The Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Central & South America, Featured | 10 comments

Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places to visit. If you’re traveling there soon, make sure to schedule a guided tour of the best waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica.

Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica

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Costa Rica has become an extremely popular vacation destination, and it’s not hard to see why. From the tropical rain forests to the black sand beaches and the diverse wildlife to the abundance of outdoor adventures, it has something for every type of traveler. I have visited myself a few times and fell in love with its natural beauty and welcoming people.

As a professional travel advisor, I help many clients travel to Costa Rica. And while each trip is personalized based on the desires, physical abilities, and travel styles of the clients, there is one thing that is always requested- waterfall tours. The country has many waterfalls, so keep reading to learn about the best waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica.

Oropendola Waterfall

The Oropendola Waterfall is breathtaking. It is also one of the easiest to get to in the Guanacaste region. It’s an easy day trip if you’re staying in the beach communities of Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playas del Coco or Playa Hermosa. The trail leading to the waterfall is less than a mile round trip. During the dry season, the trail is quite sparse and barren. However, during the rainy season, the trail becomes lush and green.

Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste waterfall tour

Rio Celeste is a waterfall that must be seen in person to be believed. Its bright blue waters are unbelievable. It’s easy to see why it is the most photographed waterfall in the Guanacaste region. The waterfall is in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Interestingly, the blue color of the water comes from a chemical reaction between the colloidal silica and copper sulfate from the active Tenorio Volcano. Fun fact, if you scoop the water up in your hand, it stays blue!

The trails leading to Rio Celeste are challenging but worth the climb. It is important to know, that swimming here is not allowed. However, there are plenty of natural pools in Costa Rica that are swimmable.

Las Chorreras Waterfall

If you want a waterfall experience that allows for a refreshing swim, you must visit Las Chorreras Waterfall. Las Chorreras is located on the grounds of the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Guests of the hotel can visit the waterfall for free, while those who are not staying at the hotel must pay a fee of $17 per person.

The trail to the waterfall is an easy 30-45-minute hike from the hotel to the canyon. Upon arrival, you will find two twin side-by-side waterfalls pouring into a blue-green pool. There are dressing rooms available, so make sure to bring your bathing suit.

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

The next waterfall on our list is Llanos de Cortez (you might also see it spelled Llanos de Cortes waterfall). It’s located near Liberia, and just a half an hour from the Liberia International Airport. It’s a great place to stop if you’re eager to start seeing sights shortly after landing in Costa Rica. One of the most appealing things about Llanos de Cortez is how quickly you can get to it. It’s just a quick 5-minute hike from the guarded parking lot. An important thing to know is that there are two entrances, make sure to use the Official Municipality Entrance. This entrance is the easiest to drive.

Llanos del Cortez waterfall is a great place to spend a few hours relaxing. In fact, you will probably see locals taking a dip in the cool water or grilling in the sandy beach area at the base of the falls. The water does get pretty deep the closer you get to the waterfall. Another safety tip is to be careful climbing to the top. There is a railing to assist with the climb, but it can get slippery, and accidents have happened. It’s a good idea to invest in a pair of water shoes to help keep your grip.

La Cangreja Waterfall

Another waterfall that is located in Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the La Cangreja Waterfall. It is the largest waterfall that you can hike to within the park. The hike to the waterfall is a bit more challenging than the others already mentioned, but it is worth the effort. Along the way, you will be treated to lush and desert landscapes, a view of Nicaragua and various forms of wildlife. You might spot armadillos, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, iguanas and more.

It is one of the best hikes in Costa Rica. It is worth mentioning swimming is no longer allowed at the base of the waterfall.

La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica

The most popular waterfall is La Fortuna. With its impressive drop of 246 feet, bright blue water, and jungle surroundings, it’s not hard to see why. It is located in the Arenal Volcano National Park. The round-trip hike is only .5 miles but it is extremely steep and has many steps. Nearly 500 steps. It takes about 30-45 minutes for the hike. You might also want to allow extra time for swimming. Don’t tire yourself out swimming though, because you will have to climb those 500 stairs to get back to the trailhead.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

la paz waterfall gardens in guanacaste costa rica

An hour outside of San Jose is La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It is a privately owned nature park with over 2 miles of paved walking trails, an animal sanctuary, and viewpoints for several waterfalls. It’s a great place for nature enthusiasts to experience Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest.

Animal lovers will appreciate being able to see monkeys, hummingbirds, snakes, different bird species and so much more. I recommend spending at least 3 hours here. If time allows plan for full day tour to enjoy everything the park has to offer.

La Leona Waterfall

For a truly unforgettable experience, you must visit Costa Rica’s hidden waterfall, La Leona. Because it is hard to find, you must have a local tour operator. It is also important to know that those with mobility issues should not take the tour, it is not an easy hike.

The waterfall is located on the outskirts of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Getting there is an adventure. You’ll climb canyons and swim in rivers, but it’s well worth it. La Leona is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Guanacaste Province. Some tours include other activities like cliff jumping, white water rafting, and relaxing in the natural hot springs. No matter which tour you choose, you will have a great time seeing this hidden gem.

Final Thoughts on the Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica

the best waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica

The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica is the perfect place for nature lovers to experience the beauty of these natural wonders. Have you been to Costa Rica before? If so, which waterfall was your favorite?

Do you want to plan a trip to Costa Rica but feel overwhelmed when it comes time to start planning? We would love to help! Schedule your complimentary vacation planning session today.

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10 responses to “The Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste Costa Rica”

  1. Danielle McGinnis Avatar

    What a great article and perfect timing. We are planning a trip to Costa Rica and reading this was very helpful. I also enjoyed looking at your beautiful pictures!

  2. Shakia Avatar

    Costa Rica is on my travel bucket list for next year and I will definitely check out these beautiful and breathtaking waterfalls. Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. Catherine Kay Avatar

    Amazing article! The waterfalls in Guanacaste, Costa Rica look absolutely stunning. Your recommendations make me want to pack my bags and explore them right away.

  4. Ann Avatar

    I absolutely loved reading this post! Costa Rica sounds like a dream with its stunning landscapes and vibrant culture. Your experiences and insights as a travel advisor make it even more enticing. The waterfall tours in Guanacaste? That’s definitely on my must-visit list now. Thanks for sharing such a compelling glimpse into this beautiful destination

  5. Sonia Avatar

    I loved visiting the waterfalls in Costa Rica. Probably our favorite activity was waterfall rappelling, not on any of these well known ones though.

  6. Sharyn McCullum Avatar

    I love going on walks that involve seeing a waterfall so I will definitely love Costa Rica for all its waterfalls!

  7. Tyler Avatar

    Great post! Thanks for explaining each of the unique traits of each waterfall, not to mention pointing out which ones people are allowed to swim in! That’ll help a lot of people from getting into trouble!

  8. Christine Avatar

    Wow! So many beautiful waterfalls to visit! My partner and I are deciding where to honeymoon and Costa Rica is definitely moving up the list!

  9. Caroline Avatar

    Rio Celeste reminds me of Kawasan falls in Philippines – I imagine the water is like blue gatorade… would be amazing to see in person! I’d love to see La Paz waterfalls and spot the hummingbirds – they are so quick but would be nice to see them in a natural environment. Do you know why they stop allowing swimming at La Cangreja?

  10. Under Flowery Sky Avatar

    Love seeing waterfalls and these are so pretty, so relaxing and great experience..

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