This month I traveled to Costa Rica for the first time was able to do a little exploring over two weeks and the highlight of my trip was hiking the Rio Celeste River. The pictures may seem over edited but they’re NOT the water really was aquamarine blue! You’ll just have to travel here and hike this trail to see for yourself but before you go here’s a guide to help you on your journey so you have the smoothest, best possible time.

The view of the waterfall as you walk down the stairs


This bright blue river known as Rio Celeste is formed by 2 rivers merging together. One river has high acidity due to volcanic activity and the other river carries significant quantities of a type of mineral aluminosilicate that is responsible for reflecting the blue color. When these 2 rivers mix to form the Rio Celeste, the drop in PH causes the aluminosilicate particles to aggregate and enlarge giving the river a strong turquoise color.

The locals say that God dipped his brush in the river as he was painting the sky to give Rio Celeste its bright blue color.

I mean, how beautiful is this river?!?!


Located about 1.5- 2 hours depending on traffic from La Fortuna town. It is in the middle of the country up north towards the Nicaragua border in Tenorio Volcano National Park.

If you have your own transportation, you can just type in Rio Celeste into your GPS and it will take you right to the trailhead. Roads are straightforward and paved.

By taxi or car service, you can arrange some from the tour desk in your hotel. I went through a company called Arenal evergreen, which cost $50 per person round trip. I booked the day before and received 5% off. They were quick to return my email and will pick you up at your hotel. They arrived promptly at 730 when they said they’d arrive and waiting for us to hike and took us back to our hotel. We never had to wait around, I definitely recommend booking with this company if you don’t have your own form of transportation.


The Tenorio Volcano National Park entrance fee for adults is $12 for adults.

The park hours are every day from 8 am to 4 pm but you must enter before 2 pm.

Only 400 people are allowed on the trail at one time so its better to come early.

No Smoking is allowed inside the Park as they check you’re bags before you enter.



  • There’s a mini mart where you can buy snacks and water.
  • A place to rent water shoes.
  • Fruit stand
  • A couple restaurant’s that are reasonably priced and an extra bonus is they have take away.
  • Restrooms are located by the ticket counter


It is a moderate hike that is 3.7 miles out and back. It takes about 2-3 hours depending on how rainy it’s been cause it has the potential to be very muddy. When I went, it down poured the whole time but I finished it in 1 hour and 40minutes.

The first section of the trail is not very steep and paved. 1 mile in, you’ll come to a sign that points down for the waterfall (catarata) and up to continue along the river. To go down to the waterfall you’ll have to descend a set of steep stairs but don’t worry, there are hand rails. Don’t forget to look up as you’re walking down, there will be photo ops all along the way.

Once you’re done viewing the waterfall, you’ll go back to the top and take the trail upwards along the river. This is when the trail stops being paved and becomes a bit more muddy.

About a quarter of a mile on the trail along the river you’ll come to a view point where you can step up the platform and get a good view of the rainforest below.

200 meters later you’ll come to Laguna Azul, or the blue lagoon.

Laguna Azul, this was the point in the hike where it really started to pour on us

Next you’ll walk across a couple hanging bridges that gives you a great view of the river and you’ll be in awe to see the turquoise blue shine next to the rich, lush, green of the rainforest.

It was like something out of a fairy tale

Finally, at the end of the trail you’ll see where the 2 rivers meet and where the blue starts to become blue. This part was amazing and I’m always blown away to think about how amazing our world is and all the magical things that Mother Nature can do.

Where the 2 rivers meet! How cool is that?

Okay, you’ve done the hike, now turn around and get back to the entrance.


  • Rain jacket. If you want to look a little stylish in your photos try out this rain jacket by North Faceor if you want more of a trench coat style try this one.
  • Sturdy shoes, hiking boots or shoes you don’t care to get muddy.
  • GoPro and make sure its waterproof.
  • Waterproof hiking pack or have a rain cover. Here’s what I use but I’m in the market for a new one so I’d love to hear recommendations if you have any leave it in the comments.


If you’re staying in the area here are a few hotels that I recommend

  • Hotel SueñoReal RioCelesteYou can see Rio Celeste at the back of the property. Offers free breakfast and certain rooms come equipped with a kitchenette. So if you’re looking to start the hike as early as possible this would be a good choice for you.
  • Hotel Catarata Río CelesteBeautiful grounds where you can enjoy bird watching and relaxing. There is an onsite restaurant and the rooms are clean and comfortable. Prices start at $50 a night
  • Rio Celeste Hideaway Resort– If you’re looking for a bit more luxury after your hike this Resort is what you want. Swimming pool, hot tub to soak in after a day of exploration, bar and free breakfast, Hideaway Resort will fitful everyones needs.
  • Casitas Tenorio B&B and FarmFamily run property surrounded by jungle. There are sloths, toucans, monkeys and lots of exotic birds on the property so bring your binoculars. Breakfast is enjoyable every morning listening to the sounds of the wildlife. Rooms do not have good WIFI so if WIFI is mandatory at night I’d choose another hotel.

To check out reviews and prices yourself here.

I’ll leave you with one last image!

Thanks for reading and I hope you are now inspired to not only travel to Costa Rica but to hike the Rio Celeste, something everyone should see with their own eyes. Follow along @imjess_traveling as I explore more off the beaten path destinations.