When I first started planning my trip to Costa Rica I searched for inspiration on Instagram, and the first results were all of incredible waterfalls. I knew I just had to fit some waterfall chasing into my Costa Rica itinerary.
Catarata del Toro is the most stunning waterfall we saw in Costa Rica. Located between San Jose and La Fortuna it also perfectly fit in our travel plans, without having to do a massive detour.
If you’re a fan of waterfalls and want to visit an impressive one while in Costa Rica, you should add Catarata del Toro to your list.
In this guide I’ve put together everything you need to know about visiting Catarata del Toro, from how to get there, entrance fees, what to expect and more.
- 1 Do you need travel insurance to visit Catarata del Toro in Costa Rica?
- 2 About Catarata del Toro
- 3 Getting to Catarata del Toro
- 4 Catarata del Toro entrance fees
- 5 Our experience at Catarata del Toro
- 6 What to bring to visit Catarata del Toro
- 7 Best places to stay to visit Catarata del Toro
Do you need travel insurance to visit Catarata del Toro in Costa Rica?
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About Catarata del Toro
Catarata del Toro waterfall is an 82 metre tall waterfall located inside an old volcano crater, in the middle of the rainforest.
It’s part of a privately owned ecological waterfall project, which they named Costa Rica’s Ultimate Secret.
The park is open Monday to Saturday from 7AM to 5PM. There is a restaurant area at the park reception (although it was closed when we arrived).
Getting to Catarata del Toro
The fastest and easiest way to travel around Costa Rica is to rent a car. That way you have flexibility over what time to go and if you want to stop along the road.
Catarata del Toro is 70km away from San Jose, or a 2-hour drive away. Many people visit Catarata del Toro on a day trip from San Jose.
The other main hubs where you can stay before visiting Catarata del Toro are Sarapiqui and La Fortuna. Respectively 54.5km (1.5 hours) and 76.6km (1.5 hours) away from the waterfall.
Just search for “Catarata del Toro” on Google Maps or click this link for the exact location.
The roads in Costa Rica are mostly well paved and easy to drive along, you don’t need a 4×4. You can also get there with a combination of public buses and taxis or with a private shuttle.
You can also do an organised tour from San Jose. This is a good alternative if you don’t want to drive and prefer to have a guide show you around.
Catarata del Toro entrance fees
Entry to Catarata del Toro costs 14 USD for adults or 7 USD for children (4-12 years old) and seniors (65+ years old). It’s a set price that you have to pay regardless of whether you go with a guide or choose to walk in alone.
The Catarata del Toro park offers also a combo entrance ticket of 25 USD that gives you access to both Catarata del Toro waterfall and the Blue Falls of Costa Rica.
This is for a 4-hour tour where you are accompanied by a guide, and spend 2 hours at each waterfall. I highly recommend going for the combo tour because both waterfalls are stunning, but in different ways.
Our experience at Catarata del Toro
We did the combo tour and started off with the Blue Falls. After spending two hours hiking and swimming in the Blue Falls, we hiked back to Catarata del Toro.
As soon as you enter the Catarata del Toro park you only have to walk around 20 metres to reach the first viewpoint.
The is the highest viewpoint that directly overlooks the waterfall, and gives you also a view over the surrounding rainforest.
The initial area around the park entrance is also a botanical garden so if you’re not in a rush you can spend some time exploring the gardens.
The trails are all well paved, with either gravel or concrete, and are easy to walk on for any type of traveller. There are signs marked in blue that point towards the waterfall and signs in green that mark the gardens.
It will take you around 30 minutes to reach the base of the waterfall. There are more viewpoints on the way down so take your time.
My favourite view of the waterfall was actually from the second viewpoint. From here you can’t see as much of the rainforest, but you have a direct front view of Catarata del Toro.
The initial part of the trail is pretty much level, until you reach the staircase to the base. Be ready for 350+ steps! Going down is pretty easy, the way back up is going to be more tough!
As you approach the base of the waterfall there will be a couple more viewing spots with benches where you can sit and enjoy the view over not only Catarata del Toro waterfall, but also the volcanic crater surrounding you.
If the view of Catarata del Toro from above doesn’t leave you in awe, trust me when I saw looking up to it from the base will.
It’s one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have ever seen (and I’ve seen my fair share of waterfalls around the world, like in Iceland and I even went canyoneering in waterfalls in the Philippines).
Being inside the crater and looking up, not only to this huge waterfall but at the surrounding cliffs and rainforest really has a way of making you feel small, in front of the power of nature.
You are not allowed to swim in Catarata del Toro waterfall because the current is too strong and the water too shallow. There’s a railing that marks the border of up to where you can go.
What made both our visits to Catarata del Toro and the Blue Falls especially magical was the fact that we were the only people there. All the advice I had read online suggested visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
However since we were rafting in Sarapiqui in the morning (such a busy life) we only made it to Catarata del Toro around 1PM. By then the tourist crowds had left already and we got to enjoy both waterfalls completely to ourselves.
What to bring to visit Catarata del Toro
The park has a restaurant area but when we visited it was closed. If you want to play it safe you can bring some snacks or sandwiches with you. There is a drinkable water tap where you can refill your water bottle.
Best places to stay to visit Catarata del Toro
I wouldn’t recommend staying close to Catarata del Toro waterfall, as there isn’t much in the area. It’s more likely that you will be coming from one of the bigger cities like San Jose or La Fortuna.
We were arriving from Sarapiqui and then went to La Fortuna after visiting Catarata del Toro. Here are the places we stayed at that I can recommend:
In San Jose
In San Jose we stayed at Fauna Hostel. It’s not in the city centre but that actually made it better for us, as it was easier to drive around without the city traffic.
It has spacious dorm rooms with big lockers, clean and modern facilities and is located on a slight hill. They also have a great rooftop with views over San Jose.
If you’re looking to stay somewhere where even the accommodation is an experience, you have to stay at Mirador Prendas.
You will need a 4×4 to reach it (and it takes quite a while, 45 minutes to 1 hour on a dirt road) but it’s well worth it.
Mirador Prendas looks like a treehouse in the middle of the rainforest. Here you will find yourself completely immersed in nature.
In La Fortuna
In La Fortuna we stayed at Arenal Hostel Resort. It’s a modern and clean hostel with a cool courtyard with hammocks, as well as a pool with swim up bar.
After a long day chasing waterfalls, it was the perfect place to enjoy a drink and relax!
Final thoughts on visiting Catarata del Toro waterfall in Costa Rica
Catarata del Toro is one of the most incredible waterfalls I have ever seen. When paired to the Blue Falls of Costa Rica, it really makes for an adventurous and very fun day. It was amongst our favourite things we did in Costa Rica.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your visit to Catarata del Toro waterfall. If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more Costa Rica travel tips? Check out these guides!
- Day trip to Isla Tortuga
- Discover the wildlife in Tortuguero National Park
- Surfing in Santa Teresa – the ultimate guide
- Where to do an epic canopy & zipline tour in Costa Rica