Can you imagine owning a huge, natural property of various terrains and landscapes, surrounded by mountains, with an otherworldly BLUE waterfall, all in your backyard? Well, this isn’t so far-fetched here in Costa Rica.
Meet the Cubero family, who own and protect a property rich in water resources, including the beautiful Tesoro Escondido (Translated: “Hidden Treasure”) waterfall located in the area of Bajos del Toro, Sarchí. It is similar to Rio Celeste Waterfall National Park, but even closer to San José.
The waterfall itself has become a trend for “Ticos” to visit within the last few years. It began when the Cubero family who owns the waterfall was motivated to create a tourist destination for visitors to the area, after many, many years of it remaining private and unknown to the world.
They had some visitors who created a video that went viral in Costa Rica, and boom! Their whole family became part of an unexpectedly successful adventure in tourism with this magical land, kept secret until now.
Since I began seeing this video of the “new” blue waterfall to visit on social media, and had some friends who visited it tell me about it, I was curious to visit this Hidden Treasure.
So together, with a friend from Boston, it was the perfect excuse to visit jungle waterfalls in Costa Rica.
About Bajos del Toro
From the top of the hill, the town of Bajos del Toro is like a small, colorful village—very picturesque! If you are looking for a little piece of Costa Rican life where everyone knows everyone, then look no further!
This village of 275 people surrounded by rivers (full name: Bajos del Toro Amarillo) is a rural idyll. The town has a church, some small restaurants (sodas), a school and lots of nature and water.
There are at least 3 other fantastic waterfalls that you can visit in the area.
A family story behind the blue waterfall
When we visited Tesoro Escondido Waterfall, the family restaurant was open, and I was able to speak with a woman named Rosemary. One of the nicest things about Costa Rica is the people and their friendliness, so I had a long, great chat with Rosemary, who is one of the 13 family members involved in the business.
“We have siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews that are working to keep the project going—at the beginning, some of them without payment” Rosemary told me.
The property belongs to the family, who inherited it from their father. They never imagined making a living from tourism because the main purpose of the place all along had been for cattle and other agriculture production. Since it is located next to the Poas Volcano, the waterfall has experienced different changes in the color of the water, making the vivid blue the most attractive one, though the sulfur and other minerals (and depending on the season and circumstances), all cause changes in its color fairly often.
Scientific studies of Tesoro Escondido waterfall tell us the minerals and sediments from the volcano produce the variations of the color. Scientists also closely monitor the different levels of the water to guarantee whether it is safe to visit or not, especially during raining season.
Rosemary and some of her other family we met were so incredibly friendly. And this is definitely one of the best things about Tesoro Escondido: you feel like more than just a tourist, but rather a family friend who has the blessing to visit and also witness the value of a family working together, which is one of the kinds of projects that we most highly recommend.
Getting to Tesoro Escondido Waterfall:
Distance from San Jose: 1 hour 40 minutes, 65 kilometers (40.8 miles). The route is incredibly scenic and at times daunting, as you weave along a road that clings precariously to the face of the often cloud-shrouded mountains.
By car: Renting or having a 4WD car is not necessary for visiting this area. Bajos del Toro is accessible for small cars or any other type.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the route turns narrow in some parts. Driving carefully is important.
Also, driving from San Jose to Bajos del Toro can be a little complicated if there is not any guidance. So, we always recommend the navigation app Waze. Downloading and using it will likely save you some time.
By entering the name: “Tesoro Escondido Catarata” in the search bar of the app, it will give you an approximate time and distance from where you are.
And, of course, another great option is Google Maps, which has most of the same features as Waze, though not all.
By private transportation: This is another option that people consider because many people don’t like to drive in Costa Rican routes. Many people prefer to hire someone who can drive them. This is a great idea too, especially if you have kids or a big family.
By bus: Apparently, to get there by bus you will have to take it from Sarchí and stay in the area.
Or it’s possible to take a taxi from Sarchí to Bajos del Toro for around ₡12,000 ($25) total.
One of the people in charge suggested that anyone can contact him and he might be able to help with transportation. (However, keep in mind that he only speaks Spanish). Contact Info: (506) 8570-5434 Oscar Cubero (He is one of the brothers of the family)
Schedule: Monday through Sunday 8:00 am through 5:00 pm
Costs (updated January 2018):
- Entrance Fee: ₡5000 (About $10)
- Parking lot: Yes ₡1500 (About $3)
- Camping Area: Yes ₡5000 per camping tent.
*Bring all the cash you need, as we didn’t see any ATMs or banks.
Difficulty: Easy (though getting to the main waterfall might not be recommended for handicapped or elderly)
Facilities: Rustic showers, restrooms, a restaurant in the entrance (open only during weekends).
Important things to take into consideration:
- During raining season (May – Nov)
- They recommend wearing rubber boots. They can rent them to those who want them. I personally find them slippery, so you could also use tennis shoes that you don‘t mind getting dirty.
- They don‘t recommend swimsuits or white clothes.
- You need to be willing to get dirty if you go during the raining season. MUD is a thing!
- If you see it starting to get cloudy or beginning to rain, you should leave from the waterfall area.
- You can swim in the waterfall! It’s cold, but there were patches where the sunlight was more direct for longer periods that were warmer.
- There are some pools closer to the entrance that you can also swim in.
- After walking through the open field, when you follow the path to the left, there are two smaller waterfalls.
- The family restaurant near the parking lot is only open on weekends. You can expect to pay around $6 for a lunch.
- Another plus to this place is that they allow pets!!!
Tesoro Escondido is an amazing place where you will fall in love with the mountain views, the waterfalls, and the Cubero family! So if you come to Costa Rica, take the time to visit this Hidden Treasure! We highly recommend it!!!