If you're thinking about visiting Costa Rica I definitely recommend fitting this waterfall into your itinerary, you won't be disappointed. Even if you're not an avid hiker, it is accessible to all kinds of physical levels. I saw some elderly people along the walks so trust me, you can do it.
RIO CELESTE WATERFALL
The closest town is called Bijagua, it's quite remote and doesn't see as many tourists. We stopped in at a local soda (costa rican mom & pop restaurant) and were not dissapointed. From this town to the entrance of the Park is about a 15-20 minute drive.
The main entrance to get to the waterfall is from the Tenorio Volcano National Park. From there the hike is about a half hour to get to the amazing Rio Celeste waterfall. I suggest wearing some decent runners/hikers, I think it's over kill to wear rubber boots but to each their own. The hike is beautiful through the lush jungle, you'll most likely be taking photos the whole way like me which slowed the hike down to about an hour.
Eventually you'll reach the 250 step staircase to get down to the waterfall. It seems daunting but it's not actually that bad. When you get down and see the waterfall it'll blow your mind how vibrant blue it actually is (no filter needed). It reminds me of the colour of Moraine Lake in Alberta for those of you who have been, they get their colour from two different processes though.
There are many myths which originated from the indigenous peoples as to why the river gets this blue colour; they believed that the gods painted the sky blue and used the river to wash their paint brushes.
Originally scientists thought it was caused by the calcium carbonate mixing with sulfur; however, the University of Costa Rica has solved the mystery. It was found that the colour seen by the human eye and cameras was not a chemical phenomenon but an optical one. Aluminum, silicon and oxygen are suspended in the water and reflect the sunlight to give it that vibrant blue colour.
After that quick science lesson, I will mention that in the national park they do not allow you to go into the water; however if you stay at the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel which I strongly recommend they have their own trail to get to Rio Celeste from the other side of the river and you can swim all you want there.
The picture above is where I mentioned you could swim, we were the only ones there at the time and it was lovely.
The trail from the hotel has a little suspension bridge you cross over which you can see below. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the river.
As I mentioned there are two ways to get to the river but I strongly recommend you check out the waterfall from the park, and if you're an avid hiker there is a hike that continues to the Poza Azul which is a deep blue pool and if you continue even further over some hanging bridges you'll reach Tenideros and see the two transparent rivers (Rio Buena Vista & Quebrada Agria) that converge to create the Rio Celeste and this is where you see the water colour start to change.
The lush cloud and rain forest in this area has some of the most amazing flora and fauna I've seen in my life so if the river didn't catch your attention just go anyway! You'll love it I promise.