A Day Trip To Nauyaca Falls

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A Day Trip To Nauyaca Falls


Tucked away in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, Nauyaca Falls is a breathtaking, two-tiered waterfall that offers visitors an unforgettable experience. We’ve been there twice and both times were amazing. The hike in can be tough but there are other ways to make the 4 mile round trip. In this travel guide, we’ll highlight how to get to the falls and some tips for making the most of the trip. 

Getting to Nauyaca Falls

Nauyaca Falls is located near the town of Dominical, approximately 4 hours from San José. The most popular route is via Route 34, which provides a scenic drive along the coastline. Once you reach Dominical, you’ll continue inland for about 10 kilometers (6 miles) on a paved road to the Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park entrance.

Look for the Nauyaca sign and the ticket office is right there. You can make reservations if you want to take the 4×4 shuttle in or you may get lucky and catch one when you get there. If you’re walking to the falls, you’ll be directed to the road that takes you to the main parking area down the hill.

Nauyaca Falls Sign

Park in the lot at the sign

Hiking to the Falls

The hike to Nauyaca Falls begins at the entrance of Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park. The trail is approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours each way, depending on your fitness level and walking pace. The hike is moderately challenging, with some steep sections and uneven terrain, so sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. I love my Salomon Outline Goretex Hiking shoes. They are lightweight, waterproof, and have great traction for the steep parts of the hike. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by lush rainforest and may even spot wildlife, including toucans, monkeys, and butterflies.

Hiking to Nauyaca Falls

Hiking to Nauyaca Falls

Alternative Ways to Reach the Falls

If you prefer a less painful journey to Nauyaca Falls, you have a couple of alternative options.

4×4 transportation: The Nauyaca Falls office has 4×4 transportation to a point closer to the falls, reducing the hiking distance. You’ll still have to hike down to the falls and back up a steep section to the pickup point. The shuttles may not be running during the wet season if the creeks are impassible due to the rains. 

Horseback riding: Local tour operators offer guided horseback tours to the falls, providing a unique and memorable way to experience the rainforest and reach the waterfall. 

Nauyaca Falls Truck

One of the 4x4 trucks

Swimming and Relaxing

Once you reach Nauyaca Falls, you’ll be greeted by the spectacular sight of the two-tiered waterfall cascading into crystal-clear pools. The lower pool is perfect for swimming and cooling off after your hike, while the upper pool offers a serene spot for relaxing and enjoying the surrounding rainforest. Be sure to pack a small microfiber towel to dry off after swimming. Remember to exercise caution when swimming or climbing near the falls, as the rocks can be slippery. You cant swim in the upper falls due to the fast moving water and a big drop down the cliffside. 

Travel tips for Nauyaca Falls

Arrive early

To avoid the crowds and enjoy the falls at their most peaceful, plan to start your hike early in the morning.

Don’t forget the essentials

There can be tons of mosquitos so don’t forget a good insect repellant, reef-safe sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks for your visit. There are no food or drink vendors at the falls, so come prepared for a half-day trip. 

Bring the right shoes

Sturdy hiking shoes or sandals with good traction are recommended for the hike to the falls. We love these Salomon Hiking Shoes.

Practice sustainable tourism

Help preserve Nauyaca Falls’ beauty by minimizing your environmental impact, staying on marked trails, and disposing of trash responsibly.

Stop by Fuego Brewing afterwards

This brewery has amazing food and beers for a much needed recharge after a hike to the falls.

Nauyaca Falls

The double tiered falls

Let’s go!

Nauyaca Falls highlights the true beauty of Costa Rica’s rainforests and waterfalls. With its refreshing pools and picturesque surroundings, a visit to Nauyaca Falls is an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the country.

Are you staying near Manuel Antonio? Check out our guide to the best hotels in Manuel Antonio.

Thanks for your support 🤙

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Trip questions? Let us know!

Cody & Anna

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every region of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this Costa Rica travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Let’s go!

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