Costa Rica Waterfall Paradise

by Scott Setterberg October 26, 2020

Costa Rica Waterfall Paradise

Just down the road from Bajos del Toro in the Central Highlands, Paraíso de Manantiales (Paradise of Springs) provides Costa Rica waterfall lovers with the ultimate Costa Rica vacation day spent photographing eight unique, beautiful waterfalls, all in one electrifying location.  These are some of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica and this adventure traverses dense primary rainforests, a tall spiral staircase, and a bouncing hanging bridge on the descent to a jaw-dropping river that’s lined with vivid orange rocks, gigantic boulders, and gorgeous tropical flora.   

The hike begins near the restaurant on the property that serves delicious typical Costa Rica cuisine.  The trail quickly descends to the first rainforest waterfall called Catarata Serena and this tall, slim waterfall starts things off with a bang.  There's only one viewpoint on the trail and it's a bit challenging to get below the cascade, but with a little ingenuity, it can be done.  The perspectives below the fall include several small drops in the rushing stream and provide great foreground material for better compositions with the jungle waterfall as a backdrop.

Catarata Serena, Costa Rica
The second tropical waterfall, appropriately called Lluvia de la Montaña (Mountain Rain), is a towering wall of misty spray that gently tumbles down the hillside to a base of strange rock formations.  Space is limited here and a super wide angle lens helps capture the entire fall.

Catarata Lluvia de la Montaña, Costa Rica

After a short walk and a few switchbacks, an oddly out of place spiral staircase drops down to an otherwise unreachable area where the trail continues through the thick jungle.  It's not long before a hanging bridge appears and passes in front of the largest and most powerful of all the waterfalls at Paraíso de Manantiales.  Velo de Novia (Bridal Veil) stands 150' tall and creates its own atmosphere with large amounts of wind and spray.  The hanging bridge seems a little dicey at first but is a safer option than navigating the slippery rocks.  Viewpoints below the thundering plume including the bridge make wonderful Costa Rica landscape photographs.

Velo de Novia, Costa Rica
After Velo de Novia, the trail continues declining until an opening emerges and you are suddenly transported into a magical fantasy land with an incredible river, lined with vibrant orange rocks, rushing through a lush green valley with several epic waterfalls dropping into the swift stream.

Rio Toro, Costa Rica
At the end of the trail and to the left, four waterfalls await, and the first is Salto de Toro (Jumping Bull).  This 50-foot gushing fall produces gusty wind and tremendous spray and can be tricky to photograph due to those factors as well as standing in the rocky river.

Salto Del Toro, Costa Rica

Continuing forward past Salto de Toro, Catarata La Paz is next and this accurately named, peaceful waterfall streams lightly down the hillside surrounded by beautiful fronds and a rocky foundation.

Catarata La Paz, Toro Amarillo, Costa RicaSuper close to Catarata La Paz is Catarata Maria and this magnificent gem is a wide trickle of water that gently seeps through foliage rather than dropping over a ledge.  This is one of the coolest waterfalls I've ever seen.

Catarata Maria, Toro Amarillo, Costa Rica
Catarata Torito (Little Bull) is the last in line and this skinny slide waterfall cascades down the rocky mountain side before dropping directly into the colorful river below.

Catarata Torito, Costa Rica
Returning to, and continuing past the original trail a short distance, takes you to the final waterfall in this sensational location.  Measuring 270 feet tall, Catarata La Mica is the tallest waterfall at Paraíso de Manantiales and is a fantastic way to finish the day.  

Catarata La Mica, Costa Rica
Paraíso de Manantiales is a jungle paradise that must be experienced to fully appreciate its wonder and is a spectacular Costa Rica destination for waterfall photography.  Officially, there are eight amazing waterfalls but a little exploration shows at least ten, depending on how you count.  Combined with an extraordinary valley and outstanding river, Paraíso de Manantiales is easily one of the best locations in Costa Rica, especially for photographing waterfalls.

If you've been thinking about visiting Costa Rica for a photography vacation and love chasing waterfalls, join us for t
he Costa Rica Landscapes photography tour and explore Paraíso de Manantiales.  This photography workshop is one of the best Costa Rica waterfall tours and also includes stunning landscape photography, remarkable nature photography, and plenty of professional photography tips and techniques.

Registration deadlines are quickly approaching so click the banner below, check out the full itinerary and dates, and book your spots today!  Pura vida!  

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Scott Setterberg
Scott Setterberg