La Fortuna Waterfall Hike Guide

One of the most popular waterfalls in Costa Rica and top Arenal regional attractions is La Fortuna Waterfall. In my opinion, the hike down to the base of the waterfall is a must for travelers visiting Arenal.

In fact, La Fortuna Waterfall holds a special place in my heart. I chose to do a “trash the dress” photoshoot there the day after my wedding at The Springs Resort. If this seems like a strange concept to you, I concede that it might be, but it was incredible all the same and made for some cool pictures.

So, while brainstorming how to portray the of the La Fortuna hike, I figured it would be best to just show off some of the photos taken by Toh Gouttenoire of BiDrop Images from that photoshoot. I hope they will give you a sense of the beauty of the La Fortuna hike, and that you will forgive my husband and me parading around in our wedding attire.

La Fortuna Waterfall Hiking Trail

The waterfall is just 3.5 miles outside the town of La Fortuna. Some signs in town will point the way to the entrance and parking lot if you are driving yourself instead of arranging guide services.

La Fortuna Waterfall lookout

The Lookout

Once you pay the entrance fee, you’ll walk across a hanging bridge. Past the bathrooms and gift shop is the lookout point with an incredible view of La Fortuna Waterfall surrounded by lush forest. Take some photos before trekking down to the base of the waterfall!

The stairs down to La Fortuna

The stairs down to La Fortuna

The hike down to the base of La Fortuna is short (about 15 minutes), but the hike back up on your way out is a bit more challenging. This path includes a 500-step paved staircase, which is actually not too bad as there are several places to stop and rest or take photos!

La Fortuna Waterfall rock face Toh-Gouttenoire

Rock face on the hike down to the base of the waterfall

You’ll cross some hanging bridges and an incredible rock face on your right before you reach the waterfall. You can hear the waterfall before you see it!

La Fortuna Waterfall Costa Rica

Okay, we’re not models.

La Fortuna is pretty impressive so take some pictures and explore!

La Fortuna Waterfall swimming Toh-Gouttenoire

Just around the bend from the waterfall is this swimming area. This was taken in early April – the end of the dry season – so the water was lower than usual.

While you can’t swim directly at the base of the waterfall as the water gets turbulent, the water flows downstream to the left and you can swim in the water there!

La Fortuna River Toh-Gouttenoire

And yes, we got in!

La Fortuna hiking shoes Toh-Gouttenoire

Also, don’t forget to wear your hiking shoes! 🙃

Guided Tours of La Fortuna Waterfall:

We nearly always recommended guided tours over hitting the trails solo. You will see more wildlife, learn more about the ecosystem that you otherwise would have, and the day will go much more smoothly. Here are a few guided hiking tours we offer that include the La Fortuna Waterfall hike. Talk to one of our Costa Rica Experts and we can help you include them in your vacation package!

La Fortuna Waterfall Hike

Located within a rainforest and towering over 230 feet high, La Fortuna Waterfall is a must-see attraction. The waterfall shares boundaries with the Arenal-Monteverde protected area and is home to abundant wildlife. A guide will lead you along while pointing out the most important details of the region. You’ll be able to see the beautiful waterfall from the viewpoint or walk about 984 feet down a steep but safe pathway and get up close to it! Swimming is allowed in the river, but not near the base of the waterfall.

  • Includes transfers, guide, and entrance.

Arenal Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Hike

Discover Arenal Hanging Bridges on a hike through a private nature reserve with over 1500 acres of tropical rainforest.  The hike includes eight fixed bridges and six hanging bridges built to provide a secure but exhilarating viewpoint from which to observe the forest canopy.

After the Hanging Bridges, enjoy a delicious lunch before heading to La Fortuna Waterfall. Take in an incredible view of the waterfall surrounded by rainforest from the observation point before walking down to the base of the waterfall about 984 feet on steep paved stairs. At the bottom, take some photos and go from a swim in the refreshing chilly waters. Swimming is allowed in the river, but not near the base of the waterfall.

  • Includes transfers, guides, entrance, and lunch.

Hiking Lovers Tour: Hanging Bridges, La Fortuna Waterfall & Arenal National Park Hike

Experience the top attractions of Arenal! Begin with a hanging bridges hike on a 1.9-mile trail. Discover the forest canopy and regional ecosystem on a trail that crosses nine fixed bridges and six hanging suspension bridges. Next stop, La Fortuna Waterfall. Hike 15 minutes down to the majestic waterfall where you can rest or swim. After the waterfall hike, a delicious lunch awaits at a small farm where you can enjoy lunch with a local family. Take a rest before embarking on the Arenal Volcano hike. As you hike to the cold lava flow, you’ll see a variety of flora and fauna. On top of the lava flow enjoy a beautiful view of Arenal Lake. The hike ends at a picturesque viewpoint overlooking Arenal Volcano.

  • Includes transfers, a guide, entrance, and lunch.

El Silencio Horseback Riding & La Fortuna Waterfall Hike

Discover the Arenal Conservation Area on a one-hour horseback ride along trails through local farmlands. Your guide will lead you up a gradual ascent past bromeliads, ferns, woodlands and pastures. You’ll reach the Silencio Observation Point, where you’ll enjoy fantastic views of Arenal Volcano and the surrounding dry lava trails from previous eruptions.

Next, you’ll visit La Fortuna Waterfall. Set in the middle of the rainforest, La Fortuna Waterfalls is a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy a striking view of the waterfall from the observation point. before descending down the paved stairs to the base of the waterfall. It’s about 984 feet down a steep yet safely paved path. Once you reach the waterfall, rest and take photos. You can swim just downstream from the waterfall in the calmer section of the river. Swimming directly at the base of the waterfall is not allowed.

  • Includes transfers, guide, equipment, entrance, and refreshments.

La Fortuna Waterfall FAQs:

It’s only about a 15-minute trek down to the waterfall from the lookout. You might spend about 45 minutes exploring and swimming in the waterfall. The return trek might take 30-40 minutes up the 500-step staircase.
You cannot swim directly at the base of the waterfall but you can swim further downstream!
$18 per adult, $5 per child
7:30 AM to 4:00 PM every day

For more, check out all of our must-visit Costa Rica waterfalls or browse our vacation packages to get started planning your trip!

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