The waterfall at Río Celeste

Explore Río Celeste in Arenal/La Fortuna


The Rio Celeste river sits inside Tenorio Volcano National Park and is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful and mysterious natural places. According to local legend, after God finished painting the sky, He washed the paintbrushes in this river; hence the name—Rio Celeste means "river of the sky." However, the scientific explanation attributes the river's blue hue to the mixture of sulfur and carbonate, which originate in the nearby dormant Tenorio Volcano.

The river is surrounded by rainforests and home to many species of wildlife, including sloths, anteaters, and various exotic birds. Despite Rio Celeste's unparalleled beauty, this is one of the least-visited tourist locations in Costa Rica, meaning the park doesn't get too crowded and preserves its natural state.

You can easily visit Rio Celeste on a day trip from Arenal, Monteverde, or even the Guanacaste coast. Upon arrival, enjoy a hike through the rainforest on the banks of the river and stop along the way at Los Teñideros, where the color originates. As two brooks meet, they cause a chemical reaction that forms the turquoise-colored river. Continue the hike until you reach the famous Río Celeste waterfall.

Discover more nature excursions in Costa Rica and more experiences in and around Arenal/La Fortuna.

Itineraries with Explore Río Celeste in Arenal/La Fortuna

Highlights of Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Manuel Antonio - 9 Days

The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica, offers an array of adventures, from city to cloud forest to the sea. This weeklong itinerary includes trekking near an active volcano, some of the world’s best bird-watching, and snorkeling with sea turtles. It's a trip that encompasses the country's most spectacular and varied landscapes, plus an opportunity to savor the culture of local villages as well as that of San José, Costa Rica's dynamic capital city.

Costa Rica Hiking Adventure - 10 Days

Checking off three key regions in Costa Rica, this 10-day itinerary is perfect for adventurous travelers. The trip starts with a visit to Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano for hiking and natural hot springs before continuing to the Pacific Ocean for some beach time at Manuel Antonio National Park. Finish off in one of the country's most remote areas—Osa Peninsula—for undeveloped rainforests, rare wildlife, and near-empty coastline.

Arenal Waterfall Expedition - 4 Days

This quick-hit excursion to Arenal Volcano National Park offers an outdoor adventure where Costa Rica's stunning waterfalls take center stage. The trip starts and ends in bustling San Jose, but the village of La Fortuna will be your base as you enjoy Arenal's many cascades. Keep an eye out for wildlife on a hike to the incredible Rio Celeste waterfall. Along the way, cool off with a swim at the base of the waterfalls, or indulge yourself with a dip in the healing waters of Tabacón before heading back to the capital.