Visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall lies only a stone-throw away from the trendy town bearing the same name. It’s a popular spot for travelers and locals looking to cool off in the impressive natural pools below the falls. As it borders the protected area of Arenal-Monteverde and is home to an abundance of wildlife, the waterfall makes a must-see highlight on any Costa Rica itinerary.
Fun fact: La Fortuna means ‘the fortune’ in Spanish, and you’ll definitely feel fortunate once you finally see the powerful stream of water.
The Hiking Trail to La Fortuna Falls
To get to the incredible La Fortuna waterfall, you must make your way past a steep path of roughly 600 paved steps. The hike takes around 30 minutes through the stunning greenery and passes some hanging bridges before reaching the base of the mighty waterfall.
At the beginning of the trail, just past the entrance, there’s a large platform with an incredible view. Here, you can admire the waterfall from above and take some photos before starting your hike down. As you scale the steps towards the bottom, you can hear the powerful thunder of the water crashing down into the rocks and pool below.
Make sure to keep your eye out for the beautiful nature around you; the area is home to many toucans, monkeys, and other tropical animals.
Tip: Hiking down to the base of La Fortuna can be done quickly, but the hike back up on your way out is a bit more challenging. Make sure to wear good shoes to walk up and down the stairs.
Swimming at La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa Rica
Once you reach the bottom of the trail, the waterfall will be on your right. You’ll find beautiful clear, refreshing pools perfect for swimming. However, be aware that there is a strong current from the water directly under or close to the waterfall. It’s much more relaxed to swim slightly more downstream. Take a moment to soak up the beautiful scenery, listen to nature’s sounds, and cool down in the (cold!) water.
Must-read: Nauyaca Waterfalls, Costa Rica
Opening Times & Entrance Fee
La Fortuna waterfall is open from 7 AM – 5 PM and costs 18 USD per person. Your ticket includes parking and access to the toilets, restaurants, and the diverse orchid garden. The best of all is that the money is invested back in the park and other local environmental conservation efforts. You can pay the entrance fee with cash or a credit card. Note that the last allowed entry to the waterfall is 4 PM.
Visit La Fortuna Waterfall on a tour that includes your ticket, transport, and lunch. See availability here.
Tips for Visiting the La Fortuna waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is a beautiful and must-see location on your trip to Costa Rica. It’s loved among tourists and locals and is one of the more popular things to do when visiting La Fortuna. Here are some tips to make your trip to this incredible site unforgettable:
- The waterfall can get very crowded. Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to experience La Fortuna with fewer people.
- Be aware that the steps can be slippery, so wear shoes with a good grip that you don’t mind getting wet.
- Pack your swimsuit and towel.
- Bring something to drink and some snacks with you to enjoy by the falls. Don’t forget to clean up after.
- As La Fortuna is part of a beautiful lush rainforest, it’s no surprise that mosquitos will be present. Opt for a non-toxic insect repellent, so you don’t harm nature when you swim in the water. This is also a great way of traveling more sustainably.
- Your ticket gives you access to the Orchid Garden inside the park. Don’t forget to take a look and discover over 180 of Costa Rica’s native species!
How to Get to the La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall lies just 5,5 kilometers (3,5 miles) outside the town bearing the same name. As it also borders the impressive Arenal Volcano National Park, it’s one of the more popular areas to visit. From San Jose, it takes roughly 3 hours to get to La Fortuna over a well-paved road.
Also read: The ultimate 2-week Costa Rica itinerary
Because of the paved road, you can easily visit La Fortuna waterfall by car. You won’t need a 4×4. Signs will point the way to the entrance and parking lot from La Fortuna town. Please note: the area is very safe, but take your valuable belongings with you out of the car or leave them at your accommodation.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Costa Rica, we recommend using Sunny Cars because all insurances needed are included in the price displayed on their website. No hidden costs.
Alternatively, you can also take a taxi from downtown to the waterfall entrance, which costs around 15 USD.
La Fortuna Waterfall Tour
There is no public transport to La Fortuna Waterfall, so if you’re not renting a car, the best thing to do is to book an organized tour from La Fortuna. Explore the beautiful area of the waterfall and learn more about the wildlife and ecosystem via a guided tour. Tours typically include park entrance, return transport, and a guide.
Hotels near La Fortuna Waterfall
Discover more of the waterfall’s stunning region by spending the night in the area. The neighboring town of La Fortuna has many great accommodation options for all types of budgets. If you have your own transport, you’ll find the best hotels and campsites just outside the village. See all hotels in La Fortuna.
The Best Time to Visit
La Fortuna waterfall flows year-round, meaning that there is no right or wrong time to visit. If you’re combining your journey with other beautiful sites, such as the Rio Celeste Waterfalls, then the best time to visit is in the dry season (December to April). If you’re visiting during the rainy season, heavy rains and mud can make the hike down a bit more challenging. However, this is still a great time to visit the waterfall, as the rain makes for a truly tropical experience.
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