My wonderful older brother came to visit Costa Rica for a few days, which meant we had a rental car at our disposal. Thus, we decided to spend the day exploring an incredibly beautiful, but slightly far, place: Rio Celeste and Tenorio National Park!
From La Fortuna, the drive to the Tenorio entrance took about 1.5 hours. As always with Costa Rica, it was through beautiful green farmland, and picturesque small towns dotting the road. I always say that the drives are half the fun.
Once we arrived, we bought our admission tickets ($12 each for non-citizens) and began exploring. There is a trail that extends about 3.7 kilometers roundtrip, and this hits all the main viewpoints you’ll want to stop at.
First, about 15-20 minutes in, was the famous Catarata (waterfall). A quick hike down takes you to a beautiful view of the waterfall - it’s an amazing shade of blue, and falls perfectly in a hole surrounded by lush forests. You can continue all the way to the base of the falls, but unfortunately, swimming is prohibited.
Once we returned back to the main trail, we continued on to the mirador (viewpoint). It rained heavily for about 5 minutes at this point, which meant the trails were incredibly muddy and slippery. Even though we had both worn only basic athletic shoes, neither of us fell down at any point of the hike. The mirador itself provided stunning views of the surrounding forest, and we even saw man clouds hanging low and passing through. Because the clouds were sparse (unlike Monteverde Reserve, for instance) we were actually able to see a lot of the actual forest.
Again, we continued on down the path to the next big site- the blue lagoon (another different but stunning shade of blue). The path continued alongside a river surrounded by lush greenery, and we could smell the sulfur from the nearby hot springs. Walking further took us to one of the some of the most beautiful bridges I’ve ever seen.
Both hanging bridges were situated directly over a river, and the second river was the most shocking shade of blue I’ve ever seen in my life. My brother and I agreed that it almost looked fake- like a ride perfectly crafted at Disneyland. That’s how beautiful it was.
From there, it was a quick walk to the Fin Del Sendero (end of the trail), where you can learn why Rio Celeste is the color that it is. This point is where two rivers meet, so you enjoy a nice contrast that further highlights Rio Celeste’s amazing color.
The hike back was the same way we’d come in, so it was fairly quick to get back to our car. We rinsed off our muddy shoes in a small stream (if its rainy season, this step is definitely necessary) and headed back to La Fortuna.
Overall, we were both astonished at how beautiful the National Park was. It was fairly empty (most likely due to low season), so if you come in the high season, you’ll probably want to get there early if you want to enjoy the serenity of the park. The entire trip to Tenorio was enjoyable, from the beautiful drive to the national park itself. If you have some time in La Fortuna, and especially if you have your own car, you should definitely consider a day trip out there.
If you also prefer to visit Rio Celeste with a guided Tour and transportation, you can book directly here: Rio Celeste Tour