The drive from La Fortuna (or the Arenal area) to Monteverde is LONG. It's so sad because you look at a map and they seem soooo close together. That should be a drive that takes 45 minutes top right?
It takes over 3 hours to drive between the two. The road conditions change constantly but here is a post that will help you know what to expect. There isn't much on the way to or from Monteverde except for one awesome place that is almost at the exact halfway point.
Viento Fresco Waterfalls are the BEST waterfalls in Costa Rica.
There I said it. Yes, they are better than La Fortuna Waterfall. Yes, they are better than the perfectly blue Rio Celeste Waterfall. I'll tell you why I consider them better than these other two (very popular) waterfalls.
- They are impressive - the rainbow waterfall especially is gorgeous!
- There are 4 waterfalls on one property.
- They aren't crowded! You actually feel like you are at a natural wonder instead of a tourist attraction
Love waterfalls? Check out my guide to the Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica.
- There are 4 waterfalls on the property
- Admission is $16
- The waterfalls are off of Route 145 (dirt road)
- 2 hours from La Fortuna | 1.5 hours from Monteverde
- Cataratas Viento Fresco Website
How to get to Viento Fresco Waterfalls
Honestly, it is pretty hard to miss the waterfalls - there are signs literally every 5 km once you get about 20 km away in both directions. Like I said before, they are about halfway between La Fortuna and Monteverde, or a little less than two hours from La Fortuna and 1.5 hours from Monteverde.
Important: If you aren't sure how to make the hard drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde head here.
The Viento Fresco Waterfalls are on Route 145 which is a dirt road. I drove the road with a standard car in dry season (February) and had no trouble. But if you are driving in the rainy season I would only take a 4x4 with 4 wheel drive.
Rental Tip: I rented a car with economy for my trip in Costa Rica and (honestly) I stupidly rented a standard car, instead of one with 4 wheel drive, because I was trying to save money. Don't be like me. Rent a 4x4 with a high clearance and 4 wheel drive. It is more money but it is definitely worth it.
Rental Car Tips | Driving in Costa Rica Tips | Road Conditions in Costa Rica
How much do the Viento Fresco Waterfalls cost?
On Route 145 you will see a large office/restaurant where you can buy tickets for entry onto the property. Tickets cost $16 a person. The very nice owner will give you a map, a ticket and directions on driving your car down to the trailhead.
The drive from office to trailhead
The owner assured me that the drive from the office to the trailhead (which is only 1 KM long) was perfectly level and my standard, low clearance, non-4 wheel drive car would be fine..... That 1 KM drive was the scariest and bumpiest drive of my life. I made it - thankfully - but barely. Again I will say, don't be like me...rent a proper car!
If you are driving to the waterfalls in a standard car you can still visit. Just leave your car at the office and hike the 1 km to the main trailhead.
Viento Fresco Waterfalls Property & Trails
In addition to the main office/restaurant that is right off of Route 145 there is also a bathroom and small store to buy water and snacks. Once you drive down to the trailhead there is also another bathroom and small picnic area. There is also a spout for fresh drinking water to fill your water bottle.
There are 4 waterfalls total and a nice lookout point with a beautiful view of a fifth waterfall.
The "trails" to the waterfalls are pure stairs - around 500 of them to be exact... My best advice is walk all the way down to the bottom waterfall first. If you start with the waterfall at the bottom, furthest away, you can slowly walk back up the stairs stopping at each waterfall on the way up. Much better than stopping at them in order and then walking up 500 steps at once.
The Viento Fresco Waterfalls
If you start at the bottom, like I suggest above, your first waterfall will be Slide Waterfall.
Side Story: I will be completely honest with you, I walked down all those stairs and when I reached the third waterfall (Rainbow Waterfall) not only was I in complete awe but I was already dreading walking back up all those steps. So, I did a terrible thing.... I didn't make it all the way down to the last waterfall. I know, I'm awful. Feel free to shame me in the comments
Anyways, Slide Waterfall is a waterfall like the name implies...the water slides down the side of the mountain. This is the best place to take a dip and go for a swim, you deserve it after that long walk down.
Slowly making your way back up you will come to Rainbow Waterfall. This is probably my favorite waterfall EVER because of the long straight drop. The waterfall is 75 meters high (around 245 feet) and there was a slight mist coming off of it that caused a light rainbow (hence the name). I spent a lot of time at this one hanging out in the water and sunbathing on the grass.
After a long walk up you will reach the lookout point again. If you are like me you will probably be very winded and gulping down water. Catch your breath and enjoy the view.
From the lookout, it is a slight walk down to Hidden Waterfall. This waterfall is very shaded and is a short drop of only 20 meters.
After Hidden Waterfall you will walk back up to the lookout and make your way up to the first waterfall on the trail. This waterfall is simply called First Waterfall. The drop for first waterfall is 30 meters into a nice pool. There is a nice covered picnic area which was a great place to relax and drink some water before the final set of stairs to your car.