TRAVEL GUIDE – Visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls
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Chasing waterfalls has to be one of the most popular pastimes for tourists in Costa Rica, and some of the best Costa Rica waterfalls are hidden. This guide will tell you the best way to visit Nauyaca Waterfalls- whether you want to go on foot, in a car, or on horseback.
Location Of Nauyaca Waterfalls
The Nauyaca waterfalls are located in the rainforest just north of Dominical Beach and the town of Uvita, making them the perfect half-day trip from either location. They are also about an hour south of Manuel Antonio, so it’s an easy day trip from there too. You can do what I did and make a little side trip when driving from Manuel Antonio to Dominical or Uvita.
To arrive you’ll head south on Highway 34 from Quepos. You will come to an intersection just before the river where there is a large sign that says “Nauyaca.” Turn left- this is Route 243. From there you’ll drive 7-8 minutes until you arrive at the tour office you’ve chosen (more on that below).
The best way to get to the tour offices is via rental car- if you are needing a rental car in Costa Rica you get a special discount for Pura Vida Moms readers- you can save 10-20% with our favorite car rental company- Adobe Rental Car.
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Nauyaca Waterfalls Tour Companies
There are two main tour companies that you will use to access the falls. The falls are on private property, so you must use one of the companies to get there. You can’t just hike there on your own.
The “original” company to grant access to the falls is Don Lulo’s. He runs a tour company called Nauyaca Waterfalls Costa Rica, They offer a hike, vehicle transport, and horseback riding to arrive at the falls. You must reserve a time in advance in order to visit with Don Lulo.
The other company is Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park, and they offer a hike or private transport to the falls. I did the tour with this company. They offer a longer hike and vehicle transport to arrive at the falls, and advance reservation is also required.
Arriving At The Falls
You have three options for arriving at the falls- hiking, riding in a vehicle, or horseback riding. Here I’ll compare each one.
Hiking To Nauyaca Waterfalls
After you check in with the tour office you have chosen, you’ll drive down to the parking lot closer to the entrance to the hiking trails. With each company, you will walk between 1.6 and 2.5 miles each way to get to the falls- the shorter walk is with Don Lulo.
I visited in the dry season. The trails were still a bit muddy from some rain in the rainforest the night before, and the shoes to pack should have good traction and you shouldn’t mind getting them muddy. In the rainy season, I can imagine the trails would be very muddy and slippery.
Getting A Ride To Nauyaca Waterfalls
Both tour companies offer a ride to the waterfalls, and this is the option I chose. With Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park we took a truck ride with about 8 other people in the back of the truck on seats with a covered roof. The ride was about 30 minutes through the forest and some private farmland. I chose this option because it was super hot the day I went and I didn’t want to walk for an hour each way.
Horseback Riding To The Falls
Only Don Lulo’s offers a horseback riding tour to the falls, and at the time of writing the cost of the tour was $80 per person with lunch included. You’ll ride for about 45 minutes to get to the falls and then enjoy them for about 2 hours before returning back to the tour office.
There are two sets of falls at Nauyaca- the upper falls and the lower falls. The upper falls are picturesque and you can swim in them. They are a bit rockier and require more skill to get to the water, but once you do, it’s incredibly refreshing.
The lower falls are where you’ll find the picture-perfect blue water seen in so many photos of the falls. On the day we were there, there were people climbing the falls and free diving from the top. It was a sight to see!
Otherwise plan to just relax and enjoy the falls- there are changing rooms, bathrooms and a picnic area. There are no services as far as food, so either purchase a tour that includes lunch or plan to pack your own lunch to enjoy at the falls.
Note- if you are visiting Nauyaca in the rainy season and it is raining a lot, the falls may be closed, so be sure to check in advance before you make the trip up there.
Packing For Nauyaca Waterfalls
When you visit Costa Rica, packing can be the hardest part, which is why I have a comprehensive packing list here. For the falls specifically, you’ll need the following:
- good walking shoes that can get wet (I wore my Chacos- the bottom of the pools are really rocky so I kept my sandals on in the water)
- bathing suit
- snacks or lunch
- mosquito repellent
Nauyaca Waterfalls are a gem of a trip in the area, and I highly recommend you visit them. They are the perfect day trip or side trip from Dominical, Manuel Antonio and Uvita.
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How long is the walk to Nauyaca Waterfalls?
It’s about 1.5 hours or 6 kilometers each way.
How much does Nauyaca cost?
It costs $10 per person to hike, $32 per person to ride in the vehicle, and $80 per person to go on horseback.
How tall are the Nauyaca waterfalls?
There are two falls, in total measuring 61 meters or about 200 feet.
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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