La Fortuna waterfall was an immediate highlight during my time in Costa Rica. It strongly reminded me of ʻAkaka Falls State Park on Hawaiʻi Island. Only in this case, you can walk down, swim underneath the waterfall, and see it all up close. It was delightful, and fairly simple to get to and from.
So let’s get started! Here’s everything you need to know about hiking the La Fortuna waterfall!
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Table of Contents
La Fortuna Waterfall Opening Hours
You can access the waterfall every day from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Best Time to Go
Ideally, you’ll want to visit the waterfall during the dry season (December – April) for better views and an easier time hiking up and down. I’d also aim for visiting in the early morning hours. It gets crowded fast. Try to get there between 7 – 8 a.m.
You can pay via cash or credit card, and the office does accept USD. Tickets are $18, and children 8 years or younger are admitted for free.
Do I Need to Book a Tour?
I don’t think so. Once you get there, it’s fairly straightforward. If you’re going to, say, hike Arenal volcano, on the other hand… that’s tour-worthy.
How to Get There
There isn’t a public bus route to La Fortuna waterfall, but luckily taxi services and Uber are in abundance. If you leave from Fortuna Park, expect a charge of around $10 for a taxi service. It’s roughly a ten minute ride. There’s a decent size parking lot at the ticket office for dropoffs.
What’s Around La Fortuna Waterfall
Once you get your ticket and walk past the gate, you’ll find restrooms, a restaurant and souvenir shop. Here’s where it’s important to note that you can swim in the waterfall, and if you want to, this will be your only chance to change into a swimsuit with a little privacy. There are no changing areas at the base of the waterfall.
What’s to Expect
You’ll have to trek up and down over 500 stairs, and in the humidity, it can be a tough climb back up. Luckily, the stairs are nice and wide, with sturdy railings. There are also benches along the occasional corner and even a little spigot where you can splash the sweat off of your face and keep going.
It’s not a technically difficult hike, more of a feat of endurance. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Before you begin your descent, stop and take in the view. Pretty, isn’t it?
You’ll have some great vantage points as you continue your trek down.
Once you get to the base, there’s a platform where you can take it all in.
There are stairs that will lead to two swimming options. One is a shallow pool that stays pretty calm. It’s ideal for someone who just wants to relax, or maybe isn’t confident in their swimming abilities.
You could also swim on the other side, near the waterfall. It’s not for the faint of heart (cause, ya know, you’re underneath a 70 meter tall waterfall) but there is a lifeguard on duty.
On your way up, don’t forget to stop by the Orchid Garden. It’s to the left of the stair entrance and really worth a visit.
If you’re tired/hungry post waterfall adventure, feel free to give Restaurante Rio Lounge, the cafe in the area, a go. You get a lovely view, and the coffee and guacamole I got was restorative.
What to Bring
If you do decide to swim in the waterfall, be warned, it’s freezing. You’ll also have to dress for a hike and a swim. So here are my recommendations.
Closed toed water shoes are ideal because you can walk the steps and swim. This pair I got from Amazon has seen hell and is still trucking. Would highly recommend.
These next two suggestions are for women like myself who freeze in water that goes above room temp. We’re talking long sleeved swimsuits, essentially. Elegant? Hardly. Ideal for the walk and keeping you snug while swimming. 100%.
Rashguard swim top with SPF protection.
Swim skirted capris with SPF protection.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring towels, sunscreen, bug repellent, and a water bottle.
Overall, I’d budget at least two hours for this adventure. You’ll want enough time to meander down the steps and take in the sites. So give yourself a little wiggle room so you’re not frantically rushing up the steps. That looked awful. Would not recommend.
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