Tips, Tricks & Helpful Information About the La Fortuna Waterfall Hike

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If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and you enjoy hiking, search no more, a must-go stop for you is La Fortuna Waterfall.

Costa Rica has many beautiful landscapes and special places that provide a fantastic hiking experience, and La Fortuna Waterfall is undoubtedly one of them. Over 100,000 visitors a year can confirm why this unblemished wilderness waterfall cannot be missed. It is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica! Both visitors and locals are drawn to La Fortuna Waterfall to enjoy the view, watch the magnificent flora and fauna that surrounds it, and swim in its pristine waters.

Hiking to this breathtaking waterfall is not complicated, it doesn’t take that long, and you can be assured that the trails are indeed magical. Find below all the useful information you will need to make the la Fortuna waterfall hike, your next adventure when visiting Costa Rica.

General info about La Fortuna Waterfall

Settled into the rich Costa Rican rainforest, La Fortuna Waterfall falls about 230-246 feet. It is fed by the Tenorio River, which travels through the rainforest in the Sierra Arenal until it plunges into the cliff, forming this outstanding waterfall.

La Fortuna Waterfall falls just under 250 feet, making it one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in Costa Rica.

At the foundation of the cascade, there is a spectacular pool of a surreal jade color. The scenery around it includes gigantic rocks and the greenest flora you can think of. This place is so soothing, it invites you to meditate, relax, and contemplate the natural beauty around you for hours while sunbathing in this piece of heaven Costa Rica has to offer.


Where is La Fortuna Waterfall located?

La Fortuna Waterfall is located in the north zone of Costa Rica, in the Alajuela province, about 3,5 miles from La Fortuna town, near the Arenal Volcano National Park. It is right at the base of the Chato Volcano area, within the Tenorio Volcano National Park.

The most recommended way to get there would be by renting a car, which would give you the freedom to move around at your own pace and decide the time you want to go, and for how long you want to stay. The route will depend on where you are, so it is best to rely on Google maps.

Renting a car is the best way to get to La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica.

If you don’t have a rental car, you can always take a taxi from La Fortuna downtown, which is only about 10 mins away. Another option is paying for a guided tour that includes this waterfall, as there are many things you can do around this area in a day.


What are the hours at La Fortuna Waterfall?

La Fortuna Waterfall is open every day from 7 am to 5 pm, 4 pm is the latest time at which people are allowed to enter.


What is the entrance fee?

The Fortuna waterfall entrance fee is $18 for adults, and it is free for kids under 8 years of age. What you pay not only gives you access to the waterfall but also includes a visit to the Orchid Garden located inside.


Is there a place to park?

There is a well-paved parking lot conveniently located right outside the entrance at La Fortuna Waterfall. It has room for around 25 cars and you don’t have to pay anything to park there. You just need to make sure to arrive early to find a spot.


Step-by-step guide

Find below a few pointers we have put together with useful information for your hike in La Fortuna Waterfall.

  • Once you arrive and park your car (if you are driving a rental), head to the admission counter or La Fortuna Waterfall entrance to pay your for tickets and get your bracelet. If you already bought your tickets online to skip the line, you still need to show the confirmation to get your bracelet.
  • Once inside, cross a bridge that will get you to where the changing rooms, restrooms, lockers, and restaurant are. If you are carrying more than you need you can rent a locker for $2 (a $10 deposit is required in case you lose the key).
You can catch a panoramic view of La Fortuna Waterfall, like this one, before hiking the trail at the viewing platform.
  • There is a viewing platform right before starting the hike we recommend you spend a few minutes in as it provides a panoramic view of the rainforest you don’t want to miss.
  • From there you can take a short 5-10 minutes detour to the orchids garden, containing over 2oo native species. This trail will take you to the starting point where you can officially start your way to La Fortuna Waterfall.
The La Fortuna Waterfall Hike is one of the most popular in Costa Rica, so it is very safe and will likely be filled with tourists.
  • The road to the cascade is perfectly safe, it consists of about 530 stairs you need to descend, and it only takes close to 15 minutes to reach La Fortuna waterfall. On the way back those same steps take between 20 and 30 minutes. The hike is neither difficult nor long, but it might be a bit harsh for people with knee problems due to the number of steps and its inclination. Along the way, there are handrails and some benches, in case you need or want to stop to take a break.
  • Once you get to the base you will see La Fortuna Waterfall viewpoint platform from which you can take unforgettable photos. From there if you continue to follow the way downstream you will see a few natural pools considered the best swimming area.
When you arrive at the base of La Fortuna Waterfall, you can pose in front of the cascading falls for a gorgeous photo.

It is not recommended to swim directly at the base of the waterfall as the pressure of the water is very strong. However, adjacent to the base of the fall, where the natural pools are, there is a perfect spot to have a good swim. In fact, you may want to take advantage of the water and dip your toes before facing the 530 steps climb on your way back. Just be aware that the water will be cold.


Is swimming at La Fortuna Waterfall allowed?

You can swim at the base of La Fortuna Waterfall, so bring your swimsuit and prepare to take a refreshing dip after your hike.



  • It is best to get to the falls early in the morning or in the afternoon around 2:30 pm.  It is more enjoyable with fewer people around. The park tends to get crowded between 10 am and 2 pm and even more so during the weekend.
  • We highly recommend you bring the following items: sunblock, a rain jacket, a waterproof backpack, and a waterproof phone case (whether you visit in the dry or rainy season, unexpected showers can surprise you), mosquito repellent, hiking shoes, water shoes, and of course a bathing suit if you want to swim in the cleanest waters ever.
Though the La Fortuna Waterfall Hike isn’t long, it is good to be prepared with hiking essentials, like water, a jacket, a flashlight, and other hiking gear, just in case.
  • Any time of the year is good to visit La Fortuna Waterfall, however, during the dry season (December to April), the river keeps its natural outstanding color. Just keep in mind that even during the dry season there could be a few showers here and there, after all, this place is located inside the rainforest.
  • Make sure to stop by the gift shop before leaving, you might want to get a souvenir.

La Fortuna Waterfall is not only one of the most popular waterfalls in Costa Rica, but a place where you can combine hiking, swimming, bird watching, and experiencing what the rainforest has to offer. Even though the hike to this beautiful waterfall is not long, the landscape and the views of the cascade in the distance are impressive and make it super entertaining, so you can spend a good amount of time simply enjoying this spectacular haven. No one leaves disappointed after hiking the Fortuna Waterfall.

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