Waterfall adventure: How to visit the Cascada de Montezuma in Costa Rica on your own

Montezuma is a small beach village on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula. For years it has been known and visited for its free-spirit Bohemian vibe, as a result of Argentine hippies that settled here and decided to sell their handicraft bracelets and jewelry.
However, there is more to visit here. A lot of natural beauty, that is. You can find hills full of dense tropical forest, beautiful bays and mangroves. And I didn’t tell you about the waterfalls yet…

With all those mountains around you and a small river nearby, of course you can find waterfalls here. The Cascada de Montezuma (pretty simple name to remember, right?) is really easy to reach from Montezuma town and a perfect afternoon activity.


In order to get to the waterfalls (I’m talking in plural since it’s a river streaming down, with 3 accessible “waterfalls” along the way), head south on the mainroad from Montezuma “town”.  Turn right at a parking lot that you will reach in about 10 minutes. You will find a small trail that quickly leads you to the foot of a small waterfall.
But, you’re not there yet! This is fall number 1, and as I told you there are 3 falls…


There are 2 ways to visit all 3 Montezuma waterfalls:

  1. Start below and hike/climb upstream – The challenge
    This is for advanced/adventurous travelers. The easiest way is to walk with water sandals, since you will have to cross the river a couple of times and climb slippery rocks and tree roots.
  2. Walk up via the paved road and hike down the waterfall trail – The “easier” way
    You will have to walk some extra kilometers, but it is easier. You can finish this trail on your flip-flops (and some parts barefoot). I’m sure, because half of our group did. However, I would recommend water sandals/sneakers/walking shoes, since some parts in the jungle are pretty steep (you did carry those shoes with you for weeks for a reason, right?).

Number 1: The challenge

If you choose for number 1, you will have to cross the river at the foot of the waterfall, (at fall number 1) since the path continues on the right hand side. You then follow the “path” upwards along the river. Tree roots will help you to climb up, and when you get closer to waterfall number 2, there is even a rope to assist you. You can take a break here and take a jump in the cool water. Try to swim against the stream of the waterfall and experience the strength of water.

The climb to fall and pool number 3 is also challenging, but once you’re there you can jump in the pool to cool off and enjoy the view of the water falling down.

You can choose to go back either:

  1. Climbing down the same way you got up.
  2. Jumping from that fall to the pool down there. Not my cup of tea, since the water isn’t clear and you can’t see where you land. Every couple years someone dies here slipping of a rock. Well, it’s your choice.
  3. Get out of the water and take the trail left of the pool. It will lead you up the mountain. Once you get to the green gate, take a left. If you hike down and keep following the trail, you will get to fall number 2. If you take a right (no sign, but you’ll see it after 5 minutes) you will eventually end up at a paved road with a beautiful view of the sea. If you hike that paved road you will end up on the main road again. Take a left and walk back to the village.

Number 2: The “easier” way

Is the crossing of a river and climbing upstream a little too much for you? You can find a small and steep walking path at fall number 1. It is on the left hand side. This path leads to the main road above you.

Turn right when you hit the paved road. (You can also skip the foot of the waterfall and walk south from Montezuma and instead of turning right on the parking lot, continue walking and turn right at the first real intersection you get.)

The road starts to climb, and so do you. Warning: it really is steep, so some sneakers or hiking boots are welcome (though the majority of our visiting family hiked on slippers). After about 800 meters you will see a green gate on the right. This gate leads to the green suspension bridge of the Anamaya Resort. It is closed and only accessible for guests, but you can sneak up there to get a great picture (with ocean view!).
After this pitstop, continue walking for a while until you (probably) meet the howling monkeys. They are really curious and there are lots of them balancing on the power lines. Once you greeted the monkeys, look down again; you will see a path leading to the right and a sign “Waterfall 500 meters” with an arrow pointing to the left. Don’t follow the sign, turn right here. After about 150 meters you will have a beautiful view on the ocean and the resort on your right. On your left, hidden in between the bushes, you find a small trail that leads you towards the waterfalls.

Once you hit the part with the stairs you can choose to either go:

  • Left → You will find a gate, turn right there, walk downstairs and end up at the top of the waterfall. This is fall number 3.
    Here you can climb down the rocks (or jump, but I wouldn’t dare because the water isn’t clear enough to see the rocks) and swim towards the edge where the water falls down.
  • Right → You will hike down and end up at the foot of the waterfall and at waterfall/pool number 2. Cross the river and head left in order to get a great view of fall 3 and to cool down in the water. I dare you to swim towards the waterfall, the power of the water is so strong!

To get back, you can take the same path. In case you just got started, were utterly wrong choosing this “easy” trail and are seeking some more adventure: you can jump down from fall 3 to fall 2 (I wouldn’t advise you to, but people do this) and follow the path on the left side of the river to descent until you reach fall number 1 and the parking lot.

Whatever trail you pick: ENJOY!


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