In 2022 we decided to take 22 adventures. This meant that we had to challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and try exciting new experiences. On our recent trip to Costa Rica we had the opportunity to visit an amazing waterfall called Rio Celeste. Making the trek to this beautiful waterfall is not exactly easy; long hikes, unexpected rain, and a lot of steps! But it is worth it, especially if you are prepared. In this post I am going to share everything you need to know about visiting Rio Celeste with kids.
In this post you will find suggestions on what to bring, including things we forgot that we wish we brought, what to expect when you are there, and tips to hopefully make the whole trip more enjoyable. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the video of our day in Rio Celeste and why it was an experience we will never forget.
Visiting Rio Celeste
When I shared about our incredible (yet kind of scary) experience on social media I got so many questions. I totally get why too, its a waterfall that is so blue that the locals say that when God was painting the sky he dipped his paint brush in the water to create this special shade of blue.
Visiting this breathtaking waterfall was an experience all on its own. It had lots of ups, like the 150 steep steps. And it had lots of downs, like Scott becoming very ill in the middle of the rain forest. Non the less this was a great trip and cannot speak about its beauty enough. I am so glad we made the decision to visit Rio Celeste with our kids.
Planning ahead for your visit
The Tenorio Volcano National Park is one of the five most visited parks in Costa Rica. The busiest time to visit is December through April, and also July. There is a limited number of visitors per day allowed, so if you plan to visit during the busy times, especially during the weekend, it is recommended to arrive at the park before 9 AM to assure you are able to enter.
You are not able to pre-purchase, or register for tickets, it is first come first serve. If you are planning to visit during the slower months, May, June, August through November arriving early is not as recommended. Although the latest time you are able to enter the park is 2PM since the park closes at 4PM.
What to Bring with you
This hike is so much fun, but you will leave this hike completely filthy, but in the best way.
I think one of the most important things for this hike is going to be a waterbotte. Single use plastics are not allowed in the park, so be sure to bring a full reusable water bottle. You will work up quite the thirst during your walk.
We brought poncho’s and I was so happy we did, it started to rain when we got there. Even if you go in the dry season, that has a whole different meaning in the rain forrest. With that being said, make sure you also bring shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting wet and dirty in. Also a spare set of clothes or shoes to change into after you are done with this hike wouldn’t be a bad idea.
With all this humidity the bugs are everywhere. I would also suggest you bring a good bug repellent to keep them away.
Since we’re talking about bringing the right shoes. Be prepared for the length of this hike. The entire trail is 6km (3.7 miles), plus the steps from the trail to the waterfall is about 150 steep steps. Although there is plenty of places along the way to stop and take a break, you will want to bring some comfy shoes for this trek. You can also rent rain boots for $5 USD outside the park entrance.
We didn’t pack snacks on our hike through Rio Celeste and I really wish we did. Since you want to stop at the sights, and it is a pretty long hike, having snacks on hand will be helpful.
Getting to Rio Celeste
Rio Celeste Waterfall is located within the Tenorio Volcano National Park, in the Guanascate Province of Costa Rica. The drive up to Rio Celeste took us about 2 hours, mostly highway, from the Tamarindo area.
Driving to this breathtaking location can also be an experience. You will have to drive along a windy mountain road for about 20 miles. After this you will arrive at the rangers station, which is where you will enter the park on foot. If you plan to visit during the rainy season having a vehicle with 4×4 drive his recommended. Visiting in the dry season, you may be fine without it.
The ticket price to enter is $12 USD for adults, and $5 USD for kids.
Parking is 2000 colones per car. They will give you a slip of paper to leave on your dashboard.
If you forgot your poncho ask the vendors in the parking lot. I saw them selling ponchos, drinks, and snacks.
The Hike with Kids
This is where your fun begins! You will make the beautiful 6km (3.7 mile) hike which can take you 2-4 hours. It depends how much you are stopping to enjoy your scenery, or how fast you are hiking.
Getting down to the waterfall is around 150 very steep steps. Going down isn’t too bad but don’t forget you’re going to have to walk back up. I had to make the walk back up with a child on my back, I thought I was going to pass out.
Since this is a natural path, you will also come across big rocks, and tree roots to be on the lookout and watch your step. No need to worry though. There is plenty of places to stop and take a break along the way. You can do this!
There is an option for guides but I really don’t think you need one. The trail is marked, and the signage is very clear. Overall I would say the hike is on the longer side for kids but pretty easy to navigate. Even if you aren’t an experienced hiker this is one you could definitely manage with kids.
Can you Swim at Rio Celeste?
The water in this river is so beautiful and blue, unfortunatly there is no swimming allowed in the park. There is however, a park about 4 minutes from here with a swimming hole called the “Rio Celeste Free Pool” that is perfect.
Video of our visit to Rio Celeste
When a 2 hour hike turns into 5 hours 😳 #22adventuresin2022
Useful items for your visit
Prefer a guided tour?
A guided tour definitely comes with some perks. Sometimes you can skip lines and there is always an educational element added in. If a guided tour is more your speed here are some options for you
Despite everything that happened to us on our hike would I go to Rio Celeste again with my kids?
The short answer: YES! Scott getting sick was unfortunate and definitely made this a much more difficult day than expected. But if I were to take that out of the equation, our hike to Rio Celeste with our kids was truly an amazing experience. It was a bit challenging but easy enough for our 5 year old to manage. The stairs were steep but the view was so worth it. It took my breath away. If I had the opportunity to visit Rio Celeste with kids again I would and I hope you get the opportunity to visit it too!