Discover amazing hiking trails with waterfalls on unique nature tours that get you up close to stunning cascades on your unforgettable Costa Rican adventures.
Traveling in a trusty 4X4 is one of the best ways to reach this garden oasis that lies 2,000 feet above the Pacific shoreline. Just beyond the picturesque hamlet of Bijagual you come to the nature escape that’s home to some of the most impressive water wonders in Costa Rica. The Pura Vida Gardens welcome with trails that meander through an explosion of colorful flowers in vibrant hues of purple, yellow and red, with colorful butterflies, toucans and scarlet macaws in the air. Your eyes will naturally be drawn to the sweeping views from the mountain perch high above the Central Pacific coastline. Enjoy vistas across Playa Hermosa and the Nicoya Peninsula as you explore the lush rainforest retreat. But the main attractions are some of the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica. Beyond marveling at the sight of the plunging waters you can hop in and enjoy serene swimming spots to refresh on your trip to paradise.
About an hour’s drive from the capital and set on the verdant slopes of the Poás Volcano, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens feature a trail that traverses five different waterfalls. Walk where the rainforest meets cloud forest at a height of 5,000 feet above sea level. Cross accessible trails leading to viewing platforms that get you close enough to the cascades to feel their refreshing mists. Delve deep into a steep canyon along trails that bring you to famed drop-offs such as the Encantada and Templo waterfalls, each offering amazing photo opportunities. You’ll also find one of the largest butterfly sanctuaries in the world, measuring the length of a football field and home to a rainbow variety of butterflies.
Bringing in nature lovers from across the globe, the La Fortuna Waterfall is a stunning site that impresses with a 70-meter drop at the foot of the Cerro Chato Volcano, a dormant peak in the Arenal Mountains. Walk out onto massive boulders at the base of the waterfall to feel the full power of the falling waters. While you can’t swim directly at the base of the powerful cascade, there are wonderful spots to cool off in swimming areas just below the base. A somewhat challenging hike around the natural wonder offers a myriad of perspectives to get some great photos.
Heading south along the Pacific Coast brings you to the stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls. About a 20-minute drive from the beach town of Dominical, the waterfalls are not known for impressive drop-offs. Instead, the Nauyaca waterfalls feature unique multi-tiered layers that see water spill over a series of drops that range from 50 to 150 feet each. As it's set deep in a lush rainforest, a 4X4 is an optimal way to get in and out, though hikers and horseback riders also make the trip deep into the dense terrain. You can walk trails that come close enough to the upper falls to feel their mist while the lower falls empty into perfect natural spots for swimming. There are even platforms for diving that cater to the more adventurous.
By the northern end of Costa Rica’s Pacific shores, you’ll find the Rio Celeste Waterfall. Located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park, the waters of the Rio Celeste are known for their striking blue hue, a result of the minerals of the volcanic rocks the waterway traverses on its flow to the sea. The trails that take you to the mighty cascade also pass natural hot springs and cross a wildlife sanctuary that’s home to blue morpho butterflies, colorful birds and a host of playful monkeys.