Rio Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Rio Celeste Waterfall

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This is a photo of Rio Celeste Waterfall. It is located in the Alajuela Province of Costa Rica, near Tenorio Volcano Nation Park. It is famous/popular due to the beautiful blue colour of the water. Yes, it is that colour blue. Wikipedia has a great explanation about the scientific reason why the colour is so unusually blue.

Photography Tips

The specs of the photo are below:
Camera: Nikon D7200
Lens: Sigma 18-35 f/2.8
Shutter Speed: 5 secs.
Aperture: f/16
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 18mm crop sensor, so about 27mm full frame
Accessories: Polarizing Filter + 3 Stop ND Filter

I have many helpful hits to photograph this site:
1. You need a wide-angle lens. As I mentioned above, this photo was taken at an 18mm crop, and 27 full frames. However, in my opinion, the IDEAL focal length would be 10mm crop, 15mm full frame.
2. Bring a tripod + filters
3. Attend a little later in the afternoon, but be mindful that the park closes ~ around 4 pm.
4. Try to attend when it is cloudy. Direct sunlight creates a lot of shadows. But when the clouds block the sun you will get nice even light. This is very important.
5. People seem to come in "waves". The site is very small and can be very busy. Or empty. BE PATIENT AND YOU WILL GET YOUR SHOT. Don't be in a hurry.

Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of a wide-angle lens. I also photographed the waterfall with my Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 super wide lens. But it has bulbous front glass and does not accept filters. The slowest shutter speed I was able to achieve was 1/3 sec which was OK for the waterfall itself. But it didn't adequately blur the lake below.

Travel Information

You'll have to travel by vehicle to reach the site. Just use Waze / Google to find "Rio Celeste Waterfall". Rural areas in Costa Rica do not have addresses. The site is located a little east of Bijagua de Upala. Parking in the adjacent lot is ~2000 Colones (about $3).

The current cost is $12 for each adult. After paying at the ranger station you'll go for a short hike (~1 mil) to reach the falls. It can be muddy during/after rain. The stairs down are quite steep.
There is a pretty good snack restaurant next to the ranger station. Good smoothies and their other food looked pretty darn good as well.
Crowd Factor A decent amount of people
Best Timing Daytime during summer
Sunrise & Sunset 05:41 - 17:51 | current local time: 07:49
Photo Themes National Park Waterfall
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Thank you Eric Helligrath for creating this photo spot in Costa Rica and Mia Pflieger for improving it with additional photos or content.
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