Llanos de Cortés
Llanos de Cortés information
If you have time to visit only one waterfall in Costa Rica, make it Llanos de Cortés. This beautiful hidden waterfall is located about 3km north of Bagaces; head north on the Interamericana, turn left on the dirt road after the Río Piedras bridge, then follow the bumpy road (4WD required) for about 1km, and turn right at the guarded gate where you'll make a donation (US$2 will do the job) in exchange for your admission. Proceeds help fund the local primary school. Continue down the dirt road about 300m to the parking area, then scramble down the short, steep trail to reach this spectacular 12m-high, 15m-wide waterfall, which you'll be able to hear from the parking lot. The falls drops into a tranquil pond with a white sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Go ‘backstage’ and relax on the rocks behind the waterfall curtain, or shower beneath the lukewarm waters. We did see two daredevils pick their way among the boulders on the mossy rock wall to the top. It's quite risky though. On weekends this is a popular Tico picnic spot, but on weekdays you’ll often have the waterfall to yourself.
Apart from a portable toilet, there are no services here except for the occasional vendor selling fruit and cold coconut water in the parking area. Although the lot is guarded, don't leave valuables exposed in your car. If you don’t have a car, any bus trawling this part of the Interamericana can drop you at the turnoff, but you’ll have to hike from there to the falls.