In Spanish, Costa Rica means, ‘Rich Coast,’ and not surprisingly, Costa Rica boasts long coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
Sandwiched on a narrow strip of land between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, it is home to endless stretches of pristine, rain-drenched forests and some of the most majestic waterfalls in the world.
With a population of nearly five million, the country and its amazing geography, history, and all-around beauty have become hotspots for those seeking to escape the chaos of their lives, if only for a week or two. Below is a list of 12 amazing waterfalls in Costa Rica.
1. The Diamante Falls
If waterfalls are one of the reasons you’re visiting Costa Rica, why not start with the tallest and most majestic of them all.
At nearly 600 feet in height, the falls are hard to miss, though that’s exactly what most tourists do.
Despite their magnificence and the stunning scenery around them, they’re not on most itineraries due to the difficulty in finding them.
Located near the small village of Las Tumbas, the falls are on private property; for those who aren’t familiar with the area and language, finding them can be an arduous task. A better idea is to hire a guide in the town of Dominical, which is only about a half an hour away.
2. Nauyaca Falls
For those value-minded travelers, Nauyaca Falls are among the most amazing falls in Costa Rica, because they’re really two falls in one.
Broken into two distinct tiers – the first of which is around 150 feet, and the second 70 feet – Nauyaca Falls are a top attraction for local and international explorers and waterfall seekers alike.
One of the best falls for swimming, there’s a huge pool at the bottom that’s wide, deep and surprisingly refreshing. Conveniently located just a quick drive from the Pacific coast town of Dominical, guided horseback tours are available too.
3. Savegre Waterfall
Located near Los Quetzales National Park and San Gerardo de Dota – both places that you’ll definitely want to visit while in the area – Savegre Falls are on the Savegre River, or Rio Savegre, in lush, tropical highlands that are favorite places of hikers, bird-watchers and fisherman.
If playing Indiana Jones sounds like a great way to spend a day, then grab your whip, fedora, and machete and start blazing a trail to Savegre Falls.
The mile-long trail will take you through primordial, and often cloud-covered highland forests, over makeshift bridges and lead you right to the nearly 100-foot tall waterfall.
4. La Paz Waterfalls
Known locally as the ‘Waterfall of Peace,’ there may not be a more tranquil place to spend an afternoon, and there are a few other waterfalls located on the two-mile hiking trail too.
Located in Costa Rica’s interior, not far from the town of Alajuela and the Poas Volcano, the falls are located on the La Paz River in the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which are a favorite destination for lovers of the area’s exotic flora and fauna.
The falls drop nearly 120 feet before splashing into the pool below in a dramatic mix of foam and froth. The falls are on private property, so booking a guided tour in town may be the best bet.
5. Los Chorros
Located near the small towns of Tacares and Grecia, Los Churros Falls are located in a municipal park of the same name. In Spanish, Los Churros means, ‘The Jets,’ which refers to the power with which the waters pour to the pool below.
Loss Chorros Waterfall is one of the most accessible and visited waterfalls in this country that’s just brimming with them.
Found on the Rio Chorros – or Chorros River – the falls are nearly 150-feet high and are a preferred destination for brave climbers who scale the rocks surrounding the fall then rappel down.
There’s a minimal charge to enter the park and the cashier will show you the way to go.
There are actually more than one falls along the trail, the first of which you’ll reach after 20 minutes or so.
6. Montezuma Falls
Consisting of three tiers, Montezuma Falls is more accessible than many of Costa Rica’s waterfalls, making it a popular destination.
An easy jaunt from the chilled-out beach town of Montezuma, Montezuma Falls are always on the list of amazing waterfalls in Costa Rica. They’re just a 10 or 15-minute walk from the town center, so ask anyone and they’ll tell you, or show you, how to get there.
The first of the three tiers is the most accessible and has a picturesque pool in which you’ll probably want to take a dip. The other tiers are reachable too, but getting to them can be dangerous.
Some fearless souls even jump from the top, though it’s something best left to the young, fit and immortal because altogether the falls are nearly 150 feet tall.
7. Rio Celeste Falls
Always a favorite due to the mesmerizingly blue water that looks too amazing to be real, 100-foot tall Rio Celeste Falls and the inviting pool below have become a tourist hotspot in recent years.
Located near the Tenorio National Volcano Park and Arenal Tilaran Conservation Areas, the surrounding areas offer a great opportunity to hit multiple must-see attractions.
The main trail into the falls is just a mile long and it’s easy enough to do on your own, though guided tours are available if you’d like the peace of mind of being with a professional.
Keep in mind that during the rainy season – usually from March to December – the waters can become a muddy-brown, so time your trip during the dry season.
8. Bajos del Toro
Located in Costa Rica’s northern province of Alajuela, the Bajos del Toro Falls are fed from rainwater collected inside the Poas Volcano. At nearly 300-feet tall, the falls are majestic and the area has its own micro-climate which draws exotic birds and insects.
Visitors to the falls used words like breathtaking, unforgettable and mesmerizing to describe their experiences here; there’s even a restaurant on site.
Due to the rainstorms that can seemingly appear as if by magic, it’s a good idea to bring a raincoat, hat and an old pair of boots or shoes, as they’ll get wet and dirty.
If you’d rather not eat at the restaurant, pack a lunch and have a picnic at one of the many vista points along the trails.
9. La Fortuna
At nearly 250 feet, La Fortuna Waterfalls are located on the Rio La Fortuna, about three miles from the town of La Fortuna. There’s a $10 USD entrance fee to get into the park, but a portion of the fee goes to maintaining the amazing site.
Dropping nearly 250 feet, the falls are accessible by a steep trail which winds its way nearly 2,000 feet before ending up at the base of the waterfall.
Depending on conditions, the hike can take up to half an hour and can be tricky in spots.
There are two vista points along the trail, and swimming in the chilly pool at the bottom is a favorite way to cool off.
The falls can be crowded during peak season, so if your schedule allows, visit during the week, early in the morning or in the afternoon.
10. La Cangreja Falls
Known as, ‘The Crab,’ in Spanish, La Cangreja Falls are perhaps the most amazing falls in Costa Rica, but as luck would have it, they’re not a popular tourist destination.
The falls are located near the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in the Guanacaste Province in northwest Costa Rica.
At nearly 140 feet tall, the falls cascade over the rock ledge above into an ocean-blue pool below.
Surrounded by tropical vegetation, dramatic rocks, and towering jungle trees, the whole scene looks like it has been photo-shopped.
The trail leading to the falls is about three miles long and the roundtrip shouldn’t take more than a few hours, though you’ll want to take your time and enjoy the surrounding splendor.
11. Llanos de Cortez
At just about 70 feet from top to bottom, the falls at Llanos de Cortez may not be the biggest in Costa Rica, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in beauty.
Also located in the Guanacaste Province, near the towns of Bagaces and Liberia, the falls are a bit remote, but once at the site, there’s only a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the falls.
Located about three miles west of Bagaces on Highway 1, the turnoff to the falls is marked with a sign that’s easily missed, so keep your eyes open and watch that odometer.
Tour guides are available in the nearby towns, and there is a small fee to enter the park.
12. San Luis
Located in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve along the Tilaran Mountains between the Puntarenas and Alajuela Provinces, these falls drop nearly 100 feet and are surrounded by some of the most pristine forests in the country.
Home to many rare and exotic reptiles, birds and plants, you’ll want to take your camera to enjoy the virgin forest and its inhabitants.
Since it takes a few hours to hike to the falls, they aren’t as crowded as some of the more accessible falls in the country.
Though the trails aren’t particularly difficult, they are remote, so unless you’ve got a GPS and map and know how to use them, it’s best to hire a local guide.
The exertion will be well worth it when you see the gem at the end of the trail.