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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!

Day 1 - SAN JOSE

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.

Days 2, 3, and 4 - MANUEL ANTONIO

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.

Days 5 and 6 - MONTEVERDE

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

Days 7, 8, and 9 - LA FORTUNA

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, and many more...

Days 10 and 11 - SAN JOSE

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.

Extension Option - CARIBBEAN COAST

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.

The Climate

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.

The People and LGBTQ+ friendliness

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.

Meals

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.

What to Bring

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.

Money

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.

Tipping

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.

Accommodation

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! 

Trip Leaders

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!

Alarm Clocks

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.

Your Group

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!

A Little Bit About Modesty

As previously mentioned, Costa Rica is Central America's most gay friendly country and most people are welcoming of homosexuality.

Solo Travelers

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.

Electrical Outlets

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.

Staying Connected

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.



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A volcano looms behind lush greenery under a clear sky with a lenticular cloud formation
A toucan perched on a branch with foliage in the background.
A joyful, shirtless man with his arms outstretched standing in front of a waterfall.
Close-up of an iguana with intricate scales and focused eyes.
A person sitting on rocks observing a waterfall.
Four individuals wearing life vests and helmets white water rafting on a turbulent river.
Squirrel monkey perched on a branch examining a plant.
A group of people riding atvs in a lush green forest clearing under a blue sky.
Verdant tropical landscape with rolling hills and various foliage at dusk.


Trip Reviews

Patrick M. - USA

February 13, 2024

Cannot speak highly enough about Detours!! I was a little apprehensive, I’d never traveled with an LGBT oriented company before. I didn’t know what to expect, and as a quiet more introverted guy, I’ll admit I was a little worried I wouldn’t have fun or “fit in.” All I can say is this company, and my travel group, took me in, accepted me, on my terms. They gave me the best gift… community, friendship, and memories I’ll cherish forever. It was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to travel with Detours again. Shout out to Brandon, our tour leader… I’ve never seen someone so able to multitask, he had to be an organizer, accountant, leader, counselor, I’m still amazed at how effortlessly he coordinated such an incredible experience for all of us, and I’m so grateful. Clay - leader in training, was also amazing, kind, supportive, and encouraging… thank you!!!

Anthony D. - USA

February 13, 2024

From start to end there was joy and laughter. I met friends I will remain close to forever. As an operator this is a slick, savvy, seamless business run with love. There is something for everyone. Costa Rica was beyond wow as a country but the Detours fairy sparkles transformed outstanding into something truly magical.  I can't wait for my next Detour.  Love love love   Again again again!!

Shaun G. - USA

February 2, 2024

My 11-day trip to Costa Rica with Detours couldn't have been better! As a shy, bit of a bigger guy, I was a little nervous about what a group travel dynamic would be like. Going with a friend certainly helped, but honestly, I had a better time than I could have imagined (certainly one of the best trips of my life), and by the end of the trip, I knew the names of everyone there and it felt more like finding new family than anything. We had an incredible, diverse group of people, and everyone got along great with tons of laughs, stories, and discoveries along the way. Brandon, our trip leader, is fantastic - friendly, extremely enthusiastic, and with endless energy (HOW!?). He was also great with nervous questions or figuring out if an activity was right for the person asking and immediately put me (and I think many of us) at ease for things that might have felt outside our comfort zones. The resorts we stayed at, chosen by Detours, were fantastic, any small issues (which were few) sorted easily, and the planning and time management were beyond great - I can't believe just how much we fit into those 11 days. Even bus travel to the multiple destinations ended up much more fun than frantic. The positives extend to pre-trip as well, with clear communication that was easy to work with. Maurice at Detours was extremely helpful in seamlessly adding a few extra night cushion at the beginning of the trip in case of travel difficulties. Even trying to find negatives, I can't really come up with anything - they're that good, and I'd travel on a Detours tour again in a heartbeat! Thanks to everyone at Detours for this dream vacation! <3

Bruce W. - United Kingdom

February 1, 2024

We were slightly unsure whether I would enjoy the Detours group tour. I’d done a couple of tours with other companies in the past and they had been a bit of a mixed bag - largely down to the failures of the tour leader.
We needn't have had any concerns. This trip around Costa Rica was incredible. The group of 14 other guys on the tour were universally lovely people and incredibly fun to hang around with. Brandon, the tour leader was organised, incredibly welcoming, energetic, patient, fun, knowledgable (I could go on)
What was great about this tour was the combination of options, if you felt like doing something adventurous, you had loads of options. If you felt like staying at the hotel and chilling, that was fine too. Our favourite activity was the white water rafting in Fortuna. Definitely got me out of my comfort zone in a very safe and well organised activity.
The hotels that we stayed at were all great (well they were for us, I feel like a few of the other guests may have not loved our rowdy crowd that had disrupted their calm, but that’s life, LOL) each location was carefully chosen so that we had different experiences. Each day was carefully arranged, expertly communicated and brilliantly executed.
So, in summary - book on one of these tours. And if you get Brandon, you’ll be in expert hands!

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