When you visit Costa Rica, you absolutely have to visit at least one waterfall! The days get so hot here, that nothing feels better than jumping into a refreshingly cool waterfall. These are our favorite ones to frequent in the Dominical/Uvita area.
Nauyaca is the largest and most popular waterfall in the area, so you should try to arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds especially in high season (December-April). It is a 5 km (3.75 mile) hike from the parking lot to the waterfall, but don’t worry - the strenuous hike to the falls makes the jump into the cool, crystal clear water even more enjoyable!
You’ll need to purchase a $8 entry ticket at the office of Don Lulo on the side of Route 243 between Dominical and San Isidro. From there you can either hike to the falls or take a horseback ride, we obviously recommend to hike it. If you do not have a 4x4 car, you will start the hike there. If you do have a 4x4 car, you can drive 1.25 miles to the actual start of the trailhead. The trail is pretty steep in some areas and some of the trail is in direct sunlight, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Once you arrive, there are two falls to see - one is the lower falls with the swimming hole perfect for swimming and relaxing. The other is the upper falls where you can jump into the swimming hole if you are crazy enough or just enjoy the view!
2. Uvita Cascada Verde
The locals call this the “water slide” because the rocks are aligned perfectly to ride down this waterfall like a water slide. If you are coming from Dominical towards Uvita, you will turn left on the street next to Banco de Costa Rica and after a couple hundred meters, turn left to follow signs to Cascada Verde. There is a restaurant located before you reach the trailhead where you pay the 1000 colones admission (about $2 USD).
The trail to the waterfall is about a 10 minute walk through the lush jungle where you may be lucky enough to see sloths, tucans, and monkeys. If you don’t want to make the jump, there are a couple swimming holes perfect for cooling off, enjoying a picnic, or just chilling with friends. If you are there for the thrill, you can climb up the falls to do the water slide! We highly recommend it.
3. Poza Azul
Poza Azul is located just outside of Dominicalito which is south of Dominical. You will take the exit next to the bus stop and drive a couple meters through the village, take a right after the bridge and you will see parking to the left for Poza Azul. There is no admission fee and you will see the entrance to the waterfall on the opposite side of the road as the parking. It is hardly a walk at all to arrive to the waterfall, just a few feet and you are there!
Poza Azul is a smaller waterfall and swimming hole, but also less crowded than the others. There is a rope swing where you can climb up some rocks and swing into the swimming hole. You are also able to climb up this waterfall and walk through the river. Keep in mind, the river is very dry in the summer months so this waterfall is best enjoyed in wet season. We visited this waterfall in October and were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves.
4. El Pavon
El Pavon is located in an area called Punta Mala, south of Costa Ballena. After you pass Ojochal, look for signs on the lefthand side for El Pavon Talapia farm and restaurant, turn here and follow this road for about 4 kilometers until you see a sign for El Pavon cascada. There is no entrance fee needed for this waterfall and you don’t need a 4x4 car.
This waterfall has a large boulder stuck between two mountains at the opening of the falls which makes it very unique. El Pavon has several levels of natural swimming pools and there is a pathway to the top to see the view or if you are brave enough, make the jump. For an added experience, you can have lunch at the Talapia restaurante nearby where you can catch your own fish.