Visiting the waterfalls of Dominical & Uvita, Costa Rica
Visiting the waterfalls of Dominical: Nauyaca, Eco Chontales, Poza Azul, Catarata Uvita, El Pavon
The area of Dominical and Uvita in Costa Rica – also called Costa Ballena – is a natural paradise. A countless amount of rivers and streams run through mountainous jungle; so a waterfall or natural swimming hole is never far away. Visiting a waterfall is a great activity when enjoying a vacation in Dominical & Uvita. We selected the following four waterfalls for you; Nauyaca Waterfalls, Eco Chontales Waterfall, Poza Azul, Catarata Uvita and Catarata El Pavon.
Nauyaca Waterfalls, Dominical
Let’s start with the biggest and most impressive waterfall of our area, the Nauyaca Waterfalls. Nauyaca consist of several waterfalls, the highest being 45 meters (148 ft). There is plenty of room to swim in the big natural swimming pool of 1.000 m2 (10.800 ft2). Some parts of the pool are 6 m (20ft) deep. Are you one of those dare devils that want to jump from the waterfall? Look for a guide and ask him where to jump from and how to get there. The setting is gorgeous since Nauyaca Waterfalls are being surrounded by dense tropical jungle. Nauyaca Waterfalls can be visited year round, there is always plenty of water, also during dry season.
Nauyaca is not the most easiest waterfall to go to. The hike to Nauyaca Waterfalls takes about 50 minutes to an hour (one way). The way towards the waterfalls goes slightly up and the climate is warm and humid, which makes the walk tough for some people. But most people enjoy the hike, also because it is very common to spot some wildlife along the way. Another possibility is visiting Nauyaca Waterfall by horseback riding tour or a 4×4 tour (you can find more information on these tours here). For all options, you first need to go to the ticket office which is located on Route 243 to San Isidro del General, about 10 km (6 mi) from Dominical (we have marked the exact location on the google maps area of this page).
In the case you want to go hiking to Nauyaca Waterfall you will need to buy a ticket of USD 10,- (CRC 3500,- for nationals or residents). After buying the ticket you can drive down to the bridge where you park the car (USD 4,-) and start your hike. But please note! Take sufficient water with you. Also good shoes are recommended – in particular during rainy season – you don’t want to lose your flip flops in the mud 😉
Since a couple of years there is an alternative way to visit the Nauyaca Waterfalls in Dominical, Costa Rica. It is a bit of a longer drive since you will access the waterfalls from the other side. You need to drive to Tinamaste (Route 243) and take the exit on the right, there is a sign of ‘The Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park’. The dirt road can be difficult in the rainy season for 4×2 cars; in about 25 minutes you will be at the office in San Salvador de Baru. They offer 2 options to get to the Nauyaca Waterfalls; walk towards the waterfalls (about 45 minutes) – the path goes mostly downhill – and take the trolly ride back up, or go with the trolly ride both ways. More information on The Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park.
Please visit the following page if you want to go horseback riding to Nauyaca Waterfalls.
Eco Chontales Waterfall
Eco Chontales Waterfall is a great alternative for the Nauyaca Waterfall, since Nauyaca can get quite crowed now during high season. Eco Chontales is also a large and impressive waterfall and the local people behind it run it with great care. You can reach the waterfall by foot; a trail leads you to it from the parking area and the ticket office. The trail downhill is pretty easy, but it can be tough for some people going back up. We advise to bring good footwear and water. Just before you reach the waterfall, they made an observation deck where you can make pictures/selfies. Further below you will find some great spots too swim and relax. You can also treat yourself for some nice local food since there is a restaurant at the ticket office.
It will be quite an adventure driving towards Eco Chontales since it is a more off the beaten track location. We advise to go there with a 4×4 car because some parts of the dirt road are not in a good shape. Execiting is the hanging bridge crossing – yes – a hanging bridge for cars! From Dominical you drive about 15 minutes to Platanillo (route 243) where you take the exit to the left (there is a road sign of Eco Chontales waterfall there). The dirt road will take about 30-40 min, just follow the road signs of Eco Chontales Waterfall.
Poza Azul waterfall, Dominicalito
The second waterfall that we will discuss is much smaller than Nauyaca, but much easier to get to and free of charge. The lovely Poza Azul waterfall is beautifully set in the jungle of Dominicalito. It has a nice natural swimming pool and trees provide shade to cool down in the water on a hot day. But please keep in mind that this river can (almost) dry-up in the summer months January, February and March.
Poza Azul waterfall is located just outside Dominicalito which is located a little south from Dominical besides the Costanera (route 34). Take the exit next to the bus stop, drive through the village, after going over a little bridge make a right turn. It is only 1 minute up, you will see a parking area on the left; the entrance to the waterfall is on the right (opposites from the parking area). Currently there is a sign saying Poza Azul. It is a very short walk down; but quite steep and some people will have some difficulties walking over the roots of the trees. Please do not leave any valuables in the car. No entrance fee. No 4×4 car needed.
We have mapped the waterfalls on this map
Click on the red markers to see the name of the waterfall.
Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park
Eco Chontales Waterfall
Catarata El Pavon
Hotel Villas Rio Mar
Another waterfall that is easily accessible is Catarata Uvita (aka The Uvita Waterfall). Also this waterfall is surrounded by Jungle where monkeys and toucans are often seen. It is not a big waterfall but several paths provide access to several very nice swimming holes.
From the Costanera (route 34), take the exit at the BCR in Uvita, follow that road and go left where you see the sign of Catarata Verde. Keep going up, it will be on your right hand side. The road going up is better with a 4×4 car, but mostly it is also possible with a 4×2 car. The family that runs the restaurant there, also takes care of the paths towards the waterfall and swimming holes. They charge 2000 colones entrance fee per person.
Eco Chontales Waterfall
Catarata Uvita in dry season (February)
El Pavon Waterfall
El Pavon waterfall, Ojochal
The last waterfall we will discuss is Cascada El Pavon a little south of Ojochal. This waterfall has a big rock stuck between the waterfall openings on the top, which makes it quite unique. You have a nice natural swimming pool at the waterfall. But this river provides more excellent natural swimming pools, like just before the path going to the waterfall. On the way to El Pavon waterfall you will pass a restaurant which has their own tilapia farm. Even if you do not like fish, it might be nice to stop for a while to see the giant old Ceiba tree.
El Pavon waterfall is located in the far south of Costa Ballena in an area called Punta Mala (between Ojochal and Coronado). It makes a good combination with a visit to Playa Ventanas for a day trip from Dominical. Go south on the Costanera (rout 34), after passing Ojochal you have to watch out for a couple of signs besides the road (left hand side), with one of them being from the El Pavon Talapia farm & restaurant. Take this exit and keep following it, there will be a sign on the left hand side saying ‘Cascada el Pavon’. No entrance fee for the waterfall. No 4×4 car needed.
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