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Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has so much natural beauty, and the waterfalls found around the country are no exception. We’ll get to the more ‘known’ waterfalls shortly, but the truth is, some of the most beautiful waterfalls can be found randomly cascading down the side of a mountain during the rainy season or during a particular hard downpour. These natural wonders can be found in the various mountain ranges throughout the country. On the road through Cerro de la Muerte or on the way to San Ramon from La Fortuna are two such examples. Places such as these offer a perfect opportunity to snap a spectacular photo of the natural beauty that IS Costa Rica. Remember, don’t expect these waterfalls to be noted in the tour books, these are of the ‘stumble upon’ variety. Tip- in Spanish the word for waterfall is ‘cascada’, but in Costa Rica they use the word, catarata to mean waterfall.
Here’s some of the more popular waterfalls (cataratas) found in Costa Rica.
Fortuna Falls in La Fortuna
Located about 10 minutes from La Fortuna, home of the Arenal Volcano is the Fortuna Falls. A small entrance fee and an approximate 15 minute hike down (going back up you may find yourself stopping to rest, as it’s fairly steep in places) will afford you the opportunity to experience this beautiful waterfall, during the rainy season, there’s a smaller one as well. You can swim here at your own risk.
The La Paz waterfall is approximately 30km (18 miles) north of Alejuela. You may want to consider visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens to get the best experience of this area. The attraction here consists of a series of wonderfully done trails winding through primary and secondary forests alongside the La Paz River, with lookouts over a series of powerful falls, including the namesake, the beautiful La Paz Fall. Although the entrance fee is $26, in addition to the beautiful scenery- a small serpentarium, butterfly and hummingbird garden, as well as a orchid garden are also located in the park. You’ll want to spend 2-4 hours here.
There’s a few falls located in and around Montezuma. The main one is located just south of town, it’s popular, but it’s a bit of a hike to get there. You’ll find the trail to the falls just over the bridge south of the village on the right just past the Las Cascadas restaurant. People love to jump off the falls, but you do so at your own risk. On a personal note- I did witness an accident here, and it’s very difficult for paramedics to access the area, and this particular girl had to be brought out on a stretcher- be careful.
Located 5 miles north of Montezuma is another popular waterfall, El Chorro. This waterfall cascades down into a tide pool at the edge of the ocean, so fresh water mixes with seawater. It should be noted that the tide pool here is dependent on the tide- it disappears entirely at very high tide. It’s about a 2-hour hike along the beach to reach El Chorro. Luckily, horse tours are available.
Costa Rica has a few secrets and one of them is the Rio Celeste located in Tenorio Volcano National Park in the northwestern part of the country. Rio Celeste is known for its magnificent light blue color and is surrounded by stunning rainforest in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Rio Celeste is home to a striking waterfall with its frothy water cascading into the picturesque light blue waters below. Check out the video below for more about Rio Celeste.
Llano De Cortes Waterfall
This waterfall is located about 25km (15 miles) south of Liberia. The Llano De Cortez Waterfall is a spectacular and wide jungle waterfall with a great pool at the base for swimming, but also a perfect spot for a picnic. Admission is free. The turnoff for the dirt road to the falls is well marked and is located a couple miles north of the crossroads for Bagaces.
Santo Cristo or Nauyaca Waterfalls and the Diamante Waterfalls
Outside of Domincal, and located in the jungle, sits one of the most spectacular and beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, Santo Cristo or the Nauyaca Waterfalls. This two-tiered falls is impressive and also offers up an excellent swimming hole. Diamante Waterfalls are also very nice with its three-tiered set of falls and a 1,180 ft drop, but doesn’t have quite as an inviting swimming hole as that of Nauyaca’s.
La Cangrejo Waterfall
The La Cangrejo Waterfall is located in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park. This is a great hike that passes through several different life zones, including dry foresr, moist forest, and open savanna. At the end of the hike you can picnic at the Blue Lake, where a 100 ft. waterfall cascades into a crystal blue pond.