Recently, I got to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, Rio Celeste Waterfall in Rio Celeste, Costa Rica. Okay, okay so I haven’t been to every single waterfall in the world but Rio Celeste is a breath-taking turquoise color that is hard to compete with. When taking into account its relatively large size, beautiful green surrounding scenery, and accessible hike around the surrounding river (also turquoise/azul colored), Rio Celeste Catarata is surely the most beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.
I initially heard about Rio Celeste waterfall while traveling around Costa Rica and doing some of the roughest hikes of my life. After complaining of the soul-crushing effects the hikes had on me to a few Costa Ricans I spoke with, they recommended Rio Celeste, which is part of Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio. They said it was a relatively easy hike and very beautiful. After doing a quick search of Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio and Rio Celeste, which is the name of the river that flows through Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio, I saw the Rio Celeste Catarata, or Waterfall and it looked beautiful.
I visited the Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio from La Fortuna, which involved two separate public buses, which in Costa Rica are, relatively, a joy to take. Yes, a joy and I say this as somebody who’s taken a lot of buses in Asia and some as long as twenty hour journeys. However, in Costa Rica bus rides are shorter because the country isn’t huge. It’s a really smooth process.
The park itself has a lot more to offer than only the waterfall, as the hike itself, like everyone promised was on a paved mostly flat trail, and I would rate it as easy-intermediate, depending on how long you choose to hike. As you hike on the trail through the jungle, you will have plenty of opportunities to see wildlife like this guy in the picture below.
The waterfall is well-labeled and is the first stop on the left-hand side, and there is a steep winding staircase going down, which is more fun on the way down. The first glimpse of Rio Celeste Catarata framed by all the trees and greenery is stunning and just keeps getting better as you get closer and make your way down the steep staircase going down.
Aside from the waterfall, when you get back to the trail, there is a vista point and plenty of chances to see the Rio Celeste, which flows into the waterfall. The color of the water ranges from turquoise to an incredible azul and there are plenty of instagrammable places along the way. The last stop, Los Tendedores, or the Forks, is special because it is the point where you can see the dark river water suddenly transform into the beautiful turquoise color. For which people give some scientific explanations based on minerals in the water, but when seeing the relatively clean line separating the two rivers, it really does seem as mysterious as the stories told by native people in the area.
So if you want to visit the most beautiful waterfall in the world, Rio Celeste Catarata in Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio:
How to get there:
It really depends on where you’re coming from but remember that it’s possible to get to Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio from La Fortuna via bus. However, not from Monteverde. If you are coming from Monteverde via public transport you will have to loop back to La Fortuna, so keep this in mind.
From La Fortuna, take the first bus to Upala (double check the times, as there are a few) and from Upala there is another local bus you can take to the area close to Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio directly from the Upala Bus Station. This bus is headed from Upala-Cañas (this bus will get you fairly close but not exactly to the park (so you will need to take a short cab ride there still.
Where to Stay:
Option 1: Rio Celeste Backpackers: This is a family-owned hostel and bed and breakfast (also has private rooms) that I can personally vouch for. The family is extremely kind and helpful in helping to arrange inexpensive transport to the park and a delicious breakfast. The hotel is also their house but they really make you feel so at home! There are also two restaurants nearby within walking distance. The Upala-Cañas bus will actually get you directly to Rio Celeste Backpackers if you ask for the Cemeterio (cemetery!) stop (I promise it’s not as creepy as it sounds.)
Option 2: If you choose, there is also a hotel that is directly across from the entrance of the park, full disclosure I lost their business card so I don’t remember their name! But it’s there, I promise, and there is a restaurant nearby. So if you choose this option and are taking the bus, you may want to take a cab directly from the Upala Bus Station to the entrance of the park, (although this option is likely more expensive). Hotel and restaurant are directly across the street from the park entrance.
Rio Celeste Backpackers information:
Dirección: Provincia de Alajuela, Bijagua de Upala, Costa RicaVisitaste este lugar la semana pasada
Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio is approximately $12.00. They only accept card (no cash!)
If anybody tried to offer you an expensive guided tour, know this is completely unnecessary as the park has very accessible paved walkways and there is a big map at the entrance.
No plastic bottles allowed in the parks unless they are reusable.