The Spectacular Beauty of the
Nauyaca Waterfalls is a Must See!
Nauyaca Waterfalls is a Must See!
Platanillo has plenty of waterfalls, but probably the most spectacular are the Nauyaca Waterfalls located in the mountains just before Platanillo, located just 8 minutes (8.1 km) from Dominical. With two sets of falls measuring a combined 65 meters. The taller falls at the base are 45 meters and pour into a large natural pool for swimming, the Nauyaca waterfalls are indeed a sight to see.
These lovely waterfalls are also known as the Santo Cristo or Don Lulo waterfalls. Visitors can hike or arrive on horseback to enjoy the beautiful falls surrounded by greenery, and to swim in the large, safe pool.
Costa Rica has plenty of stunning waterfalls but one of the most spectacular are the Nauyaca Waterfalls located in the mountains just west of Platanillo. The two sets of falls measure a combined 61 meters (200 feet) and empty into large natural swimming hole. These falls are beautiful sight to see.
Hours: The falls are open from 7 am until 5 pm from Monday through Saturday. On Sunday they are open from 8 am until 4 pm.
Cost: Admission is $8 per person (4,500 colones). This price only includes admission not parking, horseback or tour.
Parking: There are two places to park. You can park right at the park entrance on the side of the road where you buy your tickets for free. Or for $3 you can buy your park ticket and a parking ticket, best $3 you'll ever spend! It's a bit of a down hill hike to the parking lot, but at the end of your day it is uphill! You will be exhausted from the hike to and from the waterfalls, so it is highly recommended to drive down, if its rainy season you will need a 4x4.
Bathrooms: There is a bathroom at the lower parking lot and at the falls for both men and women.
Food and water: t We suggest to pack in some food and water as it is a hike! There is a small restaurant about halfway to the falls. Be sure to stay hydrated.
What to wear/bring: Ventilated hiking boots or good sneakers are recommended with socks, no flip-flops. Thin shirt, shorts/swimsuit or thin pants are best, as it can get hot on the trail. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen are also recommended. Towel is optional if you are not one to simply drip-dry. A plastic baggy or dry-bag to put your cell phone/cameras in could be a good idea depending on how close you get to the mist of the falls.
Time to hike: The earlier the better as it will be cooler. The hike itself takes about an hour each way, depending on your ability. It's easy to see the top fall first for a shorter amount of time, five to fifteen minutes depending on weather and if you are a photographer. The lower falls has areas to sit and rest, and you can go for a swim. Sometime locals are there jumping of the waterfall rocks and putting on an entertaining show...we do not suggest ding this, not even walking on slippery rocks. So it can easily be a three or four hour venture.
Time to visit: You can visit the Nauyaca waterfalls in Costa Rica at any time throughout the year, but if you want to visit without the chance of rain and without a muddy walk I suggest visiting between end of December and mid-April (dry season). However, this is also peak tourism time and there are a lot more visitors at the falls. As I mentioned before, the park opens at 7 am. If you get here when the park opens you can have the falls almost completely to yourself no matter what time of year.
Getting There: From the lower parking lot its about 2.5 miles. Many people choose to arrive via horseback tour but if you’re up for a little hiking, the falls also can be accessed on foot. Either way, the starting point is the office of Don Lulo, the company that owns the property and offers the horseback tour. To get to Don Lulo’s office, take Route 243 off the Costanera highway towards San Isidro del General. In about 10 kilometers (6 miles) just before the town of Platanillo, the small Don Lulo office will be on the right. If you’re hiking, you’ll need to stop here to buy your ticket to the falls ($8). To get to the trailhead, take the first road on the right after Don Lulo. The road turns to dirt here and is very steep in places so you’ll need four-wheel drive. The trailhead is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the main road and there is a parking area where the horseback tour starts.
The Trail: The horseback tour and hike use the same well-maintained trail, first following beside the beautiful Baru River and then ascending a steep hill. From the trailhead, the hike is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in each direction (about 1-1.5 hrs. each way). The trail is very easy in places, following a rough dirt road, and moderately difficult in others, with a few steep, rocky areas near the falls. It isn’t too difficult or long though and would be fine for children. Just be sure to pack plenty of water as the trail is directly in the sun in many places and temps can get quite hot.
The Waterfalls: The Nauyaca sits in a wide canyon that is covered in lush greenery, made even greener from the constant mist of the cascading water. There are both upper and lower falls with steps leading to both but you’ll definitely want to check out the lower ones first. From below this 18 meter (60 foot) cascade you’ll have the best view of both the impressive waterfall in front of you and the lofty ones above. The lower falls are also where you can take a swim to cool off. There’s a huge pool of blue water with plenty of room for everyone to have their space and relax. If you need to change into a swimsuit, facilities are available right before the steps down to the falls.
The upper falls which have an impressive 43 meter (140 foot) cliff with several more cascades. Here there are some large, smooth rocks that make for a good spot for picnicking. The Nauyaca waterfalls are definitely an impressive natural attraction that shouldn’t be missed. Their close proximity to popular tourist destinations along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast make them an easy-to-access activity for those looking for some off-the-beaten path adventure. For us, sitting in the cool pools after an invigorating hike really is the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. After all, isn’t that what Costa Rica is all about?
Tip: The rocks around the falls can be slippery so bring some good gripping water shoes if you have them.