For me all waterfalls in Costa Rica are magical. However, I feel the ones that are lesser-known, such as the very hidden “El Salto Waterfall” is one of my favorite in Guanacaste as well as the closest waterfall to Liberia. I had visited the Cortes Waterfalls many times (which is 15 minutes past el Salto waterfalls and almost always overcrowded), but this is the first time I had visited the Salto Waterfall after being here for 9 years. I’m not sure what took me so long to come here. It’s simply a stunning, quiet and peaceful place that you should visit if your travels bring you to Guanacaste!
El Salto Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall fed by the nearby Rincon de la Vieja volcano and surrounded entirely by tropical dry forest. The water is clear and refreshing and because it’s more difficult (secretive) to arrive to El Salto, you don’t see many people. When my group arrived (my friend, my sons and their friends), there were just 3 mountain bikers and a group of local school kids in the river. Part of the El Salto waterfall is bordered by the Africa Mia property, so you will see the tour they offer come through with their big truck. That’s the only vehicle you’ll see as you actually have to park your car 400 meters before the river and walk and cross a small part of the river. There is also the last cable of the zipline tour they offered that zooms above the river and a small bridge. However, there are few people there compared to the Cortes Waterfalls which is more easily accessible and well known. I personally enjoyed the Salto waterfall more. It’s simply beautiful, pristine, with beautiful tree canopy providing lots of shade. There is a ladder that you can climb to jump off the cliff into the water. There is even a kayak tour that takes you down the river (I watched as the guides ditched their kayak over the waterfall and caught it down below after climbing down). That seems like a very cool tour to take as well!
We had a perfect 1/2 day here at the waterfall and had a nice picnic, enjoyed the area, swam in the lagoon and watched all the brave souls diving off the cliff into the water below. I would highly recommend visiting El Salto. It doesn’t cost a dime to visit this magical place. Just another hidden gem in Costa Rica to put on your bucket list.
How to get there: From Liberia, you travel East on Hwy 1 (the Pan American highway) towards the town of Bagaces for about 10 minutes. When you arrive to the town of El Salto, you’ll see a project (ponderosa) and make a right. You’ll take that road a few hundred meters until you see a green gate and guard house. You make a right there. The guard will ask your name and ID number and take your plate number. This is because you are passing through private property to access public property.
*Note that there was not ONE single sign that points to this waterfall–hence the secretiveness. Which I only figure has to do with the fact that you are driving through a project to get to the waterfall. The guard will explain how to get to the waterfall after you pass the gate, but you basically go straight for a couple minutes and then veer left and park by another green gate.* Also keep in mind there are no trashcans, bathrooms or services down at the river–so bring your food, take your trash with you and if you have to go to the bathroom, best to do that before hand (or use the forest around you)! Also make sure to wear sneakers or Teva-type sandals as there is some rocky terrain. ENJOY!