Pozas Celestes – Guatuso, Costa Rica - Atlas Obscura

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Pozas Celestes

Guatuso, Costa Rica

The translucent turquoise hue of these natural swimming pools comes from a high concentration of minerals. 


Pozas Celestes is a natural swimming hole best known for its vivid azure water. It’s a relatively easy two-hour drive north of San Jose, in Bajos de Toro, Sarchi, on the outskirts of Poás Volcano National Park

Like the similarly stunning Río Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park, the captivating aqua color of the Pozas Celestes is due to its high concentration of minerals, namely copper sulfate and calcium carbonate. The water flows through underground streams, and minerals accumulate over time as they are deposited in the water. But this chemical balance is delicate, and heavy rains can disrupt it, making the water appear green or brown. Gentler rain will also impact the richness of the blue but it will still maintain the hue. 

While there are multiple pools, only one is swimmable and be forewarned: the water will be cold. Bajos de Toro is in the middle of a rainforest that receives lots of rain and not as much sun. The elevation there is also higher and thus the air is cooler. But it’s that rain that keeps the landscape so verdant and lush, and the waterfalls flowing. This pool is less rocky and deeper than other watering holes around the country, making it a more comfortable swim. There is also a smaller pool for a dip if you’re looking for a less submersive experience.  

To enter, you must buy tickets at Dino-Land/Rio Agrio Waterfalls. Dino-Land is a kitschy park with 25 massive dinosaur replicas, many of which are mechanical so they make sounds and small movements. Big Jurassic Park energy (without the part where the dinosaurs attack). There’s no need for a guide at Pozas Celestes but you will need their driver to drop you off and pick you up from the entrance to the pools. 

Because the cellular service there is minimal, you will arrange a time for the driver to pick you up after the swim. Note that the short hike to the pool takes about 10 minutes one way, so factor that into your time there. Ninety minutes to two hours seems to be the sweet spot. It also is more crowded on weekends and afternoons, so an early morning visit might offer more room to spread out and splash around. A suprise plus is that there are toilets only 50 meters from the pools.

Know Before You Go

While a 4-wheel drive vehicle isn’t necessary, it’s recommended especially if traveling during the rainy season. And even though the main route in and out of Bajos de Toro (Ruta 708) is paved with relatively few potholes, the mountain roads are windy and visibility can be low because of the clouds and fog. 

Bajos de Toro is a small town with a variety of options for accommodations, including a posh ecolodge with a farm to table restaurant, as well as a mid-range hotel made from shipping containers. 

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