Ultimate Rio Celeste Waterfall Guide

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Guide for Visiting Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica

Rio Celeste has become one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica, and I totally get why. For one, this waterfall is all over social media as a stunning Gatorade blue waterfall.  Secondly, it is really easy to visit Rio Celeste from popular areas like La Fortuna (Arenal), Monteverde, and the Guanacaste Province (near the beach). So, in this Rio Celeste Waterfall guide, I am covering everything you need to know for visiting, plus travel tips! 

Rio Celeste Waterfall
Rio Celeste Waterfall

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Is Rio Celeste Worth Visiting

Sometimes the places we see highlighted online don’t live up to the hype. Rio Celeste is absolutely worth the visit unless there is a rare chance the water is more of a brown color due to very heavy rainfall. This is more likely during the rainy season.

Even if this were the case, the hike is still really nice, and we saw a decent amount of wildlife on the trail.

I have never seen a waterfall this blue in my life, and this powerful waterfall is about 98ft high. The reason behind this vibrant light blue color is due to a mixture of chemicals in the water.

In Costa Rica, they have a saying that the reason the water in Rio Celeste is such a beautiful blue color, is because God dipped his paintbrush in the water after painting the sky. 

Rio Celeste Waterfall with woman standing at view point

How to Get to Rio Celeste Waterfall

What many don’t realize is that Rio Celeste is located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park, so you are essentially going to the National Park. From La Fortuna, Rio Celeste is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away. If you are coming from Libera by the beach, it will be around 2 hours.

We put Rio Celeste into Waze, and it brought us nowhere close to Rio Celeste! We were driving down residential dirt and gravel roads in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, we found a local to ask in very broken Spanish and found it about 30 minutes later. So I put an address below that should bring you to the parking area. 

 It is in the same vicinity as Cami’s Shop Souvenirs Rio Celeste, Río Celeste Springs Blue Lodge, and Parqueo del Parque Nacional Tenorio on Google Maps. The hiking trail road is Misterios del Tenorio, Provincia de Alajuela, Guatuso, Costa Rica.

All of this information should get you to the right spot! Additionally, you can use these address coordinates 10°42’57.7″N 84°59’13.6″W. 

If you rather not drive, or didn’t get a rental car, you can check out this highly-rated Rio Celeste tour.

Rio Celeste Sign

Arriving at Tenorio National Park Entrance for Rio Celeste

Once you arrive, you will find several parking lots. Make sure to drive all the way to the park entrance. You will sometimes see people waving you into their parking lots even though you are not near the entrance yet.

We parked right across the street from the entrance point. The attendants will ask you for about $4 USD to park in the lot. You will need to have some cash or Colones with you.

When you first walk up, you will find a security checkpoint to make sure you are not bringing anything harmful into the park along with drones. There are no drones allowed.

After, you will proceed to the ticket building. The tickets cost about $13.50 USD (It might be slightly more or less depending on the exchange rate). Use a credit card for this; Visa or Mastercard.

Fruit stand at Rio Celeste
Fruit stand at Rio Celeste
Parking Lot for Rio Celeste
This is where we parked

Hiking to Rio Celeste

After getting your ticket, you will make your way to the forest opening. The hike to the Rio Celeste waterfall is about 2 miles out and back. The hike is easy to moderate. It is point 1 on the map called Catarata. 

This trail is usually pretty muddy, so good shoes are recommended. I was really happy to have worn my hiking boots here. There are also areas of the trail that are rocky, have roots coming out, and part of the trail has an incline. There are also areas of pavement too.

While enjoying the trail, make sure to keep your eyes open for wildlife. During our hike, we spotted a giant brown tarantula, a green vine snake, and a rare toucan. These rare toucans can usually be seen around the entrance to the Rio Celeste, according to a guide we spoke to. 

Once you reach Rio Celeste, you will see the epic staircase looking down. There are about 200+ stairs down to the waterfall, which you can argue was the hardest part. Despite what you may have seen in photos, there is no swimming allowed in Costa Rica National Parks.

If you consider hiking past Rio Celeste, the total hike is around 3 miles out and back. The additional stops include the Mirador Overlook, Laguna Azul Lagoon, Borbollones (hotbeds), and Teñideros. At Tenideros, you can actually see where the two rivers meet, and you can see the split between the light blue river and the clear water.

Hiking Map for Rio Celeste
Costa Rica Rainforest Jungle
Rare Tucan grabbing a berry
Brown Spider at Rio Celeste Hike

The Best Time to Visit Rio Celeste

Now that you know how to get to Rio Celeste, let’s discuss choosing an optimal time. During the dry season, known as the busy season, you will want to get to the park when they open to avoid crowds. The park opens at 8 AM, and the last entry is at 2 PM. You can stay in the park until 4 PM.

The rainy season will not be much different. Again, you should get here right when they open, because it tends to rain in the afternoon. Therefore, your best bet to avoid the rain is to get here bright and early.

Hiking Rio Celeste Trail

Travel Tips for Visiting Rio Celeste

In this section, I am going to share some travel tips and packing items to bring with you to hike Rio Celeste. 

First, I’d highly recommend hiking boots and not sandals. If your hiking boots are waterproof, that’s even better. We watched so many people get their feet soaking wet in their sneakers.

If you happen to be traveling with a pet, it is important to know that there are no pets allowed. Also, to reiterate one more time, there is no swimming inside the National Park. Oh, and don’t feed any animals, and look before you place your hands somewhere or sit. The animals blend in so well, and I know you don’t want to grab a venomous snake accidentally.

Some things you should pack include: 

  • Bug Spray – there are a lot of bugs. Bring this from home, it’s super expensive in Costa Rica.
  • Sunscreen – Sunscreen is also very expensive in Costa Rica.
  • Proper hiking clothes – Wearing longer clothing will help prevent bug bites.
  • A reusable water bottle. Some parks do not allow single-use plastic to enter.
  • Rain jacket – you never know!
  • Waterproof bag or backpack to hold valuables if it rains. We have our camera bag that has a water shield. A waterproof bag can also come in handy if you are planning to visit the beach.
Rio Celste Waterfall with woman looking out to it

Rio Celeste Waterfall Costa Rica Wrap-up

This covers everything you need to know about visiting this epic waterfall. I hope you have the best time visiting Costa Rica. If you have any additional questions or feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments below, on IG, or by email.

Hours: 8 AM – 4 PM. Keep in mind 2 PM is the last entry.

Cost: ~ $12 Per person

Other Costa Rica Guides to Check out: Travel Tips to Know Before Visiting Costa Rica | Best Things to do in La Fortuna | Where to Stay in La Fortuna

Did you find this Rio Celeste Waterfall Guide helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Rio Celeste Waterfall guide

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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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