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The BEST La Leona Waterfall Tour

The BEST La Leona Waterfall Tour

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If you’re thinking about visiting one of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls, you’ve come to the right place!

The La Leona Waterfall near Liberia is one of Costa Rica’s hidden gems. Take it from us locals, it’s a place you’ll want to add to your itinerary now before word gets out and it gets too popular and overcrowded!

The only way to experience this magical place is by going on a tour with an expert guide. This is because the waterfall is hidden in a remote location within a canyon and requires some safety gear to access it. Many different companies offer these tours, but we want to make sure you have the best experience possible, which is why we’ve created this guide to the best La Leona tour out there!

The Best La Leona Waterfall Tour

River on the way to La Leona Waterfall
The beautiful Blanco River that you will hike next to!

Whoever said “don’t go chasing waterfalls” has clearly never seen the La Leona waterfall, because it’s worth chasing! If you are looking for the absolute best (and most affordable) La Leona waterfall tour out there, look no further than this fun half-day adventure.

We did this exact tour and can’t recommend it enough! You spend 3 to 4 hours hiking through the jungle on the trails around the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano with your expert guide. Not only do you hike, but you’ll also have to climb and swim through the canyon to get to the La Leona waterfall – trust me, it’s worth the effort!

This tour departs from Curubandé, but you can organize transport from Liberia for an extra fee. It only costs $45 USD, which includes the entrance fees, your guide, a snack, and all safety equipment. The guides will even bring dry bags so you can bring your phone to take pictures of the waterfall at the end!

We love that this tour has a maximum of only 10 people, so it never felt crowded. It does tend to book up quickly though, so make sure to reserve your spot in advance!

About the La Leona Waterfall Tour

River at La Leona
Calm waters on the trail to La Leona Waterfall

This amazing La Leona Waterfall tour starts from a small town called Curubandé, which is only 20 minutes away from Liberia. If you’re renting a car you can drive straight to the tour meeting point. If you require transportation from Liberia, make sure to message the tour operator through Viator when booking as they can arrange this for an extra fee. And if you want to see the La Leona Waterfall but aren’t staying in Liberia, make sure to check out this tour instead, it includes roundtrip transportation from all around Guanacaste (keep reading for more info on this later!).

Since we had a car, we drove to the meeting point and found a ton of free parking available. Next, we met our friendly guide and the rest of our group and hopped onto a 4×4 vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the hike.

The waterfall is hidden just on the outskirts of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, meaning the only way to get to it is by hiking with a guide. From the starting point, the trail is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) each way and includes a mix of hiking on unpaved trails, climbing, and swimming. For this reason, a moderate level of physical fitness is required, but our guide was very helpful and assisted some of the older people and children on our tour to make sure everyone got to and from the waterfall safely.

Along the way, we encountered some stunning caves and refreshing natural pools. We stopped for a break while our guide shared some fascinating information about the area with us. It gave us such a great appreciation for this beautiful part of Costa Rica! Honestly, I think the hike along the river was just as beautiful as the waterfall.

The best part of the trail is when you are close to La Leona Waterfall. Here, you will have to swim two times. The first time through a big pool which is under one canyon and then, a second time, before entering the waterfall. When entering the waterfall, you will have to swim against the current, but don’t worry, there is a rope to help you out and it’s only a 25 meter (82 ft) swim.

We were in such awe of the stunning falls! We swam around in the refreshing pool and then relaxed on the nearby rocks to take in the gorgeous views for a while before heading back. We think this adventure is something that everyone needs to add to their Costa Rican bucket list!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

The Best La Leona Waterfall Tour from Outside Liberia

La Leona Waterfall on a tour through the canyon in Costa Rica
La Leona Waterfall River

Those without a rental car or who prefer an organized tour can do tours to La Leona Waterfall from all over Guanacaste. This specific full-day tour offers private roundtrip transportation from your accommodation all over the area, including Tamarindo, Playa Conchal, and Playa Flamingo – just to name a few!

Once you get to Curubandé, your private guide will take you along the hike to the La Leona Waterfall and back. You will also get a delicious lunch and beverages included.

This highly rated tour (check out the reviews here) costs $251 USD per person, which is a pretty good deal when you consider it’s a private tour with included transportation and lunch. The tour departs daily at 7 am and lasts around 8 hours in total.

Tips for visiting La Leona Waterfall

La Leona Waterfall-2
  • Wear comfortable, nonslip shoes. Don’t wear your newest shoes either. You will walk through a lot of stones, and you will have to cross rivers and swim so they will get wet and dirty.   
  • Guides can keep your phone dry. They have waterproof bags they can carry or lend you. However, it’s more practical if you have your own waterproof bag for your mobile. The place is so amazing that it is definitely worth getting one of these. That way, you will be able to take photos any time you want without asking the guides to give you your phone. Just make sure the bag is in good shape if you don’t want your cellphone to get wet. 
  • Walking sticks can be pretty useful if you are not good at keeping your balance or you prefer avoiding a fall.  
  • If you want to wear a swimsuit, prefer a one-piece swimsuit or wear light sportswear on top of your two-piece swimsuit. At some specific points, mostly near the fall, you will have to swim, and currents can be pretty strong. 
  • Bring a bottle of water
  • If you are thinking of bringing food, remember you will have to swim, so if your bag is not waterproof, everything will get wet unless you put your things in a waterproof bag. Packed cereal bars or fruits can be a good option. 
  • Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen! The recommended season to go to La Leona is in summer, so it can get pretty hot! Although you will be near the river and the trees, the sun will hit hard there! 
  • Bring a hat and sunglasses
  • I recommend you bring a change of clothes and a towel! Also, bring another pair of shoes or sandals for after.
  • Have some cash with you if you want to tip the guides at the end. 

Is La Leona Waterfall worth visiting?

A landscape shot of La Leona Waterfall in Costa Rica

Absolutely, it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica! The remote location between two canyons makes visiting it such a unique experience. And let’s not forget about that bright blue water – it’s truly magical!

Related Read: For another stunning waterfall, check out La Fortuna Waterfall and the many epic tour options!

Getting Around Costa Rica

Bailey with our rental car near Rio Celeste Costa Rica
Our rental car!

How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level. 

Renting a Car

Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.

One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.

Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.

Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.

You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.

TPL Cover Costa Rica
TPL Cover Costa Rica

Book Shuttles

If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.

Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)

To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway! 

You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.

Public Bus

Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!  

The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!

It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.

Pura Vida!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie on Playa Espidilla Norte 
Thanks for reading!

La Leona Waterfall will slowly but surely make it onto the typical tourist trail, however, for now, it’s a hidden gem that needs to be explored. I guarantee you won’t regret taking the time to explore a little deeper!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog! It brings us a lot of joy to be able to help shape your trip to Costa Rica – one of the most beautiful countries on the planet! If you found this guide helpful, be sure to check out more of our Costa Rica blogs such as:

Day trips from San Jose

Things to do in Nosara

Things to do in Monteverde