Costa Rica is a magical land of mountain rivers, lush gorges, and tumbling elevations – the perfect trifecta for carving out ideal waterfall conditions. Our landscapes are riddled with these natural wonders and it would be impossible to mention them all. But we can clue you in to a few of our favorite Guanacaste waterfalls.
And by a few, we mean 12 – plus an add-on that we think you’ll love! All, within a daytrip of Hacienda Pinilla. Welcome to paradise!
Guanacaste Waterfalls Near Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla to Las Pailas Sector: 67 miles (108 kms) | 2 hours, 10 minutes
We’ve grouped the following waterfalls together (and listed in alphabetical order), as they are all located within or just outside Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Together, they would make a perfect overnight or weekend getaway!
La Cangreja Waterfall
Located within the protected confines of Rincón de la Vieja National Park, La Cangreja Waterfall requires a bit of commitment: The hike is 3 miles (5 kilometers), one way, but oh, are they worth it!
As you wend your way through the forest’s changing terrain, you’ll be treated to an array of flora and fauna, from iguanas and coatis to 300 bird species and howler, white-faced capuchin, and spider monkeys. And finally, La Cangreja, a 130-foot (40-meter) cascade that pours itself over a cliff and into a deep turquoise pool below. Note that visitors are not permitted to swim at La Cangreja (no matter what photos you see online).
Add On: Escondido Waterfall
While we wouldn’t term Escondido Waterfall as one of the ultimate “best” Guanacaste waterfalls, we would recommend a visit if you’re in the area! And if you’re at La Cangreja and have the stamina and desire, this is a wonderful addition to your hike. (It’s just a short fork off the La Cangreja hiking trail.)
It’ll add an additional 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) to your total 6-mile (10-kilometer) hike. But at Escondido – literally, the hidden falls – you’ll find that you are almost guaranteed to be the only one in sight. This is, undoubtedly, one of Costa Rica’s hidden secrets and a lovely added sight for waterfall chasers.
Las Chorreras Waterfall
Located at Hacienda Guachipelin, just outside Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Las Chorreras promises a scenic canyon, blue waters, and a refreshing swimming hole.
You’ll start with a 30-minute, 1.25-mile light hike to Las Chorreras – a natural paradise of lush trees and expertly carved rock, courtesy of Mother Nature. The water-smoothed canyon creates a path for the twin falls of Las Chorreras (literally, the “outpourings”). Below lies a freshwater pool, tinted slightly blue and beckoning you to cool off with a quick dip.
La Estacional Waterfall, or the “seasonal” waterfall, is located along the Las Pailas sector trail of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. As its name suggests, it is seasonal – your best chance of spotting the falls occurs between June and December – but it’s a lovely sight if you’re here for it!
In addition to the tumbling waters, you’ll enjoy spotting the sky-blue pool below (swimming not permitted), as well as Las Pailas incredible attractions, which extend to volcanic fumaroles, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots.
La Oropéndola Waterfall
Located near the Las Pailas entrance (our favorite!) to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, La Oropéndola emerges from ethereal canyon like a mermaid from water: You don’t know she’s there, almost until she has revealed herself.
It all comes down to the cascade’s positioning: Secreted into a tall and rocky river gorge, tucked behind a corner, you won’t see La Oropéndola until suddenly, you do. And it’s a spectacular sight, as the falls plunge an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) from the Río Blanco (White River) into a sparkling, often translucent turquoise pool below. Enjoy your swim!
La Victoria Waterfall
At La Oropéndola, we had the Río Blanco (White River); at La Victoria, we have the Río Negro (Black River). And yet, the water is neither white nor black, at either!
La Victoria Waterfall, also located near Rincón de la Vieja National Park, tumbles 115 feet (35 meters) into the Río Negro. It’s not only a breathtaking spectacle but an opportunity for a swim: La Victoria’s cool river-fed pool is safe for swimming, offering a 360-degree view to the surrounding dry forest and scenic trails. You can also cool off beneath the cascade; talk about a photo op!
Other Guanacaste Waterfalls
Now, we’ll transition to the other waterfalls throughout our province. This list is by no means comprehensive but we do think we’ve included many of the best and favorite waterfalls in Guanacaste, Costa Rica!
In alphabetical order:
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 48 miles (77 kms) | 1 hour, 30 minutes
A hidden gem among Guanacaste waterfalls, Belen Waterfall promises a short hike through the trees and a scenic spot to spend a few hours.
The waterfall’s 15-foot (4-meter) drop falls into a deep pool – diving not recommended – but the real appeal is in the smooth lounging rocks and multi-level pools that surround the cascade. Pack a picnic!
Stay Here: Casa Nimbu
Las Brisas | 4 Beds | 4 Baths | 10 Guests
Located in one of the community’s most exclusive neighborhoods, Casa Nimbu is the perfect place to rediscover your harmony and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here, where natural light abounds and the outdoors are welcome within, you will find your retreat to luxury, relaxation, and everything you’re here in Costa Rica to explore and enjoy.
Casa Nimbu offers two master bedrooms, each with direct access to the garden and private pool, as well as a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living, and an expansive outdoor terrace, BBQ, and pool area. Retreat to a natural environment, find some time for yourself, and connect as much with Mother Nature as with yourself.
As with all our vacation homes, Casa Nimbu grants you access to the greater amenities of Hacienda Pinilla, including Guanacaste’s premier golf resort, tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, a nature preserve, three miles of pristine beaches, world-renowned surf spots, and an exclusive oceanfront Beach Club.
La Leona Waterfall
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 61 miles (98 kms) | 1 hour, 45 minutes
When you first see the Leona waterfall, you’ll think that it’s a man-made attraction. It’s that perfect, that otherworldly, that beautiful. But La Leona is, indeed, naturally made—and we think it’s one of mother nature’s most breathtaking creations!
Indeed, this waterfall is one of the most exciting in Costa Rica, if not the world. Located within a cave and on the other side of an exhilarating, adrenaline-soaked, three-hour hike – you’ll have to wade through waist-high water to arrive! – La Leona Is an experience and an adventure unto itself. And, yes, after that waist-high waiting, you’ll be rewarded with not only a striking photo op, but also an invitation to swim in the waterfall’s cave-ensconced swimming hole.
La Piedra del Indio Waterfall
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 103 miles (165 kms) | 3 hours
If you’re looking for an incredible, how-is-it-possibly-still-a-secret kind of place, then welcome to La Piedra del Indio Waterfall (Indian’s Rock).
Named for the pre-Columbian figures that festoon a large rock near the waterfall, this gorgeous cascade plunges 260 feet (79.25 meters) down water-worn rock face and into a cool, river-fed swimming hole. And getting there is half the fun! You can walk or horseback ride and, along the way, you may just be lucking enough to spot wildlife including toucans, anteaters, monkeys, sloths, and more!
Land of Senses Waterfalls
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 89 miles (143 kms) | 3 hours
We’ll let you in on a little-known secret in Guanacaste waterfalls: Sensoria (the Land of Senses) is home to some of our most spectacular cascades, which sit surrounded by mid-altitude tropical rainforest, blue waterfall pools, and soul-enriching magic.
It all begins on a 3.73-mile (6-kilometer) hike through the private park’s trails. As you pass by centenarian trees and through lush rainforest, you’ll feel awe creep in. And then, amidst the volcano-fed hot springs and tropical setting, the landscape parts to reveal the park’s four magical waterfalls: Buenos Aires Waterfall, Aguilar Waterfall, Jícara Waterfall, and Danta Waterfall. Aguilar Waterfall is a particular favorite, as the water’s silicon content paints the river stones white and creates fortuitous light refraction that makes the water glow fluorescent blue!
Note: Sensoria is technically in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park area but we’ve chosen to keep it separate, as it’s a two-hour drive from the park’s Las Pailas sector, where our grouped waterfalls are located.
Llanos de Cortés Waterfall
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 67 miles (107 kms) | 1 hour, 50 minutes
Llanos de Cortés is one of those sights so stunning, so jaw-dropping, so raw and inspiring that you think they’d be secreted deep into a jungle, hours from the closes trailhead. And yet, this iconic cascade is located between Liberia and Bagaces, about two hours from Hacienda Pinilla.
One of our most easy-to-hike waterfalls, Llanos de Cortés could also be considered one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica. As stunning as it is huge – the waterfall itself measures 50 feet wide by 12 feet tall! – Llanos de Cortés flows year-round, providing a wonderful oasis, even at the height of our dry season. (Although note that, by March/April, the falls are more gentle flow rather than roaring torrent.)
The large, clean, and often translucent pool beneath offers the perfect spot for a swim. And pack a picnic because Llanos de Cortés even has its own small, sandy beach.
Stay Here: Casa Guayacan
4 Beds | 4 Baths | 11 Guests
Bordering Hacienda Pinilla’s golf course and hugged by rare tropical dry forest, Casa Guayacan can make you feel like you have a slice of paradise all to yourself.
For here, just a quick stroll to the beach and overlooking the seemingly endless roll of golf greens, you’re just minutes to Hacienda Pinilla’s luxury amenities and yet, completely removed from the greater world. A secret retreat of walls of glass, expansive bedrooms, and indoor-outdoor living that draws you into your private infinity pool, Casa Guayacan is a gem in the community’s already sparkling crown.
The tipping point? The home’s “house mom,” who provides housekeeping, does the laundry, and prepares your daily (except Sundays and holidays) breakfast, lunch, and cocktails.
Rio Celeste Waterfall
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 109 miles (176 kms) | 3 hours
Unequivocally one of Costa Rica’s most recognizable and photographed waterfalls, the stunning and startling Río Celeste Waterfall is beautiful enough to qualify as a wonder of the world.
Known for its striking blue waters, the Celestial River Waterfall promises ethereal blue hues that are not a trick of the light: scoop some up in your hand, and that water is still blue! It all comes down to a chemical reaction between colloidal silica and copper sulfate in the water, and sulfur from the active Tenorio Volcano and its national park, where the waterfall is located.
Scientific explanation or no, the sight is one you will never forget. And that’s why so many visitors make their way to this, the most famous of Guanacaste waterfalls. The park’s trails are challenging but well maintained; you’ll have some elevation gains (and an odd 150 stairs) to climb but when you finally make it, it’s worth it!
Note that you cannot swim in the Celeste Waterfall pool but if you’re itching for a blue-water photo op, check out our other baby-blue waterfall pools in this post. Many are safe and swimmable!
Viento Fresco Waterfalls
Distance from Hacienda Pinilla: 102 miles (164 kms) | 2 hours, 45 minutes
Named for the fresh breezes that whisper through the forest, Viento Fresco Waterfalls are one of those off-the-beaten-path Guanacaste waterfalls that only those in-the-know know to visit. And now, you know!
Beneath the shade of the forest’s canopy, groomed trails lead you to the delights and wonder of the park’s five awe-inspiring waterfalls, which include Serena Waterfall (102 feet / 31 meters), Hidden Waterfall (66 feet / 20 meters) and its two caves, Rainbow Waterfall (247 feet / 75 meters), Slide Waterfall (312 feet / 95 meters), and the Rock Waterfall (49 feet / 15 meters).
Chasing Guanacaste Waterfalls (or Other Things to Do)?
Did you know that, when you reserve your Hacienda Pinilla vacation home with us, you gain access to our full concierge services? And by that, we mean an on-the-ground expert whose job is to explore, engage, and do everything. Cris knows her waterfall hikes and tours!
When you book with us, we’ll get in touch to help you plan all the details of your stay. Our job is to get to know you, so we can help you plan the trip of your dreams. Whether you just need help arranging transportation or would like a full itinerary – everything from your airport shuttle to a full trip’s worth of activities, private chef services, and golf cart rental – we’re happy to help.
Even better, our concierge services are always free. So, why wait? Get in touch and let’s get started!