Nauyaca Waterfall, Costa Rica

Costa Rica


Situated off the Pacific Coast, inland from the beach town of Dominical, is the impressive and tranquil, Nauyaca Falls. Split into two main cascades, the Upper Falls are for looking at the breach of the falls, no swimming here, as there is a big drop into Lower Falls. The Lower Falls (pictures above), cascade down into a serene and inviting natural swimming hole.

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The actual falls are located a few kilometers from the parking lot (which is located about a kilometer down a steep hill off of the main road from Dominical to Isidro). After reserving online, you pay at the office located on Road 243 (Road from Dominical to Isidro). The roads are winding and it's easy to miss the office. It's was still undergoing some finishing touches as a new building when I visited in February, 2019.

Once you pay and get your bracelet at the office, you drive a few hundred meters down the road and turn off down a steep narrow road that gets you to the parking lot and where they keep the horses. There is a small bathroom/changing room at the parking lot (There's also a bathroom/changing room/shower a hundred meters or so from the actual waterfalls too).

At the parking lot, there are a few options to get to the waterfalls. Via horseback, via your two feet, or in the back of a fitted 4x4 pickup. Visit, for the most up to date tour offerings.

As of February, 2019, they were offering;

Econonic 4x4; Just a ride to and from the waterfalls in the 4x4 pickup truck. This is what we chose, and it was great.

Premium 4x4: The ride plus breakfast, light lunch, and a guide.  8:00AM-1:30PM

Horseback: Guided horseback tour with light breakfast and lunch. 8:00AM-1:30PM

Suggestion: Get there as early as you can. We got to the office a little before 7AM. The later in the day, it only gets hotter and more crowded.

Getting to the falls from the parking lot

Wheels, hooves, or feet.

We opted for the economic 4x4 and it was a good choice. Michael was our driver and he was great. The ride was bumpy and you were holding the side rails most of the time. The scenery on the drive was incredible. It was nice to be able to look around and not just stare at your feet, trying to avoids the ruts. Having been at the beach for the past few days, it was rejuvenating to see the lush rolling hills and exposed jungle mountains on our way to the massive waterfall. Having been one of the first 4x4 trips on the day, we got to the falls and were able to explore and enjoy them for a few hours before anyone else showed up.

The Falls

Upper Falls: Explore the base of the initial drop of the falls. No swimming up here, but the drop is larger than the lower falls. I was there in February and the water was low. It exposed some slippery rocks that I climbed around on for a bit. I was excited to swim and we hiked the trail to the lower falls.

Lower Falls: One of the nicest backcountry natural swimming holes. You can swim out to the rocks at the base of the falls. The water was so refreshing in the hot Costa Rican air. We heard Howler monkeys in the trees above the lower falls, but never got eyes on them (common with Howler monkeys)

The return journey was just as adventurous as the ride up in the 4x4 pickup truck. At that point it was midday and we saw a lot of people hiking to the falls in the hot, Costa Rican sun (Costa Rica is at ~9* N latitude).


  • Get there early
  • Make sure you understand the distance from the parking lot to the waterfalls
  • Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and anything else you'd need for a hot day
  • If you're going to hike. Be prepared for a long day to and from the falls. There are some paths of the hiking path that are exposed to the sun for long periods of time; consider a hat.
The swimming hole illuminated in the sun.
The swimming hole illuminated in the sun.

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