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How To Visit Nauyaca Waterfalls – An Unmissable Place In Costa Rica


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Mia Starling



Welcome to Costa Rica, a country known for its rich biodiversity and stunning natural landscapes. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country, one destination you simply cannot miss is the Nauyaca Waterfalls. Located in the southern region of Costa Rica, these magnificent waterfalls are a true gem of the Central American country.


Nauyaca Waterfalls is not just a single waterfall, but a series of two breathtaking cascades. The upper falls have a height of 45 meters (148 feet), while the lower falls stand at an impressive 20 meters (66 feet) tall. The crystal-clear turquoise waters that flow down the falls, surrounded by lush greenery, create a picturesque and refreshing sight that will leave you in awe.


The Nauyaca Waterfalls are tucked away in a pristine rainforest, making your visit a truly immersive and enchanting experience. As you make your way through the dense jungle, you’ll be greeted by the sounds of exotic birds, monkeys swinging from tree to tree, and the soothing sound of cascading water in the background.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, the Nauyaca Waterfalls offer something for everyone. From hiking through scenic trails to cooling off in natural pools, this destination promises an unforgettable adventure.


In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls. We’ll cover how to get there, the entrance fees, hiking trails, safety tips, nearby attractions, and more. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of this spectacular natural treasure in Costa Rica.


Getting to Nauyaca Waterfalls

Reaching the Nauyaca Waterfalls is relatively easy, although it does require some planning. The waterfalls are located in the foothills of the Talamanca Mountain Range, near the town of Dominical on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.


If you’re coming from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, the most convenient way to get to the waterfalls is by car. The drive takes approximately 3-4 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions. Take the Route 27 highway towards Caldera, then continue on the Costanera Sur Highway (Route 34) until you reach Dominical. From Dominical, follow the signs to the waterfalls.


If you don’t have access to a car, don’t worry! There are other transportation options available. You can take a bus from San Jose to Dominical, and then either hike or take a taxi to the waterfalls. Buses depart regularly from the Tracopa bus terminal in San Jose, and the journey takes around 4-5 hours.


For those who prefer not to navigate public transportation or drive themselves, there are also organized tours and shuttle services that can take you directly to the waterfalls. These tours often include additional activities, such as horseback riding or zip-lining, so you can make the most of your visit to Nauyaca.


Once you arrive at the entrance of the waterfalls, you’ll need to hike a short distance to reach the falls themselves. The trail is well-maintained, but be prepared for a moderate hike, with some steep sections and uneven terrain. It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.


It’s worth noting that the Nauyaca Waterfalls are located on private property. Therefore, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to access the falls. The fee varies depending on whether you choose to visit the upper falls, the lower falls, or both. Make sure to check the official website or inquire at the entrance for the latest fee information.


Now that you know how to get to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, let’s delve into the details of what awaits you once you arrive at this natural paradise.


Entrance Fee and Hours of Operation

Before embarking on your adventure to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the entrance fees and the operating hours of the site. As mentioned earlier, the waterfalls are located on private property, and visitors are required to pay an entrance fee.


The entrance fee for the Nauyaca Waterfalls varies depending on whether you choose to visit the upper falls, the lower falls, or both. The fee includes access to the hiking trails, picnic areas, and swimming spots. It’s important to note that the fees are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check the official website or contact the park administration for the most up-to-date information.


In addition to the entrance fee, there are optional services available for an additional cost. For example, you can choose to take a guided horseback ride to the falls or rent a horse at the entrance. This can be a great option for those who wish to explore the area at a more relaxed pace or for those who may have difficulty hiking.


When it comes to the hours of operation, it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are typically open from early morning until late afternoon. It’s advisable to arrive early to beat the crowds and make the most of your time at the falls. The exact opening and closing times may vary, so it’s always a good idea to verify the hours of operation before your visit.


It should be noted that the Nauyaca Waterfalls may have restricted access during the rainy season, which typically runs from May to November in Costa Rica. Heavy rainfall can make the trails slippery and potentially dangerous. Therefore, it’s important to check the weather conditions and consult with the park administration or local authorities before embarking on your journey to the waterfalls.


Now that you’re aware of the entrance fees and operating hours, let’s continue exploring the wonders that await you at the magnificent Nauyaca Waterfalls.


Hiking Trails and Difficulty Levels

Exploring the Nauyaca Waterfalls involves traversing a network of well-maintained hiking trails that wind through the lush rainforest. These trails offer breathtaking views and close encounters with Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity. Here’s a breakdown of the different hiking trails and their difficulty levels:


1. Big Waterfall Trail:


This trail takes you directly to the base of the larger, upper falls. It’s the most popular route and suitable for all fitness levels. The trail is well-marked and offers stunning views of the cascading waters from various vantage points along the way. The hiking time to reach the big waterfall is approximately 45 minutes to one hour.


2. Small Waterfall Trail:


If you’re looking for a shorter and easier hike, the Small Waterfall Trail is a great option. This trail leads you to the lower falls, providing a more secluded and tranquil experience. The trail is less challenging than the Big Waterfall Trail and takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the small waterfall.


3. Loop Trail:


The Loop Trail is a more adventurous option for those who want to explore both the upper and lower falls. This trail combines sections of the Big Waterfall Trail and the Small Waterfall Trail, offering a complete experience of Nauyaca Waterfalls. The Loop Trail takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete, including time for rest and enjoying the scenic viewpoints.


While the trails at Nauyaca Waterfalls are generally well-maintained, it’s important to note that they can be slippery and uneven in certain areas, especially during the rainy season. It’s recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes with good traction and use caution when navigating steep sections of the trails.


It’s also worth mentioning that there are rest stops and benches along the trails where you can take a break, enjoy the surroundings, and capture some memorable photos. Remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera to capture the stunning beauty of the waterfalls along the way.


Now that you have an idea of the hiking trails and their difficulty levels, let’s continue our journey to discover more about the wildlife and natural surroundings at Nauyaca Waterfalls.


Wildlife and Natural Surroundings

One of the most remarkable aspects of visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls is the opportunity to witness the incredible wildlife and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. The waterfalls are nestled within a pristine rainforest, teeming with biodiversity and captivating sights. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:


1. Birdwatching:


The rainforest surrounding the waterfalls is a haven for bird enthusiasts. As you hike through the trails, keep your eyes and ears open for a variety of colorful and exotic bird species. You may spot toucans, hummingbirds, parrots, and many other birds gracefully soaring through the canopy.


2. Monkey Encounters:


Costa Rica is known for its vibrant monkey population, and the Nauyaca Waterfalls is no exception. Capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys are commonly sighted swinging through the trees. Keep a lookout for these playful creatures as they go about their daily adventures.


3. Reptiles and Amphibians:


The rainforest is also home to an array of reptiles and amphibians. You may come across colorful frogs, including the iconic red-eyed tree frog, as well as lizards, snakes, and even turtles in the nearby streams.


4. Flora and Fauna:


The natural surroundings of the Nauyaca Waterfalls are a botanical paradise. You’ll encounter towering trees, vibrant orchids, and a variety of tropical plants and flowers. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details and diversity of the rainforest ecosystem.


Be sure to bring your camera along to capture the magical moments with the wildlife and the stunning natural landscapes. However, it’s important to remember to observe the animals from a distance and avoid feeding or disturbing them to ensure their well-being and the preservation of their natural habitats.


Now that you have a glimpse of the wildlife and natural surroundings at the Nauyaca Waterfalls, let’s move on to explore the picnic areas and swimming spots available for you to enjoy during your visit.


Picnic Areas and Swimming Spots

When visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls, you’ll have the opportunity to not only admire the breathtaking cascades but also enjoy the pristine natural surroundings. The waterfalls offer designated picnic areas and inviting swimming spots for visitors to relax, unwind, and make lasting memories. Here’s what you need to know:


1. Picnic Areas:


Throughout the Nauyaca Waterfalls site, you’ll find well-maintained picnic areas where you can sit down, have a meal, and soak in the tranquility of the rainforest. These areas are the perfect spots to take a break, enjoy a picnic lunch, and appreciate the beauty of nature. Remember to pack your own food and beverages to fully enjoy the picnic experience.


2. Swimming Spots:


The crystal-clear pools created by the cascading water of the Nauyaca Waterfalls are irresistible for a refreshing plunge. Visitors can indulge in the exhilarating experience of swimming beneath the cascades, surrounded by nature’s serenity. The waters are cool and invigorating, providing the perfect respite from the tropical heat of Costa Rica.


It’s important to note that swimming at the Nauyaca Waterfalls is subject to safety considerations. During periods of heavy rain or high water flow, swimming may be restricted for your safety. Always follow the instructions and guidelines given by the park staff to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.


Additionally, it’s crucial to be mindful of the environment while enjoying the swimming spots. Help keep the area pristine by taking any waste with you when you leave. Respect the natural surroundings and be mindful of the flora and fauna protected in this ecosystem.


By taking advantage of the picnic areas and swimming spots available at the Nauyaca Waterfalls, you can enhance your overall experience, bonding with loved ones, and creating unforgettable memories.


Now that we’ve explored the picnic areas and swimming spots, let’s move on to the next section, where we’ll discuss some important safety tips and precautions to keep in mind during your visit to the waterfalls.


Safety Tips and Precautions

While visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls is an exciting and memorable experience, it’s important to prioritize safety and take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:


1. Wear Appropriate Footwear:


The trails leading to the waterfalls can be uneven and slippery, especially during the rainy season. It’s essential to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction to avoid slipping or injuring your feet while hiking. Flip-flops or sandals are not recommended for the trails.


2. Stay Hydrated:


Costa Rica’s tropical climate can be hot and humid, especially when hiking. It’s crucial to stay hydrated by carrying enough water with you during your visit. Drink regularly to replenish fluids and prevent dehydration.


3. Use Sun Protection:


The sun in Costa Rica can be intense, even when hiking through the rainforest. Protect yourself from sunburn and UV rays by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. It’s also a good idea to seek shade whenever possible.


4. Take Caution While Swimming:


If you choose to swim at the Nauyaca Waterfalls, always exercise caution. The currents and water flow can be strong, especially after heavy rainfall. Follow any safety instructions given by park staff, and swim within designated areas. Never swim alone and keep an eye on children at all times.


5. Respect the Wildlife:


While exploring the waterfalls, be respectful of the wildlife that calls this place home. Do not feed or disturb the animals, and keep a safe distance to avoid any potential conflicts. Remember, it’s their natural habitat, and we are guests in their environment.


6. Stay on the Designated Trails:


To protect the delicate ecosystem and minimize the risk of accidents, it’s important to stay on the designated trails while hiking. Venturing off the trails can disturb the vegetation and may lead to harm or getting lost.


7. Follow Park Rules and Regulations:


Make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the Nauyaca Waterfalls. These guidelines are in place for the safety and preservation of the site. Follow the instructions given by park staff and respect any restrictions or closures.


By adhering to these safety tips and precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience exploring the Nauyaca Waterfalls. Now, let’s move on to the next section, where we’ll discover nearby attractions and accommodation options for your visit to this captivating destination.


Nearby Attractions and Accommodation Options

When visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls, you have the opportunity to explore other attractions in the surrounding area and find suitable accommodations for a comfortable stay. Here are some nearby attractions and accommodation options to consider:


1. Marino Ballena National Park:


Located just a short distance from the Nauyaca Waterfalls, Marino Ballena National Park offers stunning beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and the chance to spot humpback whales during migration season. Explore the park’s trails, go snorkeling, or simply relax on the picturesque beaches.


2. Osa Peninsula:


For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, a visit to the Osa Peninsula is highly recommended. This biodiverse region is home to Corcovado National Park, known for its dense rainforests, diverse wildlife, and pristine beaches. Embark on guided tours, hike through the national park, or take a boat ride to explore the wonders of the peninsula.


3. Dominical:


If you’re looking for a vibrant beach town to explore, Dominical is a great option. Located near the Nauyaca Waterfalls, Dominical boasts beautiful beaches, excellent surf spots, and a laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy the local cuisine, shop for souvenirs, or simply relax on the sandy shores.


4. Accommodation Options:


There are various accommodation options available near the Nauyaca Waterfalls to suit different preferences and budgets. From eco-lodges nestled in the rainforest to beachfront resorts, you’ll find a range of choices for your stay. Dominical offers a wide selection of hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals, while nearby towns like Uvita and Ojochal also provide comfortable accommodations.


Whether you prefer a cozy cabin amidst nature or a luxurious resort with all amenities, you’ll find a place to unwind and recharge after a day of exploring the waterfalls and surrounding attractions.


Before making any reservations, it’s advisable to check online reviews, compare prices, and book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This will ensure you find the best option to suit your needs and have a seamless experience during your Costa Rican adventure.


Now that you have an idea of the nearby attractions and accommodation options, let’s wrap up our guide to the Nauyaca Waterfalls with a few closing remarks.



Visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls in Costa Rica is an experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty and power. The cascading water, lush rainforest, and vibrant wildlife create a magical atmosphere that truly captivates the senses.


From hiking through scenic trails and swimming in crystal-clear pools to picnicking amidst the sounds of nature, there is something for everyone at the Nauyaca Waterfalls. The well-maintained hiking trails cater to different fitness levels, allowing you to explore the falls at your own pace.


Remember to prioritize safety by wearing appropriate footwear, staying hydrated, and following any guidelines or instructions given by park staff. Respect the environment, wildlife, and fellow visitors to ensure the preservation of this natural wonder.


While visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls, consider exploring other nearby attractions such as Marino Ballena National Park and the Osa Peninsula. With its diverse range of accommodations, including eco-lodges and beachfront resorts, you can find a comfortable place to unwind after a day of adventure.


So, plan your trip to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of Costa Rica, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Witness the power of nature, embrace the tranquility of the rainforest, and let the Nauyaca Waterfalls leave an indelible mark on your heart.