Blue Falls of Costa Rica: Cataratas Las Gemelas

Costa Rica has thousands of waterfalls, from towering cascades and wispy veils to churning jets and relaxing trickles. Each one is unique. But there is something about a bright blue waterfall that heightens its allure. In Costa Rica, there are several blue waterfalls, the Rio Celeste being the most famous. In this post, we’ll tell you about another spot to see the blue-water phenomenon. It is a series of cascades, pools, and river, together called the Blue Falls of Costa Rica.

Blue Falls Costa Rica

Location

Bajos del Toro Area

The Blue Falls are located near a very small town called Bajos del Toro. Sitting at the northern base of Poas Volcano, this town is about two hours from San Jose and one hour 40 minutes from the popular tourist destination of La Fortuna.

The blue color of the river and waterfalls comes from volcanic minerals released by Poas Volcano. The water from the crater and surrounding volcano collects into a river, which winds its way down the hillside and close to the town.

Getting to the Blue Falls

If you take Route 708 all the way from Sarchi (near San Jose), the road is paved, but very steep, narrow, and cloudy. The drive can be scary at times if it is clouded in.    

Instead, we would recommend taking Route 126 to Route 140, then connecting to Route 708 from there. It is longer but much more enjoyable.

From any direction, we do not recommend driving to Bajos del Toro at night because visibility can be very poor. When we have driven in this area, it has often been enshrouded in clouds, making it even harder to navigate on the narrow mountain roads.

About the Property

The Blue Falls of Costa Rica is a private 126-acre (51 hectare) property. It has hiking trails that lead to seven blue waterfalls, two regular waterfalls, and several swimming holes. The most famous waterfalls on the property are a set of two cascades called Las Gemelas. These sit right next to each other. Fittingly, las gemelas translates from Spanish to “the twins.”

There are picnic areas and plenty of spots to observe birds and other animals on the Blue Falls property as well.

Rainforest Near Blue Falls
Thick forest is mixed into the pasture land near the Blue Falls

The project was still under development when we visited in mid-2022. Notably the trails, which cut through a lot of pasture, were being expanded and planted with native plants and trees.

The owners are committed to keeping the entire property wild. Already, 37 acres (15 hectares) of the property is considered primary rainforest (never been cut down). They are hoping to add to those pristine areas with their planting initiatives.

You also can visit a sister property just up the street called Catarata del Toro. This is another impressive waterfall worth checking out.

Trails

From the entrance along Route 708, one main trail winds its way through the Blue Falls property. A narrow stone path has been built in the middle to prevent muddy conditions. The trail is well marked and maintained.

Trail Blue Falls
The stone path leading to the river and waterfalls

In about 20 minutes, the trail splits. To the right is the path leading to the main waterfalls (Las Gemelas) and another blue waterfall called the Tepezquintle Waterfall. To the left is a trail leading farther down river to some smaller waterfalls and blue pools.

From here, it’s about a 10-minute walk to reach the Blue Falls.

Overall, the trail is easy to moderate with a few ups and downs, but nothing too intense. Hiking sticks are provided at the entrance. There are a couple of benches to rest along the way as well.

One thing to note is that closer to the Gemelas Waterfalls, you’ll need to climb down a steep metal ladder and some steps. This was a little tricky for us with one of our kids in a baby carrier, but we managed.

Ladder Blue Falls
The steep ladder near the waterfalls

After the ladder, you’ll cross a sturdy bridge over the blue river. This leads to a path with some small rocks that are not too hard to navigate.

Then there’s another short bridge with some incline. After this point, it’s all rocks to get closer to the waterfall. These can get slippery, so be careful.

One of us opted to stay with our youngest son since there was a lot of mist coming from the waterfalls, making the rocks very wet.

Waterfalls

The highlight of the Blue Falls is, of course, seeing the waterfalls.

Keep in mind that rainfall can affect the color of the water. It can be blue, clear, brown (from silt), and even almost black depending on recent rain.

If there has been heavy rain, it is best to wait about a half-day to visit to increase your chances of seeing the blue color.

We actually visited a full day after some very heavy rains, and the color was blue and beautiful.

Las Gemelas Waterfalls

Cataratas Las Gemelas are some of the most famous waterfalls in Bajos del Toro because of their gorgeous blue color.

After crossing the blue river, you’ll see the largest of the twins first. This picturesque waterfall falls into a small rocky pool. The blue river then spills over the rocks towards you.

Catarata Las Gemelas
The first waterfall you come to

If you continue up the left side of the river, you can then see the second twin waterfall off to the left. This one is a bit smaller but also has the nice blue water at the base.

Las Gemelas catarata segunda
The second waterfall – you have to walk on the rocks to see this one since it’s around the corner.

Las Gemelas Waterfalls are accessible from another property as well, but we have heard that the trail is a little harder and muddier.

Other Waterfalls

We had a short window of time to visit the Blue Falls, so only hiked to the Gemelas Waterfalls. This took us about 1.5 hours total, with about a half-hour at the falls.

If you have more time, you can continue above and below Las Gemelas to see five other blue cascades and two clear-water waterfalls. The entire property can be explored in three to four hours.

La Celestial Waterfall Bajos del Toro
La Celestial Waterfall, another blue waterfall on the property

The Blue River

In our opinion, the gorgeous celeste-colored river at the Blue Falls of Costa Rica was just as spectacular as the waterfalls. The contrast of color against the dark rocks and green forest looks like something out of this world.

The Blue River Bajos del Toro
The blue river

A local expert explained to us that the blue color is only a reflection of sunlight on the minerals floating in the water. At night, the water is completely clear.

Blue Pools and Swimming

It is possible to swim in some of the blue pools, if you are up for it.

Personally, we felt the climate was a bit chilly, and the water was especially cold for swimming. The water comes down the mountain from a high elevation, and temps locally are cool at night (mid-60s °F or around 18 °C).  

But if you are set on getting some pictures of yourself in blue pools, this would be a great place to do it.

Otherwise, the pools are extremely photogenic on their own.

The Blue Pool Las Gemelas
One of the blue pools

Planning Your Visit to Blue Falls of Costa Rica

Cost

Self-guided: Adults – $15, Children – $7.50, Seniors (65+) – $7.50

Guided Extreme Tour: $50 per person (recommended for ages 18+ with good physical ability)

Combo Entrance to Blue Falls & Catarata del Toro: Adults – $25, Children – $12.50, Seniors (65+) – $12.50

Hours

Monday to Saturday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Accessibility

The trails at Blue Falls are not accessible for those with limited mobility. There are many uneven rocks and some slippery spots.

Those looking for a more accessible waterfall can head to Catarata del Toro. You can get a nice view of this waterfall right from the visitors center without having to hike down the trail.

Parking

Across from the entrance to the Blue Falls of Costa Rica is a grassy parking lot. An attendant can see part of this lot from the entrance but always be cautious when leaving valuables in your car. Another parking lot is available at the Catarata del Toro Waterfall down the street, if needed.

What to Bring

We recommend sturdy, closed-toe footwear like sneakers or hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and a lightweight raincoat or poncho. Also be sure to bring plenty of drinking water and snacks/food since nothing is available on the trails.

Bridge Blue Falls
The main bridge leading to the waterfalls

Conclusion

The Blue Falls of Costa Rica was one of our favorites in the Bajos del Toro area. The blue water and majestic waterfalls made for a really nice afternoon hike. Since our family didn’t have a lot of time to explore the entire property, we are already looking forward to going back again soon.

Have a question about visiting the Blue Falls of Costa Rica? Have you been? Leave us a comment below.

Looking for more information to help you plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these articles:

Bajos del Toro: Costa Rica’s Land of Waterfalls – Learn about the other main waterfalls in Bajos del Toro and get a better feel for the town with this article.

Car Rental DiscountIf you are exploring off-the-beaten path activities like the Blue Falls, you’ll want your own set of wheels. Check out our discount to save.

Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica – Looking to see more spectacular waterfalls? See some of our favorites with this post.   

9 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Costa RicaRead more about less trafficked destinations and why they are worth a visit.

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