Just a two hour ride from the capital city of San José, Catarata Del Toro is a must see destination on your Costa Rican journey. This hidden gem is the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica at 270 feet and is located within an inactive volcano! It amazed us how many fellow travelers in Costa Rica haven’t even heard of this beauty. Then again, it is called “Costa Rica’s Ultimate Secret”.
We visited Del Toro as a day trip from San José. Since we chose not to rent a car, Ignacio from Fauna Luxury Hostel helped us book a ride with a local for $100 round trip. If you do rent a car, be aware of the weather, as the drive on the narrow, windy, mountain roads are prone to mudslides, especially in the rainy season. We highly recommend getting a 4X4, not only for visiting this waterfall but for Costa Rica in general. The roads outside of the larger cities are underdeveloped and it can be easy to get stuck (like we did this same day coming back), or damage your vehicle while driving. We always rent cars through Priceline, as they compare multiple car rental agencies to get you the best deal.
*Note: The park is CLOSED on Sundays!
From San José, if you decide to Uber (for $67), be aware that you will not be able to get a ride back into the city as the waterfall is located in a remote area. Ignacio told us that there is bus option, but it’s a long and complicated process. Basically, you take a bus from Tuan station in San José to Grecia (arrive at 3pm), and from Grecia towards Rio Cuarto. There is only one bus per day that leaves from Grecia at 3pm. You can return by taking a bus the next morning at 6:15am back to Grecia, and then San José.
This option would also mean that you would spend the night at the park or at a nearby hotel. We don’t recommend this as the roads are steep and narrow and have many turns, making it hard for cars coming around the corner to see pedestrians.
The waterfall can also be easily reached from La Fortuna/Arenal, as it is about an hour and a half away. That being said, in the future we plan to Uber to Catarata Del Toro next time and spend a night in the rooms available at the park to check out the surrounding waterfalls (there are a ton in the area!), and then bus from Sarchi to La Fortuna the next day. If you have an extra day in your itinerary we would definitely recommend spending a night here and checking out the Blue Rapids for beautiful turquoise blue waterfalls.
Entrance into the park costs $14, or 8,200 Colones, per person. Apart from the waterfall, the park also includes a hummingbird garden and various trails. They offer rappelling for $50 per person, and although we didn’t do this on our visit it is definitely something we would recommend and we plan on doing next time we are there.
There is also a restaurant within the entrance building. They serve food from 8am to 4pm. Breakfast is available in the mornings, and in the afternoon typical Costa Rican food, cakes, cold drinks, and some great coffee are served. We definitely recommend eating here after your hike (Lunch and a view? Hell yeah!) as it is convenient and there is not much else around. Plus you get to see the hummingbirds fly around you while you eat!
Starting up at the top, the hike down and then back up the 400 stairs takes about an hour. We stopped to enjoy the view and take pictures at every lookout (and there were a lot of them), so we spent about 2 hours on the hike.
We wouldn’t recommend this hike for young children, as there are a lot of stairs, but we did see some families with children 5 and up in the park. Purchase your tickets online to receive 15% off byclicking here.
The site offers great photography opportunities. Sara enjoyed photographing the moss covered rocks that almost made us feel like we were back in Iceland. Patrick was super adventurous and even climbed the rocks over to the waterfall (WARNING!: Prepare to get soaked!).
So there you have it, we hope that you enjoyed this post and get the chance to visit Costa Rica’s Ultimate Secret! Keep scrolling for more pictures. (:
Going to Costa Rica, or have you been before? Let us know in a comment below what your favorite thing about this beautiful diverse country was, or if you need any recommendations! (:
– Sara + Pat
If you’d like to purchase a guide to Costa Rica, we recommend Lonely Planet’s guidebook. You can find it on Amazonhere.