Escape the Summer Heat at Guanacaste’s Hidden Waterfalls

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Summer’s here to stay for a few months in Guanacaste. The temperature rises every day, the air feels heavy and water becomes a treasure. It’s the perfect time to get out of the house and find a way to cool off. The Voice of Guanacaste recommends a visit to the following waterfalls, which continue to abundantly flow thanks to last year’s rainy season.


El Salto de Belen, Nicoya

El Salto de Belén is a little hidden, about 20 minutes from Playa Sámara. While it’s possible to reach it in a smaller car, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. To get there, turn at the entrance to La Cascada bar in Belén de Nicoya (a right turn if coming from Nicoya) and follow the unpaved road about 2 kilometers until you reach an empty lot next to a metal gate. Leave your vehicle there and walk about five minutes to the pools of water. While you’re hiking down, you can hear the sound of water intensifying until the river comes into view.


Depending on the season, the waterfall is strong, forming deep, clean pools for swimming. Large rocks between the pools are great for walking or relaxing on. No businesses are close by, so take what you need to stay hydrated and fed, and bring comfortable shoes for walking on the rocks.


*More information: Entry is free.


La Piedra del Indio, Tilarán

To reach this waterfall, drive 14 km in the direction of Monteverde until you reach San Miguel de Tilarán, in the district of Quebrada Grande. Leave your vehicle at Bar San Miguel and walk about 30 minutes. Just before reaching the waterfall, there is a big rock with pre-Columbian figures for which the waterfall is named, according to property owner Alejandro Rodríguez. You can also reach the rock in a four-wheel-drive or all-terrain vehicle.


The waterfall is like a toboggan in the middle of a dry forest with tall trees. Following the path, you can walk along the water until you reach the falls, or follow it up to where a small pool is located for swimming. From there you can see water falling some 90 meters.


*More information: 8622-5374 (make a reservation before arriving).


Cataratas de Carmona, Nandayure

These three waterfalls are not well known. You can reach the first by car on the road to San Rafael de Carmona from the center of Nandayura, and then by crossing the pedestrian bridge. From there it’s about a 30-minute walk.


The first waterfall has a strong current. The second can be reached after a 10-minute walk on a steep trail along the water. That will take you to a second waterfall and pool.


If you want more adventure, continue scaling up a steep, rocky path to reach the third waterfall, the highest of the three at 70 meters. You can swim there because the water comes from the mountain and is very pure.


*More information: Entry is free.


Las Chorreras y La Oropéndola, Hacienda Guachipelín, Liberia


You can reach Las Chorreras and La Oropéndola from the hotel at Hacienda Guachipelín in Liberia. The first is located 2 km from the hotel, about a 20-minute walk. Large rocks surrounding the waterfall provide visitors privacy. During the green season, there are actually two waterfalls, but in the summertime there is only one.


La Oropéndola is located in the direction of Las Pailas sector at Rincón de La Vieja National Park. Swimming is not permitted, but taking photographs is. The waterfall is 25 meters high and has an emerald green pool. You can reach it on horseback, by car or by walking.


*More information:


-Entry $5 (free for hotel guests)

-One-hour horseback ride: $27 adults and $22 kids

Telephone: 2690-2900  

Hours: 6 a.m.-6 p.m.


La Estacional, Parque Nacional Rincón de la vieja, Liberia

Estacional waterfall is located on the circular trail at Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Of the park’s waterfalls, this one has the shortest walk (3 km) and is easily accessible via a paved path. You can see bubbling mud pots, hot springs and fumaroles. The pool is a sky-blue color, but swimming is not permitted.

*More information:


-Nationals: ¢1,000 adults, ¢600 kids 6-12.

-Foreigners: $15 and $5 kids

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (closed Mondays).