Posted on 5/22/2024

10 Waterfalls in Guanacaste: Hikes, Swimming Holes & Celestial Blue Waters

Costa Rica – and particularly, our region of Costa Rica – is a magical land of mountain rivers, lush gorges, and cascading elevations that create the perfect ingredients for the many breathtaking waterfalls in Guanacaste. Indeed, our landscapes are brimming with this variety of natural wonder, and while we can't name them all, we can share a few of our favorite Guanacaste gems.

And by a few, we mean 10 Guanacaste, Costa Rica waterfalls that will strike awe, inspire wonder, and often provide a perfect refresher from the Costa Rican heat. Even better, each one is within an easy drive of Tamarindo. Welcome to paradise!

La Leona Waterfall

Distance from Tamarindo: 91 kms (56.5 miles) | 2 hours

When you first set eyes on La Leona Waterfall, you’ll know why it made our list: It’s so otherworldly, so flawless, so surreal, and so stunning that you might think Walt Disney himself dreamed up a man-made wonder — only, it’s not. Manmade, that is. Rest assured, only Mother Nature was involved in the crafting of this cave-walled, roaring-water, blue-hued masterpiece. It's no wonder we believe it's one of her most awe-inspiring creations!

La Leona isn't just one of many waterfalls in Guanacaste; it's one of the most thrilling sights in Costa Rica and honestly, perhaps even in the region. Tucked away within a cave and reachable only after an electrifying, adrenaline-charged three-hour hike (not for the faint of heart or foot!), getting there is half the adventure! Picture yourself wading through waist-high waters, each step bringing you closer to this hidden gem.

The reward? A jaw-dropping photo opportunity and the chance to plunge into a secluded, cave-enclosed swimming hole. It’s free swimming, waterfall bathing, and offroad hiking that makes La Leona Waterfall more than just a destination; it's an unforgettable adventure that will etch itself into memory.

Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

Distance from Tamarindo: 100 kms (62 miles) | 2 hours

One of the region’s best-known waterfalls, Llanos de Cortés is a perpetual favorite for its sheer, raw beauty and easy accessibility. Imagine stumbling upon one of the greatest waterfalls in Guanacaste – one so breathtaking, so awe-inspiring, that you'd think it was hidden deep within an impenetrable jungle – only, it’s conveniently located between Liberia and Bagaces and only a short walk from the parking lot.

Llanos de Cortés, spanning an impressive 50 feet in width and 12 feet in height, is a sight to behold year-round. Whether you visit during the roaring torrents of the wet season or the gentle flows of March and April, this oasis remains a must-see.

The large, pristine pool beneath the falls is perfect for a refreshing swim, and there's even a small, sandy beach ideal for a picnic. Pack your swimsuit, a picnic basket, and your sense of adventure—Llanos de Cortés is calling!

Poza Los Coyotes

Distance from Tamarindo: 91 kms (56.5 miles) | 2 hours

Just down the road from La Leona, Poza Los Coyotes promises a tamer adventure: a slow-moving, deep stream of brilliant celestial blue water, flowing from a series of small pools, through a narrow canyon, and down into a larger, inviting pool.

Are you imagining an Eden on Earth? Because yep, it’s a lot like that. Poza los Coyotes is a hidden gem of natural beauty and adventure – an undisputably idyllic spot, shaped over the millennia by waters originating from Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.

Best of all, it’s easy to get here: Just a short 400-meter (0.25-mile) stroll from the parking area, the largest pool – a favorite swimming and picnic spot for locals and visitors alike – offers a serene welcome and the perfect place to cool off.

Here, you can swim both above and below the canyon – please don’t join the thrill-seekers and jump from on high, as it’s dangerous and can result in serious injury! – or continue on to some of the other pools below. There’s also a spectacular waterfall onsite; just follow the signage, which wends and winds from pool to waterfall and back again.

La Piedra del Indio

Distance from Tamarindo: 158 kms (98 miles) | 3 hours

If you're on the hunt for a jaw-dropping, "how-is-this-still-a-secret" destination, then look no further than Indian’s Rock, a.k.a. La Piedra del Indio Waterfall.

Named for the ancient pre-Columbian figures etched into a massive rock nearby, this stunning waterfall plunges 260 feet (79.25 meters) down a water-worn rock face into a cool, inviting river-fed swimming hole.

And while that all sounds like a thrill, the true adventure begins long before you arrive. Whether you choose to hike or horseback ride, the journey is part of the magic. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife—toucan sightings, playful monkeys, curious anteaters, and even the occasional sloth make this trek unforgettable. Pack your sense of adventure and discover the secret of La Piedra del Indio!

Rincón de la Vieja Waterfalls

Distance from Tamarindo: 97 kms (60 miles) | 2 hours, 15 minutes

If you want to pack in a full day of waterfall hiking, swimming, and viewing, then we can suggest nothing better than a daytrip to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to the eponymous volcano and a smorgasbord of sights and Guanacaste, Costa Rica waterfalls. The area is a treasure trove of cascades that promise so much exploration, you may want to plan an overnight or weekend escape like no other.

Rincón de la Vieja Waterfalls

Distance from Tamarindo: 97 kms (60 miles) | 2 hours, 15 minutes

If you want to pack in a full day of waterfall hiking, swimming, and viewing, then we can suggest nothing better than a daytrip to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to the eponymous volcano and a smorgasbord of sights and Guanacaste, Costa Rica waterfalls. The area is a treasure trove of cascades that promise so much exploration, you may want to plan an overnight or weekend escape like no other.

Las Chorreras Waterfall

Located at Hacienda Guachipelin, just outside the national park, Las Chorreras is a must-see.

After a 30-minute, 1.25-mile light hike, you'll discover a natural paradise with lush trees, rock canyons carved by time and Mother Nature, and the twin falls known as Las Chorreras, or "the outpourings." Their inviting blue waters beckon you to the freshwater pool below – perfect for a refreshing dip, while offering a picturesque spot to relax and soak in nature's beauty.

La Estacional Waterfall

True to its name, La Estacional, or the "seasonal" waterfall, is best viewed between June and December.

Found along the Las Pailas sector trail, this is a lovely addition to waterfalls in Guanacaste, if you're there at the right time. While swimming isn't allowed, the sky-blue pool makes for a fascinating visit, especially when paired with the fall’s surrounding attractions, including volcanic fumaroles, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots.

La Oropéndola Waterfall

Near the Las Pailas entrance, La Oropéndola Waterfall emerges like a hidden treasure from a tall, rocky river gorge. This 82-foot (25-meter) cascade plunges into a sparkling turquoise pool, inviting you for a refreshing swim in its crystal-clear waters.

La Cangreja Waterfall

Nestled within the protected embrace of Rincón de la Vieja National Park, La Cangreja Waterfall demands a bit of effort but is absolutely worth it. The hike spans 3 miles (5 kilometers) one way, offering a journey through diverse forest terrain teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for iguanas, coatis, an array of 300 bird species, and playful monkeys like howlers, white-faced capuchins, and spider monkeys.

At the end of your trek, you'll be rewarded with the sight of La Cangreja—a 130-foot (40-meter) cascade pouring into a deep turquoise pool. While swimming isn't permitted here, the beauty of the falls is a sight to behold.

Escondido Waterfall

While not topping the charts of the "best" waterfalls in Guanacaste, Escondido Waterfall is a hidden gemworth exploring if you're in the area. If you've already tackled La Cangreja and still have energy to spare, this short fork off the main trail adds an extra 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) to your hike.

Escondido, which translates to "hidden," lives up to its name. Often, you'll find yourself alone with the falls, making it a serene add-on hike (and serious waterfall cred) to your day’s adventure.

La Victoria Waterfall

Switching from the Río Blanco (White River) at La Oropéndola to the Río Negro (Black River) at La Victoria, you'll find that the water is neither white nor black but simply stunning. La Victoria Waterfall, cascading 115 feet (35 meters), offers a cool river-fed pool safe for swimming and surrounded by scenic trails and dry forest. Cooling off beneath the cascade is not just refreshing but also provides a fantastic photo opportunity.

Where to Stay

There’s so much to see in our area, even if you’re just here to go chasing waterfalls. Here’s where to make your convenient home base:

Hacienda Pinilla | 5 bedrooms | 5 baths | 14 guests

Welcome to Casa Kenia, a fabulous retreat nestled within the renowned gated community of Hacienda Pinilla. This haven is dedicated to creating unforgettable memories – complete with a private pool, lush garden, and a main house complemented by two charming apartments.

Each apartment comfortably accommodates four guests with a queen bed and a sofa bed. Additionally, your own serene terrace awaits for moments of relaxation. Just a short 2-mile drive from the JW Marriott for quick bites, and with an irresistible beach club right on-site – an absolute must! Rent a golf cart and both destinations become yours to explore, including the market for all your culinary desires.

What’s more, Casa Kenia elevates your experience with our Elite Service, offering daily housekeeping to maintain your sanctuary. Allow our dedicated staff to prepare delicious breakfasts and snacks (you provide the ingredients), leaving you free to unwind and cherish every moment of your stay. Trade hustle for hammocks and deadlines for daydreams at Casa Kenia, your ultimate escape!

Playa Grande | 6 Beds | 6 Baths | 14 Guests

Step into Casa Amuga, your dream retreat just steps from the sands of Playa Grande and a short drive to Playa Ventana. Nestled in a charming surf town famed for its consistent waves, this remarkable home features a main house, a pool casita, and a separate two-bedroom casita perfect for the little ones.

Dive into the luxury of your private pool, ideal for leisurely afternoons or invigorating morning swims. Surrounded by a secluded natural sanctuary brimming with wildlife, Casa Amuga offers a tranquil escapefrom the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Your stay at Casa Amuga is more than just accommodation—it's your gateway to relaxation and adventure. Welcome to the epitome of vacation life!

Tamarindo | 8 Bedrooms | 8 Baths + 1 Half Bath | Sleeps 20

The “perfect 10,” Casa Puros Dieces is overlooks both the Pacific Ocean and coastal expanses, sun-kissed sands and seemingly endless horizons. It’s a perfect 10 in every way, ascending to what could only be considered a perfect 11 at sunset.

For here, on a tropical hilltop, this Balinese-style mansion serves up the perfect spot to watch the sun go down: with your legs dangling into your private infinity-edge pool (with Jacuzzi), overlooking the Pacific Ocean as it transitions from blue to pink to orange to fire. Your sunset terrace blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living: Sun loungers. Outdoor dining. Shaded living. Outdoor everything. Because this is why you’re here. So, jump in. Swim to the edge. Go ahead, bring your drink. As we said, it’s why you’re here.

As evening fades and daybreak comes, you’ll love to know that your rental includes two full-time housekeepers and daily breakfast prep (except Sundays and Holidays), plus a full-time caretaker for maintenance. Your concierge and Guest Coordinator will be also available to address any issues that may arise during your stay.

Plan the Ultimate Getaway to Waterfalls in Guanacaste

At Stay in Tamarindo, we really are different. We really do care about you. And we really will go the extra mile.

We’re going to work hard for you. We’re going to follow up with you. And we’re going to do everything we can, to ensure that this is not just your Best Trip Ever, but also Everything You Want It to Be. Especially when that involves visiting multiple waterfalls in Guanacaste.

We hope to transform the way you vacation. We want to deliver the best everything you’ve ever experienced – including the best value. And we want you to go home completely fulfilled, whether you came to relax for a week straight or packed your days full of every adrenaline-soaked, high-adventure activity you could fit in.

So go ahead, give us a try. Embrace the experience. Live your best life. And now, book your best-ever vacation. It all starts with getting in touch with our concierge, Cris!

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