Jerry and I are typically not big fans of zoos or theme parks or any type of over-commercialized tourism. In fact, they are the antithesis of what Backroad Planet is all about. And even though La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Vara Blanca, Costa Rica, has elements of all three, for some reason, we really loved spending several hours there last March when we did a week-long backroad trip in Costa Rica.
If you ever get to visit the gardens, you will discover that it is definitely a backroad destination. Although we had both GPS and maps with us, we questioned several times whether we had lost our way. We could not believe the terrible conditions of the dirt roads leading to this lovely piece of Costa Rican heaven, but we count our blessings that we were actually able to visit because they have had lots of problem with landslides in the area, and most recently heavy flooding took out a Bailey bridge at the foot of La Paz Waterfall. If you are interested in visiting the park, be sure to research local road conditions before making definite plans.
When I was planning our Costa Rica itinerary I read many reviews about La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and they were overwhelmingly positive and sent the message that it was an experience not to be missed. Now that I have visited the gardens, I have to agree and add my recommendation to the literature. Although the current ticket prices may seem a bit steep ($36 adults and $21 children), between the scenery, animals, culture, and history, you will receive more than your money’s worth, no doubt.
There is probably no better way to get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s animal life in a relatively short amount of time than at an animal park. Although we saw many animals in the wild, you can never guarantee what you will see. Jerry and I both still regret not getting video footage of a flock of scarlet macaws that flew behind us at one of our stops along the Pacific Coast. And even though it is not preferable to view animals behind bars, it is reassuring to know that none of the animals at La Paz Waterfall Gardens were captured in the wild. The following sign explains it best:
In this post, in order to show what words cannot describe, we decided to create a brief virtual tour of La Paz Waterfall Gardens by sharing a gallery of video clips.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Although the toucans were my favorite up-close-and-personal birds at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the hummingbirds were abundant, fearless, and intriguing. Twenty-six species of hummingbirds visit the hummingbird garden, and if you arrive at the park before 9:00 AM or after 4:00 PM you can feed the hummingbirds with personal hand-held feeders.
Just above the hummingbird garden is the park’s aptly named Colibries Restaurant. The lunch buffet offers a full salad and entree bar that includes typical Costa Rican dishes as well as universal favorites such as pizza and french fries for the kids. The lunch buffet price ($13 for adults; $7 for children) is quite reasonable, especially when compared with other tourist attractions. Two other restaurants on the property, the Big Trout Bar and Tortillas, offer a la carte dining.
History buffs will enjoy taking a step back in time at the Casita de La Paz, a reproduction of a Costa Rican farmhouse like those that existed one hundred years ago. The house was built with tools and materials from that period in order to add to its authenticity. Attention to detail is evident throughout the compound with cattle, a wagon, and our favorite, the coatís roaming around the property.
You can find rustic-style luxury accommodations at the adjoining Peace Lodge ranging from $315 to $840 per night depending on room and season. Although we did not stay there, the pictures on the web site look very inviting. If you find yourself planning a Costa Rica road trip, a visit to La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a destination that deserves a place on your itinerary. Also, check out our blog post on Villa Hermosa: Your Home Away From Home in Costa Rica, our very favorite place to stay in this lovely country.