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Arenal Waterfalls: The Top 3 Most Astonishing Arenal Waterfalls

Where Are the Best Waterfalls in Arenal?

Arenal is a beautiful natural paradise with lush green forests surrounding the Arenal volcano and astonishing waterfalls hidden deep in the woods.

Visiting the Arenal waterfalls is one of the top things to do in the area. However, there are several destinations with waterfalls in Arenal, and travelers often ask me where they can find the best waterfalls. 

So in this post, I will share the top 3 best Arenal waterfalls you should see during your stay at Arenal. First, I’ll name them, then I will go into the details, discussing the pros and cons of each one. Let’s dive right in: 

The Top 3 Most Astonishing Waterfalls in Arenal

  1. La Fortuna Waterfall nearby Arenal
  2. Danta Waterfall at Arenal’s Observatory Lodge
  3. Rio Celeste Waterfall, an hour away from Arenal

The top 3 best waterfalls in Arenal include La Fortuna Waterfall, in La Fortuna town; Danta Waterfall at the Arenal’s Observatory Lodge; and Rio Celeste Waterfall, about an hour away from Arenal. 

1. La Fortuna Waterfall nearby Arenal 

The most astonishing waterfall nearby Arenal is La Fortuna Waterfall, located in La Fortuna town, about 15 minutes away from the Arenal volcano. Thousands of travelers and locals visit this iconic place annually for the best shot to share with friends, family, and social media. 

Others come to La Fortuna Waterfall to enjoy a day out in nature, have a family picnic, or even swim in the natural pool formed at the waterfall’s base. What I like the most about this waterfall is the astonishing view. I enjoy sitting there, letting my mind go, and contemplating the waterfall for a long time. It soothes me. 

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica. I’ve been to most (if not all) main waterfalls in the country, from La Paz in Vara Blanca to Nauyaca in Perez Zeledon and everything in between. And none compare to the 230-foot drop (70 meters) at La Fortuna Waterfall. 

However, the place is very touristy, getting dozens, and sometimes hundreds of tourists per day, especially during the high season, from December through April. Nonetheless, I recommend you visit La Fortuna Waterfall if you’re in Arenal, as this place is one of the highlights in the area.

La Fortuna Waterfall is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm, and the entrance fee is $18 for adults, and it’s FREE for kids ages eight or below. You can also order lunch for $12 per person. 

Due to high demand, La Fortuna Waterfall limits the number of daily tickets, so I recommend you book ahead of time: 


2. Danta Waterfall at Arenal’s Observatory Lodge

Another beautiful waterfall in Arenal is the Danta Waterfall, a 20-foot waterfall with a natural pool where you can swim at Arenal’s Observatory Lodge. However, you can only access this waterfall if you stay at Arenal’s Observatory Lodge

Even though the Danta Waterfall is not as impressive as La Fortuna Waterfall or the next one on the list, Rio Celeste Waterfall, it’s much less touristy and much more tranquil. You will love hiking up the 30-minute trail from the lodge’s reception to reach this peaceful place to contemplate and let go. 

And if you’re up for hiking about 30 minutes more, you can get another waterfall inside the lodge’s property. That one has no official name. In total, Arenal Observatory Lodge has four waterfalls inside the property. However, only Danta and another one are prominent year-round, whereas the others form during the rainy season and, thus, are only visible from May through November. 

However, Arenal’s Observatory Lodge is only for some because its location is far away from most restaurants and shops. And it’s also a 20-min drive to the Arenal Volcano National Park. Hence, you need a car to get around quickly. 

I love the Arenal Observatory Lodge, though. I love that the lodge is in a less touristy, retreated, peaceful location. It has a great restaurant, so I don’t need to drive to eat out. And I prefer to stick to one place when the food is good, and the price is fair. 

Therefore, depending on your preferences, you love staying here. However, I still recommend it for those with a vehicle so that they can get around should they need to. Otherwise, getting around can get expensive. For instance, a taxi from here to La Fortuna town can take up to 40 minutes and cost up to $35 each way. 

Overall, I highly recommend Arenal’s Observatory Lodge, as this hidden gem is a fantastic place to stay if you want to connect with nature intimately. Since this lodge is so exclusive and unique, you must make reservations ahead of time, especially if traveling during the high season, from December through April. Therefore, I recommend you book your room ahead of time:


3. Rio Celeste Waterfall, an hour away from Arenal

Even though the Rio Celeste Waterfall is not precisely in Arenal, I had to mention it in this post, as a significant number of tourists who travel to Arenal visit this waterfall in Tenorio, about an hour from Arenal. 

The Rio Celeste Waterfall is an iconic place in Costa Rica. Many travel agencies, such as Costa Rica Trip, use a photo of this famous waterfall as their main profile image to promote Costa Rica as a tourist destination. 

Though some travelers spend a night nearby Tenorio, a small town nearby the waterfall, most people who visit the Rio Celeste National Park, where the waterfall is, come from Arenal. Instead of sleeping over at Tenorio, most tourists stay at Arenal and make a day trip from Arenal to Rio Celeste. And that’s what I recommend. 

Rather than spending a night at Tenorio, where there is little to do other than visit the Rio Celeste National Park, I recommend you stay at Arenal and visit Rio Celeste on a day trip. You can use this Google Map to get from Arenal to Rio Celeste if you have a car. 

Alternatively, here at Arenal Tours, we offer a Roundtrip Shuttle that leaves Arenal at 7 am if you need a car service to get to Rio Celeste. Our Arenal – Rio Celeste Roundtrip Shuttle arrives at Rio Celeste at around 8:30 am. And then, you have four hours to explore the National Park before the shuttle heads back to Arenal, departing from Rio Celeste at 1:30 pm. 

The shuttle has a limit of 15 people per trip, and it’s usually in high demand, so if you don’t have a car and you want to make the trip to Rio Celeste using the Roundtrip Shuttle, I recommend you book your seats ahead of time:


The Rio Celeste National Park is open daily from 8 am to 2 pm. The entrance fee is $14 per person, and it takes about 1 hour to get from the park’s reception to the waterfall and then another hour to get back to reception. However, you should note that the walk is not even; the undulated trail trends upward, and there are many stairs to reach the waterfall’s base. 

Unlike La Fortuna Waterfall and Danta Waterfall, the Rio Celeste National Park involves a significant hike, and there is potential to see some wildlife if you hire a tour guide. The last time I visited the park, during the COVID19 Pandemic, I went with my partner and one of our tour guides from Arenal Tours, and it was great. We saw three species of snakes, many bird species, and lots of incredible insects on our way to the waterfall. We also learned a lot from our tour guide, who was like a local living encyclopedia. 

At Arenal Tours, we offer a guided tour from 8:30 am to 11:30 am. And, if you’re in Arenal or La Fortuna and don’t have a car, you can add our Roundtrip Shuttle at the time of booking. 

The price is $40 for adults and $30 for kids (the minimum required age is five, as we know from experience that the hike can be overwhelming for younger children). And the tour includes the entrance fee to the park. 

Even though we have several tour guides in our company, this particular tour is one of the most popular activities we offer in Arenal, and we tend to sell out fast. Especially considering that we keep our groups small (max ten people) to deliver a higher quality experience. Therefore, I recommend you book ahead to secure your spot: 



Here’s the end of this article. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share this info with fellow travelers as you deem appropriate. Happy travels and ¡Pura Vida, amigos!

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About the Author

Daniel Lalinde

I am the founder of send us a message, and we will happily assist you! 


From $40

Experience an exciting walk with a local tour guide on your way to the Rio Celeste Waterfall at the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Our local experts will take you on a fantastic 3-hour hike, discovering some local wildlife, learning about flora and fauna, and finding the incredible waterfall.