La Fortuna Waterfalls : Arenal (Cataratas La Fortuna)

Waterfalls are always a good time … if not for the swimming and the pictures you can take while at the waterfalls, usually the process is somewhat painless, some stiff walking and you’re there in no time. The La Fortuna Waterfall is no different and offers a nice little adventure and some wonderful scenery. The waterfall is located about 5 1/2 kilometers from the town, hidden in a lush green environment. The fall has a drops about 70-75 meters and is located at the base of the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano.

The 70-meter ribbon of water falls into a great swimming hole, surrounded by lush tropical forest, protected by the local conservation project.

A couple notes about seeing La Fortuna waterfall

  • There is no way down without going down the couple 100 steps. Since there is no way down without the steps, it also means that there is no way up without the steps. The steps are brutal and tiring, it easily takes about 15-20 mins of straight climbing to make your way out and if it you’re going to the falls at the end of the day, then you will have to contend with the dim lighting typical inside a rainforest canopy. If you have asthma, then that uphill climb is absolutely terrible.
  • Go in the early morning, when you have the daytime light to guide you. The later you go to La Fortuna, the higher the probability of sheer panic. If you go to the waterfall after 4pm, then it’s almost not worth your time going down, since you will have very little time to explore.
  • Take some water sandals or water shoes – you will need them.
  • Take a waterproof camera with you –
  • There is a very strong undertow – that actually pulls you towards the plunge pool, so be very careful about swimming close to the waterfall.

A couple video clips of La Fortuna … it is a long way down there, so take all the time you need to shoot pictures and take video – no matter how annoying you might to be to the locals. 

My personal thoughts were that there was a lot of organization and thought put into making the waterfall an attraction – big parking lot, a place to pay your entrance fee, a little shop where you can buy cold drinks. When you get down to the waterfall, you can go swimming to the left away from the force of the falls.

On the way back up we noticed a little vista area that allows you to look down at the falls without hiking all the way down.

How to get there: The La Fortuna Waterfall is located about 6 km from the center of town on an unpaved uphill road. Take a taxi from the center of town and it’ll run about $4 to get there and the same to get back. The entrance fees are $10, which is a bit steep, but you are a tourist and your money does go to keeping the area clean and pristine.  Do not attempt to walk there as you will get lost and it is about three hours walking – completely not worth your time if you are on a time crunch.

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About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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