Costa Rica is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in all of Central America
With an abundance of winding rivers and beautiful, mountainous terrain, southern Costa Rica is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in all of Central America.
Whether you book a Dominical home rental in the dry or green season, there are ample opportunities to visit one or more of these natural wonders while visiting the area. In fact, several of our vacation rentals have rivers and waterfalls directly on the property or within walking distance of your front door.
Listed below are some of the finest waterfalls in the southern zone. Plan on bringing a camera during your adventures because a raging waterfall can provide some of the most picturesque backdrops on planet earth.
This is, by far, the most popular waterfall destination in town.
Located on private land inside the Barucitu River Valley, Nauyaca is actually two falls that converge to form a large swimming area that runs approximately 6 meters deep. The top fall measures 45 meters in height while the second fall is 20 meters tall.
There are two ways to access Nauyaca:
Horseback to Nauyaca Waterfalls:
Horseback tours operate Monday through Saturday at a cost of $70 per person. Tours leave at 8 a.m. each morning and return by 2 p.m. On the horseback tour, your guide will stop at a small restaurant for breakfast and will stop again for lunch during the return trip. All meals are included in the price. The restaurant also features a small animal viewing area that’s always a hit with the kids. It’s also very common to spot monkeys and toucans in the trees along the main trail.
When your group arrives at the falls, there are changing areas and bathrooms available so everyone can easily put on their swimwear and hit the water in no time. For the super-adventurist, there are climbing ropes secured to the second fall. Scale the ropes and take a plunge into the abyss below.
Hike to Nauyaca Waterfalls:
If you opt out of the horseback tour but still want to experience the thrill of Nauyaca, hikers can pay $8 per person to enter the private land and make the 8-kilometer round trip by foot. The walk to the falls is mostly uphill and fairly muddy since the horses use the same trail. The walk back is mostly downhill or on flat land. The biggest benefit of hiking, in addition to the money saved and the tremendous workout, is that you can stay at the falls as long as you’d like. When the horseback riders pack up and leave, you and your friends might have the whole place to yourselves.
The office for Nauyaca Waterfalls is located directly off the main road between the towns of Dominical and Platanillo. There are large signs on the road right in front of the office.
The Waterfall in Uvita
Think you can’t get anything good for a few bucks? Think again.
The Waterfall in Uvita costs $2 per person to visit and is open every day from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. The fall, which is approximately 15 meters in height and features two distinct swimming areas, is located on a dirt road that winds directly through the town of Uvita. Off the Pan-American Highway, turn eastbound at Banco de Costa Rica and take the road for 10 minutes until you arrive at the waterfall’s main entrance.
In addition to the waterfall, there’s also a restaurant on site that serves tacos, burritos and other local fares. You can also get a massage or have a resident tattoo artist ink you up right on the spot. Seriously.
There are two short trails (less than a five-minute walk) that lead to the fall. Both trails feature rocky steps and rubber handrails for support. The trails can be a bit challenging to navigate, so wearing shoes isn’t a bad idea. Many visitors, however, opt for sandals and just use extra precaution while scaling the slippery sections.
Dominicalito Waterfall (local name Pozo Azul)
This is the closest significant waterfall to Dominical, located less than a 10-minute drive from town, and it’s totally free to check out.
Simply take the Dominicalito exit off the Pan-Am Highway, drive through the small town and the waterfall is directly off the main road on the right-hand side. You won’t be able to see the fall from the road, but ask any local and they’ll point you in the proper direction.
Park and lock your car right next to the waterfall’s trail. It’s a short, 3-minute walk down a set of stairs to get to the water. Once there, you can lounge on rocks, splash in the fall’s natural pool or swing from a rope that’s mounted high above the swimming area. Overall, this is a nice place to mingle with locals and tourists without the hassle of planning for an entire day in the outdoors.
At 200 meters in height, Diamante is Costa Rica’s biggest waterfall. It’s an awe-inspiring, real-life site ripped right off the make-believe set of Jurassic Park.
Diamante is nestled on a private farm named Fuente Verde, located near the mountain town of Tinamastes, about a 20-minute drive east of Dominical. The fall is within walking distance of the farm, but entry fees and access must be negotiated with the landowners. When planning a trip to Diamante, it’s best to arrive at the farm early in the morning.
There’s an amazing emerald green swim area at the base of the fall and breathtaking caves between the top and bottom. The caves even have lounging and eating areas that are protected from sun and raging water. To say Diamante is a special place doesn’t really do it justice. This is an off-the-charts, once-in-a-lifetime destination.
There are at least nine other waterfalls located near Diamante, most of which can only be accessed by ATV, horse or by foot, and none without a local guide pointing you in the right direction.
Now get out there and see what the best of Costa Rica has to offer.