Costa Rica has many amazing waterfalls but we know of only one with a secret cave where you can stay the night. Located in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, the Diamante Verde (Green Diamond) are a set of ten waterfalls hidden deep in the jungle. If you’re visiting Manuel Antonio or the Costa Ballena and are looking for something more off-the-beaten path, consider making the trek to Diamante Waterfall.
Very little information is available on how to visit the Diamante Waterfall so we met with the local family that owns the property and had them show us what makes this area of Costa Rica so special. Below we share everything you need to know to plan your visit.
The Diamante Waterfall is located in the village of Las Tumbas near Tinamaste. Although this area is just 35 minutes from the beach town of Dominical, the landscape differs widely, with lush, rolling mountains that are sometimes enshrouded in clouds. For directions, see the box below.
Visiting the Diamante Waterfall
Like many waterfalls in Costa Rica, the Diamante Waterfalls are on private property. For safety reasons, the family that owns the land asks that you arrange a guided tour in order to visit. After doing the strenuous hike for ourselves, we can definitely see why that makes sense.
We started our trek up the mountain, following the steep, rocky path. Our guides, Jesse, the son of the family who owns the land, and Sarah, led the way, teaching us about the surrounding forest. We learned that much of the land was still primary rainforest, meaning that it had never been cut down. As we walked among the towering, decades-old trees, we saw wildlife like monkeys and also many types of birds, including a pair of toucans perched in a Guarumo tree.
To break up the intense hike, Jesse would stop and show us different medicinal plants like the somewhat foul-tasting Tres Puntos (Three Points), which sort of foamed in the mouth but was believed to cleanse the liver and treat dysentery and malaria. At another break, we watched as Sarah approached a huge termite nest. She knocked gently on the brown nest, extracting a few of the tiny creatures and then told us that they tasted a lot like carrots while popping one in her mouth. A little unsure, we hesitated and then went for it.
After about an hour of hiking almost straight up, we arrived at the farm. Sweet lemons, tangerines, native bananas, sugarcane, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, mint, holy basil, mustard greens that tasted like wasabi, and many other fruits and vegetables grew amongst the beautiful flowering gladiolas and beehive ginger.
After learning more about the different plants while gnawing on some raw sugarcane, we continued on to the waterfalls. With ten in total, we couldn’t see all of them in just one day, but got the sense that there was a waterfall for everyone. Some of them were smaller, with big pools good for swimming and relaxing, while others were just the right size for jumping in. Matt was the bravest and joined Jesse to jump from the top of one of the medium sized falls.
Another hour or so of hiking later and we arrived at the main attraction. Behind two twin, 85-foot (26 meter) waterfalls were a few gigantic boulders which formed the base of the cave. Complete with a kitchen, elevated platforms for sleeping, and even bathrooms, this wasn’t any ordinary cave. As we ate lunch, we pictured how serene it must be at night, with candles lit and only the sound of water rushing.
For the last part of the tour, we hiked to the top of the tallest waterfall. It was a bit scary to be looking over the edge, about 600 feet (183 meters) up, but the view of the surrounding hills was spectacular. We could even see the ocean in the distance through the light mist.
The Diamante Waterfall was one of the most amazing sights we’ve ever seen in Costa Rica. Not only were the waterfalls themselves spectacular, but the cave was unforgettable. We’re hoping to make it back soon and stay overnight for the whole experience.
Tips for Planning Your Visit to the Diamante Waterfall
- Can I Visit On My Own? When planning our visit, we had read an old blog post that said it was possible to visit on your own without a tour. This is not the case anymore and you now have to go on a guided tour. Trust us that you wouldn’t want to try it on your own anyway. This is a very remote area, conditions are rough, and it’s very easy to get lost.
- Booking a Tour: We would love to help you book this tour. Just send us an email at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com and we’ll get back to you with the different options for packages available. Booking your tour through us costs the same and helps support our website!
- Trail Conditions: This was a strenuous, 2.5 hour hike up along a mix of loose gravel, slippery clay, and earthen stairs. Plan to spend the day. Your best bet for footwear is hiking boots or rubber boots.
- What to Bring: Rain coat; insect repellent; bathing suit; towel; flashlight/headlamp if staying overnight; and plenty of water (the beginning of the trail is exposed to the sun).
Check out our short video of the Diamante Waterfall and cave.
What’s the strangest place you’ve ever stayed when traveling? Would you sleep in a cave?