Rio Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica
It turns out that fairytale destinations do exist. Discover one of the world’s most beautiful with Adobe Rent a Car. The Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica.
Local Costa Rica legend has it that when God finished painting the heavens he rinsed his paintbrush in the river and turned its waters a stunning sky blue.
Río Celeste Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s mystical Rio Celeste River is located in the northern lowlands of Alajuela Province. It flows from the base of the Tenorio Volcano and forms part of the Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area and Tenorio Volcano National Park.
The river’s riveting milky-blue coloration and the natural beauty of its surroundings have made it one of Costa Rica’s premier day-tours.
What is the scientific explanation for the blue water?
Rio Celeste was formed by the joining of two rivers flowing from the Tenorio volcano. The Buena Vista and Quebrada Agria rivers. Each river has a distinct mineral composition. Their waters undergo an unusual optical reaction when the two are mixed and form Rio Celeste.
The calcium carbonate, sulfur, silica, and other minerals in the water reflect light and create an otherworldly turquoise color. One of Rio Celeste’s attractions is a visit to Los Teñideros.
Meaning the dyers in English, Los Teñideros is where the two clear rivers join and the sky blue river is formed. Many visitors claim they can smell the sulfur in the water where the two rivers meet.
Catarata Rio Celeste
The main attraction at Tenorio Volcano National Park is not only Rio Celeste or the volcano. The park is blanketed in virgin cloud and rainforests and has several hot spring pools and other geothermal rarities. It also harbors thousands of bird, animal, and reptile species.
It is the breathtaking Rio Celeste Waterfall, however, that steals the show.
Visitors to the park can hike to the dazzling Rio Celeste Waterfall. It plunges 250 feet (90 meters) from the lush rainforest into a brilliant pool below. Most people can’t believe that pictures of the falls are real until they witness the display firsthand.
Where is Rio Celeste Waterfall located?
You can access the Rio Celeste Waterfall & Tenorio Volcano National Park from the ranger station and entrance near the town of Bijagua. The 2021 entrance fee for non-residents is $12 adults, $5 children, and 800 colones (CRC) for locals and residents.
The park is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. However, visitors are only allowed to enter until 2:00 p.m.
Hiking trail to Rio Celeste Waterfall
From the ranger station there is a hiking trail that takes you to the waterfall. It then continues deeper into the park to Los Teñideros. From the park entrance, the hike to the waterfalls takes approximately 30 minutes. The trail is relatively flat and partially paved with a couple of steeper sections and river crossings.
Once you reach the waterfall you will need to descend about 250 stairs to the viewing platform. The stairs are well constructed into the mountainside but can be difficult for people not accustomed to strenuous physical activity.
Hiking to Laguna Azul and Los Teñideros
Those who wish to see more of Tenorio’s highlights can follow the waterfall trail deeper into the park. The entire route is approximately 3.7 miles long and can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.
Good physical condition and hiking boots are a must. Hikers will encounter some steep areas as well as rocks and tree roots to navigate around. Rain and mud are also common, so it’s best to come prepared to get wet and possibly dirty.
Rio Celeste Hiking Tour
Tours into Tenorio Volcano National are highly recommended. Most Costa Rican providers offer day trips to the park. Tours for Rio Celeste y Los Teñideros will include extensive hiking. You will also enjoy a dip in one of the hot springs along the trail and some fantastic sightseeing.
The tour includes round trip transportation, a naturalist guide, and the entrance fee into the park. Exploring is much more rewarding when you have a local guide. They know the local flora and fauna that are easily missed without an experienced eye. And most guides share their personal experiences, knowledge, and history of the area.
When is the best time to visit Rio Celeste Waterfall & Tenorio Volcano National Park?
The Tenorio Volcano is covered in rainforests, which means it rains – a lot. The best way to avoid hiking through mud is to visit during the dry season from December to April. We also recommend arriving in the early morning to avoid both the intense heat or the afternoon rains.
Make sure to pack in plenty of water and snacks. And always stay on the trail. Visitors that stray from the recommended paths are likely to get lost.
Visit La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano
Most people visit Rio Celeste as a day trip. We recommend combining the experience with an overnight stay at the nearby town of La Fortuna. Home of the Arenal Volcano.
La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park are the capital of Costa Rica’s adventure tourism. Visitors will find just about everything Costa Rica is famous for in one beautiful location.
Choose from horseback riding, canopy and zipline adventures, rock climbing, hanging bridges, white water rafting, mountain biking, and more. And to top it off, the area is full of hot springs resorts to soothe sore muscles after a day of adventure.