Costa Rica: 18 Tropical Days in Central America
All about our adventurous trip around the north-western part of Costa Rica including the Highlights of our first ever gay travels to Central America. Costa Rica is a true paradise for us nature lovers, beach fans and gay couple travelers. The natural beauty is everywhere with white sand beaches, palm trees, rainforest, and a spectacular coastline. There is such high biodiversity with famous Costa Rican animals like Toucans, Red-Eyed Leaf (Tree) Frogs, sloths, screeching macaws, and when you’re lucky, even whales. And, of course, not to forget to mention the friendly and courteous Costa Ricans and the great number of high-class luxurious gay-friendly accommodations.
The most important fact you should know: Costa Rica is one of the safest, LGBTQ+ welcoming countries in Central America. We enjoyed as a gay couple and gay travel bloggers an exciting and diversified gaycation and we always felt safe wherever we went in Costa Rica. It only gets better for the LGBTQ+ community. After the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the government of Costa Rica has to implement equal rights and therefore to legalize same-sex marriage, adoption, and the recognition of transgender people’s gender identity by the beginning of 2020. Knowing that combined with our consistently positive “Pura Vida” experience, you can consider a trip to Costa Rica as a member of the LGBTQ+ community without any reservation. But now, enjoy the Gay Travel Journal Costa Rica of our 18-days trip full of photos and stories and see gay-friendly Costa Rica through a couple of men’s eyes.
Journal of our 1st Trip to gay-friendly Costa Rica
Our trip through gay-friendly Costa Rica started in San José, Costa Rica’s capital city with its gay bars, gay-friendly restaurants, and cafés, and annual and regularly LGBT events like the Gay Pride, usually held in July. Our second destination was the region of La Fortuna at the Arenal Volcano National Park with its iconic shaped volcano. This area is famous for its hot springs and hanging bridges through the dense rainforest. After a couple of hours on the road over stunning mountain ranges and through juice green valleys towards the Pacific coast, we reached the north-western province of Guanacaste where we enjoyed the warm saltwater of the Pacific Ocean, infinity pools and incredible sunsets. The next stop on our list was the cloud forest in Monteverde with canopy zip line tours and spectacular hanging bridges through the treetops. Last but not least, we spend some relaxing days close to Playa Jacó with animal watching including wales, several Toucans and macaws.
Day 1 to 3: San José – Costa Rica’s capital city
Every journey starts with a trip to the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. From here, we took a flight with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines via the US to San José, Costa Rica’s capital city. After passing the customs and immigration control, we took a taxi from the modern Airport to our first centrally located hotel with a spectacular view of the popular Football Stadium Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica. Yes, Costa Ricans love football, and we do not mean the American way. The access to the city was comfortable from here as most parts of San José are actually walkable, at least for us explorers. An alternative option to explore longer distances in San José is by Uber. We spent most of our time north-east from the Park Parque Central San José taking photos of Graffiti art close to the Estación de Ferrocarril al Atlántico, having delicious burgers, pizza, beer, and cocktails at El Jardín de Lolita at the Escalante neighborhood and meeting local LGBTQ+ at the popular gay bar Neon Ice, illuminated by pink and light blue neon signs, as its name implies. Since it was the green season in Costa Rica, it mostly started raining in the afternoon while the day started sunny and hot.
We booked our trip with the LGBTQ+ tour operator Gay Costa Rica. Everyone working for them aims to provide all LGBTQ+ travelers unique experiences during their gaycation. The goal of all provided services: Make LGBTQ+ travelers feel safe and respected during their travels disregarding their sexual orientation or sexual identity.
Day 3 to 5: Arenal Volcano National Park
After three days in San José, our nature adventure around Costa Rica’s northwest would begin. Our first stop was La Fortuna at the Arenal Volcano National Park which is famous for its iconic shaped volcano Volcán Arenal. It was an adventurous ride with our small bus through dense rainforest, narrow serpentine mountain roads, and heavy rain showers. Don’t forget, we traveled to Costa Rica during the rainy or so-called Green Season. Showers of rain and thunderstorms are part of every Costa Rica trip during European late summer season but with the right clothing, it is not a problem, seriously. The region around the volcano offers several resorts with a spectacular view over the volcano. Our highlights of the Arenal Volcano National Park: The Tabacon Hot Springs with its volcanic heated thermal spring water and a day trip to the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park where we were able to see some of the famous animals of Costa Rica like the Red-Eyed Leaf (Tree) Frog and tropical raccoons called Coatis! We could have stayed much longer and explore, for instance, the lake Laguna de Arenal, but this has to become part of our next trip to Costa Rica!
Day 5 to 7: Guanacaste – Papagayo Peninsula & Diamante Eco Park
Leaving the central region of Costa Rica behind, we started our long trip to the Pacific coast in the north-western Costa Rican province Guanacaste. But the long bus ride itself was an experience as well. For quite a while, we followed the huge lake Laguna de Arenal in a northern direction over narrow gravel roads climbing uphill over spectacular mountain ranges while enjoying the view downhill over the green and wide meadows of Costa Rica’s cattle country of Guanacaste. Our final destination was the peninsula of Papagayo that is the home of several extraordinary luxurious and gay-friendly hotels. And, you already know from previous trips, we love some good adrenalin shots as well. Just about one hour from Papagayo, we visited the Diamante Eco Park & Animal Sanctuary offering an incredible Superman Zip Lining with a stunning view over the deep blue Pacific Ocean. During our visit to the animal sanctuary afterward, we were able to see some of the most beautiful birds in the world, Toucans.
Day 7 to 10: Perfect Gay Honeymoon at Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas
Our first week was full of adventures, thrilling experiences, and wonderful views over the unique Costa Rican landscape. Time for a break, time for some “just us-moments”. And you know what, we found the perfect place for some romantic relaxing vacation days. We stayed in an ocean-view villa with a private infinity pool and simply the best sunsets you can imagine. It was wonderful waking up with such a stunning view from our canopy bed, getting breakfast served at the gorgeous restaurant and simply relax in our private pool or during a long walk along the Playa Danta. We simply had the perfect gaycation at Casa Chameleon and can totally imagine choosing this accommodation as our gay honeymoon resort in Costa Rica… hehehe…
Ocean View 5*- Resort – Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas
On our Gay Travel Guide Costa Rica, we collect all information: Gay-friendly hotels, flights, and tips for the best adrenaline experiences. The guide for Costa Rica will be continuously updated, so you will always find the most updated information, links, and photos. Enjoy reading, planning and booking of your gaycation in Central America.
Day 10 to 12: Monteverde – Cloud Forest at Selvatura Park
But our trip was not over yet, it was just halftime and we were on our way back to central Costa Rica, to the world-famous cloud forest of Monteverde. The ride was a real adventure driving most of the time over a gravel serpentine mountain road. In google maps, the distance from the Pacific coast to Monteverde actually seemed to be much shorter than the actual trip duration. Now we know why. But with every meter uphill, the clouds came closer and closer and the forest became greener and greener. We arrived jarred but happy in Santa Elena in our modern and spacious apartment in the treetops of the surrounding rainforest. The weather changed rapidly from sunny weather when we arrived in a cloudy mist with showers just one hour later. But that was why we were in Monteverde, to experience the cloud forest, right? The next day, we booked a combo trip to Selvatura Park including Rainforest Canopy Zip Lining and an individual Hanging Bridges tour walking through the treetops of the Costa Rican rainforest. What an incredible adventure.
Family Owned 4*- Hotel – Hotel Belmar Monteverde
Day 13 to 16: Beach & Nature time around Playa Jaco & Herradura
Time flies, even in paradise. And so it was time for us to leave the mountains again and to travel to the last destination of our three weeks in Costa Rica to Jacó’s crescent beaches. Before we traveled to Costa Rica, we always imagined the landscape of the Central American country to be like in the Jurassic Park movies (part one and two) with dense tropical rainforest, high humidity, warm temperatures and a high number of insects and animals. And to be fair, nature and landscape really are like that. But instead running away from a T-Rex, just add a gay-friendly luxurious accommodation to it and voila, the Costa Rican dream came true. We found the perfect match for our paradise picture: A luxurious hotel on a mountaintop surrounded by rainforest with a view over the Pacific. Oh, not to forget the private beach (all beaches in Costa Rica are public space but some are just harder to find). Simply the perfect way of saying goodbye Costa Rica!
Gay Owned 5*- Hotel – Hotel Villa Caletas
Day 16 to 18: San José – Gay Life & Shopping
Costa Rica’s capital city San José has a lively nightlife including several gay bars, clubs, and (fetish) party events. During our stay, we visited the Neon Ice bar in the neighborhood Barrio Escalante offering snacks, local beer, and delicious cocktails. The audience is a mixed crowd of hip queer people and handsome bearded gay guys around our age. Definitely a tip. We already mentioned our friends Jason and Bryan from San José we met during our second La Demence European Gay Cruise who own their own brand Beardedman. Now, they also have their own fetish clothing line and fetish party series in San José called Eagle 69. Lucky us, we were able to attend their Hard Candy Party with special guest porn star Teddy Torres. This October, the beach of Manuel Antonio was the host of the first Gay Beach Bear Weekend. Do you know more great gay bars and LGBT places in Costa Rica? Let us know! We would be happy to add them to our list! Oh, and as we already mentioned before, the annual Gay Pride takes place in San José in early summer. We hope to attend the 10 edition of the Marcha de la Deversidad, the Gay Pride Costa Rica 2019!
Travel & Safety Tips for Gay-friendly Costa Rica
For our article about Gay-friendly Costa Rica, we assembled some well-intentioned tips for you perfect gaycation:
#1 Currency: The Costa Rican currency is the Costa-Rica-Colón: 1 Euro = ca. 680 Colón | 1 US Dollar = ca. 595 Colón.
#2 Day & Night Time: Costa Rica is located around the equator. That means, that the sun always rises around 6 am and always sets around 6 pm. After 6 pm it is dark at once so plan your vacation days wisely. The locals tend to get up very early and go to bed early as well.
#3 Costa Rica Timezone: The timezone in Costa Rica is CST – Central Standard Time used all year around. Which means it is UTC/GMT -6:00 hours.
#4 The best time to travel to Costa Rica: The answer to this question is simple – All year round because there is no wrong weather, but just wrong clothing. Nevertheless, Costa Rica has two distinguished seasons, the High and the Green Season and multiple climate zones you should be prepared for.
#5 Wildlife: Do not feed wild animals at any time. Do not touch wild animals at any time. Exceptions: If you are with a guide or in an animal sanctuary where it is explicitly allowed to do so but still, do you really need to pet a wild bird or lizard? Just don’t do it. Also, do not hang any clothing on the balcony/ terrace overnight to dry as monkeys find literally everything interesting and free to take away.
#6 Safety in Costa Rica: In general, Costa Ricans are considered to be pacifistic and peaceful people, and even their protests and demonstrations are usually non-violent, especially towards tourists. This means, Costa Rica as a destination is supposed to be safe not only for LGBTQ+ tourists. We actually met a lovely lesbian couple from Amsterdam who traveled alone and who could confirm all the above points as well.
Highlights of Costa Rica’s Nature: Touran, Sloth, Macaw, Green Frogs & more
Did you know, that Costa Rica’s nature contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity? For us, this was just one of the reasons why this small Central American country was so high on our gay travel bucket list. And lucky us, we encountered a large variety of animals we would like to share with you! Among others, we discovered two of the world-famous Red-Eyed Leaf Frogs at Mistico Park as well as hummingbirds and a Coatis family. On peninsula Papagayo, we were accompanied by the so-called White-headed capuchin monkeys trying to get some sweets from our breakfast plates. Not to miss were the howls of the Howler Monkey that sound like screeching or almost screaming. On our walk down to the beach, we encountered one close to the hotel. And then, there were birds, so many different birds. Undoubtedly our favorites were the Toucans. In the wilderness, we saw four of them flying, singing, and chatting with each other always in a safe distance to humans. And then, there was a beautiful couple of red Macaws. The two fire red birds were pretty to watch but honestly, they are horrible singers! Oh, and not to forget, we were able to even do some whale watching at the Nicoya Gulf.
Gay Travel Journal Costa Rica: Just the beginning…
We know, we know… There is so much more to see, to explore, and to discover. Like the Southwestern part of Costa Rica including the Pacific and great National Park, or the Caribbean side of Costa Rica with its beautiful beaches in the south and the rainforest in the north. Well, we definitely have to come back again to see more of the beautiful nature, to learn more about the Costa Rican culture including the delicious coffee and to see our new friends again. We cannot wait to start planning our next Costa Rica adventure and to add even more extraordinary experiences to our Costa Rica Gay Travel Guide. Pura Vida LGBT!
Do you wanna know and see more of us gay couple travel bloggers? Stay tuned on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook! See you around in Costa Rica, Central America, and on one of our next gay pride trips around the world!
Karl & Daan.
This trip was made possible in close collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Diversity Costa Rica, GayCostaRica.com, as well as the tips and help from our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world and Costa Rica. Nevertheless, our opinion, our photos, our videos, and our writings are our own, as always.