Rio Celeste Costa Rica was a highlight of my recent trip to Central America. The pictures may seem over edited but they’re NOT the water really is aquamarine blue!
Rio Celeste is located in Tenorio Volcano National Park about an hour and a half north of La Fortuna, Costa Rice.
If you’re basing yourself out of La Fortuna, hiking Rio Celeste is a perfect day trip.
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rio celeste costa rica hiking guide
about rio celeste
The bright blue river 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 aluminosilicate particles to 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.
How to Get There
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 7;30 when scheduled and waited for us to hike then took us back to our hotel.
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.
About the Rio Celeste Hike
It is a moderate 3.7 mile hike 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 so worth it.
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.
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.
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 glow next to the rich, lush, green of the rainforest.
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.
What to Bring
- Rain jacket. If you want to look a little stylish in your photos try out this rain jacket by North Face or 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.
- GoProand make sure its waterproof.
- Waterproof hiking pack or have a rain cover. It poured on me when I was in Rio Celeste Costa Rica.
If you’re looking to stay in the area I’ve heard great things about Rio Celeste Hideaway Resort. Luxury in the jungle with Rio Celeste at your front door. Jacuzzi and swimming pool along with free breakfast.
I stayed at La Tabacon Resort when I was in this area. The La Tabacon thermal springs is an experience you can’t miss when your exploring Costa Rica. The complimentary breakfast was out of this world. Anything you could imagine wanting was there. And don’t even get me started on the fresh squeezed juices!