Some of the most beautiful 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. In this pool at the bottom of the Nauyaca falls you can swim as its about 6 meters deep. A beautiful experience with all the green jungle around you.
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 ticket 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. In this complete guide you’ll find all the information you need to know before going to the Nauyaca waterfalls.
About Nauyaca waterfalls
The Nauyaca waterfalls are located in a private nature park owned by a Costa Rican family, Don Lulo. The two impressive two tier waterfall belongs to the Barucito River and is located in a canyon of approximately 80 meters wide.
The upper falls of Nauyaca are 45 meters high and pour down in a free fall into a small rock bedded pool. The lower falls are 20 meters high and flow down in steps along the rocks until it hits the 6 meters deep pool. There is plenty of space at the base of Nauyaca Falls to relax, swim, explore the upper falls, jump from the rocks into the pool and take in the beautiful nature surroundings.
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.
You can choose from three different options to get to the Nauyaca waterfalls, more in detail about these different tours further up in this blog post.
Entrance fee and opening times Nauyaca waterfalls
The entrance fee to the Nauyaca waterfalls depends on the tour you choose. There are a total of four different tours available varying from hiking 4 km by yourself, getting dropped off and picked up with a 4×4 car (the economic and premium tour) and the horseback riding tour. So it’s up to you how you want to experience and get to the falls. If you want to book one of tours including a guide, it’s advisable to make a reservation in advance.
Hiking to Nauyaca waterfalls
The standard entrance ticket is $10 per person which includes hiking 4 kilometres to the falls by yourself (and also the 4 kilometres back to the parking). You won’t have a guide in this case and you’ll have to bring your own food, drinks etc. The hike to the falls is very well signed on a wide dirt path so you can’t get lost. It’s not an exhausting hike or with steep parts. Very easy to do for anyone who is used to a bit of walking. Despite it is possible to do the hike on flip flops, I would advice to wear hiking shoes or at least comfortable sneakers for some extra grip.
From the ticket office along the main road you can drive with your car towards the parking in the forest. The parking here costs $3 USD per car.
4×4 car drop off and pick up to Nauyaca waterfalls (economic)
If you don’t want to go hiking but want to get dropped off and picked up with a 4×4 car, then you can choose this option. For the drop off and pick up you pay $32 per person. This only includes the car. You won’t have a guide or lunch included, which is the case with the premium 4×4 tour.
4×4 car drop off and pick up to Nauyaca waterfalls (premium)
The other, more extensive option with the 4×4 car is including a guide and lunch. It also includes drop off and pick up to the falls but choosing this tour you don’t have to think about anything except your swim clothes and sunscreen.
Horseback riding tour to Nauyaca waterfalls
The last option is the horseback riding tour which includes lunch, a guide and of course the tour with horses through the beautiful jungle towards the Nauyaca falls. This tour costs $80 per person.
Opening times Nauyaca waterfalls
The tickets are available in the office which is opened on Monday to Saturday from 7 AM until 2 PM and on Sundays from 8 AM to 2 PM. It is advisable to make reservations beforehand, especially in the high season and during holidays and weekends.
What to expect at Nauyaca waterfalls
Once you’ve made the decision with which tour you’re going to the falls, its time to head off!
Keep in mind that there are no facilities at the waterfall itself, only a simple toilet and changing rooms. So if you’re going by yourself hiking, bring enough water and eventually some snacks for the way back. Keep an eye out during the hike because you might see some wildlife like monkeys or tropical birds!
Once arrived at the falls you will see that there is an intersection with signs pointing towards the upper falls and lower falls. If you want to dive straight into the fresh water pool to cool off after hiking, then go for the lower falls where the big natural pool is. But make sure you have enough time to explore both the upper and lower falls of the Nauyaca Cataratas.
Upper falls of Nauyaca
The upper falls of Nauyaca give an amazing view of the jungle and from this level you can see the upper level of the 45 meter high falls from up close. You can’t swim or bath in the area because the pool is too small and shallow. Also, when it has been raining very heavily, it might be too dangerous to go to the upper falls because the water becomes too powerful. Always be careful when walking around on the rocks because they can be very slippery! Another reason why I suggest to wear shoes with a good grip.
Lower falls of Nauyaca and natural pool
The lower falls of Nauyaca is where most people spend their time because of the natural pool. This area is quite big and has a lot of flat rocks where you can put your stuff, lay your towel down and relax or have a picnic. The 6 meters deep pool is perfect for swimming and you can even get a massage from the water if you climb on the rocks where the water hits the natural pool.
From the lower level you’ll have the best view on the Nauyaca waterfalls surrounded by lush green jungle. This second waterfall is 20 meters high and falls down in multiple levels. A so called multi tiered waterfall. For photographers this waterfall is the perfect candidate for a long exposure picture, so eventually bring your tripod if you feel like taking some nice shots here!
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 tours in Costa Rica
If you want to explore the best 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.
- Llanos de Cortez Waterfall and Rio Celeste waterfall hike from Tamarindo. Hike through Tenorio Volcano National Park and visit the beautiful blue river. Discover the rainforest and swim at Llanos de Cortez waterfalls while observing sloths, red-eyed leaf frogs, toucans, and butterflies.
- Cahuita National Park and Tortuguero Canal boat tour. Explore Costa Rica’s Caribbean side with this wildlife-rich shore excursion to Cahuita National Park. Admire the biodiversity of the Tortuguero Canals, hike across Cahuita and enjoy Puerto Limon’s city highlights.
- 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion from San Jose. Visit one of the most important destinations in Costa Rica on a guided tour. Explore a beautiful natural paradise, tour the famous Tortuguero Canal and see diverse flora and fauna during this 3 day tour.
- Manuel Antonio National Park combo tour from San Jose. Explore the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park and its beautiful white-sand beaches. Discover the abundant wildlife on the park’s rainforest trails. Enjoy included breakfast and lunch, and make stops to see crocodiles.
- Poas volcano, Coffee plantation tour and La Paz waterfall gardens. Visit 3 destinations in one day on this guided tour from San José. Learn about coffee production, visit the Poas Volcano Crater, and experience the incredible nature around La Paz Waterfall Garden.
- Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes Guayabo Tour. Visit Irazu volcano and the “Central Town” at the foothills of the active Turrialba Volcano. Experience a unique history and culture, shaped by the tallest and most active volcanoes in Costa Rica.
- Night jungle tour Manuel Antonio tour. The best of the wildlife comes alive at night. Allow yourself to live amazing encounters that happen only at night in the rainforest. See wild night animals, and discover a whole new world.
- Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch from San Jose. Spend the day discovering the luscious landscapes of Tortuguero National Park. Explore this vibrant rainforest, see native wildlife in its natural habitat, learn about the local ecosystem and enjoy a delicious Costa Rican breakfast and lunch.
- La Fortuna 4 activities on 1 day; base hike Arenal volcano, hanging bridges, La Fortuna waterfall and hotsprings
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the Nauyaca waterfalls in Costa Rica.
For more Costa Rica travel guides, have a look at our other Costa Rica travel blogs.