The Best Known Waterfalls in Costa Rica

From the towering titans in the deepest jungle to celestial cascades in shimmering hues, get ready to be swept away by the irresistible charm of Costa Rica's best waterfalls.

Travel and Exploration
3 May 2023

With its dazzling beaches, wild jungles and cloud forests, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, as well as the place five percent of all species call home. Added to this natural wealth are the waterfalls of Costa Rica, with their ethereal beauty. So, what and where are these magnificent Costa Rican waterfalls?

From the tallest horsetail to the bluest stream, get ready to fall for some charismatic cascades

Cataratas Diamante: The Tallest Waterfall in Costa Rica

Cataratas Diamante (Photo: Richard Silver Photo via Getty Images)

At first glance, Diamante Falls emerges amidst the dense tropical jungle of San Jose, seemingly as a straightforward vertical drop down the craggy cliffs. And yet, this is only the most visible part of what is the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica. Much of this approximately 600-foot liquid giant is obscured as it weaves through foliage or disappears into the clouds. Also hidden is the large cave behind the falls.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna (Photo: La Fortuna via Getty Images)

La Fortuna, perhaps the most iconic of all waterfalls in Costa Rica, proudly stands at the base of the renowned Arenal Volcano in Alajuela Province. This 250-foot plunge waterfall descends gracefully into two vibrant emerald pools, cradled by the dense jungle. As for its origins, these lie in the ancient lava flow from the now-extinct Cerro Chato volcano.

Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste Waterfall (Photo: Nacho A Ortiz-Repiso via Getty Images)

With its turquoise waters and the untamed beauty of its surroundings, the heavenly Rio Celeste is often hailed as one of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls. Nestled in the rainforest of Tenorio Volcano National Park, this enchanting 100-foot cascade owes its name to the river that feeds it, and its dazzling blue waters to the volcanic rock present in its water.

Cataratas Nauyaca

Cataratas Nauyaca (Photo: ©Juan Carlos Vindas via Getty Images)

The breathtaking Nauyaca Falls, situated on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast in Puntarenas, comprises a mesmerising two-tiered cascade that tumbles a total of 200 feet into a sprawling 1,000 square foot pool. The two drops, one at 150 feet and another at 50 feet, create an awe-inspiring scene.

Catarata Del Toro

Catarata Del Toro (Photo: Francesco Riccardo Iacomino via Getty Images)

Nestled amidst the remote mountains north of the Central Valley in Alajuela Province, the 300-foot roiling deluge of Catarata Del Toro is amongst the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica. Encircled by pristine forests teeming with wildlife, this waterfall showers gracefully into an ancient volcanic crater.

Montezuma Falls

Montezuma Falls (Photo: Mlenny via Getty Images)

The serene trio of Costa Rican waterfalls known as Montezuma Falls sit one atop the other in the Nicoya Peninsula, near the town that shares their collective name. Peacefully pouring into calm emerald pools from heights of 90, 40, and 13 feet, these cascades exude a bucolic charm.

Catarata San Luis

Catarata San Luis (Photo: by Marc Guitard via Getty Images)

One of the most captivating waterfalls of Costa Rica is Catarata San Luis. From its location in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to its impressive plummet estimated to be 300 to 330 feet, this is one dramatic cascade. This stunning waterfall sprays off the sides of a rocky cliff before merging into a pool below, adding drama to its enchanting beauty. The surrounding cloud forest, characterised by near-constant humidity, is a haven for delicate orchids and colossal ferns.

Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls

Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls (Photo: Agustin Munoz via Getty Images)

The waterfalls of Costa Rica mirror the diversity and abundance of the country’s natural riches. From thunderous torrents to glistening spouts, each one is as unique as it is stunning.


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