When we first started planning our trip to Costa Rica, I had no idea there were so many waterfalls to explore. I had seen pictures of the famous “Rio Celeste Waterfall” and knew we had to go there. As we began to plan more, I stumbled upon a few more beautiful spots and knew we had to fit them into the itinerary. Here are our four favorite waterfalls from our trip.
1. Rio Celeste Waterfall
This waterfall is truly incredible. The water is such an intense color of turquoise, it doesn’t even seem possible. It also is one of the most popular waterfalls in Costa Rica. Many companies offer day trips from La Fortuna, but our recommendation is to spend the night just outside the National Park and then get there first thing in the morning—before all the
tourist shuttles arrive.
After paying your park entry (and renting rain boots, depending on the weather), head straight down to the waterfall. The path is relatively well maintained and the staircase to the waterfall is in excellent condition. After checking out the waterfall, take your time and explore the rest of the park for the day. The only downside is that you can’t swim in the gorgeous blue water inside the national park. However, there is a loop hole to this. If you have your own car, follow the road and you’ll see parts of the river open to the public for swimming.
2. Oropendola Waterfall
Oropendola waterfall and the Rincon de La Vieja National Park make an excellent day trip from Liberia. Of course, if you have more time, we recommend spending the night in the region. On your way to the park entrance you will see a restaurant on your left.
Park there and head away from the park entrance (parallel to the road you came on) until you see a trail with a small sign for the waterfall. You will hike through an open grassy area and then through the jungle until you see a suspension bridge. Cross the bridge and you will be at the waterfall.
We visited this waterfall twice, once in the morning and then again the afternoon. Your best bet is in the afternoon when it’s warmer and the icy water feels refreshing instead of frigid. We saw lots of people cliff jumping from here, even one person from the very top. So if you’re brave, try it out at your own risk!
3. La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna waterfalls is one of the most easily accessible waterfalls, which is why it ranks high on our list. It’s located just outside the tourist hub town of La Fortuna. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing and swimming in the water.
While well maintained, this waterfall does require about 500 steps to get down to. The real killer is the 500 steps back up when you are done, so definitely go for a swim and cool off before heading back up.
One of the cooler aspects of this waterfall is that you can view it from an observation deck above all the tree tops and then get to experience it from an entirely different perspective when you reach the bottom.
4. Catarata del Toro
This waterfall is definitely off the beaten track and required a bit more work to get to, but ended up being my favorite waterfall of the trip. Not only is it the highest waterfall in Costa Rica, but it also empties into an inactive volcano crater, which is pretty cool!The hike here is a bit more slippery, especially if it has rained recently, but absolutely gorgeous and you get glimpses of the waterfall at various points.
Added bonus, the entrance to the waterfall has tons of hummingbirds flying around. Like Rio Celeste Waterfall, there is no swimming here. However, the temperatures are significantly cooler in this part of Costa Rica, so it isn’t quite as tempting.