Costa Rica has some of the best waterfalls in Central America if you ask me! After visiting Costa Rica twice now, I realized just how helpful a guide would be of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica to visit!
These nineteen waterfalls are worth whatever hike it takes to get to them!
In the unlikely event that you are only able to visit one waterfall during your visit to Costa Rica, make it La Fortuna!
A steep climb along a winding trail and hundreds of steps will lead you to the base of the falls and its cold water pool at the bottom.
The narrow waterfall at La Fortuna pours off the edge of a hanging cliff like a spout! The water at the bottom is a stunning shade of emerald green!
Check out my ultimate guide to La Fortuna waterfall! I include everything you need to know when visiting this Costa Rican gem!
Bijagual Waterfall is also known as Manantial de Agua Viva. This waterfall is just north of the famous surfing spots in the town of Jaco. It is 600-feet tall and challenging to reach. A trail will take you through lush rainforest, through some meandering mossy paths. A 2-hour one-way journey takes you towards the falls.
The water breaks on the rocks below, sending water vapors into the air around you!
Make your way to the foot of the falls and swim in a pool of cool crystal waters. You’ll be surrounded by rocky walls covered in hanging plants!
Cascada El Pavon
South of Ojochal, Costa Rica, is a small but famous waterfall called El Pavon. It has a distinctive feature unlike any other waterfall. You may have even seen it in photos of Costa Rica while planning your trip.
El Pavon’s waterfall is recessed in between two rocky cliffs and has one substantial feature that other waterfalls don’t have.
It’s a large boulder that sits perfectly at the top of the falls! The big rock is perfectly positioned between the cliff walls and hasn’t budged for a long time!
This waterfall has been described as “off the beaten path.” That’s mostly true if you consider the more popular falls in the country.
This catarata is very close to the town of Aquiares, which is Costa Rica’s largest coffee farm! If you are planning a visit to the area, be sure to check out the Catarata Aquiares while you are there!
The falls are quite beautiful, accessible, and best of all, free to see.
Catarata del Toro and Blue Falls
Located inside of a volcanic crater, the Catarata del Toro and nearby Blue Falls are some of the most impressive natural areas in the entire country! Definitely some of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica.
Only an hour and a half from San Jose, the site is on private property. As such, it requires a small fee to enter. This also means limited operating hours for Catarata del Toro and Blue Falls.
The falls are very close to highway 708, and access is simple. You just hike down a narrow trail that leads through the rainforest. You’ll reach a clearing where you can see the 300-foot tall falls.
Blue Falls is a lesser-known site on the opposite side of the highway. The twin falls are a short distance from each other and require a bit of walking over slippery terrain.
The falls are an incredible hue of blue, almost like someone added food coloring to them!
Diamante Waterfall and Cave
This is definitely one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica!
A unique excursion in Costa Rica involves nearly three hours of hiking, stopovers at over a dozen waterfalls, and an overnight stay in a cave. Welcome to Diamante Waterfall!
The only way to get to Diamante is by a guided tour through the remote area on private property. Not for the faint of heart, it is certainly a strenuous walk with significant elevation.
However, the final destination is worth it. While views of waterfalls on the hike to Diamante are plentiful, the reward is the cave behind the main falls. It’s outfitted for the perfect overnight stay.
The views from the open cliff-side cave are incredible; lush rainforest, waterfall, and a panoramic view of the area at the top of the tallest waterfall.
A bit more adventure excursion than photo opportunity near a waterfall, Gravity Falls is for the most daring in your travel group.
Gravity Falls is known for the rappelling tours that drop 140 feet from the top of the falls into a deep pool of cold water! Amateurs welcome, tour companies will ensure your safety. You’ll learn how to canyoneer and swing along the rocky cliff before rappelling down.
Combined with several cliff jumping spots, it’s really a great place to get some adrenaline pumping while exploring Costa Rica’s national parks.
The trail to La Cangreja is long and winding, but the waterfall itself is secluded and perfect for a romantic dip in the pool.
At three hours one-way, the visit to and from the falls will take you the better part of the day. Yet there is plenty to see along the way! I’m talking Costa Rica’s beautiful rainforests, valleys, and wildlife galore! You are sure to see some monkeys or tropical birds.
Your journey will end at the rather short falls and the pool of turquoise blue that is perfect for a swim after your long trip. Cool down, relax, and make your trip back feeling refreshed.
La Paz Waterfall
A tranquil area near Alajuela, the waterfall garden at La Paz is a set of five falls that can be seen along one two-mile trail along La Paz River.
The five falls (Templo, Encantada, Magia Blanca, Escondida, and La Paz) are all different from one another. Each can be viewed in a variety of ways! You can stop at the foot of a waterfall or see it from a wooden platform on a cliff’s edge! Regardless of how you see them, you will no doubt leave the gardens at peace.
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Just southeast of Liberia is a wide, easily accessible waterfall known as Llanos de Cortez.
What used to be a bit of a rough destination has been transformed by the local government into a safe swimming spot. There’s even a lifeguard on duty and concrete steps lined with a rope handrail in place of a dirt path.
The waterfalls are short, but wide and surrounded by lush greenery. Part of the pool is even hidden under a canopy of tall trees!
Not one, but two waterfalls exist in Los Chorros Recreation Park. These two “jets” of water are powerful and large, cascading over mossy cliffs.
The two waterfalls are Zamora and Prendas. Both equally impressive, they drop nearly 150-feet and empty into shallow pools of water below. The trail is quite easy to navigate. It even has picnic table areas for those who thought ahead and packed a lunch! (Which can be you!)
You can find this set of three waterfalls on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula at the terminus of several trails. Each one of Montezuma’s falls has something special about it.
The top waterfall is the shortest and empties into a pool that is perfect for cliff jumping or swinging from a hanging rope. The middle falls can be found by swimming out from the top falls and peering over a ledge. The lower waterfall is 80 feet tall. It has a great pool in which to soak at the end of a sweaty hike!
The waterfalls at Nauyaca are one of the best sites in Costa Rica. The falls have two unique levels and cascade into each other.
The top level is 150-feet tall, and the lower level is 70-feet tall. At the bottom is a refreshing pool of water that is deep and surrounded by trees for plenty of shade!
By far one of the most picturesque falls in Costa Rica, you can spend an entire day swimming here and enjoying the natural surroundings.
You have to see this waterfall in Guanacaste!
Follow the trails and suspension bridge to reach Oropendola Waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. A visit to Oropendola is typically done as part of a hike through the national park along Las Pailas trail.
Along with the waterfall and it’s turquoise blue water pool, you will no doubt see dozens of tropical birds and animals like monkeys, armadillos, and lizards.
Rio Celeste Falls
The best time to visit these falls is during the dry season when the water is at its most turquoise! That’s right, the pool at the foot of the falls has some of the brightest turquoise-colored water in all of Costa Rica.
Rio Celeste is a river and waterfall in the northwestern mountainous area of the country. A 30-minute hike along a trail that transitions from concrete to dirt path is a short trip for such a spectacular payoff.
The increasing popularity of the falls has resulted in the building of a viewing platform at the foot of a 250-step staircase.
Though you cannot swim in the closed-off pool, you can definitely take some great photos of the area! You can capture the 300-foot tall waterfall, as well as the aforementioned turquoise blue water of the pool.
San Luis Waterfall
There are several ways to get to San Luis waterfall in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The easiest and safest is with a local guide.
The rainy weather combined with not-so-friendly terrain makes it a bit of a challenge to get to! Especially since you need to trek a four-mile out and back trail. Bring plenty of insect repellant and appropriate hiking shoes, because it does get a bit muddy.
The falls are stunning for their surroundings in addition to their high and drop. You can choose to swim in the small pool at the foot of the falls. Alternatively, you can observe them from the nearby rocky area and feel the mist on your face.
Walk along the Rio Savegre and make your way to the lush zone in the tropical highlands to witness this interesting waterfall! It cascades at an angle along the side of a cliff and into a shallow pool of water near Los Quetzales National Park.
The contrast between the water and the lush greenery which envelopes its flow is absolutely stunning!
You can get some great photos of the falls, tropical trees, and mossy rocks from a spot directly opposite the waterfall across the pond.
When you hear of Tocori Waterfalls, you will also hear of horses!
The falls can only be reached on horseback in the private ecological reserve at the site of Rancho Don Gilerto.
To see Tocori, you will need to arrange a tour which includes a walk through the forest and a trail ride on horseback that will take you to the falls. It’s a great way to learn about the traditions, cultures, and preservation efforts on behalf of the flora and fauna in the area, and to enjoy a Costa Rican meal to boot.
Each waterfall in Costa Rica is different, and, at first glance, Uvita doesn’t look very impressive. However, the flow of water over the rocky cliff has smoothed it down and created a perfect waterslide! It deposits those who can climb up the slippery slope into the shallow pool below.
Definitely don’t try to do any cliff diving here as the water is not deep enough. But a bit of slip and slide fun down a short waterfall surrounded by lush rainforest should be on your Costa Rican itinerary!
Uvita’s location on the Costa Ballena means there are plenty of other great waterfalls and beaches in the area to see the same day.
I hope you see just how incredible Costa Rica is! If you know of any falls that deserve a spot on this list of best waterfalls in Costa Rica, comment them below!
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