With 157 inches of annual rainfall, Dominical, Costa Rica has no shortage of waterfalls. Costa Rica, as a whole, is practically overrun with cascades, but there are a few that are more worthy of mention than others. Nauyaca Falls is one of them.

Located in the Central/South Pacific coast of Costa Rica, 6 miles from the coastal town of Dominical, and just 45 minutes south of the more popular areas of Manuel Antonio and Quepos, is a 200-foot, two-tiered waterfall that’s straight out of a dream book.

There are a couple of ways to visit this natural wonder: you can hike, take a truck, or ride a horse. Either way, you’ll be paying to visit as the waterfall itself is on private land. The actual trail to the falls is the same for hiking and riding. The round trip is just shy of 5 miles and the hike will take about 1 to 1.5 hours each way.

The falls are divided into two sections, the upper falls and the lower. The upper falls are a nearly 150-meter drop and aren’t accessible for swimming, but they’re worth a visit. The 65-foot lower falls are where people spend most of their time as there’s a 20-foot-deep swimming pool at the bottom and it’s possible to climb the lower section to dive in.

How to get there

Nauyaca Waterfalls are located 6 miles from Playa Dominical towards San Isidro. The falls are on private property owned by a family, Don Lulo. Take Route 243 and just before the town of Platanillo the small office of Don Lulo is on the right. The GPS coordinates are 9.280789, -83.822594.

What to consider

  • Since the falls are on private property there’s an entrance fee of $8/person to hike and $70/person for the horseback tour.
  • The round trip hike is 5 miles; make sure you bring adequate water and food.
  • If you’re going to hike, wear comfortable shoes as the ground is uneven — it’s the jungle after all.
  • During the rainy season, from December to April, the trail can be extremely muddy. But, as is to be expected, the rainy season is the lushest time and the falls will be at their fullest.
  • The trail is easy in most places, but has some steep and rocky sections.
  • The entire experience is good for the whole family.
  • If you have good gripping water shoes (and feel like doing some bouldering) bring them as the rocks, especially at the lower falls, can be slippery.