Thursday 3/16: La Fortuna waterfall, pool time and travel to Monteverde

Day 6 in Costa Rica! Thursday, 3/16.

This was our last morning in La Fortuna, and sort of a transition day. I felt sad to leave this area!! I really loved everything we did, and our resort was so perfect for us. But, we still had two other areas of Costa Rica to explore, so… onward.

We weren’t planning to rush out in the morning. The drive to Monteverde would be almost 3 hours, and seeing as it gets dark earlier in Costa Rica, there wasn’t really going to be time to “do” anything in the late afternoon when we arrived. I suppose we could have gotten up and left at 7 am, but Monteverde is a smaller, more rustic, mountainous, cloud forest area. I felt our 3 nights/2 full days there would be sufficient. Therefore, I wanted to use Thursday as sort of an additional partial day in La Fortuna.

So, early morning on the patio:

Drying out our clothes from the cave tour

Then an early breakfast.

Our last buffet breakfast! They had similar options each day, but they switched out certain things everyday. Staples for me were eggs and pineapple, tea, and some kind of potato.

We got going earlier than usual because we wanted to fit in a visit to the La Fortuna waterfall, and some more pool time before leaving for Monteverde in the early afternoon.

Fortunately the waterfall was close by- just maybe 10-15 minutes by car.

Saw “the backside” of the volcano

La Fortuna Waterfall

We bought our tickets ($18/per person). More on this later, but everything in Costa Rica costs money. Everything. And not like, $5. Entrance to every trail, waterfall, hike, etc – anything you want to do, they charge you. And $18 was a cheap one! Most are like $25 per person at least, much more if you want a guide. It’s not a big deal if you’re only here for a few days, but on a 2 week trip- it can really add up when you’re doing many, many activities. Not to even mention the other outings like ziplining or rafting etc which are much pricier too. (Like $90+ per person type range.)

Basically everything is seriously inflated here (especially for Central America), I guess because Costa Rica is a hotspot for travel right now. Someone I know informed me Costa Rica is “trending”. Haha. I guess for once in my life I am “trendy”?

Ivan has been a little annoyed about it (“this would be way cheaper in Mexico….”), but I guess it is what it is. I’m just used to national parks and natural areas in the U.S. where you can often find totally free trails or hikes (or they are like all included in your one time fee at a National park or with a state park pass, for example). Or a waterfall trail may be down the side of a public road, etc.

Anyway, we paid, entered and started the hike down. First, a lookout from the top:

Sooo pretty!!
Zoomed in 🙂

There were 500 steps down (and eventually, back up), through very pretty terrain.

A glimpse of the falls! This one was different from Rio Celeste in that it does not have the brilliant blue water, and it’s a taller, skinnier waterfall! Very powerful and beautiful. As usual, pictures don’t do it justice.

The boys ran ahead to the lower viewing area, so here are some pics of me, Ivan and my dad. My mom opted to sit this one out- the idea of 500 more steps after all the hiking, hills, and cave climbing didn’t sound good to her. (I had no idea Costa Rica was so hilly!! You’re basically always either going up or down….). She stayed back and enjoyed a slow coffee in the restaurant and wandering around the hotel trails a little bit (paved/flat).

My dad likes stairs though. 😅

Then we caught up with the boys. They were wading in the river around the corner from the falls. You could swim, but it was earlier and they didn’t want to get totally wet here. They wanted to save their swimming time for back at the resort. (This water was pretty cold, too.)

We just hung out here for a while and enjoyed the views and the sound of the babbling river.

This is really a beautiful place. It’s on all the “must do” lists for La Fortuna, with good reason.

Finally we headed back up, now with the boys- so I of course had to get some pics of them in front of the falls.

Then… dun dun dun…. The hike back up. Ugh! It was long and hot and my legs were feeling it. But, I guess it wasn’t that bad. I saw some people with babies in baby carriers and I was very glad to not have a 25 lb hot little human strapped to my chest (who, ahem, will never remember seeing these falls, anyway…).

At the top, Ivan bought Asher an ice cream and we swung through an underwhelming orchid garden (I think our timing with the blooms was off?) before heading back to the resort.

Along a main road in La Fortuna. “Sodas” are their local restaurants- like a roadside taqueria in Mexico, but Costa Rica’s version. They are not just selling cold refreshments/“soda”. 😄

Pool Time

We changed quick and then hit the pools!! We had to check out by noon, but we could stay and use the pools for as long as we wanted. The plan was to swim for a bit, take a break at 11:30 to get everything to the car, and then swim a bit more/have lunch by the pool. And then head out by 2 pm or so to allow us to drive the 3 hours to Monteverde before dark.

Ahhhh, this was so nice!!! We all had moments of “let’s just scrap the rest of the trip and stay here for another week!!” Lol. (Not really, but it was tempting.)

Also, a quick pause to give a shout out to my Aloha beach bag. I said I wasn’t going to buy one, but then I did because I liked the idea of a waterproof, zip top bag along. They have a 20% off coupon for first time customers! I am now tempted to order a couple of the little zip bags that you can use inside the bigger bag! (Like little pouches.)

I am sooo glad I brought this along! It has been very useful around the pools, waterfalls and now the beach.

Eventually we did have to go pack up (the boys stayed in the pool), and then we got a final lunch from the pool bar restaurant.

We had company during our meal:

I had to drag myself out of the pool, but finally we did. They had nice showers and changing rooms for us to use, which was great because we had already checked out at noon. (Just packed clothes in a day bag for after the pool, rest of our stuff was loaded up in the SUV.)

Saying goodbye to the volcano!!

Ice cream for the road.

Drive to Monteverde

I had been warned the drive to Monteverde was a bit challenging, in the sense that it is winding, curvy roads, with some very steep and unpaved sections closer to the end. We had 4 wheel drive in our SUV (and full insurance on it), so I wasn’t too worried. Ivan was not fazed by it, but I got a little queasy from all the turns….

Views of Lake Arenal on the way past

We were losing daylight toward the end, and at one point we briefly missed our turn and ended up at some remote like, ranch or something in the middle of nowhere. Our phones lost service right at that point too, so I was a little nervous for a few minutes! But we were able to backtrack and get on the “correct” gravel road (which looked practically impassable, honestly- but apparently it is the best road they have from La Fortuna to Monteverde, at least without going almost 5 hours out of the way.) I didn’t get any great pictures that really capture how steep and crazy some of these roads were!!

We made it to Monteverde just in the nick of time, before it was totally dark.

Entering the town of Santa Elena where we stayed.

Checking in at our lodge

This whole area, like I said, is much smaller, a bit less visited, and more rustic than La Fortuna. It’s at some elevation and there are not all the bigger resorts like in other places. That was a-okay with me- I was excited for a more authentic cloud forest lodge feel here.

This hotel was really a series of cabins nestled up on a hill. My parents had a lower, smaller cabin, and the four of us got the biggest one- a 2 bedroom house way at the top of the property.

Outside the main building- reception/breakfast
Cute rustic library in the entrance!
My parents’ cabin
Our house
Porch on our house.

I was bummed it was dark enough that I couldn’t really get a good feel for the views or the whole property! I don’t like getting to a new place after dark for this reason- it’s a bit disorienting. But our house seemed very cute with wooden floors and a great porch and a nice kitchen area. I have better pics from daytime I’ll share later.

Our room
The boys’ room
Much cooler in Monteverde, so no a/c needed- LOVED sleeping with all the windows open and listening and to the sounds of nature.
Path up to our house

The awesome thing about this place was that from our house, we felt like we were in a totally remote location, but we were really just on the edge of town! It was the perfect combo. We could walk just down the road and be at all the restaurants in town.

Walking into town for dinner

It was dark and we didn’t really have the lay of the land yet, so we wandered around briefly before just picking a Mexican themed taco place very nearby.

It was cute and festive and had great guacamole and cold beer.

After dinner we hiked back up the hill and all turned in pretty early- it felt like a very long day with the early morning, all the steps at the waterfall, then the swimming and then the long, bumpy drive!!

Ivan watched a little Netflix on the TV while I sorted photos or wrote a blog post and the kids hung out in their room (playing on their phones, I think). The next morning we would head out to start exploring Monteverde and the cloud forests!

7 thoughts on “Thursday 3/16: La Fortuna waterfall, pool time and travel to Monteverde”

  1. I had no idea Costa Rica was trendy OR that it was so expensive. Oh, well, you only live once and the boys are sure to remember all these awesome adventures. It looks like you had fun and I can’t wait to see more of your trip!


  2. I am not a big fan of waterfalls in general but yours look so fun! and a good workout!!!
    it seems a not crowded sight… isn’t it? in asia everywhere we go is packed, unless there’s a pandemic 🙂


  3. We have two small children (2yo and newborn), so we won’t be doing any major traveling soon, but all of your trips get me excited for the future. Your boys are so fortunate to have such amazing experiences, they have awesome parents! Can’t wait to share similar experiences with my kiddos. Love following you and your family along on all of your adventures.


  4. I’m super into this trip! Thoughts: would G be old enough next year to do most of the active stuff? She’d be 6. Thinking maybe spring break 2024 (!)


    1. I would say yes! We saw lots and lots of younger kids, and most of the activities we did would have been perfectly fine for younger kids. That being said, if I “only” had a 6 year old, I probably would have waited until the kids were older, just because it’s generally a very active trip, lots of steps and inclines and hiking etc.. (and Costa Rica is super fun for like the teenaged sector). But since you do have older kids too and they are more spread out, I think it would be completely fine! Very fun for all ages! It’s beautiful and amazing and you should TOTALLY come to Costa Rica. Incredible. Would be happy to chat or share what we’ve learned, any time! It’s a little tricky to plan at first just because there are sooo many great options and things to do, and there are various different areas (rain forests, volcanos, cloud forests, beach areas, waterfalls…)… so going to just one single location can be hard to narrow down, if you want to experience the different areas! Hence why we split our time between 3 places over 2 weeks.


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