Nauyaca Waterfalls Guide

Costa Rica is famous for its waterfalls. And for travelers visiting the South Pacific Coast, the Nauyaca Waterfalls are one of the main attractions. The trailhead to the falls is just 20 minutes from Dominical, one of the bigger towns on the southern coast. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Manuel Antonio.

Nauyaca Waterfalls consists of two falls that combine to an impressive 200 feet high. The pool at the bottom of the first waterfall is too rocky for swimming, but the second waterfall below is about six feet deep – perfect for a refreshing swim!

How To Get There

The falls can be accessed either on a hiking or horseback riding excursion on the private property of Don Lulo. You must purchase tickets within their small shop on the side of Route 243.

Hiking to Nauyaca Waterfalls:

Nauyaca Waterfalls via @jcarvaja17

Nauyaca Waterfalls aerial via @jcarvaja17

The trail to Nauyaca Waterfalls is 6 km or 3.7-mile (1 – 1 ½ hours) one-way (so 12 km total in and out) hike. The level of difficulty is classified as intermediate so you’ll want to be in decent physical shape. It can get a bit muddy – particularly in the rainy season. Bring hiking shoes with traction.

The hiking trail and horseback riding trail are the same. The trailhead begins in the parking lot. You’ll begin along the scenic Baru River.

There’s plenty of wildlife in the South Pacific region. Be on the lookout for sloths, monkeys, and toucans, hummingbirds, and other tropical bird species.

Hikers should bring their own drinks and snacks as they are only provided with guided tours. Sun protection and comfortable hiking shoes are highly recommended.

Horseback Riding to Nauyaca Waterfalls:

Nauyaca Waterfall via@tropical.addicts

Nauyaca lower falls via @twofromiceland

The alternative to hiking to the falls is horseback riding. The horseback riding excursion is able a half-hour into the falls – starting from the Don Lulo shop.

The guided horseback tour starts at 8:00 am, ends at 1:30 pm, and includes lunch. Long pants and closed-toed shoes are highly recommended. The horseback tour is closed on Sundays. Reservations for horseback riding do need to be made in advance, and our Costa Rica Experts can help handle the details for you! *There’s a 220 lb weight limit for horseback riding.

Nauyaca Waterfalls FAQ:

There's an $10/adult entrance fee to hike to the falls.
7 am - 2:30 pm; Sundays from 8:00 am - 2:30 pm
There is $3 parking available at the falls - where the horseback tour starts.
If you are hiking, bring closed-toe hiking shoes with traction. If you are horseback riding, we recommend long pants. Additionally, we recommend a hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, change of clothes (fast-drying preferable), swimsuit, towel, and snacks/water as needed.
The dry season is probably best as the trail is less muddy. Also, if you can get there early, there will be fewer people on the trail!
You can swim in the lower falls, but swimming in the upper falls is not permitted.
Here are some of our expert-approved accommodations in the South Pacific region.

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

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