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A few years ago we moved to Costa Rica with our kids in search of off-the-beaten-path adventures to do that were free or low cost.
At the time, (in 2019) the Rio Celeste waterfall, also known as the blue falls of Costa Rica, was making a huge splash on social media because it’s a gorgeous waterfall that plummets into the cerulean blue water. It’s incredible! The national park had just been declared too, making it easier for tourists to access the views of the falls.
However, we were living in the Central Valley- San Ramon to be exact- and we didn’t want to drive the three hours north it would take to see that specific waterfall. (We did end up making the drive at a later time and fell in love with the area, and with La Carolina Lodge and Casitas Tenorio.)
We found out that on the back side of the Poas Volcano (one of several active volcanos in Costa Rica) there is an area with several waterfalls that plummet into water that is varying shades of blue and green. Many of the waterfalls are on property owned by Costa Ricans, and the cost to hike to the falls is very low.
Getting to Bajos del Toro Waterfall
You’ll definitely need a car in order to get to the town of Bajos del Toro. We drove a Rav 4 without the 4-wheel drive in the dry season and it was fine. In the rainy season, you would want to have a 4-wheel drive because the roads are steep and there are a lot of potholes in the roads.
This is a great day trip from San Jose because it’s only about an hour and 45 minutes from downtown. If you’re staying in Alajuela or in the northern part of San Jose it is quite a bit less. If you have the time, this is a great stop in between the San Jose International Airport and La Fortuna.
The best time of day to visit the falls is the morning as in the afternoon the clouds can roll in or it can start to rain.
To get there from San Jose, you’ll drive to the small artisanal town of Sarchi. I recommend stopping there if you can to see all of the painted ox carts, and on the way back even to drink a quick afternoon coffee or try some traditional Costa Rican food.
Then, take route 708 out of Sarchi and keep going until you find the (teeny tiny) town of Bajos del Toro. If you are navigating your route with your cell phone in Costa Rica, you can find this on Waze or Google maps.
Town of Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica
Bajos del Toro is a proper town in Costa Rica, but it’s one of the tiniest you’ll find. There are a couple of Air BnBs here, the El Silencio Lodge, and a few pulperias and that’s about it.
The local population is working hard to bring more fame to the area, but given its rural location, it is harder to attract tourists. When you come to Bajos del Toro you are helping to support local, rural tourism, and you’ll find some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
The town is spread out along the road, and each waterfall is on its own farmer’s land. There is a small school here, a church and a central plaza. There are also several small and inexpensive Costa Rican sodas with traditional food and beverages.
Bajos del Toro Waterfalls
The nice thing about Bajos del Toro is that you can find several amazing waterfalls right in the area. You’ll need to hike a bit to get to each one, but we did the hikes with a 3 and 5-year-old and they did great. It’s really great hiking in the area- if you grab a guide and want to you can even go all the way up the back side of the Poas Volcano and see the volcanic crater, but that is an all-day event.
Catarata Río Agrio
This is the waterfall we did because apart from having a great price on the admission, they have dinosaurs all over the property that kids can view, and my 3-year-old was dinosaur crazy.
You’ll walk about 800 meters to the river, where you’ll find a gorgeous waterfall. This water is not blue like the Rio Celeste waterfall.
However, the property has a section of turquoise water just across the street where you can hike down about 100 meters and enjoy the amazing color of the volcanic water.
You can swim too, but the water is a bit chilly. This is where we ate a picnic lunch, but the property does offer a small soda/restaurant.
Catarata Tesoro Escondido
Another locally owned set of falls and blue water, we didn’t visit here so I can’t say much other than the hike was more strenuous and so we didn’t opt for it since we were traveling with little kids.
Cataratas del Toro
This is the largest waterfall in the area at 90 meters high. A short walk down to the viewpoint will give you breathtaking views of the falls. A steep hike down will let you see the falls from the bottom.
The property also has the Blue Falls of Costa Rica on the property- you must use one of their guides to get to them.
This property is the most expensive to see the waterfalls, and it is the only one that is not Costa Rican-owned.
Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by