Top 5 Waterfalls in Costa Rica

Nauyaca Falls provides spectacular waterfall views

Discover the best waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica during your vacation!

Costa Rica is known for having some of the most beautiful and bountiful waterfalls in the world. 

Visiting the falls offers a chance to unplug and spend time in nature, as well as experience some truly majestic wonders located throughout Costa Rica’s lush forests and countryside.

But with so many different falls to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to prioritize during your trip.

As expert tour guides specializing in Costa Rican eco-travel, adventure travel and nature exploration, we’ve developed a list of our favorite waterfalls, including some hidden gems you won’t want to miss. 

 

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Alajuela Province

La Paz Waterfall Gardens, with green tropical forest, Central Valley, Costa Rica. Traveling Costa Rica. Holiday in tropic forest. River with white stream, rainy day, green vegetation, national park.

Entry Cost: $50 ($34/child age 3-12)
Level: Easy
Length of Hike: 3km (1.8 miles)
Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Parking: Onsite – price included in the entry fee
Swimming: Not Permitted
Tour Guide Required: No
Food Onsite: Yes
4 Wheel Drive: No
Website

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of the most popular and well-known waterfalls in the San José area. While the entry fee is steep, many visitors say the price is well worth it. 

With all the impressive features the park has to offer, it’s sure to be an unforgettable part of your Costa Rica Vacation.

The gardens boast the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica, the largest butterfly garden in the world, a serpentaria, a hummingbird garden, an orchid garden, a frog pond, and a coffee plantation among their features, easily ranking La Paz as one of the best waterfall experiences in Costa Rica. 

Trails throughout the park are paved and relatively flat, weaving 3 km through lush vegetation and offering views of spectacular water features and animal habitats. 

There is also a buffet restaurant on site that charges approximately $14 ($8 for children) per meal.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Arenal Volcano National Park

Wondrous and awe-inspiring, with pools for swimming - La Fortuna Waterfall is a beautiful experience.

Cost: $18 ($5/child)
Level: Easy
Length of Hike: 1.6 km (1 mile)
Hours: 7:30 am – 4 pm
Parking: Free
Swimming: Limited
Tour Guide Required: No
Food Onsite: Yes
4 Wheel Drive: No
Website

Beginning at 250ft (75 meters) high, the volcanic waters of Costa Rica’s La Fortuna Waterfall create a sight to behold as they freefall off the cliff side. 

The waterfall is located on a private reserve spanning 210 acres. The reserve makes up part of the Arenal Volcano National Park and is a stunning example of a transition premontane tropical wet forest. 

While reaching La Fortuna Waterfall is only a 10-15 minute walk from the parking lot down to the falls, the walk is very steep, with 530 steps. Therefore, it is not ideal for those with knee, joint, or mobility problems.

 

To visit this waterfall, you must reserve your tickets in advance online (link to the website is above). While swimming is not advised in the pool at the base of the waterfall as it is quite rocky and dangerous, further downstream of the waterfall there are natural pools with sandy bottoms that are safer and more comfortable to swim in. 

Rio Celeste 

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Rio Celeste waterfall in Costa Rica
Affordable, easy to access and lots of amenities at Rio Celeste.

Entry Cost: $12 ($5/child age 2-12) (Credit/Debit only)
Level: Moderate
Length of Hike: 6 km (3.7 miles)
Hours: 8 am – 2 pm
Parking: $2-4 onsite
Swimming: Not Permitted
Tour Guide Required: No
Food Onsite: Yes
4 Wheel Drive: No
No website

When looking for the best waterfalls in Costa Rica to visit, Rio Celeste is a popular choice due to its ease of access, affordable entry cost, and ample amenities onsite. 

Its bright turquoise waters and winding wooden staircase have been the subject of countless travel photographs, and for many, seeing it is a bucket list item on their Costa Rica vacation itinerary. 

When you head to the park you will pass a ranger station, open from 8 am – 4 pm daily, that acts as an information center and rest stop. It has restaurants, first aid, and restrooms. 

This waterfall is easily accessible from the parking area, and visitors can choose to take the short 30-minute walk to the falls or continue around the 3-hour round-trip hike. The three-hour hike includes other stunning features of the area including views of Laguna Azul and volcanic bubbling hot springs. 

For those looking to see Rio Celeste’s waters at their brightest, bluest hue it is recommended to visit during the dry season. 

Swimming is not permitted in the hiking area but there is a public swimming entrance about .5 miles past the Rio Celeste entrance.

Nauyaca Waterfall 

Playa Dominicana

Waterfall in Costa Rica
One of the biggest waterfalls in Costa Rica, Nauyaca Waterfall is a must-see when visiting.

Cost: $10-$32
Level: Easy to Intermediate (Depending on hike or truck ride in)
Length of Hike: 12km (7.5 miles) round trip
Entry Hours: 7 am-2:30 pm (8 am-2:30 pm on Sundays)
Parking: $3-$4 Onsite
Swimming: Limited
Tour Guide Required: No
Food Onsite: No
4 Wheel Drive: Yes, for the Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park entrance. No for the Catarata Nauyaca Office entrance.
Website

Nauyaca Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in Costa Rica. Only 30 minutes outside of Uvita, this waterfall is a graceful group of falls that create a beautiful meditative sanctuary.

The falls have two entrance options for visitors to choose from. The first is the Don Lulo entrance (also known as the Cataratas Waterfall Office), which charges $10 as an entry fee and requires a reservation to be booked in advance online. 

This office also offers 4×4 truck rides for $32. This cost covers your entry fee as well as a 20-minute drive to the falls. You can then stay at the falls for 2 hours before being driven back. 

The second entrance is the Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park. Entry fees for the park start at $30 ($20 per child 3-12 years old). This includes parking, a trolly ride to the falls, and access to changing rooms, showers, and bathrooms. 

The hike to the waterfall is a 12km round trip and is generally an intermediate level, so you’ll want to be in decent physical shape if you choose to hike in. 

Only the pool of the second lower waterfall is deep enough to swim in, while the first waterfall’s basin is too rocky and swimming is not allowed. 

La Leona Waterfall

Guanacaste Province



La Leona Waterfall, located in Curubandé de Liberia, Costa Rica, is breathtakingly beautiful.

Cost: $30-$200 ($15+ per child)
Level: Intermediate
Length of Hike: 3-4km (1.5-2.6 miles)
Hours: 8am – 3pm
Parking: Varies per tour
Swimming: Yes
Tour Guide Required: Yes
Food Onsite: Limited (depends on tour booked)
4 Wheel Drive: No
Website

One of the most unique and visually interesting waterfalls on this list, La Leona waterfall offers an experience packed with adventure. 

The hike to La Leona waterfall is very active. Therefore this waterfall isn’t recommended for those with young children or mobility issues. 

It’s suggested that you bring a waterproof bag for valuables and extra dry clothes to change into after the tour. Both Water shoes and hiking shoes are recommended. 

The only way to the falls is by booking a tour. The cost of these tours can vary depending on the company you book with and the package you choose. 

Tours starting at $30 usually offer a guided hike and life jackets, while more expensive tours can include zip lining, lunch, water rafting, and more. 

Visitors can choose between three hiking trails (easy, moderate, or challenging). No matter which trail you choose, expect to break a sweat as you make your way through the jungle.

The hike includes rocky terrain, river crossings, and cave exploration as you work your way up to the beautiful hidden gem of La Leona. 

You’ll walk along the stunning Rio Blanco, navigate through pastel blue waters that cut through canyons, and swim beneath one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica in a day filled with unforgettable adventures!

Nauyaca Waterfall, near Uvita, Costa Rica, features two separate falls.

Want To Learn More?

Are you looking for a custom waterfall experience? AUSUN can help you find the perfect waterfall to visit during your Costa Rican Vacation. 

With our expert local guides, our Exclusive Adventure Packages give you access to incredible opportunities to explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Begin planning your one-of-a-kind, personalized Costa Rican Vacation today with AUSUN.