11 Days in Costa Rica
Leave your stress at home, because it's not welcome here! Costa Rica is where the word paradise was meant for. It's one of the most biologically diverse places in the world with dense jungles full of monkeys, sloths, reptiles and other tropical life, reaching out onto stunning white sand beaches. Nature is perfectly paired with adventure in this tiny Central American country and gives its visitors an unlimited number of opportunities to get as active, or as relaxed as you like! Soak away an afternoon in a hidden hot springs waterfall oasis, zipline through the thick jungle on one of the world's longest ziplines, take a surfing lesson from a local Tico, hike onto the hardened lava flow of an active volcano, or surround yourself with wild spider monkeys, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are endless!
Costa Rica is also known as the most gay-friendly country in Central America, with a lively gay social scene in San Jose and Manuel Antonio, and some of the friendliest local people you could ever meet! This is a true Costa Rican experience from the diverse landscape, to the exotic animals, to the Gallo Pinto for breakfast.
Our 11-day trip has been designed to maximize your experience here and have you begging to stay forever! Instead of rushing around in a panic trying to visit as many places as possible, we’ve specially chosen three locations, plus San Jose that we know you’ll fall in love with. We genuinely love Costa Rica and can't wait to share this paradise with you!
Our trip officially begins together at our group hotel at 4:00pm on this first day. This is where we'll all gather to begin our adventure together! This time in the capital city of San Jose is a great introduction to the incredible country of Costa Rica as well as our first chance to get to know our fellow travelers.
In the evening you'll be treated to an authentic Costa Rican dinner which will allow everyone to find which foods are their favorite right at the start. At night you'll have the opportunity to immerse yourself into some local nightlife before heading out of the "big city" the next morning.
Manuel Antonio is just a 3 hour drive from San Jose and is known as one of the most diverse areas for flora and fauna with all kinds of monkeys, reptiles, birds, sloths, and plant life of course. It's also known as the gay beach area of Costa Rica with an international expat as well as local LGBT community. Spend your day at the beautiful long beach, or checking out the incredibly abundant life in Manuel Antonio National Park, then spend the evening experiencing Manuel Antonio's social life.
Our accommodation here is at the well known LGBT-only Villa Roca hotel, perched on the cliff with stunning views over the Pacific Ocean. The infinity pool (and Jacuzzi) is a great place to connect with your group and other travelers after a day of adventure.
Included Activities: Manuel Antonio National Park entrance and 2 hour guided walk with an expert local wildlife spotter.
Optional Activities: ATV tours, ziplining, parasailing, snorkelling, horseback riding, etc.
On day 5 we travel north, up the Pacific coast, then way up into the mountains or, more specifically, the cloud forest known as Monteverde. This area is a natural wonder, with tens of thousands of diverse insects, 2,500 species of plants, 400 varieties of birds, and over 100 mammals calling it home. It's that place in nature where everything grows wild. Outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers will specifically enjoy your couple of nights here whether you choose to hike through the trails of the Monteverde Biological Reserve, zipline on some of the country's highest and longest ziplines, or take part in a coffee plantation tour (or many more activities).
Our accommodation is at one of the top-rated properties in the entire Central America region. It's well known for its spectacular views, great service, and beautiful property nestled in the forest.
Optional Activities: Ziplining, biological reserve hiking, coffee tour, rappelling, bird watching, etc
From Monteverde, we'll take a private bus/boat/bus transfer up down the mountain and across Lake Arenal, to our next stop located at the base of the imposing Arenal volcano. It's the iconic, perfectly symetrical volcano that's found on the front of most postcards from Costa Rica, and it's right at our doorstep for 3 nights. Our hotel pool here is fed by natural hot springs, but we'll also take you off the beaten path, away from the crowds, to a hot springs waterfall oasis hidden in the jungle... as long as you promise not to share the location with the world!
Your three nights here are your opportunity to be as adventurous as you'd like, this area definitely won't limit you. Fantastic white-water rafting opportunities, along with white-water tubing, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, and many more unique activities to choose from here.
Included Activities: Visit to the natural hot springs river. Evening transfers in/out of La Fortuna town.
Optional Activities: White-water rafting, hiking, kayaking, zorbing, and many more...
We take the "scenic route" through the mountains and past impressive waterfalls as we travel back into San Jose for one more dinner together before saying our adios for now's! If your flight time permits, maybe take a quick trip out to one of the volcanoes that surround the city! And if you've got an extra few days we'll set you on the right path to continue experiencing this Costa Rican paradise. All travelers are welcome to book their flights departing from Costa Rica at any time on the 11th day.
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica feels like a whole different world away from the Pacific coast and interior parts of the country and, if you've got some extra time to spare, a visit is well worth it! While your 11-day group trip focuses on the western half of the country, you'll love the unique landscapes and Caribbean culture of the eastern coast.
Our 3-night extension package includes your roundtrip transfers from San Jose to the beautiful Puerto Viejo, including the option of a shuttle transfer OR an "adventure transfer" which includes white water rafting a section of the route! On top of that, we'll set up your 3 nights of accommodation at the beachfront Banana Azul Hotel, a visit to the Jaguar Wildlife Centre, and a trip to the nearby Bri Bri Waterfall. If you'd like us to set up more activities, just ask. This unguided extension package can be added to any Costa Rica trip by request.
We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. After rigorous wifi signal testing, fluffing pillows, and taking a shower or two, we've narrowed down our favorite properties. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip.
SAN JOSE: Presidente Hotel
The Presidente Hotel is centrally located in the heart of San Jose, providing walkable opportunities everywhere you turn. This hotel provides a delicious a la carte breakfast and a fantastic rooftop restaurant/bar. Situated steps from San Jose's main pedestrian street, you'll find shops and restuarants minutes away.
LA FORTUNA: Arenal Manoa & Hot Springs
This property features the Arenal Volcano front and centre - there's a view of it from every room! A locally-owned and comfortable location accomodates travelers with a relaxing natural hot springs-fed pool. The ground of this property are beautiful, the views are unforgettable, and the mood is oh so relaxing.
MANUEL ANTONIO: Villa Roca
Manuel Antonio's well-known LGBT-only hotel is the perfect base for enjoying Manuel Antonio. With a fantastic swimming pool and jacuzzi perched on the cliff over the Pacific Ocean, a great daily happy hour, and only minutes to the beautiful Manuel Antonio beach, you're going to love staying at Villa Roca.
MONTEVERDE: Belmar Hotel
Consistently rated as one of the best hotels in Central America by Travel & Leisure Magazine, this beautiful property is nestled in the dense forest that surrounds the town of Monteverde. There's a spa and hot tub on the property, a fantastic restaurant, and beautiful rooms with balconies and views of the surrounding cloud forest. There's even hiking trails on the property so you don't need to go far to experience nature here - it surrounds you!
*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.
Don’t worry about getting chilly, at only 8 degrees from the equator Costa Rica has a tropical climate year-round. Temperatures here generally average highs of 27C/81F, and lows of 21C/70F, although it can get chilly when we hit high elevations so it's a good idea to bring a light jacket and a pair of pants. If it rains it’s usually in the afternoon, and these unlikely showers are a refreshing cool-down after the heat of the day. Our trips are scheduled in the best-weather times of the year and avoid the June-to-September rainy season.
Costa Ricans are incredibly friendly, happy and easy going people! It's not difficult to make friends with the local Ticos while you're here. Maybe consider learning a few words of Spanish with something like DuoLingo before you arrive! We recommend starting off with “Hola” (hello), “Gracias” (thank you), and of course “Donde esta la playa?” (where’s the beach?).
LGBTQ rights in Costa Rica are impressive, given the influence of conservative religions in this part of the world. Same-sex marriage and adoptions have been legal since 2020, transgender people are able to change their legal gender and the country is recognized as a leader in human rights in Latin America. That said, public displays of affection (gay or straight) are generally frowned upon. In respect for their local culture we usually suggest keeping your excitement and affection for your partner to more private locations.
Local Costa Rican cuisine tends to be a mix of food from all over the region from Gallo Pinto for breakfast, to Mondango (try it if you're brave) for dinner. Rice and beans are staples here too. Detours doesn't believe in limiting your choices by including all of your meals at pre-decided restaurants as part of the trip package. Instead, we include all of your breakfasts to start your day off as well as select meals through the trip, then encourage you to explore all of the different restaurant options available to you for other lunches and dinners. This way you can eat when you want, where you want, with whomever you want, and spend what you want! Your trip leader definitely has their favorite spots so if you'd like some advice on the best in each location, just check with them.
Our advice is simple. Pack your bag, then take half of those things out and leave them back home. It’s common to hear people wishing they’d packed less stuff, but we’ve never heard anyone complain that they didn’t bring enough. Costa Rica is a relatively inexpensive country, meaning even if you realize you forget to pack some crucial item you can just pick it up on the trip for cheaper than what it would have cost back home. We'll include some trip-specific packing advice based on expected weather as part of our update email to you, sent 10 days prior to your trip.
Costa Rica uses a mix of their own currency (Costa Rican Colones) as well as US Dollars. In an effort to avoid bank fees, we suggest arriving to Costa Rica with some local currency (around 200,000 CRC) as well as your ATM and credit cards just to be completely prepared. 10,000 Costa Rican Colones is worth around $16 USD, so if your dinner bill costs 5,000 Colones that's only $8 :)
It can sometimes be challenging to use large-denomination bills at shops and restaurants, so we encourage you to request small denomination bills when getting cash prior to your trip.
If possible, it's always a good idea to travel internationally with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. The savings will add up over the course of your trip and may end up being worth the work of getting a new card prior to your trip. Once you're overseas, if presented with the option to pay in the local currency or your home currency, we suggest always choosing the local currency to further avoid fees.
While tipping isn't a native custom in this destination, those working in the tourism industry all over the world have come to expect gratuities when providing good service. This extends to local guides, restaurant wait staff, bus drivers, and your Detours trip leader. Of course the actual amount is left up to your discretion, if you've been provided excellent service we suggest leaving around 15% for restaurant/wait staff as well as the local equivalent of a few dollars to bus drivers and luggage porters, as well as around $10-15 USD per day for local guides and your Detours trip leader.
We have pretty high standards when it comes to choosing our accommodations, and trust us, we’ve done plenty of room-sniffing, pillow-patting, and bathroom inspections to make sure we stay at quality spots. To be approved as a Detours accommodations provider, a guesthouse must: be locally owned (to support the local community), be in an amazing location (close to the beach or other hot spots), AND be gay-owned or gay-friendly. We won't be staying in 5-star Ritz-Carltons but we also won't subject you to anything we wouldn't want to stay in ourselves. Clean, comfortable, well-located spots that'll put a smile on your face, you can count on that!
All Detours trips are led by one of our own Detours trip leaders. They're there with you every day and their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to Costa Rica for. Consider them like a friendly concierge that's traveling along with you. All of our trip leaders are gay and all are well-traveled and experienced in the destination they're leading in, so they'll be a great part of your experience!
We do absolutely everything possible to avoid needing such a mundane awakening. A world without alarm clocks is one we want to be part of, and your “rise and shine” while in Costa Rica will come from the sound of crashing waves, an bilingual parrot squawking, or perhaps even monkeys jumping onto the roof of your bungalow.
Our Costa Rica group trips are run with a maximum of 16 travelers. Ages of group members vary but the average travelers are in their 40's, and 50's. Whatever the age of the guys on our trips everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! Each group is led by a Detours trip leader who is there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, allowing you to focus on having the time of your life!
As previously mentioned, Costa Rica is Central America's most gay friendly country and most people are welcoming of homosexuality.
No problem! Don’t worry, overall, over 50% of our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people both inside and outside of our group, including other solos. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room, or you can have your own room for a reasonable surcharge.
Costa Rica uses a "type A" and "type B" plug, the same as North America and several other places in the world. The voltage is 120V with 60 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its acceptable range.
To ensure you don't lose connection along the way, your cell phone provider likely has several roaming options available. We suggest reaching out to them prior to the trip to find out which package is right for you as it will depend on how much you intend to use your phone while traveling. Keep in mind that all accommodation and most restaurants have free WiFi available as well.
What's included? • All taxes • All group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 11-day Detours experience • All full breakfasts • Manuel Antonio Park access and guided tour • Knowledgeable and fun Detours trip leader •
What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Arrival/Departure airport transfers • Optional gratuities •
Additional spending budget? Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $700 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1000 USD at the higher end for the splurgers. We suggest arriving to Costa Rica with approximately 200,000 local Costa Rican Colones in cash.
Robert L. - USA
March 7, 2022
My one-word review-- WOW! This was my first group trip; Detours nor Costa Rica disappointed! Costa Rica was stunning, our trip leader, Brandon, was awesome, and the experiences offered memorable.
The trip started in San Jose where we had drinks, a yummy dinner, and a night on the town. This is when we all met, nine perfect strangers that became besties. The first stop was the Villa where I promptly felt like I was on an episode of The Bachelor (minus the roses). Stunning is the only word that describes this part of the tour with justice. The Villa was beautiful, the views breath taking, and the company awesome. The chefs made food that can only be described as an experience! The hosts and team at the Villa made us feel like family. Did we salsa dance with one of the chefs—maybe!
Then off to Manuel Antonio! The resort we stayed at sported striking views of just about everything, there were adorable monkeys, and a great social scene. We went to trendy restaurants, checked out the national park (more monkeys!), and got quality beach time in. Some activities: rented a catamaran, ziplining, and spa time!
We then headed to La Fortuna where we enjoyed remarkable views of a volcano, hung out in a natural hot springs pool, and enjoyed the town. Some of us explored the volcano on ATVs, others went tubing and some checked out the sloths. There was so much to do.
While all these places were a blast, the time on the transports was equally fun. You’ll have to ask Brandon about the werewolf game!
The only somber part of the trip was the farewell dinner; there wasn’t a dry eye. These nine perfect strangers became a family and bidding each other farewell wasn’t easy. We still chat on messenger so perhaps it was more of a “see you soon’ then a farewell.
In closing, this tour offered something for everyone. What made this trip so unique was our trip leader, Brandon. He went to great lengths to ensure each person had the experience they wanted. If you wanted to check out something, he made it happen. We came up with this phrase that says it all: Once you go Brandon, you never go random. I’ll certainly be booking another tour with Brandon!
Carlos S. - USA
March 3, 2022
I have just returned from my fourth trip with Detours and have a fifth planned. My journey with them started 8 years ago and will continue for many years to come if the company stays true to its mission, and continues to provide the excellent costumer service, amazing destinations, and value for your money that they are known for. Detours has an owner and a group of tour leaders that really care about their clients. I have formed friendships and a fondness for many of them. Friendships that has arisen because they do not see their clients as bags of cash, but as people with whom they can share amazing experiences and their love for travel and adventure. They do this while maintaining professionalism and personally tailored customer service from every step of a trip.
That was the formal part of my review! Here’s the skinny on some of the great moments I have lived through with Detours:
Thailand: Release of floating lanterns into the night sky. Private yacht charter for a day (I jumped off the boat with a live vest and face planted onto the water… not gonna do that part again 😅). Days meeting tigers, elephants, and monkeys! And not to be forgotten: Thai massages! This is a trip that I would do again in a heartbeat! Especially because the itinerary has changed and there are wonderful new experiences packed into it.
South Africa: Day in animal sanctuary where I got to pet a cheetah, have a vulture (that was half my size!) stand in my outstretched arm, and come the closest I’ve ever been to a lion and leopard. Day at the amazing botanical garden in Cape Town. Tipsy wine tasting tour through some of South Africa’s vineyards.
Peru: The greatest trip of my life because it brought me together with my fiancé! This trip was also a culinary experience! Peru has amazing food for amazing prices. Every dish was presented as if I was sitting in a upscale restaurant back at home. I tried ceviche for the first time and I liked it! I discovered Pisco and Pisco sours. I joined a Peruvian cooking class and hope to recreate those recipes at a future dinner party. It was also amazing to learn about the ancient civilizations of South America and have the privilege to touch the walls and walk over the streets of Cusco which were built by the Incas so many centuries ago.
Costa Rica: Horseback riding (and galloping!) and taking in the amazing vistas of Arenal volcano. Whitewater rafting on the Balsa river. Jumping under the waves of Espadilla beach with my hat, long sleeve top and long bottom rash guards leaving my fellow groups members amused at the extremes I go to in order to stay safe from the sun!
In all of these trips I have met great people that will have a special place in my heart even if I do not cross paths with them again. I will take this opportunity to give my personal “BEST TRIP LEADER AWARD 4EVAH” to Brandon! If you are lucky to have him as a trip leader and like to play games then you are in luck!
There is just so much I could say about Detours. I will leave it at this: go on a trip with them! You will be in great hands!
Ryan P. - USA
February 15, 2022
My husband and I just finished the Costa Rica trip for our honeymoon. We had never been to Costa Rica and wanted to be able to see as much as possible. I had previously taken their Thailand trip, so I thought this would be a great way to accomplish this. The idea of sharing your honeymoon with 10 other gay men may not seem so romantic. However, I was aware that we were able to spend as much time with the group, or alone, as we wanted. Not surprisingly, we thoroughly enjoyed the other travelers and spent the majority of the time as a group. The activities were all amazing. I highly recommend the white water rafting/tubing, zip-lining and sloth tour.
The major draw to detours is how effortless it is for travelers. As soon as we got off the plane, the only decision we had to make was what activities to do the following day. Brandon, group leader, had everything perfectly planned and organized. He even treated us to a bottle of champagne upon arrival! He set us up with a spa day, recommended great restaurants, and organized for our laundry to be done. My husband wanted to plan a surprise Birthday date night for me, and Brandon helped him purchase flowers, pick a perfect restaurant, and found a chocolate cafe for dessert. We then went to the natural hot springs for drinks and to relax.
It definitely was not a typical honeymoon, but we had just done a vacation by ourselves and wanted to do something new, without having to do any of the leg work! We made some great friends and even better memories. Brandon was a gem and would love to go on another tour with him! Many good laughs, activities and lots of drinks!!
Andy F. - USA
February 6, 2022
This was my first Detours experience, and I still can’t believe how life-changing it was. I gifted myself the trip for a milestone birthday, and I thought it would be interesting to say the least. I did not expect to come home with such a dramatic shift in perspective on so many aspects of my life, as well as some amazing new friends!
I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of preparation the Detours team puts into their trips. Brandon, our trip leader, was phenomenal. He tirelessly kept our group engaged and made sure we each got the most of our time in Costa Rica. He handled every detail, from the mundane to minor medical emergencies, with complete professionalism. He also knows how to have fun!
I cannot overstate how much I appreciate work the Detours team takes in curating the details of their trips. The accommodations were wonderful, with breathtaking views along the way. There are more activities offered than you will be able to complete in one trip. I took advantage of every activity and opportunity presented, and I don’t regret a thing! A couple minor scrapes and bruises are sweet reminders of having been on an adventure. If you have mobility concerns you can always opt out, but I hope you can enjoy as much as possible.
I absolutely hope to join Detours for another trip someday. If you are thinking of going on a trip with Detours, bring an open heart and mind, and a sense of wonder – Detours will take care of the rest!