Rio Celeste Waterfall Hike

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Costa Rica boasts diverse landscapes that offer countless hiking opportunities for adventure lovers. The Tenorio Volcano National Park, in particular, features a captivating hiking trail that leads to the exquisite Rio Celeste waterfall.

This stunning waterfall, fed by two rivers, mesmerizes visitors with its bright blue water that stands out against the lush green jungle. However, hikers must cover 5 miles of steep terrain, including multiple river crossings, to reach this elusive view. Nevertheless, the reward is ten times worth the effort, giving adventurers a chance to witness one of Costa Rica’s most exceptional waterfalls. Proper gear and preparations, including knowledge of essential hiking equipment, weather conditions, and fitness levels, are vital for a successful exploration of the Rio Celeste trail and its captivating wildlife. The Rio Celeste Waterfall hike in Costa Rica is a must-see for every adventure enthusiast.

Starting the journey to Rio Celeste Waterfall (Catarata Rio Celeste)

a man hiking in the jungles of Costa Rica with a hat on his head and a blue backpack on his back
You can either rent a car or book a guided tour to get to Rio Celeste.

Rio Celeste Waterfall is nestled within the Tenorio Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. It takes around one and a half hours to get there from La Fortuna or Liberia, and three and a half hours from San Jose. This national park is better known for the unique Rio Celeste waterfall than for the volcano of the same name, which can give you an idea of how incredible it is.


Transportation Options

To get to Rio Celeste, you have a couple of choices. You can either rent a car, or you can opt for a guided tour. It is highly recommended to choose the latter since the guides know all the best spots for that perfect Instagram shot.


Tenorio Volcano National Park Hours

Tenorio Volcano National Park is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the last admittance is at 2 p.m. to ensure entry and avoid the crowds during peak season (December to April), make sure to arrive before 9 am, as the park only allows 500 guests at a time.


Entrance Fees to Rio Celeste

All visitors to the national park must acquire their park tickets in advance via the SINAC website here. Adults’ entrance fee is $12 USD, and children’s (ages 2-12) is $5 USD, plus tax. Credit/debit cards (Visa/Mastercard) are accepted.


Is Rio Celeste a Difficult Hike?

High angle view of Rio Celeste Waterfall in forest. A blue waterfall in Tenorio National Park.
The terrain to Rio Celeste Waterfall can be rocky and slippery, but anyone can make it with determination and the right attitude.

If you want to visit Río Celeste, you should know that it’s no walk in the park. The terrain can be a little challenging at times, with a mix of rocky paths, steep slopes, and slippery trails that might just turn your innocent hike into a slip-n-slide adventure that tests your agility.

But for everyone, regardless of the level of experience, the best advice is to always carry a little determination and the right attitude. Just remember to take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and don’t forget to catch your breath from time to time. Don’t let the difficulty scare you off! The stunning views ahead will make it all totally worth it. Rio Celeste Waterfall is a hidden gem, and if you’re up for an adventure, you won’t be disappointed.  



The average time it takes to visit Rio Celeste is a solid 2-3 hours. The territory takes a 6 km walk in total (3.7 miles). If you’re an explorer at heart (or just really slow), you might want to factor in some additional time for exploring. The trail offers plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the flora and fauna and take countless selfies.

Useful Tips to Keep in Mind Before, During, and After the Rio Celeste Waterfall Hike

a man hiking in Costa Rica with a beautiful view of trees in the background
Don’t forget your passport, hiking boots, sunblock, snacks, and camera on your hike to Rio Celeste.

To ensure a successful hike, here are a few tips.

  • The dry season, (December to April) is the ideal time of the year to visit, but, it is also the peak season, so expect to see crowds.
  • Just beyond the park entrance, there are a number of resident-run parking lots. A car’s parking costs 2000 CRC.
  • There are no public transportation stops at the park entrance, therefore renting a car, or booking a tour is highly recommended.
  • The national park is devoid of amenities. The park ticket office located outside has the only restroom, so make sure you use it before starting your hike.
  • Pets and strollers are not permitted within the national park.
  • Passports must be shown by visitors; a phone photo of the passport ID page may be used instead.
  • Pack essential items like proper hiking boots/shoes (ankle-supporting, blister-preventing with good grip shoes, flip-flops won’t cut it here), rain gear, sunblock, mosquito repellant, and a full reusable water bottle as single-use plastics are prohibited in the national park.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks to fuel your adventure. Pack some lightweight, energy-boosting snacks like granola bars, and trail mix. 
  • Don’t forget your trusty camera or cell phone! Snap away at the stunning blue hues of the waterfall and the abundant flora and fauna surrounding it.
  • Keep an eye out for trail markers, they’re like little signposts guiding you to your destination, you do not want to take a wrong turn in the middle of the jungle. Don’t go off exploring in the forbidden areas or trespassing the park limits.
  • Respect the environment. Leave only footprints and take only pictures.
  • Last, but certainly not least, bring a first aid kit. Accidents happen, even in the midst of paradise. Be prepared for minor cuts, blisters, and insect bites. Pack some band-aids, antiseptic wipes, painkillers, and any additional personal medications you might need. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What to Expect in Rio Celeste Hike

two colorful birds sitting on a tree
Rio Celeste Waterfall is home to a vibrant array of flora and fauna, including birds, and monkeys.

First of all, the rumors about this mystical place known as Rio Celeste Waterfall are nothing compared to what you will experience if you make the decision to visit it. It will simply blow your mind!

This place is literally a hidden gem, as it is tucked away in the dense jungles of Costa Rica.

What makes visiting Rio Celeste so special is the mesmerizing blue color of the water; it is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s as if someone took a giant vat of blue paint and dumped it into the river.  

Rio Celeste Waterfall is also home to a vibrant array of flora and fauna. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from a nature documentary. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful birds, cheeky monkeys, and maybe even a sneaky jaguar if you’re lucky.

It is forbidden to swim in Rio Celeste River or the waterfall within Tenorio Volcano National Park. On the other hand, guests are welcome to swim in the blue pool (Laguna Azul), which is located right outside the park. On Google Maps, you can find it as “Rio Celeste Free Pool.”

Rio Celeste is a treasure of nature, and it’s our job to keep it that way. So please, do not leave any trash behind. Be mindful of the plants and animals you encounter. This is their home; treat them with the respect they deserve.

Hiking in Rio Celeste, Costa Rica, is a magical experience, and visiting Rio Celeste Waterfall will undoubtedly dazzle you with its unparalleled beauty and surrounding natural richness that feels otherworldly. Bring all the recommended items, and the best attitude, and prepare to explore a place you will never forget. 

Experience Costa Rica with Special Places of Costa Rica

At Special Places, we have put together a couple of amazing tours that will allow you to enjoy this unique place in Costa Rica. Click here to get all the related information to book your space, and contact us here if you are interested in exploring more of what this amazing country has to offer. And don’t forget to book your stay with us at one of our beautiful rentals

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