As Female-Only Travel Takes Off,
Central America Beckons
Guatemala stands out for adventure, culture, and Maya mystique, while Costa Rica shines for its natural beauty and coastal treasures.
Looking for adventure, learning, and reflection, women take control when it comes to travel. In record numbers, they set out alone or in small, women-only groups to immerse in experiences and destinations that uniquely appeal to them.
Women of all ages fuel the trend, studies show, ranging from millennials who grew up with family travels and now chart their own path, to retirees looking for experiences they couldn’t previously accomplish.
Nearly two-thirds of all travellers today are women, according to an analysis by the George Washington School of Business. Furthermore, women make 80% of all travel decisions, no matter what the destination is, who else may be travelling, and who pays the expenses.
Brace for mind-blowing millions of results if you search for “solo female travel” on Google. Add “Guatemala” or “Costa Rica” to the search field, and you’ve narrowed it down to a scant 10 million-plus hits for each country! Their popularity is no surprise because both Central American countries overflow with diverse activities that form the top priorities for female travellers, who are increasingly decisive, confident, and independent.
Guatemala, for example, stands out for its challenging, high-energy adventures and authentic cultural experiences that women increasingly seek out. Costa Rica features amazing natural destinations thriving with wildlife, also high on the list for women travelling alone or in small, girlfriend getaways. And as a solo adventurer or amongst like-minded women, you can be as spontaneous as you please.
Here’s a quick rundown from both countries on what appeals to women travellers looking for a life-changing getaway, a refreshing escape … or both!
Guatemala: High adventure,
Maya mystique, & colonial charm
Featuring rugged, volcanic terrain dotted with forest-shrouded Maya ruins, Guatemala offers fascinating choices for adventure, self-discovery, learning, and relaxation for women travelling alone or in small, female-only groups.
Colonial Antigua beckons as your starting point as you embark on your adventure. Its historic, well-preserved architecture lining cobblestone streets transport you to the 16th century with a backdrop of three soaring volcanoes looming on the horizon.
Soak up the culture on a leisurely walking tour, getting a behind-the-scenes look at Antigua’s colonial-era ruins and inviting courtyards, and work alongside a local chef to prepare some of Guatemala’s favourite traditional dishes.
Women seeking to build confidence and test their endurance can embark on a challenging hiking/camping journey from Antigua to one of Guatemala’s most inspiring destinations, breathtaking Lake Atitlán. You’ll trek through cloud forest canopy and coffee fincas and be immersed in the sights and sounds of Guatemala’s living Mayan culture and communities during this four-day, three-night expedition.
For a more relaxing arrival at the inspiring lake, ride comfortably by passenger van from Antigua. Whether you arrive on foot or by vehicle, mesmerizing views greet you as you catch your first sight the sprawling lake surrounded by three towering volcanoes, an ideal setting for self-discovery, learning, reflection, and relaxation.
To satisfy your curiosity about the ancient Maya civilisation, fly from Guatemala City to the remote, forested Petén region. Settle into a tented campsite between ancient temples for an unforgettable overnight at the ruins of Uaxactún, touring the site and surrounding indigenous community in the morning.
Then hop aboard a bike for 23-kilometre (14-mile) ride through forest-draped trails taking you to majestic Tikal, where some 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor. Stop at the impressive Great Plaza and climb to the top of a soaring pyramid to fully conquer this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Costa Rica: The place to experience
wildlife & nature
With hidden waterfalls, rainforest wonders, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife, Costa Rica appeals to women travelling in groups or alone because of its many idyllic settings for self-discovery, reflection, exploration, and escape.
Start your immersion into Costa Rica’s natural wonders at iconic Arenal Volcano, soaring 1,657 metres (5,436 feet) over the forest floor. Embark on a trail hike where you’ll encounter sky-blue waterfalls and fascinating caves amid verdant growth that supports an amazing range of wildlife. Savour the experience afterward with a refreshing dip into volcanically heated springs.
For another perspective of Costa Rica’s incredible landscape, experience the untamed Monteverde (“green mountain”) area, a cloud-forested wonderland. Enjoy views from above, below, and within the canopy itself as you venture out on the Sky Trek, a thrilling system of trails, suspension bridges, zip-line cables, and passenger tram cruising over the treetops. Roll up your sleeves at the Monteverde Institute, helping with maintenance work and learning a few eco-savvy ideas to use back at home.
Travelling alone or with women friends, you can connect with nature in stunning fashion with exclusive access to Diamante Falls, Costa Rica’s tallest waterfall. At the Curi-Cancha Reserve, which reaches elevations of 1,615 metres (5,300 feet), birds will be on your radar as you and your female co-explorers trek along easy-to-moderate trails. You’ll encounter hummingbirds, finches, toucanets, and more avian species, possibly the elusive quetzal. Mammals (coatis, agoutis, and white-faced monkeys) are often spotted, too.
Lose your apprehension of night-crawlers with a fun and spooky hike to see what lurks after dark in Monteverde’s Santa María Forest. With flashlight in hand, look for owls, bats, sloths, racoons, armadillos, insects and reptiles.
Complement your forest exploits at the Pacific beach town of Nosara, which unites surfing, kayaking, sunning, and nature trekking on the southern coastline of the Nicoya Peninsula. Wrap it up with a yoga session at your boutique hotel, and start thinking about your next women’s-only getaway or solo escape to Central America!