If you’re looking for an incredible day trip from San Jose on your next Costa Rica vacation, choose La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Surrounded by lush flora and fauna, beautiful hiking trails and a coffee plantation, La Paz is an eco-tourist attraction that is privately owned and the perfect place for family tour in the central highlands of Costa Rica. Only an hour away from San Jose and the Juan Santamaria International Airport, it is rich in biodiversity due to its high altitude of 4000 to 5000 feet. La Paz is made up of both rain and cloud forest. One of the most popular attractions is the largest butterfly garden in the world. You will also see an animal sanctuary, a hummingbird garden, a gorgeous bromeliads garden, an orchid garden, a frog pond, a serpentaria, and five extraordinary waterfalls! Visit La Paz for one of the most memorable Tours of Costa Rica and one of the most popular in the Central Valley.
La Paz is open from 8-5 all year and reservations are not necessary. Guided tours are available, but it’s also possible to walk through the park on your own. It takes about 2 hours to walk through the whole park so it’s best to arrive before 3pm. The Peace Lodge is located on the property and only twenty minutes from the Poas Volcano, one of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes. Guests who stay at the Peace Lodge stay in the middle of Costa Rica’s mystical rain and cloud forests and enjoy the colorful tropical birds flying right outside their rooms. You might even be visited by a buzzing hummingbird!
The highlight of La Paz Waterfall Gardens is, of course, the waterfalls. Thanks to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, it is now possible to safety admire and photograph the beautiful waterfalls from a safe platform or balcony. There are 5 waterfalls to see, made possible by the hiking trails. Each one is just as beautiful as the last. The Magia Blanca waterfall actually includes a viewing platform that allows you to stand right under the falls. You’ll also get to capture amazing photos of the Templo and Encantada waterfalls.
The gardens consist of three kilometers of paved trails throughout the lush rainforest. As you walk along, you spot flocks of colorful tropical birds flying near the falls. The trails allow you to watch the waterfalls from many different angles. You can see them from above, from the middle and from below. This leads you to the Hummingbird Garden where you will find 24 species of enchanting small birds. Feeders are strategically dispersed all over the garden, making them easy to spot and photograph.
Next stop is the orchid garden and the frog pond where you will see the small poison dart frog among others. The next attraction is the serpentaria that holds at least 30 different species of native snakes. Finally, you will enter the largest butterfly garden in the world, about the size of a football field! The garden is covered with colorful butterflies of all types and sizes flowing freely in their natural habitat.
Wildlife at the park also includes white-faced and spider monkeys, marmosets, 26 species of hummingbirds, two-toed sloths, jaguar, pumas, ocelots, margays, jaguarondi, 40 species of birds such as toucans and macaws, frogs and 30 species of snakes.
Doka Coffee Tour
If you’re craving a fresh cup of coffee – Costa Rica style – try the Doka Coffee Tour, located on the Doka coffee estate near the Poas Volcano! The coffee plantation shows you how exactly coffee is made, from seed germination to your coffee cup. It’s a great educational experience for the entire family and includes coffee and chocolate tasting and a chance to buy local art and souvenirs.
Visit all year round:
La Paz is beautiful year-round. If it does rain during your visit, the park offers rain jackets and ponchos so you don’t have to worry about it.
Wear good hiking shoes:
You’ll want nice hiking shoes so you can enjoy all the great hiking trails. Also bring clothes that can get wet and muddy.
Try the Colibrie’s Restaurant:
If you’re looking for delicious trout for lunch, try the Colibrie’s Restaurant, located right on the property.
There are two ways to reach La Paz. If you go by car; from San Jose take the Alajuela exit, and follow the signs for Poas. You will reach a three-way intersection, at the Jaulares Restaurant, take a right, drive through Poasito, until the intersection for Heredia, Vara Blanca Sarpiqui; turn right again and take a left at the gas station in Vara Blanca, keep going for about three miles and La Paz Gardens will be on your left. If you are going by bus; take the bus to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in San Jose on Calle 12 and Av 9. Ask the driver if the bus went through Vara Blanca and requested to be dropped off at the entrance of the Park. My Costa Rica can help you arrange a private transfer or shared shuttle so you can get to La Paz relaxed and ready for your vacation of a lifetime.
Where to Stay
Wherever you stay near La Paz Waterfalls Gardens, you’re guaranteed an excellent view of the rain forest and maybe even of the Central Valley. The Peace Lodge is an excellent option because it is located right on the La Paz grounds. It’s the perfect place for families and eco-tourists. The Poas Volcano Lodge is another beautiful mountain lodge. It’s nestled between the Poas and Barva volcanoes, offering magnificent views over the Central Valley.