Visiting La Fortuna Waterfall: Complete Guide

We independently research and recommend any products or places but we may earn a commission if you click on links we provide. Learn More.

One of the most amazing waterfalls to see in Costa Rica, is the La Fortuna Waterfall. It cascades down over 200 feet into the pools where the water is a beautiful blue surrounded by the lush jungle. Nestled in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, La Fortuna Waterfall captivates many visitors and is one of the best things to do near La Fortuna town.

The trip down to this waterfall is a bit of a hike, but it is completely worth it. The winding path down to the waterfall is full of serene and breathtaking nature. The beauty of this waterfall makes this one of the best stops while in Costa Rica. This guide provides all the essential information you need to make the most of your visit to La Fortuna Waterfall.

Getting There

La Fortuna Waterfall is conveniently accessible from the town of La Fortuna, which serves as a hub for travelers exploring the Arenal Volcano region. The waterfall is about 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) from the town center, making it a short drive or a leisurely bike ride. Visitors can reach the waterfall by renting a car, taking a taxi, or joining a guided tour. If you decide to venture out on your own car, this is a popular waterfall so the road is paved.

La Fortuna Waterfall Hike

There is a hike down to the waterfall with about 500 steps going down to the waterfall. This is a moderate hike but adds to the adventure of visiting the waterfall. Although the hike is not very long in itself consisting of about 500 meters or .3 miles, keep in mind that you will need to go back up these 500 steps when heading back. While the descent is relatively easy, the return can be challenging especially in the humid tropical climate, but with a slower pace it is completely doable. The whole hike takes about 30 minutes depending how fast you are. It’s important to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Along the way, the trail offers several viewpoints and resting spots where visitors can pause to admire the lush vegetation, listen to the sounds of the forest, and catch glimpses of local wildlife. These stops also provide excellent photo opportunities, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery. If you are on a timeline, give the whole experience at least 2 hours to be able to experience it all without rushing.

At the Waterfall

As you approach the waterfall, the sight of the waterfall cascading into a crystal-clear pool is truly awe-inspiring. The pool at the base of the waterfall is surrounded by large rocks and vibrant green foliage, creating a setting that feels like a hidden paradise.

Swimming is allowed in the pool, and many visitors take the opportunity to cool off in the refreshing water after the hike. The water can be quite cold, but it’s incredibly invigorating, especially on a hot day. In fact, swimming at the base of this waterfall was one of our very favorite experiences in Costa Rica so I recommend going there in your bathing suit. There are bathrooms at the top in the entrance area where you can change if you need to.

For safety reasons, it’s important to be cautious of strong currents and slippery rocks. Non-swimmers or those with small children should stay in the shallower areas and always keep an eye on their surroundings.

Waterfall Entrance Fee and Hours

There is plenty of parking at the entrance to the waterfall and it is completely free to park. Once you park, you can enter the entrance building to purchase the tickets. The tickets are $18 per person for adults and $5 for children.

The waterfall is open every day from 7:30a.m. to 4:00p.m. It is better to go earlier in the day to have plenty of time to hike down to the falls and back.

Tips for a Great Visit

Timing: The waterfall can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season (December to April). To avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning on weekdays. Early visits also offer a better chance of spotting wildlife.

Weather: The weather in the rainforest can be unpredictable, with sudden rain showers common. Pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho, and be prepared for changing conditions.

Footwear: Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with good traction. The trail can be slippery, especially after rain, so proper footwear is essential for safety.

Packing List: Bring swimwear, a towel, a hat, and plenty of water. A waterproof bag can be handy for keeping your belongings dry.

Respect the Environment: La Fortuna Waterfall is part of a delicate ecosystem. Help preserve its beauty by staying on designated trails, not littering, and respecting wildlife.

Nearby Attractions

La Fortuna Waterfall is just one of many attractions in the Arenal region. After visiting the waterfall, consider exploring some of the nearby sites and activities:

  • Arenal Volcano National Park: Home to the iconic Arenal Volcano, this park offers numerous hiking trails, hot springs, and panoramic views.
  • Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park: Experience the rainforest from a different perspective by walking along suspension bridges high above the forest floor.
  • Hot Springs: Relax in the natural hot springs found in the area, many of which are heated by geothermal activity from the Arenal Volcano.
  • Lake Arenal: Enjoy water sports, fishing, or simply take in the scenic views around Costa Rica’s largest lake.

Visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall is just one of the many amazing things to do in Costa Rica.