Minas del Aguacate, natural waterfalls and swimming pools, 2023 update

Note: This is an update to our original 2017 article which can be read at this link here.

When we first visited Las Minas in 2017 it was a mostly unknown, off the beaten bath little gem of a place to enjoy the natural splendors of Costa Rica. It instantly become one of my favorite places in the world to spend part of a day hiking, swimming, cliff jumping, sun tanning, relaxing and more. Since that day in 2017, Costa Rica and the entire world of course, was thrown one nasty curve ball by the name of COVID-19. What was once visited just occasionally by Ticos and tourists all of a sudden became a much more frequent escape when the wonderful beaches of Costa Rica were closed in 2020. I recall back in 2017 there being only a handful of Google reviews when I searched for “Minas del Aguacate” and as of this writing there are now nearly 500! Needless to say, on the weekends and holidays there will likely be a much larger crowd with BBQ’s, music and more then there was years ago but with that said, on our most recent visit during a random Monday in August there were just a few other families enjoying it the same as we were. No excess noise, just the water rushing over the waterfalls and the occasional bird singing a song.

On this most recent trip eight of us ventured there together and we greatly expanded our area of exploration. With a couple teenagers, four 20 somethings and my wife and I into our 40’s we all tremendously enjoyed Las Minas once again. Let the adventure begin…

CLIFF JUMPING!

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Yes, we did a lot of cliff jumping into a number of the larger pools. Of course performing a thorough exploration of your underwater landing area is job number one before jumping anywhere and just because a place was ok to jump yesterday doesn’t mean it will be ok to jump today. Always, always, always look before leaping! With that said, jump, jump away we did.

This pool, a little further up the mountain made for a great location to do some cliff jumping. We found lots of open, deep water to jump into and we made many trips to jump again and again getting some great photos and video along the way. The most troublesome part of this area is walking along the damp, moss covered, rocky edge to get to the jump area. Caution should always be exercised.

After getting a number of rounds of cliff jumping in, it was time to explore further up the hill than we ventured in 2017. Knowing there was a gold mine shaft up above but not knowing exactly where the river came from, a few of us ventured higher and higher. Another hundred yards (meters) or so above that pool, traversing the little bit of a trail that is still there, we came across the gold mine entrance and an old building that unfortunately had been tagged with graffiti. From what I’ve read elsewhere, the mine used to extend very very deep into the mountain but a cave in has shortened the length to a few hundred meters. We surely weren’t equipped to go on a spelunking adventure so we were on our way after snapping a couple of photos.

Trekking further up the mountain, the four of us were wondering if we would come across more pools and or waterfalls. The jungle starts to get thick if you go much further than the mine but onwards we went. After crawling through some jungle, wading through the river and jumping from boulder to boulder, we came across this massive rock blocking our path. After wading, then swimming through the narrow channel to get to the monster rock jammed into the two cliff faces we found our end of the road. Beyond this point was going to require time and gear we simply didn’t have with us. After exploring the area a little more, we used the river route to get back down to the pools below and joined back up with the rest of our group.

After some relaxation, sun and a little snack, more cliff jumping was abound. This time, we were at the first large pool accessible when coming up from the parking area. This is where people frequent most often as it’s much easier to access and has quite a variety of water depth. Once again, jump, jump we did.

And while we are an adventurous bunch, I can’t say we were quite comfortable enough to full on head first dive like some of the local Ticos were doing. Wow! True full send right there!

Of course, not everyone wants to cliff jump or dive into the water and Las Minas delivers once again with the natural water slides at several locations up and down the river. Pretty fun stuff. As mentioned, always check the landing area before jumping or sliding.

What else has changed in the last five years? The parking area is a little bigger and a little better. It’s still rough around the edges but more accessible than it used to be. The roads from Atenas are about the same and are a little adventurous especially when travelling them your first time as sections are narrow and unpaved. Go slow, no reason to hurry.

What to bring? Pretty much the same as before. We all prefer the Keen brand of closed toe waterproof sandals. In fact, we take them just about everywhere we go. Always recommended, a bottle of drinking water, a towel and proper attire if you want to take a dip in the river. If venturing higher up the mountain, a walking stick would be helpful but we managed without one. A camera is a nice addition and if you get some good photos, share them on our Facebook page! There are plenty of huge boulders to rest on and have a picnic or just lay back and soak up the sun. A backpack would be handy to keep both your hands free for the hike.

We’ll be back again and it’s great to know that it took us less than 30 minutes by car from Villa Serenidad in Atenas.

How to get there? My recommendation is to enter “Minas del Aguacate” into Google maps or Waze. The river is best in the wet season but don’t get caught in a down pour. Flash flooding is always a possibility near mountain rivers. On our way out, we were excited that we managed to get much higher up the mountain than during our first visit but time didn’t allow to venture below the bridge and thus we have more to do on our next visit.

And last but sure not least, PLEASE, clean up behind yourself. Our goal is to always leave an area cleaner than we found it. Pura Vida!

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