Hidden on the backside of Poas Volcano in a lush green valley lies Bajos del Toro. This small town is not well known but boasts many amazing waterfalls. A couple of these are some of Costa Rica’s largest and most majestic waterfalls. Other, smaller ones, offer perfect swimming holes. In this post, we’ll tell you about visiting the off-the-beaten path destination of Bajos del Toro. We’ll share what the area offers, including activities, accommodations, and restaurants.
Bajos del Toro is located in the mountains, about two hours north of San Jose. Sitting on the fringes of the wet Caribbean slope, the town receives a lot of rain year-round. This keeps the rainforest verdant and lush and feeds the many rivers and waterfalls.
The main area of town is situated around a soccer field. Here, you’ll find a handful of simple hotels and restaurants. There is also a small, but nicely stocked, grocery store.
Local Roads and Best Routes
The main road in and out of town is Route 708. This cuts between the mountains, in between two national parks, and runs south from Sarchi a little past Bajos del Toro.
From the south, Route 708 is extremely mountainous, steep, and narrow in places. Although paved, it is a difficult road for most vehicles due to the extreme inclines and declines. Often, the road is enshrouded in a thick layer of clouds, making visibility very difficult. Our WAZE told us to take it from Sarchi, and it was a nail-biting drive to say the least!
Driving to Bajos del Toro
We highly recommend going around to the east and taking Route 126 to connect to the northern part of Route 708. This is also mountainous but a much easier drive. For this, you go through Vara Blanca, head west on Route 140 in San Miguel, then take a left onto Route 708 shortly after Rio Cuarto.
The northern section of Route 708 leading to Bajos del Toro is in fairly good condition. It is hilly but the road is paved. A regular sedan is fine, but there are some large potholes, making an SUV more comfortable.
If you need to rent a car for your trip, be sure to check out our Rental Car Discount to save 10% and get free extras.
Be sure to drive to Bajos del Toro during daylight hours. It gets dark in Costa Rica around 5:45 p.m. year-round.
Tip: A nice stop on the way to Bajos del Toro is La Paz Waterfall. This is a giant waterfall right off Route 126. Since it’s a popular attraction, often there are police there to help with traffic. If you have more time, you can also stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens to see some elaborate wildlife exhibits.
Due to the high elevation, the climate is cooler in Bajos del Toro. This creates a cozy feel, but only if you are prepared. Be sure to pack some pants and layers for the cooler evenings.
During the daytime if it is sunny, it does warm up quickly. You’ll likely wear a mix of T-shirts and shorts and T-shirts and lightweight pants for hiking.
Also be sure to have a raincoat or poncho as it rains often.
For more packing tips, read our post, Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials.
Activities in Bajos del Toro
Once you’ve made it to Bajos del Toro, you’ll find that most activities are just a short drive away. Here are some of our favorite things to do.
Rio Agrio, Dino Land, and the Blue Pools
Just outside the main area of Bajos del Toro is the Rio Agrio/Dino Land park.
The Rio Agrio Waterfall is a gorgeous 50-meter (165-foot) waterfall that cascades into a steep river canyon. Access is fairly easy, making it a great stop for just about anyone.
Also on the property is a dinosaur park called Dino Land.
Dino Land features 25 lifelike dinosaur replicas along a short, nicely vegetated trail. You’ll see everything from a giant mechanical Brachiosaurus to a roaring T. Rex. This is a great spot for kids or any dinosaur enthusiast.
Just down the road from the main property are the Blue Pools. Since Bajos del Toro is a volcanic area, some of the rivers have interesting colored water. The Blue Pools are an alluring shade of baby blue.
Catarata del Toro
Many years ago, before we knew about the town of Bajos del Toro, we visited Catarata del Toro. This is one of the best-known waterfalls in the zone, and for good reason.
Catarata del Toro is, in our opinion, one of Costa Rica’s most scenic waterfalls. The narrow, but powerful, cascade falls 90 meters (300 feet) neatly along a colorful canyon wall. Interestingly, the water flows into an extinct volcanic crater.
Learn more about the hike with our post, Catarata del Toro: A Hidden Gem in Costa Rica.
The Blue Falls
The Blue Falls (also known as Cataratas Las Gemelas) are another impressive set of waterfalls.
Their beautiful blue water is out of this world. Costa Rica only has a few places where you can experience blue water like this. The Blue Falls is a great option to see this interaction of volcanic minerals.
There are a couple of different ways to access the Blue Falls. The hike we cover in our post, Blue Falls of Costa Rica: Cataratas Las Gemelas, is short and easy. Check it out for more details.
Cascadas Pozo Azul
To see what’s considered the tallest waterfall in the area, it’ll take a bit of work.
Cascadas Pozo Azul hosts the largest waterfall in Bajos del Toro at over 500 feet (150 meters).
The hike to this one is more difficult. It’s about 2-2.5 hours total. The last section has many steps down, which make for a steep trek out after.
On the way, you’ll pass a couple of other small waterfalls and get to take a ride on a cable car!
For more information on visiting, read our post, Cascadas Pozo Azul: Bajos del Toro’s Biggest Waterfall.
Pozas La Presa
For an easy hike to some small waterfalls, there’s Pozas La Presa. This family-owned property has a nice trail through the thick rainforest. The hike starts on a hanging bridge. A rustic wooden platform then takes you over the river and to some small, but pretty, waterfalls.
For more information on visiting, including their hours, read our post, Pozas La Presa: Waterfalls and Swimming Holes Near Bajos del Toro.
Restaurants in Bajos del Toro
These waterfall hikes are sure to get your appetite going! Bajos del Toro is a small town. It doesn’t have too many restaurants, but there are a handful of good options.
Mia’s Pizza is a newer pizza shop just outside town with excellent pies. The friendly owner is a local who lived in New Jersey for a while, where he learned the craft of pizza making.
Mia’s has a big outdoor dining area next to some nice grassy space with gardens and a pond.
During certain times of year, they are only open on weekends so be sure to check their Facebook page for the current hours.
Restaurante La Familia at Blue Morpho Lodge
This small, cute restaurant is on the main road just outside the center of Bajos del Toro. They serve traditional Costa Rican food and only have a few options, but everything we have tried has been good. We enjoyed our casados (chicken, rice and beans, plantain, and side salads) and all-beef hamburgers.
Restaurante Tipico Toro Amarillo
For an authentic experience, head to Restaurante Tipico Toro Amarillo. Inside the wooden structure, you’ll find locals cooking delicious Costa Rican comfort food over a woodstove. We went for breakfast, and it was some of the best gallo pinto (rice and beans with eggs, local cheese, and a homemade tortilla) we’ve ever had.
Restaurante Alma Libre
Restaurante Alma Libre is a popular spot in town. They have lunch and dinner and draw a local crowd with the small bar. The menu has artisanal burgers, pasta dishes, burritos, chicken dishes, Costa Rican-style fajitas, and quesadillas. The atmosphere is fun and laid back.
Hotels in Bajos del Toro
El Silencio Lodge and Spa
The most popular hotel in Bajos del Toro is the high-end El Silencio Lodge and Spa. This unique eco-lodge is set on a vast 500 acre (202 hectare) private reserve on the outskirts of town. The posh, contemporary suites and villas are very comfortable and have sweeping forest, mountain, or river views. Many guests just eat at the on-site restaurant, which uses fresh and locally grown ingredients (many from their own farm). You can explore the trails on the property, which lead to more gorgeous waterfalls. $450-1,200/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Mid-range and Budget Hotels
Most of the other hotels in and around Bajos del Toro are much simpler. Here are some good options. There are also a few vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb.
Bosque de Paz Reserva Biologica
A short drive from town is Bosque de Paz Reserva Biologica. This lodge is on a large reserve that connects several biological corridors in the area, making it an excellent place to see wildlife. Rooms are simple and rustic, but clean and comfortable. $180-250/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Blue Morpho Lodge
The concept at Blue Morpho Lodge is based on shipping containers. Each shipping container has been modified into a comfortable room that fits into the natural environment. A small porch fronts each, providing some outdoor space. $70-80/night. Reservations can be made directly through the lodge via their website or Facebook page.
Bajos del Toro Rooms
Bajos del Toro Rooms is a charming, locally owned hotel right in the center of town. The rooms are basic, but spacious and comfortable. The friendly owners make the experience. Around $60/night. Contact the hotel by WhatsApp to make a reservation.
Bajos del Toro is an authentic town worth a stop in your itinerary. It remains a hidden gem and is a good fit for those looking to experience the local culture. With a luxurious ecolodge nearby, it is also perfect for those wanting a bit more amenities in a beautiful, peaceful setting. Either way, you’ll love exploring the many unforgettable waterfalls and lush rainforest surrounds.
Have a question about visiting Bajos del Toro? Ask us below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
The Truth About Visiting Poas Volcano: Poas is one of Costa Rica’s most popular volcanoes but there’s no guarantee you’ll see it on a visit. Read our post to learn more.
A Starbucks Coffee Tour in Costa Rica: Visiting Hacienda Alsacia – The Starbucks coffee farm is on the other side of Poas Volcano and a nice stop on the way back to San Jose.
Rental Car Discount: Taxis aren’t common in Bajos del Toro so you’ll want a car to check out all the area’s waterfalls. With our discount, you can save 10% and get free extras like a second driver and car seats for kids.