Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Many of the waterfalls in Costa Rica are awe inspiring attractions that keep tour companies and national parks busy with an influx of tourist wanting to see these amazing forces of nature. River water running over the natural terrain creates paths that rivers must follow. These paths, or river beds, take the water through many different ecosystems on their journey to the ocean. When the river reaches a dramatic difference in altitude the water has no choice but to follow the river bed over the edge. That is when gravity takes over. Some waterfalls in Costa Rica, such as the mighty Diamante, cascade over 1000 feet before dropping into natural pools.
There are many National Parks that allow people of all ages to view waterfalls without too much physical exertion. These make great attractions for the whole family and often are a fantastic way to spend the day combining a picnic with frolicking in the natural pools at the bottom of most waterfalls. Other waterfalls take several hours of hiking to reach. The longest hikes are roughly 5 to 6 hours with some grueling sections. Many tour guides prepare lunch at the waterfall or make arrangements with a nearby hotel or a local family to feed tourists along the trail. Considering Costa Rica has hundreds of rivers running through every part of the country gorgeous waterfalls can be seen in every region. We recommend that you swim in at least one natural pool of the many waterfalls that are found in Costa Rica.
The rough natural terrain of the Montezuma area makes for spectacular waterfalls. Montezuma Waterfall is made up of three levels, each giving a slightly different arena for fun than the others. A short hike from Hotel Amor de Mar in town will take you to the highest fall where a popular swimming hole is located where you can take a refreshing dip and relax on rocks. If you want to jump from a cliff, continue to pools two and three which you can reach by paths marked to the right of the falls. There are a lot of opportunities for photographers to take pictures of friends and family playing in the natural pools.
There are no fees to enter this waterfall, however, the land around the falls may be private property. If you plan to hike from the waterfalls, stay close to the river. River beds are public property in Costa Rica so you can legally hike up or down the river from that point.
Please do not leave any trash in the area - respect nature and the surrounding community.
Salto de Cortez Waterfall
The waterfall known as Salto de Cortez waterfall can be found between Bagaces and Liberia in the North Pacific Region of Costa Rica, approximately 3 km south on the road to Palo Verde. This waterfall is a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon swim and a lunch. There are a few trails you can hike that take you above the fall and a few that will allow you to follow the river downstream for a short distance. Parking places are provided, and there is no admission to see this fall. Follow the dirt road for 2km until you see a huge rock with the word "Cataratas" (Waterfall) painted on it. Turn in and follow it down to the parking area.
La Paz Waterfall
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary with excellent facilities making it a wonderful attraction for all ages. There are viewing platforms over many of the falls allowing a closer look and great photo opportunities. La Paz is located in the Central Highlands. The waterfall forms from the river Paz after traveling more than five miles over volcanic terrain. The river flows through a narrow pass which causes a forceful column of water to drop into the pool below. It follows the terrain down through the eastern side of Poas Volcano before eventually flowing into the Pacific Ocean. La Paz offers accommodations, botanical gardens with an array of the flora, butterfly gardens that are visited by many of the varieties found in the area and a hummingbird garden that draws hundreds of species to it's flora filled garden. La Paz also features a fishing area where trout can be caught. The staff will cook it up for dinner in their restaurant. This multiple attraction destination is great for a one or two day excursion and can be found 30km north of Alejuela.
Entrance Fee is $26.00 per person
Bring a bathing suit, comfortable shoes, sunglasses and your camera.
Rio Celeste Waterfall
This amazing waterfall is located in northern Costa Rica inside Tenorio Volcano National Park. Although it is off the beaten path, the trip is it. A short hike one and half hours up a cool rainforest trail of Tenorio Volcano National Park lands you at Rio Celeste Waterfall with its crystal clear blue waters. Play in the swimming hole and look up at the natural beauty of the lush flora surrounding the pool. Additional hiking can be done along the river following it up to it's aqua blue source closer to the volcano. You can access the park through Guatuso which is a hours drive from the La Fortuna area. Your best bet is to use one of the local tour guides in La Fortuna. They can arrange for transportation, meals and admission fees.
Park Fees - They change regularly but are usually less than $10
Bring a bathing suit, hiking shoes, sunglasses and camera.
San Luis Waterfall
The San Luis Waterfall is found just outside Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. The cold towering fall has an enchanted touch thanks to the constant cloud cover in the region. The forceful water lunges from a dense, tree shrouded location, falling 100 meters to the pools below. Vegetation grows on the rocky formations that surround the waterfall, but there are several places to climb to ledges and get a different point of view of the impressive flowing waters.
As you near the Cloud Forest Reserve, bear right at the fork in the road and proceed 6 kilometers to reach the parking area. The walk to the falls is short and easy terrain to navigate.
There is no fee for this waterfall.
Travel lightly and lock your vehicle if any personal belongings are left in the car.
Las Musas Waterfall
Located in San Ramon, Las Musas Waterfall is a well known family attraction. Weekends at this waterfall gets a little crowded but you can avoid the crowds by viewing it during the week. A virtual Costa Rican water park has slowly emerged in this small town with a picnic area and changing rooms recently added to it's facilities. As you enter the town, follow the signs to the entrance and parking area. Its a beautiful area and worth the stop for a quick plunge in the pool and a picnic lunch.
Currently there is no fee to view the waterfalls.
Located in Montezuma, this wonderful little waterfall is a pleasure to visit and quite different than the other waterfalls located around Montezuma. You can actually start this hike at the end of the pool which happens to be one with white sand pool on the beach itself. Walking north on the beach from Montezuma, the national park will be on your left and continue walking until you see the cascading waters. You can hike several different trails up above the pool which are well marked. Take a beach towel and a cooler because sitting next to this perfect pool is a great way to escape and relax.
There is no fee to view this waterfall.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Located in the popular Cloud Forest Region of La Fortuna, the waterfall is absolutely stunning. The forceful waters pound the lower pool. While you can hike up to the top of the falls, the trails and terrain are steep and long. Most visitors take the horseback tours offered in the area and then navigate around and down the falls from the staged areas that the tour guides set up.
Getting to some of the out of the way and less discovered waterfalls of Costa Rica can be done through tours of the smaller towns. Often, these guides have permission to take groups onto private property where very few people are able to get to. Use our website to review the profiles of the waterfall tours offered and contact information to determine if they offer these waterfall tours that are off the beaten paths of Costa Rica.
photo credit - borman818's