I've received a lot of questions about these falls and I thought I would explain as best I can for those traveling to Costa Rica and wanting to visit. I had these falls on my list without really knowing where in the world they were, all I had was the name and a photo!
The morning we were heading into Rincon de la Vieja National Park I asked our tour guide if we would be anywhere near Catarata Falls and showed him the photo I had. He immediately said we would be five minutes from the falls. Honestly, I thought he was joking and would take us to a similar waterfall nearby. But when it actually worked out, my heart just burst with happiness.
I cannot remember if Catarata Falls was inside the National Park or just outside the entrance, but there is a fee to hike to them and swim, about $5 American dollars. The key is to make sure the water is clear and clean when you go. Because it's fresh water, and we were traveling during the rainy season, our tour guide explained that we would need to check with the desk people to see if it was safe for swimming, because rain can bring a lot of run off with it. Low and behold they said it was crystal clear and perfect conditions. The hike down is about 5-10 minutes, and you have to cross a narrow suspension bridge, but it is worth all of it. The clear blue water was just amazing. And they have a little ladder built into the rock for climbing up to jump off the rocks into the lagoon. My three kids all loved it and did it over and over again. We were the only ones there and it was the best part of the day for me.