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Costa Rica waterfalls

A Quick Guide to Our Favorite Costa Rica Waterfalls

Discover some of the most breathtaking Costa Rica waterfalls with our quick guide, while exploring lush rainforests and discovering cool, natural swimming holes for post-hiking dips.

Costa Rica is famous for its stunning beaches, vibrant wildlife, and lush rainforests. And also, throughout the country, amid those stunning beaches and lush rainforests, are some of the most breathtaking waterfalls you’ll ever see, offering refreshing escapes for sweaty hikers. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best Costa Rica waterfalls and give you tips on how to make the most of your visit.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Located near its namesake town of La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna is one of Costa Rica’s most-visited waterfalls. To get there, you’ll need to take a short hike through the rainforest. Horseback tours are available, too. The trail can be steep in some areas, so wear comfortable shoes and bring water.

At the waterfall, you’ll find a towering cascade of water that plunges almost 230 feet into a perfect swimming hole. The water is cool and refreshing, making it the perfect spot for a dip after your hike.

To make the most of your visit to La Fortuna Waterfall, consider booking a guided tour. A knowledgeable guide can provide you with information about the local flora and fauna and help you navigate the trail. They’ll also pick you up from your hotel, which makes it all easier.

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Montezuma Waterfalls

Montezuma is a small beach community with a bohemian feel near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s also home to some of Costa Rica’s most picturesque waterfalls. You’ll find the Montezuma Waterfalls a short hike from the town center, offering a perfect alternative to the beach.

To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to hike along the river, scrambling over rocks while enjoying dips to cool off along the way. It can be slippery in some areas, to take care.

Once you arrive, you’ll see large swimming hole with a massive fall emptying into it. This is as far as many people get, but we recommend hanging here for a while before heading up a steep trail through the forest around the hole to the top of the waterfall. Here, you’ll find other pools and other falls to enjoy. These are the falls that people jump off.

Bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are no facilities at the waterfalls, although sometimes vendors make it to the bottom of the main fall.

If you’re staying in Montezuma, there’s another waterfall that might interest you. Hike north out of town along the beach past Ylang Ylang and all the way up Playa Grande. Then continue up the next beach, Playa Cocalito, until you can go no further. Here, you’ll find Catarata El Chorro, a cool little waterfall that flows straight into the ocean. It’s a long, hot hike from Montezuma, but worth it. On the other side of the waterfall is the Tango Mar Resort, so if you’re staying here, it’s easy-peasy.

Nauyaca Waterfall

The Nauyaca Waterfall is in the southern zone, near the surf community of Dominical. It has a two-tiered cascade that drops some 200 feet into a tranquil pool below. To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to take a hike through the rainforest that can take up to an hour.

This waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful, and the jungle-surrounded pools never fail to take the breath away for all but the most jaded of visitors. The pool is deep enough for swimming and surrounded by lush greenery.

Nauyaca is another waterfall where a guided tour can be worthwhile, although it’s possible to get there by yourself, too.

Uvita Waterfall

The Uvita Waterfall is near the community of Uvita on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. The waterfall is just outside town, about a ten-minute drive or so. Once there, you have an easy hike through a jungle trail to the waterfall.

This isn’t a big waterfall at all. In fact, you can slide down it! But it’s a great place to hang out and enjoy the rainforest and cooling waters. You’ll also find some good spots for jumping if you’re so inclined. As ever, be careful.

To make the most of the Uvita Waterfall, consider arriving early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

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Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

Llanos de Cortés is near the town of Bagaces in Guanacaste. The waterfall is known for its wide and towering cascade that drops into a tranquil pool below.

To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to take a short hike through the tropical dry forest. The trail can be steep in some areas, and there are stairs to head down (and up).

The beauty of these falls make them a popular attraction, especially for anyone traveling to the beaches of Guanacaste from Monteverde or Arenal. As such, there are (sometimes) lifeguards here to ensure safety.

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Cataratas de Cortinas

The Cataratas de Cortinas Waterfalls are a hidden gem in the heart of Costa Rica, near the town of Turrialba, east of San Jose. This stunning waterfall is actually made up of three separate cascades that drop over 400 feet into a lush valley below.

To reach the waterfalls, you’ll need to take a long and challenging hike through dense rainforest. The trail is steep, but the views along the way are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks for the hike. Once you reach the waterfalls, you’ll be rewarded with a truly awe-inspiring sight.

If you’re a serious waterfall chaser, these are the falls to visit.

Rio Celeste Waterfalls

The Rio Celeste Waterfalls are a natural wonder that you won’t want to miss. Located just inside the Tenorio National Park, the river is known for its vibrant blue color, which is caused by a chemical reaction between the minerals in the water and the surrounding rocks. Hence the name.

Reaching the waterfall is a pretty easy hike, although there are lots of steps to navigate. Once there you’ll find a perfect waterfall cascading into a bright blue pool you could have painted. Be aware that you can’t swim here – they prohibit swimming inside the park, but there are stretches of river outside the park to take a dip.

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These are just a few Costa Rica waterfalls… there are many, many more that we’ve missed…

For example, how is it possible to not mention the Waterfall Gardens and its fantastic Peace Lodge hotel? Or the waterfalls around Bajos del Toro? But whether we’re talking these ones or others, Costa Rica’s waterfalls are a true natural wonder not only for tourists, but also for locals and expats alike. Natural treasures like these are a major lifestyle draw for anyone seeking to live and work in Costa Rica.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply looking for a peaceful escape, Costa Rica’s waterfalls have something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your hiking shoes, and get ready to explore the stunning natural beauty of Costa Rica.

Tips for visiting these (and other) Costa Rica waterfalls:

When planning a visit to Costa Rica’s waterfalls, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water: Many of these Costa Rica waterfalls require hiking to reach, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Bring a swimsuit and towel: Many of the waterfalls offer the opportunity to swim in tranquil pools, so be sure to bring a swimsuit and towel if you plan on taking a dip.
  • Consider booking a guided tour: A knowledgeable guide can provide you with information about the local flora and fauna and help you navigate the trails safely. A tour may also include transportation to and from the waterfall, saving you the hassle of renting a car or navigating public transportation.
  • Respect the environment: It’s important to respect the environment and leave no trace when visiting Costa Rica’s waterfalls. Be sure to pack out all trash and avoid damaging the local flora and fauna.

Costa Rica’s waterfalls offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From towering cascades to tranquil jungle pools, these waterfalls are a must-see for anyone visiting Costa Rica. By following these tips and respecting the environment, you can make the most of your visit to these breathtaking natural wonders.

James Dyde

James Dyde

James Dyde is a British immigrant to Costa Rica and the editor of this website. He has lived in Central America since 2000 and retains a deep love for the region. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.