The Nauyaca Waterfalls Experience
These two falls are tucked away in a vast canyon surrounded by lush jungle about 30 minutes from Dominical. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are the ultimate ‘natural paradise’ and one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica – an experience not to be missed!
Hike down through a lush green forest, cross bridges, and pass by small waterfalls until you hear the powerful sound of the water crashing down onto the rocks. That’s Nauyaca!
Visit the upper falls to look down over the edge to the lower falls and natural pool. There is no deep swimming pool at the upper fall, which is why you’ll find most people bathing down at the lower falls.
Admire the full scale and beauty of the Nauyaca Waterfalls from the lower falls. At the lower falls, discover a natural swimming pool that is 6 meters (or 20 feet) deep at one point. At the weekends, locals climb up the waterfall and jump into the pool, putting on a show for passers-by. There’s also a small cave on the side to explore.
Swim at the pool or sit in the waterfall for a powerful shower! Please note that this is at your own risk because old trees might fall down the waterfall, especially during the rainy season.
How to Visit the Nauyaca Waterfalls?
The Nauyaca Waterfalls have two entrances. First is the original entrance on the main road from Dominical to San Isidro. The second is a new entrance named Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park. Let’s compare both options:
Don Lulo’s Entrance
The original entrance to the Nauyaca Waterfalls is located directly on the main road. This is a well-paved road, and there’s no need for a 4×4 car. This is the location.
You can get to the waterfall in a few ways from the parking area: hiking, by truck, or horseback riding. The well-maintained trail is along a river followed by a moderately steep walk downhill.
We recommend hiking for about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) which costs 10 USD per person, or opting for the 4×4 truck tour at 32 USD per person. The tour allows you to be at the waterfall for two hours and has fixed times:
- 07:00 am – 09:30 am
- 08:00 am – 10:30 am
- 09:00 am – 11:30 am
- 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
- 11:00 am – 01:30 pm
- 12:00 noon – 02:30 pm
We personally went for the second entrance (written about below) because we wanted to be flexible with times and enter and leave whenever we like.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park
The new entrance provides access from the eastern side of the Nauyaca Waterfalls. The entrance of Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park is located off the main road, a much less crowded option! The road towards the entrance is unpaved, and you need to follow it for about 15 minutes. About halfway, you’ll find signs pointing towards the entrance. If you drive slowly, this is doable with any kind of car. This is the location.
You have a few options from the main parking to get to the waterfalls. Hiking, by truck, or a combination of both. We preferred hiking down (since it’s all downhill) and getting the 10-minute truck ride back up because it’s really steep. In total, it’s about 35 minutes down to the waterfalls and 50 minutes back up to the entrance. There is no schedule for the truck; they just drive up and down whenever it’s needed.
It’s good to know that the truck does not go to the foot of the waterfall, only until the ranger point. From the ranger point, it’s still about 10 minutes hiking through the wonderful, lush green jungle, but this is doable (even with kids).
Nauyaca Waterfalls Entrance Fee & Opening Hours
The park is open daily from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. The entrance fee is 20 USD for kids and 30 USD for adults. It includes the truck ride, parking, bathrooms, and changing rooms. Save on money by only taking the truck back to the park entrance.
How to Get to the Nauyaca Waterfalls?
No matter what entrance you choose, getting to the waterfalls is pretty much the same by following road 243 from Dominical to San Isidro. Nauyaca Waterfalls are most easily reached from Uvita (~ 45 minutes) or Manuel Antonio (~ 60 minutes). You can drive to Don Lulo’s entrance without any problems because of the paved roads. However, if you visit Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park, you will drive on an unpaved road for about 15 minutes. Luckily you do not need a 4×4 to visit either entrance.
Nauyaca Waterfalls Tour
If you don’t have your own transport, you can also opt for a tour of the Nauyaca Waterfalls. Most tours include the entrance fee, lunch, drinking water, and transportation from and to your hotel. Prices for a (half) day tour range from 130 USD to 180 USD per person.
Where to stay near Nauyaca Waterfalls
If you’re planning to visit the waterfalls in the early morning, it’s an excellent option to find a hotel close to the entrance to avoid all possible traffic. See all the hotels near the waterfall.
Tips for Visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls
Alright, now are you feeling excited to visit the waterfalls? Here are some final tips for visiting the Nauyaca Waterfalls.
- Avoid the crowds and be there before 10 AM.
- It’s a large space so even if when it gets busier you can move all the way to the back and enjoy the water.
- Take your swimming suit and towel.
- Wear shoes in the water. The rocks in the water are extremely slippery.
- Take plenty of drinking water. There are no shops at the waterfall just pure nature! :)
- Take some snacks for that same reason.
- Use mosquito repellent. Opt for a non-chemical soap so it doesn’t harm nature when you swim in the water.
- Check the weather beforehand. If it rains too much, the waterfall might be closed.