One of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets, Tenorio Volcano National Park sits near the border of Nicaragua in the Northern part of Costa Rica and is best known for the beautiful Catarata Rio Celeste and it’s azure blue waters.
The trail is approximately 3.7 miles (or 6 kilometers) and is a relatively easy hike for most people. Keep a lookout for amazing fauna and flora along the way.
One of the animals that you will probably encounter is the pizote, better known as the coati. They are recognizable by their long nose and tail. Coatis are agile tree climbers and use their tail for balancing when climbing.
After exploring the jungle trail for around 1 mile (or 1.6 kilometer), we arrived at a junction. We chose to go upriver to the Laguna Azul (blue lagoon) first and kept the waterfall view as a payoff for the end of our hike.
The Tenorio and Montezuma Volcanos haven’t erupted in recent history but volcanic fumaroles, hot springs and gas releases are present.
Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy and we didn’t get to see the peaks.
The River and Lagoon
A little further up the trail and we get our first glance at the truly incredible colors of the blue lagoon.
Although the waters are inviting, swimming is strictly prohibited everywhere along this trail. However, stick around until the end of the video to see our secret swimming area outside of the national park.
The Borbollones, which are escaping volcanic gases, are quite beautiful but emanate a strong odour of sulfur
The trail follows the river, eventually leading you towards a beautiful suspension bridge.
If you scare easily, be mindful while crossing the bridge as it can be quite bouncy!
The second bridge crossing provides a unique vantage point of this truly incredible river.
Why is the river Azure?
Local legend has it that “When God finishes painting the sky, he washes his brushes in Rio Celeste“.
In reality, the suspended aluminosilicate particles in Buenavista River agglomerate due to the decrease in pH after mixing with the acidic Quebrada Agria river. The aluminosilicates absorb the colors present in sunlight, except for blue. Thus, the blue from the rays of sunlight is reflected, creating the remarkable coloration. Nature at it’s best!
Getting up close to the waterfalls requires descending a long and steep stairway into the dense jungle.
Just when the sound of the falls overtakes the sounds of the forest, you will be amazed as you turn a corner and get your first glance of Catarata Rio Celeste, a spectacular 100 foot (30 meter) waterfall that cascades down into a magical turquoise pool.
The elevation gain for this trail is 715 feet (218 meters). Do keep in mind that parts of the trail are steep and rocky and can get wet and muddy at times.
Once you have completed your trek, I recommend that you stop by the soda just outside the gates and try a delicious Passionfruit juice.
Secret swimming hole
Would you like to experience bathing in this incredible river? There is a small parking area next to a bridge approximately one mile from the entrance of the National Park. Just give the “attendant” a few dollars and they will keep an eye on your vehicle while you swim