rainy season.
You also get to cross one of Costa Rica's hanging bridges before getting to the actual falls. Oropendola Falls tumbles 80 feet into a deep turquoise pool, and at most times, you can swim near the falls.
This waterfall is located in Rincon de la Vieja National Park, and a ticket is required. It is highly recommended to get tickets before getting there; you can even get them online.
Catarata del Toro Waterfalls
Known as "Costa Rica's Ultimate Secret," these falls can be seen on private property dedicated to the ecological preservation of the falls. Located in the Bajos del Toro area of Costa Rica, the park is not far from San Jose and can easily be added as a day trip to your Costa Rica itinerary.
The Catarata del Toro Waterfalls are unique in that they drop 270 feet into a volcanic crater. The hike takes about 90 mins out and back, but of course, you'll want to leave time to explore and meander.
There are 350 steps leading down to the base. There are several viewing points throughout the hike, even before the steps. Keep a lookout for all the hummingbirds along with other jungle creatures.
The Blue Falls of Costa Rica
Located super close to the Catarata del Toro Waterfalls, you can see both falls in one trip. The Blue Falls actually consists of seven waterfalls along the river and get their color from the different volcanic materials in the area.
If you want to see all seven waterfalls, you have to book a tour in advance, which is simple enough as sending an email. There are several different tour packages you can choose from.
Like many others on this list, these stunning falls are also privately owned. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are hidden away in the thick jungle. You can get there by foot or horseback (via the same trail), and is about 2.5 miles each way.
There is a point where the trail splits, and you can choose to go to the top of the falls or go to the base before going to see the other. You'll most likely want to visit the lower falls last so you can take a swim.
The Nauyaca Falls flow 140 feet over different rock formations, creating a combination of smaller falls. As mentioned earlier, the pool at the base of the falls makes for a great place to swim after the trek.
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
The Llanos de Cortez Falls is fairly easy to get to, only requiring a 5-minute hike. However, this does include steps that might be considered a little steep, especially when wet.
The falls are wider than they are tall and give a more alluring appeal than some of the high, powerful falls. You can wade and swim in the gentle water while admiring the falls, and you can even swim under and behind them. There is even a small sandy beach to relax on.
There is a guarded parking lot as well as public toilets. Leashed dogs are actually allowed on this trail as well!
Rio Celeste Waterfall
Another very famous Costa Rica waterfall is the Rio Celeste Waterfall. This is one of the most unique blue falls of Costa Rica, and legend says the beautiful color comes from God's paintbrush.
Rio Celeste can be found in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The falls at Rio Celeste throw themselves nearly 300 feet into a deep blue pool below.
The hike to the falls is just over 30 minutes, and then you can either take stairs down to the base of the falls or enjoy the view from the top. While swimming is not allowed near the falls, there are other swimming holes close by.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park
Going to see the La Paz Waterfalls is a whole experience. The waterfall is located in La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the number one ecological attraction in Costa Rica.
Not only will you get to see the most famous waterfall in Costa Rica, but you'll also get to visit Costa Rica's largest animal sanctuary. There are also various other hiking trails in the park.
There are actually five waterfalls within the park, but La Paz is the most famous and plummets 110 feet. Along the trails, you will also see Escondida Falls (15 feet), Encantada Falls (65 feet), Templo Falls (85 feet), and the impressive Magia Blanca falls that tumble 120 feet into the rocks below.
The Uvita Waterfall is one of the most unique Costa Rica falls. Not only are the falls beautiful, but there is a natural slide that dumps you into the pool!
After years of the falls wearing away rock, there are smooth sections that let you slide down them, just like a regular waterslide. You can slide down the falls and swim in the pools.
The walk to the waterfall and waterslide is fairly short but very rocky. There is a parking lot you can use as well as a smoothie and sandwich shop.
El Pavon Waterfall
This small but free waterfall is easy to get to. It's a flat dirt path with some steps that take you down to El Pavon Waterfall. The steps can get slippery, so keep that in mind.
Once there, you can swim and relax. The falls are usually less touristy than the others but can get busy with locals. There are areas around the pool and falls where you can relax and have lunch or read a book.
El Pavon Waterfall also has a special feature. There is a perfectly placed rock on the top of the falls, giving it a unique look.
La Leona Waterfall
This is another whole experience you cannot miss! This waterfall is also one you have to have a guide for, but it is well worth it. La Leona empties into a cave where you can swim and jump into the water or just relax.
The jungle hike to the falls is guided, sometimes accompanied by the family dogs, and typically takes about 2 hours, depending on your hiking level. Along the way are swimming holes, waterslides, caves, and canyons.
This incredible Costa Rica waterfall is a wonderful adventure, and even if going on guided tours isn't your favorite thing, this should be an exception.
Sueño Azul Waterfall
Sueño Azul Waterfall has been the backdrop of movies like After Earth, starring Will Smith. The only way to get to this fall is by booking a tour through Sueño Azul Hotel.
This incredible waterfall is super easy to miss since it's only attainable through a tour, but it shouldn't be missed.
The waterfall tumbles through the lush jungle into a cerulean pool below, where you can swim and relax. You can also book other activities at this hotel.
La Cangreja Waterfall
This waterfall is another must-see on your Costa Rica trip. Also located in a national park, you just need a ticket to enter, and then you can hike to this beautiful waterfall. La Cangreja Waterfall spills 180 feet into the emerald pool below.
The hike to the falls is about 6 miles each way, and you should be in moderate to good shape. The trail can get super slippery, and swimming is prohibited at the falls, so be prepared with lots of drinking water. Respect the signs; they are there are for a reason.
The trail to and from is also filled with monkeys, blue morpho butterflies, and you can even see snakes from time to time. The Cangreja Waterfall is typically less crowded than others, and it is a refreshing break from the more touristy locations.
Los Chorros Waterfalls
The Los Chorros Waterfalls can be found hidden away in the Los Chorros Municipal Recreative Park. These falls are a secret gem and a beautiful reprieve from the more popular locations on this list.
Technically two separate falls; Zamora is the largest and plunges 130 feet down, while Prendas is a bit smaller. The hikes to the falls are pretty easy to do, and an entrance fee is required to be paid to enter.
There is a parking lot and attendant who will show you which trail to take to get to the falls. Depending on how high the water level is, you might not be able to take the full path to the Prendas falls.
San Luis Waterfall
Located in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, a famous landmark in Costa Rica, the San Luis Waterfall is another hidden gem in the jungles of the country.
The hike to the waterfall takes 3 hours to get there by foot, or you can opt to go by horseback. There is also an option to drive to a ranger's station and take a 45-minute hike.
The San Luis Waterfall drops 330 feet through the jungle and is quite impressive. You can swim by the falls, but the water is super cold, which will be revitalizing if you opt to hike the whole way.
El Santuario Waterfall
Also known as the Cathedral Waterfall, this is one of the hardest waterfalls to get to. However, you will be greatly rewarded with one of Costa Rica's most beautiful waterfalls.
This 80-foot waterfall plummets into a canyon below, making it a jaw-dropping view. There are two ways to get to the waterfall once in the area. You can hike for 2-4 hours one way, or you can go on horseback.
The falls are on private property, and a guide is required for safety reasons, but you won't be disappointed. You'll be able to see jungle animals and go swimming in the canyon, all while knowing you're kept safe.
Rio Agrio Waterfalls
The Rio Agrio Waterfall is commonly called the Bitter or Sour River Waterfall. Located on private land, this waterfall is frequented more by locals than tourists.
The hike to the falls is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, and it is relatively easy to get to. It is located on the grounds of El Silencio Lodge, where you can purchase tickets and get a guide if needed.
The river gets its name from the bitter taste the water has due to the minerals in it. Close to the waterfalls are also pools you can refresh in.
Costa Rica travel has become super popular with tourists coming from all over the world. For obvious reasons, and waterfalls are magical to everyone. The power and beauty that exists in every waterfall never cease to amaze people.
While some of these waterfalls will be quiet, others will be packed with other people trying to enjoy the beauty just as much as you are, so be patient and be kind.
Also, remember, all the fees you pay to see these insanely breathtaking waterfalls go right back into protecting the integrity and natural beauty that everyone has come to love about Costa Rica.
Most of these hikes require at least sneakers to hike, if not more durable shoes, and always remember to bring more water than you actually think you need to bring, sunscreen and snacks. It is super easy to get dehydrated in Costa Rica, even if you are hiking under the palms in the jungle.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
For more interesting articles about Costa Rica, read:
- A Unique Costa Rica Bucket List - 55 Amazing Things to Do
- 31 Costa Rica Travel Tips to Know Before You Go
- 30 Famous Landmarks in Costa Rica for Your Bucket List
- The Best 10 Days in Costa Rica Itinerary
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