Montezuma Waterfalls, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide
December 19, 2019
Montezuma may be a tiny fishing village, but it harbours a magnificent network of waterfalls, natural pools and mountain rivers. It’s the number one activity in this town that you simply cannot skip. I think I visited a total of 5 times and each time I found a new pool to cool off in. It’s the perfect place to be adventurous and get some adrenaline kicks jumping off of rocks, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to kick back and relax by the water. You can even find a spot to have a picnic and make a day of it!
If you’re visiting for the first time, it can be a bit of a quest to figure out where to go and what to do, which is why I thought I’d share this detailed guide to Montezuma’s waterfalls. I definitely took some wrong turns at first, so it certainly would’ve been helpful to know all of this beforehand!
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HOW TO GET THERE:
Assuming you’re starting out from the town centre, you just follow the asphalt road (it goes slightly uphill) that goes around Montezuma beach, until you reach a small river that debouches into the sea. You’ll come across a narrow bridge that you can cross and a parking lot right after. This is where you have to be if you want to explore the lower part of the waterfalls. It’s also where you’ll find the biggest and most impressive one. There’s a sign that says ‘free waterfall’, which is the start of the lower hiking path.
However, if you want to explore the smaller waterfalls that can be found higher up, there are two ways to reach those. You can either continue to follow the asphalt road that takes a sharp right, uphill turn right after the parking lot. This will lead to a brewery/butterfly garden, where you’ll find another small road to your right. Follow this road straight ahead and you’ll eventually reach the entrance. A second, and in my opinion, more fun way to get there is by climbing the stairs on the left side that you’ll see once you’re about halfway through your hike to the lower waterfall.
Once you start following the path, you’ll soon reach the river and some pools you can have a swim in. After about 5 min. of walking, you’ll be forced to cross the river to the other side, as you won’t be able to go any further. Keep following the path straight ahead as best as you can. Some people wade through the river, while others prefer to walk higher up. It’s a bit of a climb, but nothing too hard. Just make sure to watch where you’re putting your foot down.
You will come across a lot of small natural pools on your way there. I was hesitant to swim in them (you never know what’s lurking in the dark), but if you mind the rocks, you should be fine! Once I got over the excitement of the big waterfall, I actually preferred chilling at the smaller pools, because there weren’t as many people.
After a 15-20min. walk, you should reach the main waterfall! It’s quite impressive and even bigger than it seems in pictures (that’s what she said). If you want a break from all of the salt water, you should definitely have a swim in this pool, it’s so refreshing and pretty cold compared to the ocean! And… if you’re a daredevil like me (*cough*), you can climb the nearby rock formation and jump off. It’s safe, I tested it. Some people climb halfway up the waterfall and jump from there and some are mad enough to jump all the way from the top. However, I should probably warn you that there are deathly accidents every year, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
A lot of people skip the upper waterfalls in Montezuma, because they simply don’t know they exist or they assume that they’re hard to reach. If you go by car, I would suggest taking the main road, then climb down from there. However, if you’re on foot, DO NOT take the asphalt road (I almost fainted from the heat), take the path with the stairs instead. It’s also a bit of a climb, but at least you’re in the shade.
The great thing about the upper waterfalls is that they’re way less crowded. There are two bigger pools that you can jump in, as you can see in the picture. The first jump is about 3-5m, so definitely doable and really fun! The second jump, however, must be about 10m at least, which is just a tad out of my comfort zone. I didn’t do it, but it’s pretty cool to see other people risk their lives!
* Take some cash. If you want to park your car in the parking lot, you have to pay 1000c and there’s also an entrance fee of 1000c for the upper waterfalls.
* Bring some kind of swimming shoes! You’ll most likely get your feet wet when crossing the river and the rocks are slippery, so swimming shoes come in very handy. I have seen people do this barefoot or on flip flops, but you’ll have to be a lot more careful.
* As I said before, avoid going up the asphalt road on foot, it’s the most exhausting hike ever and you will get dehydrated if you don’t drink a ton of water.
* Watch out for rocks when you’re swimming in the pools, some parts aren’t very deep so you can easily bump into stuff.
I hope this guide helps you if you’re planning on visiting Montezuma waterfalls! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been or plan on going 🙂
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