25 Costa Rica Waterfalls + Map (From Famous to Off-beat)

25 Costa Rica Waterfalls + Map (From Famous to Off-beat)

When it comes to tourism, one place that never disappoints is Costa Rica. Popular for being a land of volcanoes, beaches, and several landmarks, Costa Rica also has numerous waterfalls that attract not only eco-tourists but many people worldwide. Pristine, blue water washes down on gorgeous stones or in between rainforests, giving everyone a magical show. If you’re traveling to Costa Rica and don’t want to miss out on all the fun, then you should definitely visit these famous and offbeat waterfalls in Costa Rica.

The 5 Most Famous Waterfalls

To start with a quick Spanish 101 “cascada” means small waterfall, “catarata” means huge waterfall. So of course there are 5 “catarata” among the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica.

Rio Celeste Waterfall (in Guanacaste)

The Rio Celeste Waterfalls are a direct link to the Celeste River in the Tenorio Volcano Park in the province of Guanacaste. It’s the best trip for anyone who wants to get a little exercise, catch a glimpse of the volcanic park, and enjoy a beautiful 98-feet high waterfall. A little warning, though, the waterfall is not suitable for swimming due to its chemical nature, but you only need to take one look at this popular turquoise water to enjoy. 

WHERE TO STAYClick here to find all eco-lodges in Guanacaste.

Waterfall with lush green plants and turquoise water pool

La Paz Waterfall (in Alajuela)

La Paz Waterfalls are probably one of the most famous in Costa Rica, mostly due to their beautiful location. Situated in the ecological wildlife gardens, La Paz and the other 4 waterfalls are all flowing smoothly over a private enclosure, accessible by a bridge and hike from the garden. If you’re planning on taking a hike that will give you literal chills, then cruising through this gorgeous wildlife reserve and gazing over the mystical waterfall is a trip worth everything.

WHERE TO STAY – Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall in the forest falling on a rocky surface

La Fortuna Waterfall (in Alajuela)

It is impossible to mention Costa Rica and not mention the La Fortuna Waterfall, which is probably one of the most famous waterfalls in Central America. Situated in the biological reserve of the Arenal Volcano, the La Fortuna Waterfall is a mind-blowingly attractive junction of falling water and a deep pool of cerulean. Many tourists swim in the cool pools to cool off the Costa Rican heat during the summers and often choose to rappel or zipline over the waterfall too. It’s honestly a place you must not miss!

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 6 miles) is Nayara Tented Camp (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall falling off a high cliff

Uvita Waterfall (in Puntarenas)

The Catarata Uvita/Uvita Waterfall creates a splendid group of pools that are simply divine for swimming and diving. With a depth of 3 meters, the Uvita waterfall is one of the most famous waterfalls in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, owing to its close proximity to the parking lot. It is accessible via a butterfly garden. The best part about the Uvita waterfall is the waterfall slide which is a quick but safe drop into the pools.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Puntarenas.

La Leona Waterfall (in Guanacaste)

Catarata La Leona is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica. A natural preserve marked by an enclosure of rocks that surround the azure pool of water, Catarata La Leona is an experience waiting to wow you. This pooled waterfall in Guanacaste is a perfect hike for a family day out, or if you’re feeling a little snug, taking your partner out on a date.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) is Hacienda Guachipelin (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Guanacaste.

The 5 Highest Waterfalls

Diamante Waterfalls (in San Jose)

The Diamante waterfall is the highest waterfall in Costa Rica, with a whopping 200 meters drop. Interestingly, the Diamante waterfalls are made up of twin waterfalls and lie on a family property but are luckily available to tourists through guided tours. Located in a preserved area of the rainforest in the southern part of San Jose province, the Diamante waterfalls can be seen afar on hikes and trails thanks to their impressive height. But even better is the cave behind the falls; the gorgeous opening has been cleaned and set up with restrooms, beds, and chairs, so you can actually spend a night or two there!

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability) which is actually in Puntarenas.

San Luis Waterfall (in Puntarenas)

Coming in second in height with a surprising 100 meters, the San Luis Waterfall in the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a divine place. Cool, refreshing water plummeting down onto a cascade of rocks and forming a refreshing pool, the San Luis Waterfall will blow your mind. You’ll love the touch of nature here; wild vegetation grows along the falls, and the rocks are covered with soft, healthy moss. It’s the best place for nature lovers.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Monteverde Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Puntarenas.

Huge waterfall from afar within  a rainforest

Del Toro Waterfall (in Alajuela)

Del Toro waterfall is in the Bajos Del Toro town of Costa Rica and is an extremely popular spot for swimming. With a 90 meters height and water that’s waist-deep, Del Toro waterfall is perfect for beginners in swimming and kids. A beautiful trail through the forest leads to the heavenly enclosure, where the water is a noticeable blue and presents as a great backdrop for hiking and picnics.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) are El Silencio Lodge & Spa (check availability) and Bosque De Paz Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Huge waterfall falling off a cliff with green most and brown stones around

La Fortuna Waterfall (in Alajuela)

The La Fortuna Waterfall is impressive already thanks to its unique location near the Arenal Volcano, but what makes it even better is the 75 meters drop. Taking a zipline over the La Fortuna Waterfall will explain why it’s so popular; ziplines and rappels take you so close to the waterfall that you can actually feel the mist of cool water spray your face. La Fortuna waterfall is a friendly swimming pool too!

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 6 miles) is Nayara Tented Camp (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall falling off a high cliff

Nauyaca Falls (in San Jose)

The Nauyaca Falls are a thrilling shower of water that splits into layers of rocks, forming several mini waterfalls combined into one. Altogether holding an impressive height of 65 meters, Nauyaca Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica. Nestled in the canyons within the rainforest south of San Jose, the Nauyaca Falls are reached via a trail through the first filled with sightings of chirping birds. They’re the one place to take a chance at!

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability) which is actually in Puntarenas.

Waterfall is falling off a huge cliff. It is several parts arriving on a large rocky surface within a rainforest

The Best Waterfalls to Go Swimming

Since Costa Rica has waterfalls formed by water brimming with volcanic salts, it isn’t really possible to swim in each and every one. However, if you’re looking forward to swimming, then there are five beautiful swimming waterfalls you must try:

Blue Falls (in Alajuela)

The Blue Falls are located very near to Del Toro Waterfalls but are distinct and named such due to their icy-blue color. You can easily recognize these waterfalls from a distance; your eye won’t miss the sharp tinge of the blue they are. The waterfalls drop into little divisions and plunge into 6-7 small pools, each prettier than the first. The Blue Falls probably receives the most swimmers in Del Toro as the temperature, the current, and the depth of the pools are perfect for families.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) are El Silencio Lodge & Spa (check availability) and Bosque De Paz Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Llanos de Cortez (in Guanacaste)

An extremely rare find in Guanacaste, which is home to beaches and rainforests more than it holds waterfalls, the Llanos de Cortez waterfall is a wonderful scene to behold. Flowing over a wall of rocks and through luscious, thick vines from the rainforest, Llanos de Cortez is a heavenly retreat. You can swim in the comforting waters of this waterfall and enjoy a great day.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Hacienda Guachipelin (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Guanacaste.

This waterfall looks like a thin veil as it is falling for a high cliff with green moss.

La Fortuna Waterfall (in Alajuela)

The La Fortuna Waterfall is probably one of the best swimming waterfalls out there. With a pool that isn’t too deep and water that isn’t too strong, the La Fortuna Waterfall frequently meets swimmers who love to go take a dive. And the temperature of the La Fortuna Waterfall is really comfortable, so you won’t be shivering or sweating at all!

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 6 miles) is Nayara Tented Camp (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall falling off a high cliff

Montezuma Waterfall (in Puntarenas)

The Montezuma Falls is probably one of the most beautiful, the most kid-friendly, and the best waterfalls in Costa Rica. Easily accessible without a guided tour, the Montezuma Falls are three cascades of water that all join together at the very end and form deep plunge pools. You can spend an entire day just frolicking in these plunge pools, and since it’s also family-friendly, watch your kiddos jump from the stones and make splashes.

Waterfall is falling off a large brown cliff without vegetation. Rainforest is on the sides. It has a brown pool bed.

Nauyaca Waterfalls (in San Jose)

The Nauyaca Falls are really the place to let go of one’s worries and swim away. Once you dip your toes in the refreshing cool water of the Nauyaca Falls, you’ll feel the hot weather melting away. The Nauyaca Falls is divided into several waterfalls, and they’re perfectly safe for families too. 

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability) which is actually in Puntarenas.

Waterfall is falling off a huge cliff. It is several parts arriving on a large rocky surface within a rainforest

The Easiest Waterfalls to Reach With Kids

Accompanied by kids and yearning to visit a waterfall but not sure where to go? Here are the five easiest waterfalls to reach with kids:

La Fortuna Waterfall (in Alajuela)

The La Fortuna Waterfall really takes the lead with being such a great tourist spot. It’s easily accessible through the rainforest, and you can reach there by any method: ziplines, horseback, rappels, hiking, and walking. The La Fortuna Waterfall is maybe 75 meters high, but the pool is not as deep as it looks, so you can take your kids out to the water for a fun day.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 6 miles) is Nayara Tented Camp (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall falling off a high cliff

Rio Fortuna (in Alajuela)

The Catarata Rio Fortuna is one of the breath-taking waterfalls near the Arenal Volcanic reserve. The Catarata Rio Fortuna or the Rio Fortuna Waterfall is a natural preserve just near the La Fortuna Waterfall, but don’t confuse the two; both are located just a stone’s throw from each other and are often visited through ziplines or rappels together. The Catarata Rio Fortuna is a small pool of water that acts as the perfect beginner’s swimming pool.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 6 miles) is Nayara Tented Camp (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Shorter but wide waterfall in a black rocky river bed. A brown bridge is on the top.

Nauyaca Waterfalls (in San Jose)

The Nauyaca Waterfalls are located in an ideal spot to reach with kids because they are reached through guided tours, horseback, walks, and hikes. It’s best if you pair up with a local tour company to take your kids to the Nauyaca Waterfalls because you can even request horseback rides so you or your little munchkins won’t have to do much.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability) which is actually in Puntarenas.

Waterfall is falling off a huge cliff. It is several parts arriving on a large rocky surface within a rainforest

Llanos de Cortez (in Guanacaste)

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall is probably one of the easiest to reach with kids because it’s only a short distance from the Liberia International Airport and has an easy hiking path. If your kids get tired easily or can’t make long distances, then Llanos de Cortez is perfect for them.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Hacienda Guachipelin (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Guanacaste.

This waterfall looks like a thin veil as it is falling for a high cliff with green moss.

El Pavon (in San Jose)

Now, the Uvita Waterfall isn’t just one big waterfall but is actually made up of neighboring waterfalls, one of which is the Cascada El Pavon. Since Uvita is already quite famous among locals, Cascada El Pavon gets its fair share of popularity as people love to venture into this wonderland and swim in this waterfall. Hidden in the Costa Rican jungle, the Cascada El Pavon is what makes Uvita such a favorite and is a must-visit.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability) which is actually in Puntarenas.

Most Beautiful Waterfalls Within Lodges

Here are some waterfalls which are accessible through eco-lodges or hotels and you might need to pay an entry fee to be able to reach them.

La Paz Waterfall (in Alajuela)

Since the La Paz Waterfall is located within the wildlife reserve, it is obviously a difficult task for outsiders to visit; most people who are able to visit have to go through the park. But, if you’re staying at the Peace Lodge, which is located quite near to the wildlife park, then the La Paz Waterfall is only a stone’s throw from you. Plus, staying at the Peace Lodge guarantees you a guided tour of the gorgeous shower. If you are staying somewhere else, you need to pay an entrance fee.

WHERE TO STAY – The Peace Lodge is not an eco-lodge. Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Waterfall in the forest falling on a rocky surface

Elysiana Waterfall (in Puntarenas)

An appealing ecolodge and waterfall park Cascada Elysiana in the province of Puntarenas gives you a private glimpse of the local Dominical, 58-meter high Elysiana Waterfall, which flows oh so elegantly into the rainforest. Only a 10-15 minutes’ walk from the waterfall, Cascada Elysiana is the ideal option for those who want to get a private or romantic getaway, away from the public eyes.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Cascada Elysiana (check availability).

Campesinos Waterfalls (in San Jose)

The Campesinos Waterfalls is a scattered waterfall that is tucked in a private enclosure of the Costa Rican rainforest in Quepos. However, both Los Campesinos Ecolodge and Arenas Del Mar are very near to the Campesinos Waterfall and they even offer guided tours through local hanging bridges and hiking trails to reach there. Once you step foot in the reserve, you’ll understand why this beauty has been hidden away so neatly.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodges are Los Campesinos Ecolodge and Arenas Del Mar (check availability).

Huge waterfall and a suspension bridge in the front. 2 people is crossing the bridge just above the waterfall
Photo courtesy of Arenas Del Mar which organizes guided tours here

Aquiares Waterfall (in Cartago)

If you are in the province of Cartago, this short hike of 15 minutes can be just what you are looking for. The waterfall is located on the Aquiares Coffee Farm, which claims to be the largest coffee farm in Costa Rica.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Casa Hacienda La Esperanza right there on the coffee plantation (check availability).

Underrated Waterfalls Off The Beaten Path

While Costa Rica brims with waterfalls, sometimes it’s ideal to go somewhere that’s a hidden gem. Luckily, Costa Rica has some waterfalls where everything becomes insanely beautiful, so here are a few:

Savegre Waterfall (in Puntarenas)

Between Quepos and Uvita lies a hidden gem so mesmerizing that you won’t want to leave. The Savegre Waterfall is located a few steps from the villages of Cerro de La Muerte and makes for an amazing landscape. With various steppingstones distributing the outpour of water, Savegre Waterfall is a cozy nook that’s as dreamy and magical as your favorite fairy-tale.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Arenas Del Mar (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Puntarenas.

Los Chorros Waterfall (in Alajuela)

Near the Los Chorros Municipal Recreative Park in Costa Rica, two small but magical waterfalls hide. While the Recreative Park is itself closed off temporarily, the gorgeous waterfall is luckily still reachable thanks to the generosity of the landowner, who has opened up an alternative route. Truly an amazing place to be, you’ll love the group of two waterfalls which are barely meters away from each other.

WHERE TO STAY – Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

A veil-like waterfall is falling from a large height in front of a blueish rocky cliff.

Encanto Waterfall (in San Jose)

Encanto Waterfall is inside La Cangreja National Park, in the province of San Jose. With its close proximity to the capital, it is easy to get there, but if you want to reach the waterfall, you need to hike approx. 5 miles.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge is Villas Mastatal (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in San Jose.

Las Gemelas (in Alajuela)

The Cataratas Las Gemelas is said to be challenging but the vibrant blue color is worth it. You can find La Celestial, Del Toro, Blue Falls, and Tesoro Escondido are also nearby. They are all located near the town of Bajos Del Toro, in the province of Alajuela.

WHERE TO STAY – The closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) are El Silencio Lodge & Spa (check availability) and Bosque De Paz Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Tesoro Escondido (in Alajuela)

Del Toro Waterfall or the Blue Falls might be the stars of this area with the province of Alajuela, but Tesoro Escondido literally means hidden treasure. You need a 4 km hike to get there through stairs and the river bed. However, if you do arrive, you are welcome to swim in the lake below. There is even a lookout with a 180° view of the area.

WHERE TO STAYThe closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) are El Silencio Lodge & Spa (check availability) and Bosque De Paz Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

Rio Agrio (in Alajuela)

This waterfall is right off the road near Valverde Vega, in the province of Alajuela. There is a restaurant that looks like a set from the Jurassic Park movie with a dinosaur welcoming you right at the entrance.

WHERE TO STAYThe closest eco-lodge (within 2 miles) are El Silencio Lodge & Spa (check availability) and Bosque De Paz Lodge (check availability). Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela.

San Fernando and Jaguarundi (in Alajuela)

They are two majestic waterfalls in the province of Alajuela, just at the border of Heredia, near the famous La Paz Waterfall. San Fernando is for experienced hikers. Despite you can see how impressive it is from the road, to get there you need to conquer rocky terrain with only ropes to help you.

WHERE TO STAY – Click here to find all eco-lodges in Alajuela or in Heredia.

Costa Rica Waterfall Map

Here is a map of all the Costa Rica waterfalls mentioned in this article. To take a quick glance, here is the list of waterfalls per region

  • Alajuela: Blue Falls, Del Toro, Jaguarundi, La Fortuna, La Paz, Las Gemelas, Los Chorros, Rio Agrio, Rio Fortuna, San Fernando, Tesoro Escondido
  • Cartago: Aquiares
  • Guanacaste: La Leona, Llanos de Cortez, Rio Celeste
  • Puntarenas: Elysiana, Montezuma, San Luis, Savegre, Uvita
  • San Jose: Campesinos, Diamante, El Pavon, Encanto, Nauyaca
Map of Costa Rica with 25 pins locating the 25 waterfalls with the names of the waterfalls written on a list. There is a toucan silhouette in the background and the flag of Costa Rica

Other eco-friendly activities in Costa Rica

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