Costa Rica is a waterfall heaven. There are so many beautiful waterfalls throughout the country to visit, that it’s hard to choose which ones are the best when you’re short in time. After traveling for 3 months through Costa Rica, we have visited some incredible waterfalls. So in this blog post I’m going to share with you the 12 best waterfalls in Costa Rica to visit. I’ve selected them based on height and beauty, but also accessibility. Most of the Costa Rica waterfalls involve some hiking if you want to get a good perspective on them or get to the bottom of the falls. So always make sure to bring proper shoes when exploring. Now let’s dive into the 12 best Costa Rica waterfalls!
Best waterfall tours in Costa Rica
If you want to explore the best waterfalls of Costa Rica, then it is highly recommended to book a tour. During most of these tours you will combine a few locations on one day so you can see the diversity that Costa Rica has to offer. Because of Costa Rica’s popularity it is highly recommended to book your tours in advance as it is likely that tours sell out. So don’t wait with booking until you get to Costa Rica. Choose your favorite tours here and secure your booking! All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- La Fortuna waterfall, volcano base hike and hanging bridges combo tour
- Waterfall adventure tour from Jaco. Hike to five different waterfalls in three locations with and jump from the cliffs into the natural pools.
- Rio Celeste waterfall full day tour from La Fortuna
- Visit Chorreras Waterfalls, Victoria Waterfall, Oropendola Waterfall and Rio Negro hot springs including lunch.
- La Paz waterfall gardens, Poas volcano and a visit to a coffee plantation
- Explore Oropéndola waterfall with a horseback riding tour
- Shaman Waterfalls in Quepos with horseback riding tour
- Rio Celeste and Llanos del Cortez waterfall tour from Tamarindo
- Rainmaker park hanging bridges & waterfall tour near Manuel Antonio
Best time to visit the Costa Rica waterfalls
The best way to visit the Costa Rica waterfalls is when rainy season has stopped. Generally, the rainy season in Costa Rica lasts from May to mid-November with the exemption for the Caribbean coast. Rainy season in Costa Rica is also known as green season because nature turns so lush. But for exploring the Costa Rica waterfalls, the best time would be after rainy season from November until May. However, at the end of the dry season you can expect the waterfalls in Costa Rica to be less powerful, especially when it hasn’t been raining for some time. The rainiest months in Costa Rica are usually September and October but this totally depends on the region. When there is heavy rainfall, some waterfalls become more like mud streams so it’s not worth it visiting them.
Read in our complete guide 10 tips to improve waterfall photography
11 BEST WATERFALLS IN COSTA RICA
La Muralla waterfall
La Muralla waterfall is located in Turrialba and is a hidden gem to explore. Surrounded by green grassland and lots of trees it feels as if you’ve entered a fairytale. It is not a commercialised waterfall at all, and you will most likely have the place to yourself. A 20 – 30 minute walk down leads you to the base of the waterfall. The way this waterfall and the paradise surroundings blend together is something we haven’t seen at other waterfalls in Costa Rica. The river has some nice spots to cool off after the hike but it’s not deep enough for swimming. Because of the huge open area and big grassland, there is plenty of space to picnic. We’ve also found some amazing photo angles to capture the power of this waterfall. If you are closeby, then definitely put La Muralla waterfall on your waterfall Costa Rica exploring list.
How to get to La Muralla waterfall
Catarata La Muralla is located in between farm land along a dirt road. After passing the small town of San Antonio you will have to follow the dirt road along some beautiful scenery until you get to the parking lot of La Muralla. This is a ranch, private property, and you will soon be welcomed by the owner. After paying the entrance fee of 3000 colones per person, you will be explained how to walk to the waterfall. You can also visit a few other waterfalls on their property called Catarata las Trillizas. Totally worth it if you have the time! The hike down to La Muralla is 1.5 kilometre one way and takes about 20 – 30 minutes. The descend is about 180 meters, so the trek back up will make you sweat! It is advisable to wear proper hiking shoes.
Rio Celeste waterfall
Rio Celeste waterfall is a beautiful 90 meters (295 ft) tall waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park. The distinctive turquoise coloration of the water is fed by the Celeste River and is caused from a chemical reaction between volcanic minerals. To get to Rio Celeste waterfall you need to hike for about 20 minutes from the entrance of Tenorio National Park. And besides Rio Celeste waterfall there is much more to explore in the National Park. The Rio Celeste falls Costa Rica are definitely one of the most unique waterfalls in the country because of the blue pool. You are not allowed to swim here, but only exploring the beautiful national park is already lots of fun as you also have a chance of spotting a lot of wildlife.
Rio Celeste, some of the best waterfalls Costa Rica
How to get to Rio Celeste waterfall
Located about 20 minutes from Bijagua, Alajuela, the Tenorio National Park can easily be reached with a car. From La Fortuna it is only an hour and 15 minutes drive, so it could be a great day trip. The Rio Celeste area can only be reached by foot and takes about 20 minutes of hiking starting from the park entrance at the ranger station. Here you can also find restrooms which are not available in the park itself. The entrance fee for Tenorio Volcano National Park is $12 per person for tourists and the parking fee is 3000 colones (about $3,5) for every vehicle.
Catarata del Toro
Catarata del Toro is a beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica where the water pours down into an extinct volcanic crater. This private ecological reserve is surrounded by wonderful lush jungle with four fantastic viewpoints and many different trees, flowers and birds to see. You can see Catarata del Toro already after a few minutes of walking into the reserve from a higher perspective. But if you want to feel its real power, then hike down to the base of the 90 meters high Catarata del Toro waterfall.
Catarata del Toro. Some of the most beautiful Costa Rica waterfalls
How to get to Catarata del Toro
Located in Bajos del Toro, the waterfall is about a 1.5 hour drive from San Jose. It is highly recommend to stay near or in Bajos del Toro as there are plenty of day trips to do in the close surroundings. You can for example easily combine a stay in Bajos del Toro with visiting Poas volcano and the other waterfalls in Bajos del Toro. The entrance fee for Catarata del Toro is $14.
La Paz waterfall gardens
The La Paz waterfall gardens Nature Park is a beautiful privately owned ecological attraction near San Jose featuring some of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica, the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica and 3.5 kilometres of hiking trails through the lush tropical rainforest. You will need at least 3 hours to explore everything in the park which is then on a pretty fast pace. So if you want to take your time to enjoy all the waterfalls and see the wildlife such as jaguars, pumas, sloths, monkeys, snakes, frogs and the Blue Morpho butterflies, then try to spend at least half a day here. The La Paz waterfalls are considered being some of the most beautiful Costa Rica waterfalls. In combination with the well maintained paved trails it is a great activity for the whole family.
La Paz waterfall gardens. Not only waterfalls, but also lots of wildlife!
The Ocelot, one of the wild cats you can see at the wildlife sanctuary
How to get to the La Paz waterfall gardens
Centrally located on less than a one hour drive north from San Jose airport, the La Paz waterfall garden can be the first destination during your Costa Rica vacation. But the eco park could also be a great day trip from the central valley region. San Jose is 46 km away, Heredia 35 km and Alajuela 32 km. La Paz waterfall gardens nature park is easy to find on Google Maps and the road is well maintained. It is a scenic drive through the country side along green pastures, mountain views and local farmers. The entrance of the nature park is directly located next to the road where you can park and find the entrance to the ticket office. The entrance fee for tourists is for adults $48 + tax, and for 03 – 12 years $32 + tax.
Some of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica are the Nauyaca waterfalls. Within the rainforest of Costa Rica’s south west coast are these two tier falls located. The upper falls are a 45 meters free fall and the lower falls a 20 meters high waterfall that flows in steps down the rocks into a pool. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are one of the most popular Costa Rica waterfalls you can swim in as the pool is about 6 meters deep. A beautiful experience with all the green jungle around you.
Different tours to get to the Nauyaca falls Costa Rica
There are different ways to get to the falls and best is to make a reservation beforehand. The Nauyaca waterfalls are about 4 kilometres away from the entrance office deep into the jungle located. So you can either choose to go hiking to the falls, take a 4×4 truck or book a horseback riding tour. The entrance fee depends on which tour you choose. The standard entrance ticket is $10 per person, booking a pick up and drop off in the 4×4 is $32 per person and the horse back riding tour is $80 per person.
Nauyaca waterfalls. Some of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica
How to get to Nauyaca waterfalls
About 10 kilometres inland from Dominical along the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica you will find the entrance to the Nauyaca waterfalls. From San Jose the falls are 160 kilometers (100 miles) away. You can easily find the exact location of the Nauyaca waterfalls on Google Maps. The road towards the entrance is all paved so no 4×4 car is needed to get there. You will see the Nauyaca waterfall office along road 243 on the way to San Isidro de General. The falls are located on a private property owned by a Costa Rican family, Don Lulo. When you’ve arrived at their office, you have to pay the entrance and from there you can head further down the road towards the falls.
Eco Chontales waterfall
Eco Chontales waterfall is a stunning 60 meters high waterfall in Costa Rica. Tucked away in the jungle and hidden between Dominical and Perez Zeledon, you can easily visit this waterfall during a day trip from Uvita or Manuel Antonio. At the bottom of Eco Chontales waterfall is a beautiful natural pool which is perfect for swimming. Take into account that the power of the waterfall changes drastically depending on the season. After heavy rainfall it might be too dangerous to swim in the pool, but then the power of the falls are impressive to witness. There is a little restaurant at the bottom of the waterfall so you can have a small lunch before getting back up to the parking.
Eco Chontales waterfall Costa Rica
How to get to Eco Chontales waterfall
Driving to Eco Chontales waterfall is a bit of an adventure in itself. Because you will drive along a dirt road for 12 kilometres until getting to the entrance, I would highly suggest having a 4×4 car. The driver also needs a bit of courage and driver skills as you will have to pass a few sketchy hanging bridges. Definitely a great adventure before experiencing the waterfall itself!
Located in the mountains to the south of Quepos you will find Eco Chontales waterfall. The drive towards the waterfall is already beautiful as you will pass a wonderful green valley that look as if it came straight out of a fairytale. With cows grazing and tropical birds flying around, you absolutely have to stop at some point and take in the breathtaking landscapes.
La Fortuna waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica. The 75 meters (246 feet) high waterfall comes straight out of the jungle and drops down into a bright blue pool. To get down to the base of the waterfall, you have to conquer approximately 530 steps. The trails are well maintained and there are benches to rest along the way. The surrounded area of La Fortuna waterfall is beautiful with tropical rainforest and views on Arenal volcano. It’s a great half day trip and you can even take a refreshing dip in the pool of the waterfall.
La Fortuna waterfall is one of the more popular falls in Costa Rica
How to get to La Fortuna waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is only 6 kilometres outside of La Fortuna town located. You can either get there by yourself with a rental car or take a taxi to the park. One way from La Fortuna will cost you anywhere between $10 and $15. There is no public transport going to the entrance of La Fortuna, the cheapest way would be to split a taxi. From San Jose it is about 2,5 to 3 hours of driving to get to La Fortuna.The direction is very easy to follow and you will see some big signs pointing to La Fortuna waterfall along the way. The road is completely paved so no jeep needed to get to the entrance. The entrance fee for La Fortuna waterfall is $18 per person for adults and for children it is $5.
El Tigre waterfalls
The El Tigre waterfalls are a collection of four big waterfalls where you will hike along through the jungle and over hanging bridges. This epic adventure shows you some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica and is a great day trip from Monteverde. The hike is self guided and is a little more than 5 kilometres long. You can either choose to go back to the reception by horse, or hike the last bit (which is the heaviest part uphill). Overall the El Tigre waterfalls are a very fun outdoor experience over 10 hanging bridges, crossing rivers and passing four beautiful waterfalls through the jungle. Definitely some of the best things to do in Monteverde together with exploring the Monteverde cloud forest reserve.
The El Tigre waterfall trail is a very fun adventure close to Monteverde
Hanging bridges, dirt trails and lots of waterfalls is what the El Tigre waterfall trail is about
How to get to the El Tigre waterfalls
The El Tigre waterfalls are 10 kilometres outside of Monteverde centre located. You can reach the entrance without a 4×4 car, but you will drive over a dirt road for about 4 kilometres. You will need your own transportation to get to the entrance. But you can also book a tour through a tour company in Monteverde which includes pick up and drop off from your hotel.
Catarata Llanos de Cortes
The flat and dry Guanacaste region isn’t the most well known to find beautiful waterfalls. But there is an exemption! Llanos de Cortes waterfall is a magnificent waterfall with thin streams of water cascading down along the mossy rock wall. This waterfall maybe isn’t the highest of Costa Rica, Llanos de Cortes waterfall is only about 4 meters high. But because it is so wide with many thin water streams flowing down the rocks, it is a beautiful one to look at and photograph. With a fresh water pool at the base where you can swim and a nice sandy area to just hang out and relax, Llanos de Cortes waterfall is a great spot to spend a few hours.
Llanos de Cortez waterfall is one of the beautiful Costa Rica waterfalls
How to get to Llanos de Cortes waterfall
Llanos de Cortes waterfall is located along the Pan American Highway route 1 in Guanacaste. The best way to get to the waterfall is by car, so if you have a rental car this would be the best as there is no public transport going to the waterfall. From the main road you have to turn right onto a dirt road where you will see a sign for Catarata Llanos de Cortez. Follow this dirt road and you will soon see the main intersection with the official entrance gate to the waterfall. Here you will pay the entrance fee and parking ticket before you continue for another 5 minute drive (about 1 km) up to the parking area. From here the short hike down to the waterfall begins.
The natural pool at Llanos de Cortes waterfall is perfect for swimming
Bri Bri waterfalls
Located near the indigenous town of BriBri in the Limon Province of Costa Rica are some beautiful waterfalls to explore. The two best waterfalls in BriBri to explore are in our opinion Volio waterfall and Catarata Ma-Cu, also known as BriBri Sparkling waterfalls. To get to these waterfalls you will need your own transportation.
Volio waterfall is located right outside of BriBri town and is a bit hidden in the jungle. You will need to hike for about 15 minutes until you get to the falls that also have a natural pool at the top where you can take a dip in.
Volio waterfall is one of the beautiful Costa Rica waterfalls in the town of Bri Bri
BriBri Sparking falls – Catarata Ma-Cu
The BriBri Sparkling falls, also known as Catarata Ma-Cu, are right next to the road located and have a beautiful natural pool where you can swim and even get close to the waterfall. There is also a lower section with a smaller waterfall that also has a natural pool. The hiking path is well maintained and it only takes about 10 minutes from the parking lot to get to the bottom of the falls.
The Trizilias waterfalls is another very hidden waterfall spot in Costa Rica. Located on the same property as La Muralla waterfall, you can perfectly combine these two. The trails are different from each other and you will have to pay an extra entrance fee to go to Trizilias waterfall. But it is totally worth it as you will then descend down to a collection of three beautiful hidden waterfalls in the middle of the jungle. To get to the other waterfall you have to cross the riverbed but there is a line to hold on to. A fun adventure for the waterfall lovers!
The Trizilias waterfall is a fun hiking adventure
How to get to Trizilias waterfall
Trizilias waterfall is located in between farm land along a dirt road. You will most preferably need a car with high clearance, but in dry season you can also make it with a normal sedan car. After passing the small town of San Antonio de Santa Cruz you will have to follow the dirt road along some beautiful scenery until you get to the parking lot of La Muralla and Trizilias waterfall. This is a ranch, private property, and you will soon be welcomed by the owner. After paying the entrance fee you will be explained how to walk to the waterfall. You can also visit Catarata La Muralla here, but you will need to pay an extra entrance fee. Totally worth it if you have the time!
The hike down to Trizilias waterfall is 1.5 kilometre one way and takes about 20 – 30 minutes. It is advisable to wear proper hiking shoes.
Montezuma Waterfall is located near Montezuma town and is about 30 minutes driving from Santa Teresa. This collection of three waterfalls are perfect for a little adventure including hiking, swimming and exploring the nearby nature of Santa Teresa. The highest waterfall of all three Montezuma Waterfalls is 24 meters tall. This waterfall is also easiest to access as you just follow the riverbed trail. To visit the upper falls you will have to hike some steep stairs. Those two waterfalls are only 5 and 12 meters high and aren’t as pretty as the first and lowest waterfall.
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the best Costa Rica waterfalls.
For more Costa Rica travel inspiration, head over to our other travel guides.