Just when you thought Costa Rica couldn’t get any prettier, surprise! Welcome to the land of not only beautiful beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, and mountains – but waterfalls!
The country is packed with these beauties, thanks to the mountainous terrain and abundant rivers. No matter where you travel, it’s likely there’s a must-see Cascada – as the locals call them – nearby.
Find your favorite waterfall in Costa Rica
We at Adobe Rent a Car have the perfect vehicles for navigating Costa Rica’s rural roads in search of your favorite piece of paradise.
In fact, we have 16 offices strategically located throughout the country to best serve our customers’ needs. If you’re looking for a vehicle for just one day or even a month, we’ve got you covered.
At Adobe, our fleet of impeccably maintained vehicles is the biggest and youngest in the country. All of our cars are less than 24-months old and represent the most reliable makes and models on the market.
Costa Rica is full of off-the-beaten-path wonders that shouldn’t be missed. We recommend you rent a 4WD vehicle for your travels into waterfall country. The added lift, power, and durability of a 4×4 car will give you peace of mind and the traction you need to navigate with ease.
Waterfalls and Adobe Rent a Car
The following are some of Costa Rica’s most stunning waterfalls and personally recommended by Adobe Rent a Car. When planning your upcoming vacation itinerary, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our bilingual Adobe agents for travel and driving tips.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Costa Rica
The Nauyaca waterfalls are a national favorite. The falls comprise a stretch of the Barocito River as it flows through a narrow canyon within the mountainous rainforests of the Southern Pacific Coast. (The region is also referred to as La Costa Ballena or Whale Coast for the seasonal migrations of humpback whales to the offshore waters.)
What makes Nauyaca so exceptional are its two distinct levels and type of falls. The upper falls are a nearly 150 ft. “freefall” of cool shimmering water. The lower fall cascades some 65 ft. down the canyon walls into a large pool that’s delightful for swimming and cooling off.
Other smaller pools are formed as the river continues its course towards the coast and are suitable for families with small children.
Getting to Nauyaca Falls
Getting to Nauyaca is a quick 20 minutes, or 10 km (6.3 miles) drive from Dominical and the Costanera Sur highway 34 on Route 234 toward San Isidro. The trip from Manuel Antonio is 73 km (45 miles) and takes approximately 1.5 hours. There is a small office at the side of the road called Don Lulo’s where visitors can ask questions and pay the entrance fee.
From Don Lulo’s, it’s another 2 miles to the trailhead and a 4 km (2.5 miles) hike to the falls (approximately 1.5 hours each way). Other options include taking a horseback tour, which can also be arranged at Don Lulo’s and runs around $80 per person.
For visitors who prefer are unable or unwilling to make the trek by foot or horseback, a 4WD option can be arranged that will drop you off close to the lower falls.
La Fortuna Waterfall
A visit to the Arenal Volcano National Park is not complete without experiencing La Fortuna Waterfall – perhaps Costa Rica’s most spectacular. Emerging from the base of the dormant El Chato Volcano, La Fortuna plunges a mighty 70 mts (230 ft.) into a fast-moving crystalline pool at the bottom of a rainforest-draped canyon.
The park center and trailhead access are located southwest of La Fortuna town on the Diagonal 301. Visitors must pay an entrance fee of around $10 and can change clothes and buy snacks or souvenirs at the visitor center.
From the top, it’s a 500-steps hike down the side of the canyon on a well-maintained yet steep trail. The hike up feels even steeper and is not recommended for people with health issues or bad knees.
A dip in the exhilarating pool makes all the effort worthwhile, however. And the selfies are sure to make your friends and family back home envious. After the hike, a soak in one of Arenal Volcano’s steamy hot springs is highly recommended.
Rio Celeste Waterfall
This storybook waterfall is too beautiful for words. The Rio Celeste River gets its name from its otherworldly milky-turquoise color that, at first glance, appears too vivid to believe. The water’s color comes from the merging of two rivers, each carrying unique volcanic minerals that turn a brilliant sky-colored hue when mixed.
The waterfall is located deep within the Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste Province. A visit to Rio Celeste waterfall is a must for any itinerary, but especially for travelers flying into the northern Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia.
Don’t worry if you’re flying into San Jose. The park is only about 5-hours north and worth the trip. Most vacation packages will include (or highly suggest) a visit to the falls, which includes partaking in the natural hot springs pools along the trek.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are located near the Poas Volcano National Park, only 48 km (30 miles) northeast of San José. The privately-owned ecological park, wildlife preserve, restaurant, and hotel are masterfully orchestrated and lovely to visit.
It is no surprise that La Paz is the most visited attraction in Costa Rica. Due to its proximity to the capital, it’s a perfect destination for day trips.
The expertly maintained hiking trails start at the park entrance and follow the La Paz River (meaning Peace River) on its course, passing one spectacular waterfall after another. The fifth fall, and star of the show, is La Paz , which roars over a verdant cliff to a breathtaking pool far below.
A visit to the Waterfall Gardens isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Visitors get the chance to see over 100 of Costa Rica’s fascinating animal species, exotic birds (including myriad hummingbirds), snakes, reptiles, and even wild cats.The trails may be slick from river spray, and hikers should wear good boots.
Montezuma waterfall is the Nicoya Peninsula’s sparkling jewel. It is located in the quaint bohemian village of Montezuma on the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. To get to the trailhead, head southeast out of Montezuma towards the town of Cabuya. The road there used to be a dirt road but was recently paved.
It is technically free to hike to the breathtaking falls (there are three of them). However, a security guard in the rugged parking lot, and a resident that lives nearby, usually ask a small fee for watching your car and maintaining the trails.
A hike to Montezuma Waterfall can be a challenge when the river is running high. It takes approximately 30 minutes and requires at least one river crossing and some steep scrambles up the river bank.
Hiking shoes are recommended as the trail can become slippery. The delightful swimming hole and majestic waterfall at the end of the trail are worth every ounce of effort to get there.
To access the upper falls, it’s best to approach from above. The trail down is located at the Montezuma Canopy Tour office on the Montezuma-Delicias road up and out of town. For those wishing to see and even take a dip in the falls without hiking, try the exhilarating canopy and zipline tour that can be arranged either by a tour operator in town or at the office above the river.
Ask a local
Local tour providers and most guidebooks will tell you the best method and time of year to visit these national gems. Keep in mind that some waterfalls are better avoided during the peak of the rainy season as the powerful river currents may be dangerous and the trails washed out or slippery.