Although the summer months may not be the best time to visit Costa Rica, it is definitely worth adding to a ‘must visit’ gay and lesbian destination list for the fall, winter and spring seasons. Incredible beaches, eco-friendly reputation and a very gay friendly tourist industry attract an ever increasing number of gay and lesbian travelers each year to this Latin American paradise.
There are any number of LGBT resorts dotted throughout the country, and even more that are gay-friendly. As gay travel has increased over the past 5 years, gay tour operators, travel agencies, adult-only resorts, and men-only hotels and guesthouses have blossomed. With the steady influx of inclusive North American and European entrepreneurs who have opened small hotels, B&B’s and inns, gay travelers are no longer restricted to destinations marketed exclusively to the LGBT community.
Costa Rica’s two most gay-friendly locations are San Jose and Manuel Antonio.
San Jose is the country’s largest metropolis and home to LGBT human rights organizations, as well as groups for gay and transgendered travelers and residents. The city’s downtown gay club scene grows larger each year, attracting LGBT travelers and locals looking to party the night away. The city is also home to gay saunas, complete with hot tubs, swimming pools and steam baths.
Perhaps the undisputed gay oasis in Costa Rica is Manual Antonio. It really has become the gay mecca by the sea. With several LGBT resorts, restaurants, clubs and bars, Manuel Antonio also hosts a popular gay beach, called Playa Playita. It’s a bit of a walk from where you can park a car but the end destination is worth every step of effort. Because most of the locals are open minded and very gay friendly, it is not unusual to see gay couples walking hand-in-hand into the setting sun. Although illegal, it is not unusual to see nude bathing here but be very cautious as there have been recent reports that the police are cracking down on au naturale sun worshipers. A general note of caution here too - gay marriage is not legal in Costa Rica and same sex sexuality can be a sensitive topic as most locals are Roman Catholics. Just be aware that outside of the main gay businesses and destinations, you may encounter very conservative attitudes. So common sense and discretion should be the rule of the day.
For the more adventurous gay and lesbian traveler there are some great places to visit outside of San Jose and Manuel Antonio. These include Heredia, Puerto Viejo, and the Gold Coast. Travelers will be able to find a good selection of gay friendly hotels, inns and guesthouses but some advance research wouldn’t go amiss.
So for a truly tropical gay friendly destination, Costa Rica is plenty to offer the gay and lesbian traveler seeking winter sun and a different cultural experience. After your vacation, post a review of your accommodation experience on Pink Choice for the benefit of other LGBT travelers.