National

La Fortuna Waterfall: Picture Postcard Rainforest Waterfall

Written by Tamarindo News

Arguably the most visited waterfall in the whole country, La Fortuna waterfall is a must see in Costa Rica. Dropping 75 meters (246 feet) into a bright blue pool, this waterfall paints a perfect postcard of the Costa Rican jungle.

As it’s just 6 km (~4 miles) outside of the town of La Fortuna, the waterfall makes for a great half day trip. This guide will help you plan your visit.

Location

La Fortuna waterfall map

La Fortuna waterfall map
Click here to go to our interactive map.

La Fortuna waterfall is 1 kilometer (.6 mile) south and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) west of the main church in downtown La Fortuna. It i inside the Ecological Reserve Fortuna Waterfall, owned and operated by a local Fortueño family.

How to get to the waterfall

You can drive or take a taxi to the waterfall park. A taxi one way from downtown costs around $10-15 USD. A few Ubers exist in La Fortuna and you can check the app to call one.

To drive there, you can use Google Maps or Waze to direct you to the waterfall park. There are also many big signs. The road is completely paved, you do not need a 4×4/4wd to the waterfall.

Take the road south from town across a little bridge. Drive for about 4 kilometers and then turn right (you will see a big sign for the waterfall). Continue on this road for about 5 kilometers (3 miles) to reach the parking lot. You can find La Fortuna Waterfall on Google Maps and Waze.

You do not need a 4×4 or 4wd to get to Fortuna waterfall. The road is all paved.

There is no public bus directly to the waterfall.

Entrance Fee and Hours

The Fortuna waterfall entrance fee is $18 USD for adult foreigners, $5 USD for children.

The Fortuna waterfall hours of operation are 7 AM to 5:00 PM, open every day. They have a big parking lot and there are bathrooms, a small cafe, garden trails and souvenir store at the entrance. The latest you can enter the park is 4 PM.

La Fortuna Waterfall Steps

After you pay your ticket at the entrance office, walk across the bridge to get to the trail head. You’ll see a gift shop and bathrooms and beyond that is an observation platform with a great view of the waterfall.

La Fortuna waterfall view point
The observation platform

Make sure to stop by there first to take some pictures before embarking on the epic walk down.

La Fortuna Waterfall viewpoint
View of the Fortuna waterfall from the platform

The beginning of the trail is over to the left so when you’re ready, start going down the many steps. They have built a brand new platform so it’s much easier and more comfortable to walk to La Fortuna waterfall.

 waterfall steps
going down the steps
 chairs
Sitting areas

The new platform is super nice with handrails. When we first visited in 2013, it was all dirt! Now there are bars and benches to make it easier to walk.

Walking down the steps
Walking down 400 something steps

After about 10 minutes, you’re going to start wondering exactly how many steps down to La Fortuna waterfall there are. But trust me, it’ll be worth it when you get there!

steps
more steps

Walk across another bridge to get to the waterfall base (don’t forget to look right to see another small waterfall). Hear the roaring sound of the water and see the white ribbon cascading down surrounded by a deep green rainforest.

La Fortuna waterfall pool
Our first to La Fortuna waterfall

As soon as you reach the bottom, you can enjoy the beautiful tropical rainforest nature sights and sounds.

Can you swim in La Fortuna waterfall?

Yes, you can swim in the La Fortuna waterfall. However, the water is cold! And the current is super strong where the water falls into the pool, so make sure to stay by the rocks (like the people in the photo). Do not swim further out into the pool closer to the cascade.

La Fortuna waterfall in Arenal
The beautiful waterfall

Some times of the year, like September, October or November when it has been raining very hard, the waterfall can be a brown color. The current may also be too strong to swim.

La Fortuna waterfall rainy season
The waterfall in October

Down to the left, there is a lovely calm water pool area that is better for swimming and more suitable for little ones. If the current is too strong (when it has been raining a lot), they will close this as it’s not safe to swim.

River that most people swim in
Swimming in the river

When you’re all done and ready to go, be prepared to walk around 480 steps up!

La Fortuna waterfall aerial
Aerial photo of the waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall pool

Personal tip: This waterfall does get busy on weekends and holidays. For less people, go on a weekday morning. And make sure to be very careful on the rocks as they may be slippery.

Tips for Visiting the Waterfall

  • There are facilities so you can bring a swimsuit/clothes to change into.
  • There is a restaurant and souvenir shop at the trail head. You can get lunch, snacks, drinks, food.
  • You can wear flip flops but it’s better with good shoes for the steps. If you plan to swim or go in the water, wear water shoes or hiking sandals.
  • Make sure to bring drinking water (there are water dispensers in the gift shop too).
  • The climb back up can be tough, so take it slow. Be advised that this hike doesn’t have a handicap trail. If you are not able to go up and down steep steps, then we do not advise going down. There is no alternate route up.
  • No strollers allowed on the steps.
  • If you don’t want to pay $18 USD for the waterfall or want something more local, head to El Salto. This is a local swimming hole at the Fortuna river that has a rope swing. It’s free so lots of locals go there. You don’t see the waterfall but you can swim in the river. On Google Maps, look for “El Salto Rope Swing

Fortuna Waterfall Tours

If you have a car or don’t mind to taxi, you can visit the waterfall on your own. It’s easy to get to and you can do the walk down by yourself. A guide is not really necessary to visit the waterfall.

But if you don’t have a car, you can take a tour. This waterfall is usually part of a combo tour such as the Arenal Hanging Bridges + La Fortuna Waterfall or the Arenal Combo Tour. Get 7% off this tour and other tours in the Arenal area!

We did the hanging bridges + waterfall tour which you can watch below. Skip to 2:26 to see the waterfall.

Here are some other ideas of things to do the same day you visit the waterfall:

  • Canyoning (waterfall rappeling) in the morning, lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
  • Bogarin Trail (easy walk in downtown), lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
  • La Fortuna waterfall morning, lunch, safari float afternoon (or other way around)
  • Kayak/SUP in Lake Arenal, lunch, La Fortuna waterfall
  • Horseback riding morning, La Fortuna waterfall

Want to read about other waterfalls in Costa Rica? Check these out!

Nauyaca Waterfalls (Dominical area)

Catarata Llanos de Cortes (Guanacaste)

Catarata del Toro (Central Valley)

Poza Azul  (Sarapiqui)

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