Waterfalls - 13 min read

15 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica (Highest & Most Beautiful)

Cait Kontalis

Cait Kontalis, Updated September 26, 2022

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Costa Rica is known for its great food, friendly people, and impressive waterfalls. There are so many waterfalls to choose from it can be hard to know where to start! 

Waterfalls like Los Chorros Falls, Montezuma Waterfall, or Oropendola Waterfalls are accessible for families or those in a tight time crunch. Hikers looking for a bit more adventure may choose to visit Bijagual Waterfall, which is accessible mainly by horseback. Other adventurous options include falls like the San Luis or Blue Falls that either require or strongly advise hiring a professional guide.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica. Whether you are looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing swim, these falls have something for everyone.

Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls 

1. La Fortuna Waterfall

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When you visit La Fortuna Waterfall near the Arenal Volcano, you will be treated to one of the most stunning views in Costa Rica. The waterfall is fed by the Tenorio River and plunges 70-meters (about 246-feet) into a tropical pond below.

Surrounded by the rich, green rainforest of the Arenal Mountain range, the waterfall is an awe-inspiring sight. Visitors can take a number of different tours to appreciate the natural beauty of the waterfall and surrounding hot springs. While a guide is not required to visit the falls, if you are traveling without a vehicle an organized tour will make the experience much simpler.

There are two dedicated viewing areas of the falls, and you even have the opportunity to step foot on the massive boulders on the banks of the basin. Swimming is allowed here, so bring your swimsuit! To reach the bottom of the falls, you will follow a staircase that is carved into the hillside. You can also add a few crossings over iconic Costa Rican hanging bridges before making the 15-minute hike down to La Fortuna Waterfall.

Spanish for “Fortune,” La Fortuna Waterfall is sure to leave you with lasting memories of your Costa Rican adventure.

2. Bajos del Toro Waterfall

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Bajos del Toro Waterfall is one of the tallest and truly jaw-dropping waterfalls in Costa Rica, with a 90-meter (a nearly 300-foot) drop. The falls are tucked away within a valley between the Poás and Rincon de la Vieja Volcanoes.

The best way to experience the waterfall is by hiking down the 400 steps to the bottom, where you can get up close to the mighty cascade and feel the mist on your face. Making the uphill return hike can be a bit challenging, but the views are worth all of the effort. The surrounding streams and pools are home to many Costa Rican plants and animal species, making it a great place for wildlife watching. 

Since the area is not heavily populated with tourists, you have a good chance of seeing some of Costa Rica’s more elusive animals, such as blue morpho butterflies, armadillos, and plenty of hummingbirds. Costa Rica is notorious for its efforts to preserve wildlife, and you can expect to see many bird feeders along the trail due to the popular hiker facilities and nearby restaurants.

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure where you can explore the authentic Costa Rican jungle and see some fantastic wildlife, make sure to add Bajos del Toro Waterfall to your list!

Related Read: Best Time to Visit South America

3. La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are located in the Cloud Forest outside of San Jose. This privately-owned ecological attraction is one of the most visited attractions in all of Costa Rica. 
The Waterfall Gardens are so popular due to the combination of a nature walk with five waterfalls and a rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 species of animals.

Additionally, there is a luxurious on-site resort called the “Peace Lodge.”The preserve also includes a Butterfly Observatory, Serpentarium, Frog Exhibit, and Hummingbird Garden. It takes about two-hours to fully explore all five waterfalls. There are multiple restaurants on the premises as well, so you could easily spend an entire day here.

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are open year-round, and the grounds are primarily self-guided. This means that visitors can tailor their experience to see exactly what they want to see and how much they want to see. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is jam-packed with activities that make it easy to pass an entire day here. There is a plethora of natural Costa Rican wildlife and plant-life to soak in!

4. Rio Celeste Waterfall

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The Rio Celeste waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, and it is not hard to see why. 
The waterfall is located inside the Tenorio Volcano National Park, which is home to some of the lushest and most diverse flora and fauna in the country.

Rio Celeste gets its name from the sky-blue color of the water, which is created when sulfur and other minerals mix with the water. Swimming is not allowed anymore, but the observation platform and stairs make for plenty of excellent photo spots.

Since this waterfall has been featured in many “Influencer” travel accounts in Costa Rica, it gets jam-packed and crowded from January – to April. Go early (the park opens at 8 AM) to avoid the crowds. It is absolutely worth it to see this waterfall up close – it is an unforgettable experience for all! 

5. Nauyaca Waterfalls

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The Nauyaca Waterfalls are some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Located in the South Pacific side of Costa Rica, Nauyaca is made up of two giant waterfalls that flow deep into the jungles outside Dominical. 
The best way to experience these falls is by taking the 2.5-mile hike from the parking lot to the falls.

The trail is well marked and easy to follow, making it the perfect way to enjoy a day in the jungle. Along the way, you will be treated to views of the jungle and wildlife before arriving at the waterfall itself. The trail will break off into two separate tracks leading to the upper or lower falls when you reach the waterfall.

The upper falls are a great place to recharge, enjoy impressive views of the gushing water, and cool off in the mist. If you want to swim, head down to the lower falls. There are changing areas for hikers and crystal clear waters to dive into. Both the upper and lower falls are well worth a visit on your Costa Rican excursion.

6. Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

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Many consider the Llanos de Cortez waterfall to be the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica. 
The waterfall is approximately 50 feet wide and 12 feet tall, with water cascading over a rock wall. There is a stunning pool at the base of the falls, making it an ideal place for a swim. Additionally, there is an intimate sandy white beach you can enjoy a picnic lunch on.

To get to the waterfall, you will hike 10 minutes down a short but steep trail from the parking lot. Along the way, you will see a lush jungle with a high chance of wildlife like birds and monkeys. There are no entrance fees to visit, but donations to the local community school are always welcome!

7. The Diamante Falls

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At nearly 600 feet tall, Diamante Falls are some of the tallest falls in all of Costa Rica. 
Despite their beauty, the falls are not commonly visited by tourists due to the difficulty in finding them. They are located on private property near the small village of Las Tumbas, and most people are not familiar with the area or language.

The best way to see the falls is to hire a guide in the town of Dominic who can help you navigate to them. Once you see the falls, you’ll understand why they are worth the effort to find!

8. Savegre Waterfall

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If you are looking for a truly unique and breathtaking waterfall experience, look no further than Savegre Waterfall. Nestled in the lush, tropical highlands near Los Quetzales National Park and San Gerardo de Dota, the almost 100-foot Savegre Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country.

The mile-long trail to the falls is an adventure in itself, taking you through primordial forest habitats that are often shrouded in clouds. But the real highlight is the nearly 100-foot tall waterfall itself, which plunges over a sheer cliff into a deep pool below.

Whether you are a hiker, birdwatcher, or fisherman (or just a fan of Indiana Jones), Savegre Falls is definitely worth a visit. So grab your fedora and machete and start exploring!

9. Bijagual Waterfall

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If you are looking for an unforgettable Costa Rican adventure, look no further than the Bijagual Waterfall. The Bijagual falls are some of the tallest in the entire country. 
Located near Jaco on the Central Pacific Coast, this 590-foot waterfall is accessible by a guided horseback ride through the lush forest.

The trek to the waterfall brings you to seaside fishing villages along the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you will likely encounter colorful tropical birds like macaws and toucans. Look closely, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a sloth or a troop of monkeys. 

You can reward yourself with a cool dip into the spring-fed pool when you arrive at your destination.

10. Los Chorros

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Los Chorros Falls is located in a municipal park of the same name, near the small towns of Tavares and Grecia. In Spanish, Los Churros means ‘The Jets’. This is an appropriate name as it refers to the jet-like power with which the waters pour into the natural pool below.

The Loss Chorros Waterfall is one of the most accessible and visited waterfalls in this country that is just brimming with aquatic wonders. Found on Chorros River, the 150-foot high waterfalls are a beloved destination for climbers who enjoy rappelling down these magnificent natural wonders.

There are a few additional waterfalls along the trail, so enjoy the hike with incredible views!

11. La Cangreja Falls

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If you are looking for yet another amazing waterfall experience that’s off the beaten path, look no further than La Cangreja Falls. 
At about 130 feet tall, the raging water pours over a rock ledge and into a deep blue pool below. The whole scene – surrounded by tropical vegetation, dramatic rocks, and towering jungle trees – looks like something straight out of a postcard. 

The trail leading to the falls is about three miles long and the roundtrip hike takes around two to three hours to complete. While it is not the easiest hike you will ever do, it is not overly strenuous, either. And trust us – the breathtaking views of the waterfall are more than worth the effort.

Related Read: 15 Best Beaches in Costa Rica for Families

12. Montezuma Waterfall

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Many of Costa Rica’s most iconic waterfalls are nestled away in the jungle. However, Montezuma Waterfall is easily accessible via a short walk from the beach town of Montezuma. 
The three-tiered waterfall is considered one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica.

The lower tier of the waterfall is the most accessible and only requires a 10-minute walk from downtown Montezuma. The upper tiers require a rugged hike from the base of the waterfall. Instead, we suggest using the well-maintained Sun Trail, located west of the parking lot. Note that the trail has a ₡2,000 (About 4 USD) fee to enter. 

Some dare-devils even cliff jump from the upper tiers – but that is not for folks with weak stomachs!

13. San Luis

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San Luis Waterfall is one of the most isolated and unspoiled waterfalls in Costa Rica. 
San Luis sits within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve along the Tilaran Mountains between the Puntarenas and Alajuela Provinces, these falls drop an impressive 330 feet.

The falls are surrounded by some of the finest jungles in all of Costa Rica and are home to many impressive exotic animals. The trail to San Luis waterfall takes a few hours. As a result, the trails are not accessible for everyone, but those who do take on the challenge can enjoy the pristine jungle with fewer fellow tourists.

Due to the more remote nature of these trails, it is highly advisable to hire a guide. If you decide to venture to San Luis on your own, ensure that you have a reliable GPS and you familiar with how to use its settings.

14. Oropendola Waterfalls

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Oropendola Waterfalls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in all of Costa Rica. If you are traveling with children or older adults, this waterfall is a great choice. The hike to the falls is less than a mile, but the trail can become very muddy due to the rainy conditions.

One of the highlights of the trail is the opportunity to cross one of Costa Rica’s iconic hanging bridges. When you reach Oropendola Falls, you will see water tumble down about 80 feet into a turquoise pool. Most of the time, hikers are able to swim in the natural pool.

A ticket is required to enter Oropendola Waterfalls as it is within Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Due to the accessible nature of this trail, it is extremely popular with tourists. Therefore, we highly encourage you to book your ticket well in advance.

15. The Blue Falls

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If you are looking for a breathtaking natural wonder in Costa Rica, look no further than the Blue Falls. Part of the same park as Catarata del Toro, the Blue Falls are actually made up of seven individual waterfalls located along the same turquoise river.

The vibrant blue color of the water is due to volcanic minerals present in the water and is truly a sight to behold. Since there is a bit of a hike involved to reach the falls, you are not allowed to visit them without a guide. So be sure to plan your visit accordingly!

So, Which Costa Rican Waterfall Did You Love?

There you have it – 15 of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica! As you can see, there is a waterfall for every type of traveler.

Los Chorros Falls, Montezuma Waterfall, or Oropendola Waterfalls are fantastic choices for those traveling with small children or eldery adults. San Luis or Blue Falls, on the other hand, are excellent treks for those looking for a true jungle adventure. 

So whether you are looking for an easy hike or an adventurous trek, you are sure to find the perfect waterfall for you. Just be sure to plan your trip in advance to avoid disappointment!

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