Central America | Costa Rica | Saj Jose Province

Tips For Visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls

The Nauyaca Waterfalls are located about thirty kilometers from Uvita, not far from the small village of Dominical. They are considered the highest in Costa Rica. And for good reason: the top of the waterfall culminates at 45 meters in height! A natural wonder that can be discovered during a day, whether you start from San José, Uvita, or Manuel Antonio.

The intertwining of two falls

Nestled in the heart of a canyon nearly 80 meters high, the Nauyaca waterfalls are without a doubt one of the must-see places in Costa Rica. Impressive, they are composed of two distinct falls which inevitably intermingle. The first one, impressive, culminates at 45 m in height and offers an exceptional spectacle to the visitors. 

The second waterfall ends its course 20 meters below, in a refreshing natural pool, before quietly trickling down to the Barucito River bed, further downstream. But what makes the beauty of the Nauyaca waterfalls unique is also its natural setting; the contrast of the green of the trees with the gray of the rock, sublimated by the sun rays… The whole thing is just exceptional!

Tips For Visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls

Different ways to visit Nauyaca Waterfalls

Before accessing the falls themselves, you will first have to walk the 6 km that separate them from the entrance of the site. You can decide to walk this distance. It is the most popular and also the most economical. You will only have to pay the entrance fee of $8. In all, the journey to the waterfall lasts more or less 2 hours. You will cross various landscapes of forest and go along the famous Barucito river. The path climbs a little but it is quite accessible. 

The most difficult part will be perhaps to support the heat, particularly strong during the dry season. A small advice: privilege the morning. That will allow you to avoid the big heat but also the affluence of the tourists.

At the end of the 6 km, you will finally arrive at the waterfalls, accessible via several staircases, which will lead you initially to the first cascade of height. From the platform, you will have a breathtaking view of this huge waterfall. It’s time to take out your camera. Stairs allow you to go down to the foot of the waterfall.

The Nauyaca Waterfalls Experience

Nevertheless, it is not advised to go too far from the platform. The ground is particularly slippery, and the current is very powerful. It is forbidden to swim there. For the bathing moment, we will have to go back a bit and go down to the second waterfall, which offers a perfect spot to cool off. Some people even try some dives (only in the presence of a local guide for security reasons). 

Be careful though, because even though the conditions are better, the current is still very strong. If you really want to wade in calm and quiet water, you can also go down a little bit further, in a shallow pool but much more favorable to relaxation.

In any case, the view of these two waterfalls, which follow one another, is simply magical! Especially when the sun is shining. After having enjoyed this beautiful spectacle, it is time to turn back. You will take the same way as on the way out, that is to say, 6 km of hiking. For information, if you have a 44, you can park 2 km further on the path, which will reduce the total hike to 8 km. Parking costs three dollars. 

Horse riding to Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park

It is also possible to access the Nauyaca waterfalls by horseback. Several agencies offer this option for about $70 per person, including entrance to the site, a guide, breakfast, and lunch. You will start your ride at the parking lot. The activity lasts about 5 hours (between 8 am and 1.30 pm). A nice way to admire the surrounding nature and maybe see some wildlife.

How to get to Nauyaca Waterfalls?

The Nauyaca Waterfalls benefit from being close to popular tourist destinations like Uvita, Dominical, or Manuel Antonio. Even from San José, it is doable to take a day trip.

  • By bus: 

If you want to come by bus from San José, you must first take a bus to Uvita via the company Tracopa. Buses from San José to Uvita leave daily between 6:30 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. Once in Uvita, you will have to take a second bus to San Isidro and ask the driver to get off in front of the entrance to the Nauyaca waterfalls. A bus leaves from Uvita around 6 am, but it is best to confirm this information on the spot. If you come from Dominical, the bus (the same one) should pass around 6:30 am. For the return trip, a bus to Uvita (or Dominical) will pass in front of the entrance around 12:00.

You can take a bus from Dominical (towards San Isidro) and ask the driver to take you down to Nauyaca Falls. Before you leave, you should also ask your hotel for the return time.

If you are coming from Quepos, you can first go to Uvita via the Tracopa Quepos/San José line and then follow the instructions mentioned above.

  • By car: 

The easiest way to get there is by car. The entrance to the Nauyaca waterfalls is located 10 km north of Dominical in the direction of San Isidro. If you don’t have a car, you can join a tour. Some companies offer day tours from San José that include transportation in a 4×4, park admission, a guide, breakfast, and possibly a jump to Quepos to watch the sunset for around 45 dollars. 

Tips For Visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls

The best time to visit the Nauyaca Waterfalls

Generally, I recommend visiting Nauyaca Falls during the dry season, between December and April. The sun is more likely to shine and the water level allows for swimming, which is not always the case during the rainy season. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid the crowds, November can be a good option. The weather is certainly more uncertain, but the heat is less stifling and the site is much less crowded.

Nauyaca Waterfalls entrance fee

As a family-owned tourism company manages the entrance to Nauyaca Falls, admission costs $8 for a foreigner. Tickets can be purchased every day from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm only (Sundays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm).

What to bring with you?

Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, your picnic lunch, hiking shoes, sandals for swimming and pants (especially for horseback riding), a camera, and protection against water jets.

Where to sleep near Nauyaca Falls?

There are a lot of hotels and lodges in Dominical or close to Nauyaca Falls. In Dominical, there are a lot of inexpensive small hotels. Hacienda Baru, which is close to Dominical, or Cusinga Lodge, which is close to Uvita, are better choices for people who like quiet and birds.

View all hotels in Nauyaca!

More Excursions near Nauyaca Falls

Here are some suggestions for excursions and places to discover near Nauyaca Falls: 

  • Discovery of the Marino Ballena National Park: You can go on a whale watching trip (January to April; July to October); dive or snorkel; and also watch birds. 
  • Surfing in Playa Dominical: You can do courses or surf alone. 
  • On its 330 hectares of private land, Hacienda Baru organizes on its 330 hectares of private land birdwatching or ziplining. 
  • Wildlife observation in Manuel Antonio National Park: sloths, coati, caiman, peccary, and iguanas are just a few of the species that can be observed and photographed.

How to get to Costa Rica?

My international flight to San Jose started from Madrid-Barajas Airport with a connecting flight in Mexico City. Then I continued my journey to San Jose with Avianca Airlines. Most flights in Latin America are operated by them. You can find flights on the airline’s website or on Skyscanner.

Planning a trip to Costa Rica can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the country. Unlike other tourist hotspots where you may stay in one location and experience everything, Costa Rica is not one of those places.

More information

  • The official website of the Costa Rican Tourist Office. It is an excellent way to organize your trip to Costa Rica.
  • The website that manages Costa Rica’s national parks and protected areas.

Costa Rica is a land of waterfalls and it is impossible to see them all during a short stay. However, you can better organize your stay and visit more waterfalls. There are amazing places that are extremely bio-diverse. All you have to do is open a Google browser on your smartphone. Type in the phrase “waterfalls near me.” After a while, you will see search results based on your location. Choose the places you are interested in and get going!

Topographical maps will be an integral part of your Costa Rica trip. During my stay, I used Mapy CZ offline maps on my smartphone, as well as Google Maps as a map to find bus routes. Mapy CZ is an extremely useful tool.

They are accurate maps with rich markings of hiking trails and other details. I specifically chose Mapy CZ because it offers far more functionality than other maps and is available offline. You can use them even if you are in a place without cellular network coverage. The other advantage is that you save the battery on your smartphone. During a long trip, this is the most important thing.

The country has a unique combination of flora and fauna not found anywhere else. For more information about Costa Rica and places worth visiting, check out my Costa Rica Guidebook. I also recommend practical tips on how to plan your travels efficiently and on a budget. 

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