7 Best Waterfalls Near Playas-del-Coco

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, is not just about beautiful beaches. This lively town in Guanacaste province is close to some amazing waterfalls within a two-hour drive. Although there are no waterfalls in Playas del Coco itself, several nearby are worth the trip.

My husband and I explored 3 of these waterfalls on our recent visit. The one that stood out was La Leona; this waterfall is hidden inside a cave and reachable only after a 3km hike and swim. We had an exciting adventure without the kids due to the challenging trek.

I’ll share seven of the best waterfalls near Playas del Coco in this article. There’s something for everyone, from the striking blue waters of Rio Celeste to the serene beauty of Victoria Waterfalls. You’ll need to rent a car to reach these spots since public transport isn’t available.

If you’re planning a trip to Playas del Coco and want to see more than just the beach, keep reading. I’ll give you tips and highlights of each waterfall to help you plan your adventure.

Key Takeaways From This Article

Playas del Coco, which is in Guanacaste province, has many attractions surrounding it. Several beaches, volcanoes, national parks, and waterfalls are near Playas del Coco. I highlight a few key takeaways about the best waterfalls near Playas del Coco. 

  • Most of the waterfalls will require you to rent a car. There are no public transportation services near the waterfalls. I recommend either renting one or booking a tour company. 
  • While you can swim in almost all the waterfalls, Rio Celeste and La Cangreja are off-limits when it comes to swimming. 
  • Some have stairs leading to the waterfall, while others require a bit of hiking and even swimming to reach them. 
  • You must have a guide to show you the way to the La Leona Waterfall once you reach the Finca Don Rafs estate. 

7 Best Waterfalls Near Playas del Coco

An ideal waterfall should give you a bit of adventure to reach, have a stunning view, and allow you to swim to cool off. Here is my pick of the seven must-visit waterfalls near Playas del Coco. 

Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste
Best view of Rio Celeste waterfall

 

Opening hours: 9.00 AM-4 PM, but the last entry is at 2 PM.  

Charges: $12 for adults and $5 for kids between 2-12 years. Parking fee is $4. You must buy the tickets online through the SINAC website—no selling of tickets at the park entrance. 

Tenorio Volcano National Park is two hours from Playas del Coco, which hosts Rio Celeste waterfalls. You only need a 4×4 in the rainy season, as the roads leading to the waterfall become slippery. There are also some steep hills but many signages, and the trail is clear. Hence, you don’t need a guide. 

Before starting the hike, use the bathrooms at the park’s main office, as there are none near the waterfall area. You must hike a short distance ( about 30 minutes) before encountering a long flight of stairs to the waterfalls. Be ready to walk 150 steps full of roots and rocks. You will take about 30 minutes to reach the waterfalls. 

The waterfall’s clear blue waters result from the various minerals (alumino-silicate particles)  reflecting off sunlight. It’s impossible to see the blue color during the rainy season between May to October. However, it is an on-and-off occurrence and will turn blue if there is a bit of sunlight. 

Unfortunately, you cannot swim in the waterfalls. However, a free Rio Celeste swimming pool is one km past the park entrance. There are also several good local restaurants outside the park entrance where you can have lunch before returning to Playas del Coco. 

Las Chorreras

Las Chorreras
Beautiful view of Las Chorreras waterfall

 

Opening hours: 8 AM to 4.30 PM. 

Charges: $17 for adults and $5.65 for kids between 2-12 years. Alternatively, access through Hacienda Guachipelin will cost you $27( adults) and $22 (kids). Entrance is free if you’re staying at the Hacienda. 

The waterfall is inside the Rincon de La Vieja Volcano National Park. The park is about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Playas del Coco. Las Chorreras is 1.5km away from Hacienda Guachipelin. The hike to the waterfall takes you through a beautiful rainforest where you will see wildlife.  

Las Chorreras comprises two waterfalls cascading down to form a blue water pool at the bottom. You can swim at the base of the waterfalls or sit at the various places and enjoy the majestic falls. A beautiful circle rock face creates a canyon-like ridge surrounding the waterfalls. 

There are several ways to get to the waterfalls. 

  • The shorter hike will take you about 20 minutes but with no scenery. 
  • The longer hike with more scenery will take you about 40 minutes. Along this trail, you will see unique birds and wildlife species. 

If accessing the waterfall through Hacienda Guachipelin, you can take advantage of their horseback riding tours. You can book the tour through the Guachipelin Adventure Centre. 

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

tim and michelle schmidt llanos del cortez waterfall
Tim and I at the Llanos de Cortez

 

Opening hours: 8 AM  to 4 PM daily. 

Charges: $7 for adults and $4 for a child. 

Getting to the Llanos de Cortez waterfalls from Playas del Coco will take about an hour. The waterfalls are among some of the must-see attractions in Guanacaste province, Costa Rica. Llanos de Cortez waterfalls are in a small town, Bagaces, about 35 minutes from Liberia International Airport. The roads are in good condition, and no steep hills exist. 

Tim and I stopped by this waterfall on our way during our wedding visit in May, and it’s an amazing place to be. You have to see it to believe it.

You don’t have to hike to reach the waterfalls. Once you park your car, you’ll find a staircase to the waterfalls. The stairs are in good condition and have railings to ease your climb. It’s a large waterfall with multiple cascades and a large pool at the bottom. 

You can swim as long as you don’t go all the way to the waterfall. Neither should you sit on the rocks under the cascading waters. Swimming during the rainy season is impossible; there is a guard to ensure you don’t. But the waterfalls are spectacular because they are full of rain. 

The waterfall area has proper changing rooms and bathrooms. There is ample parking space. But there are no parking attendants, hence lock your car doors and windows. Keep valuables out of sight. Remember to bring your snacks and refreshments as there are no stands nearby. 

Read our full review of this waterfall here.

La Leona

Opening hours: 8.00 AM to 3 PM. 

Charges: $45 per person if on self-drive. Tour companies charge more.  

The La Leona waterfall is unique in that it is in a cave. In a small town called Curubande, you’ll find a private estate called Finca Don Rafs, whose owners are a local family. It’s about an hour’s drive from Playas del Coco. You can either book a tour or rent a 4×4, the most suitable vehicle for the road leading to the estate.

Reaching the Finca Don Rafs estate from Playas del Coco will take about one hour. The estate is 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport. If you rent a car and drive yourself, you’ll meet your guide at the start of the hike. Once you get to the estate, there are several ways to get to La Leona waterfall. 

    • Hiking: It will take you three hours to hike to the waterfall. The path to the waterfall passes through river pools, caves, canyons, and rocky hills. You must be physically strong to swim through the rivers to get to the caves. 
  • White water tubing: You can pay extra for white water tubing. 
  • Pools near the entrance: If you have hip or knee injuries, you don’t have to go all the way, and you can enjoy the pools near the entrance. The water in the pools originates from Rincon de La Vieja Volcano.

The best time to visit the La Leona waterfall is between November and April in the dry season. Trails leading to the waterfall will be dry, with no mud, and the water currents will be calmer. The Finca has a changing room, bathroom, and a small picnic area. 

I would, however, not recommend visiting this waterfall with kids below eight years old since you have to swim across a canyon to get to the cave where the waterfall is. 

Read our full review of this waterfall here.

Victoria Waterfalls 

Opening hours: Sundays to Tuesdays from 8.00 AM to 3 PM. 

Charges: Enquire about the rates at Hacienda Guachipelin, depending on whether you take the horseback riding tour. 

Only a few people know about this waterfall. But it is about 4 km from Hacienda Guacheplin. The waterfall drops 115 feet into Rio Negro (Black River), forming a crystal clear pool at the base where you can swim. 

You’ll have to walk for about an hour to reach the waterfall through a tropical forest with wildlife. There is a steep descent to the waterfall. 

You can book a horse riding tour from Hacienda Guachepelin to Victoria Waterfalls. 

Catarata La Cangreja

Opening hours: Sundays to Tuesdays from 12 PM to 3 PM. 

Charges: $17 for adults and $5.65 for kids between 2-12 years( the National Park fees cater for the entrance fee to the waterfall). Free if you are staying at Hacienda Guachipelin. 

Another waterfall inside  Rincon de La Vieja Volcano National Park is La Cangreja. It’s a 10 km hike through forests and lush vegetation to reach La Cangreja Waterfall. If you are driving from Playas del Coco, it will take about one and a half hours to get to the park. 

Just after the park entrance on your left, you will see a sign showing the trail to follow. The first 2km of the hike is through forests. Rio Blanco flows through this part. The forests have tropical trees and wildlife. Shortly after, you come across open grasslands with open ocean views. 

You will then come to a steep descent, which means you’re near the waterfall. Before the waterfall are a couple of rocks. The La Cangreja drops 130 feet, forming a beautiful turquoise pool at the bottom. Unfortunately, swimming is not possible due to the park’s regulations. 

Oropendola Waterfall 

Opening hours: 8. AM to 4.30 PM.

Charges: $20 entrance fee through Hacienda Guachipelin, free if staying at Hacienda. 

The waterfall is 60 km from Playas del Coco and should not take more than two hours. Oropendola Waterfall is inside the Rincon de La Vieja Volcano National Park.

Once you reach the park entrance, the waterfall is a short distance away through a rusty hanging bridge. The walk should take 10-15 minutes to reach the waterfall. The oropendola drops 82 feet from the top to the base, forming a turquoise-colored pool at the bottom. 

Enjoy your swimming up to the fall and down the river. You can also choose not to swim and roam around the waterfall. However, ensure you pay at the entrance as a guard checks visitors’ wristbands to confirm payment. 

Conclusion

We had a spectacular time visiting all the waterfalls. You can dedicate one or two days to visiting the waterfalls within the Rincon de La Vieja Volcano National Park, as they are the majority. 

Did I leave out any waterfall that deserves to be on this list? Please share your experiences in any of the waterfalls I have mentioned. 

Rate this post

About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

Leave a Comment