Costa Rica is a country absolutely covered in waterfalls. Rushing rivers and towering cascades dot the landscape and are some of Costa Rica’s most prominent claims to fame.
For many visitors, visiting a few is an absolute must, but with so many to choose from, which should you visit? In this post, we’ve narrowed down the 8 best Costa Rica waterfalls that you should consider chasing on your next trip.
Best Costa Rica Waterfalls to Visit on Your Trip
Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, Bagaces
Although Guanacaste is one of the driest regions of Costa Rica, there are still a number of amazing waterfalls to visit here. One that stands out is the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, a multi-tiered waterfall just to the north of Palo Verde National Park.
It’s a great one to visit if you want to swim in the lake and stick your head under the falls on a hot day. There’s even a sandy area where you can sunbathe, too. Make sure not to forget your swimsuit.
Reaching the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall is a very easy 5-minute walk down some stairs in the forest. The trail is steep in some places, but generally well kept, and there are some other paths near the waterfall on which you can explore the surrounding area.
There is no entrance fee, but a small donation is requested to help the local community.
Rio Celeste Waterfall, Tenorio National Park
The Rio Celeste is a stunning blue river in the northwest region of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This beautiful flume is located inside Tenorio National Park and is best known for its brilliant turquoise blue water, which comes from a chemical reaction of volcanic minerals. It is located just to the northeast of the Tenorio Volcano.
The trail is quite easy and there are stairs to help you get down to the lower waterfall area, and it will take you about 20 minutes of hiking to reach the waterfall. When you arrive, although you can’t swim, you’ll be able to watch the waterfall from the observation deck.
Since this is one of the most well-known Costa Rica waterfalls, there is an entrance fee of around $12 USD to get in.
Best Waterfalls in the Puntarenas Province
Montezuma Waterfall, Nicoya Penninsula
The Montezuma Waterfall is actually a set of three different waterfalls right near each other on the Rio Montezuma, right next to the sea. Starting right at the mouth of the river near the beach, you can hike to the falls, which will take about 20 minutes and is a moderately difficult route.
The Montezuma Falls themselves are breathtaking, with thin streams of water flowing over high rocks. This is another waterfall where you are allowed to swim in the pool below. Make sure to hike beyond the lower pool to see the upper falls too.
Best Waterfalls in Alajuela Province, Costa Rica
La Fortuna Waterfall
Perhaps the most famous and well-loved waterfall in Costa Rica, La Fortuna Waterfall is one that you can’t miss. The 70-metre high flume is surrounded by leafy green jungle most of the year and, all things combined is one of the most scenic Costa Rica waterfalls not just in Alajuela, but in the entire country.
La Fortuna Waterfall. Photo courtesy of iloverodney041 via Flickr CC
The waterfall can easily be reached from the town of La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano National Park. From the trailhead, you’ll walk down hundreds of well-kept stairs to reach the flume. La Fortuna Waterfall is a very popular place to visit, so make sure to arrive early if you want to miss the crowds. Once again, you can swim at this waterfall, so bring a swimsuit.
You’ll have to pay $18 USD per person in order to enter.
Best Waterfalls Near San José, Costa Rica
La Paz Waterfall
Right on the border of the Alajuela and Heredia Provinces is the La Paz Waterfall, an incredible natural wonder. The huge waterfall is easily reachable on paved trails in the rainforest. After you visit, you’ll also have the chance to see the butterfly and hummingbird gardens nearby, along with a few other connected Costa Rica waterfalls in the area that are worth checking out.
The La Paz Waterfall is an easy day trip from San José, or easily combined with a trip to Braulio Carrillo National Park or Poás Volcano National Park.
Bajos del Toro Waterfall
Right on the outskirts of Juan Castro Blanco National Park, you’ll find the Catarata del Toro Waterfall. At 82 metres (269 feet) high, it really is a beauty, and the land around it seems to rise up, forming a bowl-like shape that the waterfall then empties into.
This is certainly one of the most gorgeous Costa Rica waterfalls and it really flies under the radar of most visitors.
The cascade is a bit more off the tourist trail than some of the others, mainly because it is a little harder to reach inside a volcano crater. The trail is steep and oftentimes very muddy, so take your time on the descent. Swimming is not possible at the Catarata del Toro Waterfall. The entrance costs $7 USD.
The Bajos del Toro and La Paz waterfalls are within an hour of each other, so it’s possible to visit them both if you’re in the area.
Best Waterfalls Near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Near the mouth of the Río Barú in the Puntarenas Province, you’ll find the spectacular Nauyaca Waterfalls. These falls are most famous for their multilayer look and for being perhaps the best swimming waterfall.
It’s a 4km (2.5 miles) hike into the rainforest to reach the falls, but you can also take a tour to get there.
There are two different levels of the Nauyaca Waterfalls: the upper and lower sections. The upper section is more rocky and jagged, but with impressive plumes. The lower falls are more tame and relaxed, and this is the part where you can swim, so most people spend the majority of their time here.
The waterfall entrance fee is $9 USD.
Best Waterfall near Monteverde, Costa Rica
San Luis Waterfalls
San Luis Waterfalls is located inside the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, so it’s quite off the beaten path. To get there, you’ll need to hike about four miles to reach the cascade.
The Rio San Luis is one of the cleanest waterfalls in all of Costa Rica, which makes the San Luis Waterfalls an awesome place for swimming.
The entrance fee to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve will cost you $10 USD.
There’s no doubt that if you love chasing waterfalls, you’re in for a real treat in Costa Rica. In addition to the ones listed, there are countless others you can visit as well all over the country. However, these are some of the best Costa Rica waterfalls and they all deserve a spot on your vacation itinerary.