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As one of the most photographed natural formations in this visually stunning country, the waterfalls of Costa Rica astound both experienced and novice travelers alike. There is just something incredible about rushing water dramatically falling from the rainforest canopy into a pool at the base of a cliff. After a hike through the rainforest in the tropical heat, a cool dip beneath these powerful forces of nature will not disappoint. The following waterfalls are timeless favorites of both locals and tourists:

La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano


To put it simply, La Fortuna Waterfall is stunning. People from around the world come to appreciate the natural beauty of the waterfall and surrounding hot springs. Spanish for “Fortune,” the waterfall is the attraction of a number of different tours near the Arenal Volcano and is fed by the Tenorio River. The view of the waterfall spilling out from a cliff at the base of the dormant Chato volcano and plummeting 70-meters (230-feet) before hitting a tropical pond that’s surrounded by the rich, green rainforest along the Arenal Mountain range is an awe-inspiring experience. Visitors come from around the world to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of the waterfall and surrounding hot springs.

There are two viewing areas that offer different perspectives of La Fortuna, and you can even walk right out on to the massive rocks and boulders alongside the banks of the basin. Remember to bring a swimsuit — the cool pool at the base of the waterfall is a great swimming location on a balmy summer day. The hike from the starting point on the cliff down to the waterfall (which can be combined with a hanging bridges canopy tour) follows a staircase that is carved into the hillside and takes about 15 minutes, and the calm green-blue waters of the pool will make the trek well worth the effort, and among the most beautiful Costa Rica hikes.

Rio Celeste Waterfall, Guanacaste


The Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park in the northwestern Guanacaste region is renowned for its hypnotic blue color and tropical surroundings. According to local legend, when God painted the sky, he washed his blue brushes in the river, turning the waters an entrancing shade of turquoise. In reality, the water that flows through the park is the unique product of a chemical reaction between minerals from the volcano and lush rainforest.


A two-hour hike into the park will unveil the brilliant blue waterfall and several natural hot springs, as well as plenty of Costa Rica wildlife including poison dart frogs, colorful blue morpho butterflies, and curious monkeys — it’s the ultimate tropical adventure. Swimming is prohibited due to unknown effects of the volcanic minerals, but the views make for picture-perfect memories to share with friends and family. The best time of year to experience the bright blue river is during Costa Rica’s dry season between December and April. Despite their many alluring sights, the Rio Celeste Waterfall and park system are known as relatively well-kept secret due to their remote location off the beaten pathA hidden jewel in a country of treasures, the Rio Celeste Waterfall is not a sight to be missed.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Cloud Forest


Located in the Cloud Forest outside of San Jose, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is the most visited privately-owned ecological attraction in Costa Rica — and for good reason! The area is a combination of a nature walk, five waterfalls, and rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 species of animals. The preserve also includes a Butterfly Observatory, Serpentarium, Frog Exhibit, and Hummingbird Garden. You can expect to see the following animals in the gardens — over 40-species of birds including toucans and 26-species of hummingbirds, as well as marmosets, white-headed capuchin monkeys, and black-handed spider monkeys, two-toed sloths, jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, and a thriving frog exhibit.


Butterfly Observatory at La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are open to the public year-round and the grounds are primarily self-guided, so visitors can tailor their experience to see exactly what and how much they’d like to see. With so many of Costa Rica’s wildlife and tropical sights to take in, it’s quite easy to spend an entire day touring the gardens and waterfalls at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Bajos del Toro Waterfall, Cloud Forest


Bajos del Toro Waterfall accessible from El Silencio Lodge & Spa

What a sight to behold! As one of the most spectacular and largest waterfalls in the country — with a 90-meter (300-foot) drop — Bajos del Toro Waterfall is hidden away in a valley between the Poás and Rincon de la Vieja Volcanoes, located in the Bajos del Toro Cloud Forest about 1 1/2 hours from San Jose.


Bajos del Toro Waterfall Trail

We highly recommend staying at El Silencio Luxury Lodge for the full Bajos del Toro experience. Hike the winding trail down to the base of the waterfall for about an hour with a guide and get up close to the roaring mist of this natural spectacle. From the lodge, a fifteen-minute relatively flat hike will bring you to about 375 steps leading down to the base of the waterfall. The hike back up can be a bit challenging, but the views are worth it! Don’t forget to wear sturdy hiking shoes! The surrounding streams and pools allow for visitors to observe unique Costa Rican plants and animals species. Because the area is not heavily populated with tourists, you will also see an abundance of wildlife — from blue morpho butterflies to armadillos, and plenty of hummingbirds thanks to the feeders along the hiker facilities and nearby restaurants. 

Nauyaca Waterfalls, South Pacific Coast


The stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls are located in the South Pacific region of Costa Ballena, just 20 minutes from Dominical. Though featuring less impressive drop-offs than the towering La Fortuna or Bajos del Toro waterfalls, Nauyaca is unique in its layout  – it’s split into the upper and lower cascades; water pours over the cliff side to fall over 140 feet before the next 60-foot drop. One of the most amazing things about this waterfall is the location. Remotely tucked into the deep rainforest, the trip there might be a bit of work, but the views are worth it!

Guests have a few options for getting to the falls: horseback riding, hiking, or via 4×4. The hikers and horseback riders use the same well-maintained trail – keeping an eye out for the abundant wildlife in the area, such as monkeys or birds! This is a favorite home for a number of hummingbird species. The trail to the waterfall is roughly 2.5 miles, an easy hike that isn’t too difficult for children.

Once you arrive at the waterfall itself, the trail splits into two, bringing you to either the upper or lower falls. The upper falls are impressive, falling for a greater distance. The occasional mist blowing off the waterfall is refreshing after the hike, and there are a number of smooth river rocks that are the perfect location for your picnic lunch! The view is impeccable, and it tends to be more tranquil at the upper falls.

The lower falls, however, are where the fun is truly at! Right before the steps down to the falls are facilities where travelers can change into swimsuits. The cascade falls into a large pool of clear blue water – a perfect, natural swimming hole. Taking a dip is the best way to cool off after the hike. There’s plenty of room for everyone to swim, relax, or explore, with the occasional entertainment of a daring local jumping from one of the cliffs. For amazing photo-ops and a great combination of hiking and swimming, the Nauyaca Waterfall is not to be missed!

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, Guanacaste

5 Costa Rica Waterfalls You Must Visit

Some say Llanos de Cortez is Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfall. It is located in Bagaces about 30 minutes (16 miles) south of Liberia. At about 50 feet wide and 12 feet tall, Llanos de Cortez is wider than it is tall with streams of water cascading over a rock wall. The pool at the base of the falls is clean, clear, and perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day. There’s also a little white sandy beach which can be nice for a snack or picnic! The trail from the parking lot down the waterfall is a short 10-minute hike but it is steep. The forest leading to the falls is lush and dense with wildlife like birds and monkeys that can be seen along the way. There are no entrance fees to Llanos de Cortez, but donations to the local community school are welcome. Guided waterfall excursions can be arranged.

Bijagual Waterfall, Central Pacific

The Bijagual Waterfall is located near Jaco on the Central Pacific Coast in the mountain town of Bijagual. The 590-foot waterfall is accessible by guided horseback ride through the lush forest. The hike showcases incredible views of seaside fishing villages and the Pacific Ocean. Be on the lookout for tropical birds like scarlet macaws and toucans as well as other tropical wildlife like sloths, frogs, and monkeys. Once you arrive at the falls, walk around or cool off int he cool refreshing natural spring fed from the high mountains in Carara National Park. Horseback tours can be arranged upon request.


Costa Rica’s hot springs are a wonderful introduction to the relaxation and rejuvenation found in this tropical splendor. The mineral-laden waters of the hot springs in Costa Rica have been used for therapeutic reasons for over 200 years, treating a variety of aches and pains. Whether or not you visit for the mystical healing, a hot springs visit is a joy!


Tabacon Resort Hot Springs

Formed by volcanic springs heated underground and returned to the surface, the Costa Rica hot springs offer travelers the opportunity to relax and renew in mineral-laden water. Here, magma or lava has worked its way up through the Earth’s crust to relatively shallow depths below the surface. Groundwater percolates downward, comes in contact with the hot rock and is heated. As the water returns to the surface, it collects into pools known as hot springs.

Surrounded by tropical beauty and neck-deep in a natural Jacuzzi, guests delight in the true sense of rejuvenation that comes from a visit to Costa Rica’s hot springs. With a number of different locations to visit, each with their particular ambiance and specialty, there’s something to fit any traveler.

Expert Recommended Arenal Hot Springs

The Arenal Volcano is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations for travelers who want to try out the amazing relaxing comfort of a natural hot spring! While the volcano is currently in a resting phase, the magma still rises close enough to the surface to come into contact with groundwater and keep the natural thermal pools warm. A variety of locations around Arenal offer the opportunity for guests to enjoy the heat.

The Springs Resort Hot Springs

Multiple options & family fun


Hot Springs at The Springs Resort

The multiple hot springs and free-form landscaping at The Springs Resort’s hot springs introduce guests to the luxury of choices. Find the perfect corner for your relaxation – whether it’s beneath a tiny flowing waterfall amid flowering vegetation, or as the center of attention at the divine swim-up bar! The Springs separates their hot springs into two distinct sections:

At Los Lagunas, two acres of landscaping and multi-level pools creates a variety of ambiances for visitors. Guests will find the shaded terraces and comfortable lounging chairs perfect for an afternoon nap! There are twelve pools in total at Los Lagunas. Eight of these hold natural runoff mineral water from the mainspring, while the remaining four are chlorinated.


Perdido Springs at The Springs Resort

Perdido Springs, on the other hand, is an intricate maze of trails and spring-fed pools. Along the trail, guests will find an array of beautiful flowering Heliconias as well as other rainforest greenery. Perdido Springs has a quieter ambiance than Los Lagunas. Centered amongst the pools are a small jungle bar and a water flume called the Monkey Slide.

Hot springs temperatures: 29 tot 35 graden

EcoTermales Hot Springs

A perfect day trip or romantic interlude

What better way could there to be to unwind than slipping into the rejuvenating mineral hot springs of Costa Rica? EcoTermales is a therapeutic natural spa, a private oasis, and an experience not to be missed! This family-owned and operated hot springs spot is the only one our list that isn’t a part of a larger hotel or resort, but that’s no reason to miss out! With limited daily entry, EcoTermales does the utmost to ensure that each visitor finds the perfect spot amid the rainforest to enjoy thermal rejuvenation.

This hidden gem in La Fortuna has more than just the thermal mineral pools to enjoy. Besides the healing warm waters, guests can explore the literally hundreds of yards of trails through the rainforest, watching for local wildlife and taking advantage of the photo opportunities. Or visit the elegant lounge, where you can sit and sip a cocktail while gazing out on a natural pond – home to frogs, caimans, and a beautiful variety of aquatic plants. Delectable meals are served at their authentic home-style Costa Rican restaurant, or guests can enjoy fresh-squeezed juices and tropical mixed drinks by the poolside bar.

Hot springs temperatures: 28 tot 40 graden

Tabacon Thermal Resort Hot Springs

Romance, intimacy, and privacy

One of the first hot springs resorts in the region to open, Tabacon Resort is still at the top of their game! This eco-friendly and carbon-neutral resort is one of the only in the area that is completely natural in regards to the hot springs, with no use of pumps, mechanical systems, or re-circulating or re-heating of water. The underground Tabacon River, which flows through the grounds and breaks the surface in multiple locations, provides fresh running water and natural circulation for all of the pools. Gravity is all that powers the water through Tabacon Resort’s grounds, using a variety of small streams and tumbling waterfalls.

Of note at Tabacon Resort’s hot springs is the adults-only section, the Shangri-La Gardens. Screened by luxurious greenery and the natural landscape, these pools offer an intimate and romantic experience not far from the amazing Grand Spa. Walking trails through the tropical garden gives a nice break and offer the opportunity to explore – and wildlife sightings are surprisingly regular. Tabacon Resort’s riotous verdant gardens create the perfect ambiance for natural wonder and healing.

Hot springs temperatures: 25 tot 50 graden

Guanacaste Hot Springs

Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River

Only an hour from Liberia International Airport, Rio Perdido Thermal River is located in Bagaces of the Guanacaste province within the 600-acre private reserve at Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River with the thermal river at its center. The hot springs are naturally heated by Miravalles Volcano. There are dozens of natural pools at varying temperatures in which guests can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Rio Perdido also offers a variety of massage treatments and their signature mud body-painting treatment with mineral-rich soil from the river.

Rio Negro Hot Springs

The Rio Negro Hot Springs within Rincon de la Vieja National Park are naturally heated by Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, the largest volcano in the Guanacaste region. There are about 10 natural spring pools accessible by hanging bridges. Relax and enjoy the sound of the forest at this less frequently visited hot spring escape.

Hot Springs Combo Tours

Combo tours are a great way to get the most out of your Costa Rica vacation. A number of Costa Rica’s quintessential activities can be combined to create a memorable day. Head out for a hike up the slopes of the towering Arenal Volcano, exploring areas where in the past flowing lava destroyed sections of rainforest, then head over to the hot springs for an afternoon spent in utter relaxation.  Or, experience Costa Rica sky and ground! The Hanging Bridges of Costa Rica were originally built to aid scientific discovery, but now guests from around the world delight in exploring the rainforest canopy. After exploring the bridges and taking advantage of the stunning photo opportunities, visit the hot springs to reflect on the tropical beauty of the area.

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