The Best Known Waterfalls in Central America

Whether tucked away in dense jungles or obscured in cloud forests, the best waterfalls in Central America are not to be “mist”.

Travel and Exploration
20 April 2023

From volcanoes to jungles, Central America is overflowing with natural wonders and waterfalls are no exception. Indeed, from Panama and Belize to Costa Rica, each seems to have its own unique cascades, cataracts and plunges.

In this article, we explore the waterfalls of Central America, particularly Central America’s best waterfalls. So without further ado, here they are.

Rio Celeste Waterfall | Costa Rica

Rio Celeste (Photo: Dave Kempe Photography via iStock)

Legend has it that when the gods painted the sky blue, they used the Rio Celeste to clean their brushes, thus granting the river its intensely vivid blue colour and opacity. While science has since attributed this to light refraction of enlarged mineral particles, the spectacle of the powdery aqua waters hasn’t lost its magic. Flowing through the verdant jungle of Tenorio National Park, this river drops 98 feet, thus forming one of the most captivating Central American waterfalls.

Thousand Foot Falls | Belize

Thousand Foot Falls (Photo: KaraGrubis via Getty Images)

In what some might call “falls” advertising, the Thousand Foot Falls in western Belize are actually 1,600 feet high. And, while the “Sixteen Hundred Foot Falls” would be nowhere near as catchy a name, this extra height does apparently make this the tallest waterfall in Central America. It’s also one of the most visually arresting, its shimmering stream descending the granite cliffs of Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve before entering a deep pool. The same reserve is also home to Big Rock Falls, a 150-foot cascade down a series of rocky cliffs, surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees.

Llanos de Cortés | Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortés (Photo: imageBROKER/Christian Handl via Getty Images)

White sand, a tranquil pool and gossamer streams of water tumbling over mossy rocks combine to make Llanos de Cortés one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Central America.

Bermejo Falls | Panama

Bermejo Falls (Photo: Cavan Images via Getty Images)

Many Central American waterfalls of note are located in Panama’s jungles and cloud forests. Santa Fe National Park in the central province of Veraguas has some 50 cataracts ensconced within 270 square miles of rainforest, among them a small but popular trio known as Alto de Piedra Falls. A larger, but more remote resident is Bermejo Falls. This powerful, roiling mass of water drops some 115 feet, often shrouding it in mist.

Chilasco Falls | Guatemala

Waterfall in Guatemala (Photo: Rolando Estrada / EyeEm via Getty Images)

The Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala is home to Chilasco Falls. Whilst lesser known in the wider context of the waterfalls of Central America, this large horsetail cataract enveloped in the dense jungle is amongst the country’s great natural wonders.

Salto El Limón | Dominican Republic

Salto El Limón (Photo: Daniel Van Pelt via Getty Images)

One of the best known waterfalls of Central America, Salto El Limón is located in the eastern Samaná Peninsula of the Dominican Republic. Surrounded by tropical vegetation and rocky cliffs, its water descends in a single, powerful stream measuring approximately 130 feet, creating a misty spray that envelopes the surrounding area.

La Fortuna Waterfall | Costa Rica

La Fortuna Waterfall (Photo: Andres Alvarado via iStock)

Like many waterfalls in Central America, La Fortuna is near a volcano, specifically the Arenal Volcano and within the national park protecting it. There, its waters drop some 230 feet into dazzling blue waters.

Central America's Best Waterfalls

Central America's Best Waterfalls (Photo: Eduardo Cabanas via Getty Images)

So it seems that tropical forests, volcanoes and vividly coloured waters are the order of the day for the waterfalls of Central America. These picturesque landmarks are among the most captivating natural wonders the region has to offer.


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