Costa Rica is known for its many beautiful waterfalls, so I made sure we visited as many as we could during our recent family vacation. Nauyaca Waterfall came highly recommended by my fellow travelers on the internet, and it definitely did not disappoint.
We had a pretty late start on the day of our visit because we arrived past midnight the night before. If you could, I would definitely recommend heading out as early as you can since the weather can be quite unforgiving. We hired a van driver for the day, and it took us about an hour to get to the entrance of the waterfall trail. The roads on the way were all very well maintained, so I wouldn’t be too worried even if I were driving.
At the entrance of the waterfall trail, there is small building which contains the ticketing office where you pay to enter the trail. Here you have the option to hike on your own with a small entrance fee of $10 per person or pay $35 per person for a driver to take you up to the falls with a 4X4. There are also more comprehensive tour options that included horseback rides and meals. They accept either cash or credit cards. More details can be found on their website.
The hike to the waterfall is 6km each way if you start from the ticket office, and 4km if you start from the parking lot 2km in. The trail is very steep and without much shading, so with considerations of elder members of our group in mind, we opted for the 4X4, and we were all glad that we did.
Once we paid, a driver took us to a small truck with exposed seating in the back. The seats were quite comfortable but there were no seatbelts for the very bumpy ride. As we head towards the waterfall on the steep and muddy trail and in the scorching sun, we were grateful for the option to skip the hike. The driver seemed very experienced as he navigated through puddles and rocks on the trail. The whole ride took about 25 minutes.
On our way, we also saw a group of horseback riders. You can only book this option as part of an $85 tour.
The truck dropped us off at the top of a short hike to the falls where there are a few changing rooms and restrooms available. You will get up to 2 hours to spend at the falls before the truck comes back for the return trip.
The hike to the falls was short but steep and could be challenging for older folks or people with mobility issues. The trail splits about one minute in to trails that lead to the upper or lower falls. We decided to visit the upper falls first.
The upper falls area was quite rocky and didn’t offer a lot of swimming opportunities. The waterfall was stunning to look at though and made for some very nice family photos! We rock scrambled a bit to get closer to the beautiful waterfall and took a ton of pictures before heading to the lower falls.
From the upper falls, we climbed back up to the intersection and made the short but very steep decent into the lower falls. The lower falls carried more water that ran down into a very nice swimming hole. As soon as I saw it, I could not wait a single minute before jumping in!
This was my first time swimming in a waterfall, and it was an experience like no other. The water was fresh, and the slight current made for some fun challenges. The water was also so clear that you could see some fish swimming near the rocks. The were many hidden rocks under the water, so watershoes are highly recommended. The current gets strong close to the base of the waterfall, but once we made it there, we were rewarded with a natural SPA treatment like no other.
I was very sad when the time came to leave this beautiful waterfall. It was a pricey place to visit for sure, but the experience was definitely worth every penny. Costa Ricans are fantastic when it comes to maintaining and protecting their natural scenery, so while almost every trail we went to cost some money, the experience we got in return was priceless.