La Fortuna: Touring one of Costa Rica's most beautiful waterfalls
Waterfalls are hiding behind every corner in Costa Rica. You can spot them on hikes, nestled among the mountains and even while driving on the highway. The abundance of waterfalls in Costa Rica add to the country's alluring beauty and magical landscapes.
During our latest weekend trip to Arenal, we made sure to add one of Costa Rica's most infamous waterfalls to our itinerary: La Fortuna Waterfall.
Known to the locals as "Catarata Fortuna", this impressive display of nature's sheer power is nestled below the Arenal and was a highlight of our trip.
How to get to the La Fortuna Waterfall
Located in the Alajuela Province in central Costa Rica, the waterfall is only a quick, 10 minute drive from the town of La Fortuna. When leaving the town on Route 702, you will take a right on Diagnol 31 once you pass the bridge. From this road its a straight shot. It isn't paved but its well maintained and a 4x4 isn't necessary. There are signs posted on the road for "Catarata Fortuna" so it is hard to take the wrong turn or get lost.
The entrance fee for La Fortuna is $15 for adults and $5 for children and the money is put back into conservation efforts. La Fortuna's hours are from 7:00 am to 5:00pm.
The hike to the waterfall
Getting to the waterfall is all part of the appeal. Hidden amongst the dense forest, La Fortuna is waiting for you 480 steps below. The entire hike is paved with hand rails, and is in great condition. Just know, the only way out is the same steps back up. Its a steep and strenuous hike and I'd be lying if I said wasn't dying halfway through.
If you are traveling with a toddler, we suggest using a baby carrier and ditching the stroller. We use the Crosslinks child carrier and its been great for all of our travels in Costa Rica. It's lightweight and Milena feels secure and comfortable. We forgot it on our trip to La Fortuna and we definitely regretted it.
As you begin the trek down into the trees, you will begin to hear the roar of the water as it plummets 70 feet below. Its an impressive sound and as we started seeing La Fortuna waterfall peaking through the trees, we quickened our pace eager to see it up close.
Standing before La Fortuna is humbling. Its massive size makes you feel so small and you can feel the strength of the water as it falls into the blue pool below. We took a few minutes and just watched the waterfall and took in the landscape. The vegetation surrounding the waterfall is a bright green and it doesn't even seem real. It creates a stark contrast between the clear water.
Located at the base of the Chato Volcano, La Fortuna is fed by the Arenal River. The water is pristine and as you can imagine, very very cold! You can swim in the pool but know you cannot get too close to the actual waterfall for safety reasons. Also, they do have a lifeguard on duty and the rocks are extremely slippery. Bring good water shoes to give yourself some grip if you plan on walking around.
We visited La Fortuna at the tail end of the wet season so the pool below the waterfall was pretty high and very rough. Not ideal swimming conditions for a toddler. Luckily, if you walk to the left of the waterfall, there is a path that leads down to another swimming area that is much calmer yet still breathtaking.
Our family went in the afternoon so it was quite busy with tourist groups but the pool is large enough you can find your own private spot to enjoy the water. While the water is freezing, its refreshing and a great way to escape the Costa Rican heat.
After you walk the 480 steps back to the top, for one feel victorious because thats one heck of a workout, and then quickly find the restaurant next to the souvenir shop to order an ice cold batido, or even an Imperial. Its a great way to end your tour of La Fortuna. Before you exit there is a butterfly garden that has a variety of flowers and you can catch glimpses of butterflies in the garden. Its peaceful and shows another side Costa Rica's beauty.
Arrive early. Many tour groups arrive in the afternoon so it can get busy.
Make sure you have good walking shoes for the trek down to the waterfall
Bring towels so you can drive off because it is chilly
The only restrooms are at the top near the entrance.
There are showers at the top by the souvenir shop so you can change into, and out of your swimsuit.
If you would like a guided tour they are available and can be combined with our sights in the Arenal area.
Sitting among the trees with La Fortuna roaring in the background gave me a feeling of pure love for my new home. Costa Rica has hidden gems throughout its borders and we've only scratched the surface! As we get accustomed to our new home, I am excited to explore more of the beautiful landscapes of Costa Rica.