The La Fortuna Waterfall

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The La Fortuna Waterfall

Hola 👋

The La Fortuna Waterfall is a must do activity when you’re visiting the area. Anna and I were driving up to the park entrance when it began downpouring. We sat there for a few minutes wondering if it was worth it in the rain, not because of the water, but because it is a few hundred steps down to the falls. Then it just stopped and we had a clear hour to enjoy the falls. In this short guide, you’ll find info on how to get to the falls and what to expect along the way. Let’s go!

La Fortuna Waterfall entrance
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Waiting out the downpour

Getting to La Fortuna Waterfall

The La Fortuna Waterfall is located about 10 minutes outside of the city center. It’s only a few turns from town and very easy to find. Pull into the designated parking lot and you’re good to go. The operating hours are 7am-5pm daily.

The Ticket Office

Head over to the ticket office if you haven’t already purchased your tickets online. As of March 2024, tickets are USD $20 for adults (they consider adults ages 9 and up). Children under 9 are free.

Like most activities in Costa Rica, we recommend booking in advance if you have a larger group, especially during the high season or any national holidays.

La Fortuna Waterfall ticket office
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Look for the Cataratas Ma-cu sign

The Viewpoint

Follow the signage when you’re in the park. You’ll end up near the cafe and restrooms, where you can purchase a locker if needed. The parking area is very safe for valuables, so lockers likely aren’t needed.

There’s a nice waterfall viewing area for those who don’t plan on making the trek down.

La Fortuna Waterfall
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There it is!

The Trek Down

The path to the La Fortuna Waterfall is about 530 steps down, which means it 530 steps back up. Most of it is textured cement but there are a few sets of metal stairs that can be really slippery with the wrong shoes. Take it slow and steady, and you should be good. 

The stairs leading down to the waterfall
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The booty buster coming back up

Enjoying The Falls

At the bottom, you’ll reach one of the most amazing waterfalls in Costa Rica. We got to the falls an hour before they closed which probably helps keep the crowds down.

First you’ll see the main waterfall pool. Enjoy a dip there and be careful steping on the algae covered rocks. They are extremely slippery and a fall at the bottom makes for a difficult walk back up. We recommend bringing a waterproof phone case like this if you’ll be trying to take photos. The spray of the waterfall is so powerful that everything you bring will quickly get covered in mist.

Once you’re done at the top pool, you can also walk down a second set of stairs, which leads to a more calm section of water where you can relax and hang for a while. Take your time and enjoy it before the hike back up to the car.

La Fortuna Waterfall
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A dip in the main pool

Calm swimming pools below the falls
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The calm secondary pools below

Travel tips for La Fortuna Waterfall

Arrive early or late

Plan to start your hike early or late to avoid the crowds and enjoy the falls. We got here an hour before closing and it was empty and perfect.

Judge your physical ability

It’s 530 steps down and 530 steps back up. On the way up, we passed some people who looked medically concerning. Make sure you’re okay with the climb both ways. Consider affordable trip insurance if you have any doubts about the safety of your planned activities.

Don’t forget the essentials

Expect to see mosquitos, so pack your day bag with a good insect repellant, reef-safe sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks for your visit.

Bring The Right Footwear

Sturdy hiking shoes or sandals with good traction are recommended for the hike to the falls. I love my Salomon Hiking Shoes that I bring on every trip.

Practice sustainable tourism

The La Fortuna Waterfall is amazingly beautiful, and let’s keep it that way. It’s located in a park, so use the trash bins or pack your trash back out with you.

La Fortuna Waterfall
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So beautiful

Let’s go!

The La Fortuna Waterfall is a must-do activity when you’re in the area. It’s a great way to cool off after a morning exploring Arenal Volcano National Park, or after a muddy afternoon romp on some ATVs.

Don’t miss our full guide to La Fortuna and drop us a comment below if you have any questions.

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Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here 🤙

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