If you need a break from the beach a morning hike to either Yelapa waterfalls is the perfect remedy. This activity is about the only thing, asides from the beach, that Yelapa offers. Both hikes are super easy and each has its advantages. If you have the time a visit to both Yelapa waterfalls is a must.
Yelapa’s Main Waterfall
Depending on where you are staying in Yelapa, this hike begins either on the beach or in town. I stayed at Casa Bahia Bonita so my hike began from the beach. Both trails eventually merge taking you to your destination.
From the beach – The beach is located on the northern side of Yelpa’s river but the waterfall hike is on the southern side. You will need to cross the river using the new pedestrian bridge. Begin by walking behind the the beachfront chairs and restaurants, following the dirt path past the small grocery shop, the dirt path will turn into a cobbled street that you follow until you reach the newly built school. Directly to the right of the school is the new pedestrian bridge, built mostly for students to come and go. Crossing the bridge takes you to the south-side of the river where you continue on with the waterfall hike. This portion of the hike takes about 20 minutes.
From Town – Since you are already located south of the river you do not have to initially cross the river to start your hike to the waterfall. Where you are staying in town does not really matter, you must go through town eastward on the main road, like you are heading towards the beach. Once you pass through town all you have to do is stay on the main road, after about 20 minutes walking you will see the pedestrian bridge, but keep to your same path.
- Wild Tip: In town there are signs saying Cascada or Waterfall but most of them are pointing you towards the waterfall in town. Once you get past town you will see the same signs which now point you in the correct direction.
After the pedestrian bridge continue along the cobbled road. The whole hike follows this one road. The cobbled path eventually turns into a dirt path and after about 40 minutes you will get to your first river crossing. The dirt path continues directly across the river, which you will walk on for a few minutes before having to cross the river for a second time. After your second river crossing, still following the same path, is when the hike turns from a walk into a hike. The trail begins to weave through the jungle, before finishing with a short scramble over massive rocks gaining you access to the waterfall.
There are plenty of signs along the trail and finding your way is easy. Overall this hike takes a little over an hour. The hike is not strenuous at all, until the small rock section at the end. I did the hike in shoes and my girlfriend completed it just fine in sandals. I recommend shoes only because the whole trail is covered in a literal ton of horse apples, from tour groups and local use of the path.
I actually really enjoyed the hike. The waterfall was nicer than I expected it to be and most of the hike is following the same path. My girlfriend and I took it easy, chatting the whole way. Even once we got to the real hiking part, the trail it was still easy. The end section of the hike is an awesome stretch of wandering through tropical jungle before arriving to the impressive waterfall.
At the base of the waterfall you are able to swim, cool off and explore around. The water is shallow enough that you can wade up to the waterfall itself. It is possible to climb on top of the waterfall for a great view of the river. Getting down is a bit more tricky, so only do this if you are comfortable at such things.
The Waterfall in Town
With its close proximity to the town of Yelapa this waterfall hike is definitely the more tourist-ed of the two. Located less than a 10 minute walk south of town, on a paved path, this “hike” is just an easy walk up a slightly inclined path lined with vendors selling trinkets and other items.
There are plenty of Cascada or Waterfall signs as you enter the town of Yelapa to show you the way to this hike. If you are coming from the beach you must walk through town, past the church and basketball court and over the small bridge that crosses the river. You then go past a water purification station and on the next street take a left. Follow this path for less than 10 minuets to the waterfall.
Getting to this waterfall is less impressive than hiking to the other waterfall out of town but this waterfall is impressive in its own right, with its larger fall size. This waterfall does not offer much besides taking a picture or having a quick dip in the small pool below the fall. Even so it is something easy to do when you explore around town.
There is not much to do in the town of Yelapa, especially in low season when most everything is closed, so by spending a couple of mornings wandering around and getting my hike on, was my highlight during my time in Yelapa.
I was actually really impressed with the main waterfall hike. My girlfriend and I spent quite a few hours enjoying the water and climbing around the rocks. And having the whole area to ourselves during those hours. We only passed one other couple coming in as we were heading out to the waterfall.