Gay Costa Rica Guide, Manuel Antonio & San Jose
Gay Costa Rica is home to the Caribbean’s most gay friendly resort, Manuel Antonio, nestled between the jungle and the Pacific ocean! It is the perfect escape to experience the “Pura VIda” way of life!
The white sandy beaches of Costa Rica are the country’s No 1 attraction.
Costa Rica is blessed with some of the world’s finest natural scenery. Located in Central America, and bordered by Nicaragua and Panama, Gay Costa Rica is surrounded by tropical cloud forests, incredible beaches and affordable luxury. The pace of life and “Pura Vida” balance offers travelers the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life. No wonder the people who live here are ranked among the happiest people in the world.
Costa Rica is a small country with coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific. (You could drive from one ocean to the other in under a couple of hours). Rich in biodiversity and wildlife, the country has many sights to explore from natural wonders, charming historical towns and a warm and vibrant gay scene.
The Gay Scene in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a vibrant gay scene and its people are warm and welcoming! This is a country where you are free to love who you want!
Costa Rica is home to the biggest pride in the Caribbean, in San Jose.
Costa Rica was amongst the first countries in Central American to recognise gay and lesbian relationships as far back as 1971 and the country is regarded as being one of the most progressive when it comes to protecting LGTB rights. Gay Marriage was legalised in 2018 and each year the country’s biggest pride, the Marcha y Festival de la Diversidad, takes place in San Jose attracting over 100,000 participants and visitors.
Most of Costa Rica’s gay nightlife is centred in San Jose, the capital city and in the beach destination of Manuel Antonio. Other popular areas include the cloud forests at Monteverde, the tropical rain forests at Tortuguero and the Caribbean beaches at Puerto Viejo.
Gay Manuel Antonio and Quepos
Manuel Antonio is home to Costa Rica’s biggest gay destination outside of San Jose and has several gay hotels, bars, clubs and clothing optional beaches.
The gay beaches of Miguel Antonio are surrounded by a stunning National Park.
Manuel Antonio is a well known beach and rainforest on the western coast of Costa Rica. It has long been a hideaway for gays looking for an authentic unspoiled travel experience. You will see many gay couples holding hands here, without a care in the world.
The National Park at Manuel Antonio is the regions biggest attraction and is home to tranquil beaches with panoramic views of the Pacific. The peninsula is home to easy-to-spot wildlife where you are guaranteed to come across iguanas, sloths and three different types of monkeys.
Manuel Antonio’s city is built into the hills and offers amazing views and charming places to stay. It is also home to several gay hotels, bars and clubs. The city is surrounded by lush jungle. Further from the park you will find Quepos, a quaint fishing village worthy of at least a day visit.
Gay Friendly Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Hotels close to the National Park
Located at the entrance to the Manuel Antonio National Park, this hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and spa. Manuel Antonio Beach is just 2 minutes’ walk away.
All rooms at Hotel San Bada offer ocean or park views. They feature hardwood floors, air conditioning and a ceiling fan. Each is equipped with a 32-inch LCD TV, free Wi-Fi, a mini bar and a safe.
With a spectacular location in Porto Conte, El Faro overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and Capo Caccia. It offers a stone terrace with parasols and sun loungers on the sea front, an outdoor pool, and many other leisure facilities.
Rooms at El Faro Hotel are spacious and comfortable with air conditioning and tiled floors. They all come with a radio, minibar and TV with satellite channels. They offer a view of the garden or sea, and most have a terrace or balcony.
A 3-minute walk from Espadilla Beach, this relaxed adults-only hotel set among gardens and palm trees is also a 5-minute walk from Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
The rooms featuring anatomical mattresses and bedding made with Egyptian cotton, air conditioning, plasma TV, Internet WiFi, safe with size for telephoto and laptop, minibar, coffee capsule, bathrooms with shower , hairdryer, amenities, beach towels and free parking is also available.
Hotels Close to Espadila Beach
Just a 1-minute walk from Playa Espadilla Beach in Quepos, this 3 star hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, free breakfast and a tour desk. Hotel Playa Espadilla also has tennis courts.
Each air-conditioned room at this property features a cable TV and a private bathroom with a shower and toilet. The deluxe junior suite features a large spa bath.
Located 6 km from Quepos and surrounded by vegetation, Hotel Costa Verde offers 3 outdoor swimming pools. Free WiFi access and free private parking are offered.
Each air-conditioned room at Hotel Costa Verde will provide you with a TV, a balcony and a full kitchen with a refrigerator and kitchenware with shower and private bathroom.
Hotels Close to Playitas Gay Beach
The resort is located on the Punta Quepos promontory in Costa Rica, surrounded by 12 acres of wildlife-rich tropical rainforest with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Manuel Antonio. This eco-luxury resort features 3 swimming pools and 3 restaurants.
Each bright, air-conditioned room at the Parador Resort and Spa has a balcony with ocean, garden or jungle views. All accommodation has cable TV, a minibar and coffee maker. All rooms have free Wi-Fi.
Offering an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant, Makanda by The Sea Hotel Adults Only is located in Manuel Antonio. Full breakfast is provided for free. The property is 200 m from the private beach.
The suites here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a balcony. Complete with a microwave, the dining area also has a refrigerator. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a hairdryer.
Gay Hotels Hotels in Manuel Antonio
The following hotels are the most popular gay owned or gay friendly hotels close to the centre of Miguel Antonio.
Situated on a hillside, Gay Hotel Villa Roca is an LGBTI adults only resort. Hotel amenities for guests include, among others, WiFi, 24 hr. clothing optional infinity edge swimming pool, hot tub and a tropical garden.
This 3-star hotel offers air conditioning, private bathroom, closet, telephone, security box with combination lock, LCD flat screen TV with cable access, WiFi-Internet connection, refrigerator, digital alarm clock and a private terrace in every room.
Gay owned, set in Manuel Antonio, 2.6 km from Playitas Beach and 2.7 km from El Santuario Canopy Adventure Tour, Tico Tico Villas – Adult Only offers accommodation with free WiFi, air conditioning, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden.
Tico Tico is located in the heart of “gay Manuel Antonio”, on the same street as a number of gay-owned businesses, and is just a short bus ride up the hill from the nearby town of Quepos.
The units come with tiled floors and feature a fully equipped kitchenette with a microwave, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, and a private bathroom with shower and free toiletries. There is also a fridge, toaster and a coffee machine.
Gay Map of Miguel Antonio
Manuel Antonio Gay Bars
Gay Bars in Manuel Antonio
- Mogambo BarCafé is an LGBT bar and cafe located about 500km north of Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio, one of the local gay beaches. The venue is famous for its incredible views overlooking the Costa Rican coastline and its relaxed tropical atmosphere.
- Club Karma is a spacious club and the largest gay venue in Manuel Antonio with an outdoor terrace and dancefloor. The club hots regular theme nights, drag queen shows and dancers.
- Cafe Milagro is a gay-friendly bar that’s difficult to miss with its bright and colourful exterior. It is a great place to meet locals and has been a popular meeting point for decades.
Gay Friendy Restaurants in Miguel Antonio
- The relaxing Poolside La Alberca Restaurant is the perfect setting for casual dining in a fun jungle atmosphere. Surrounded by the rainforest, the Alberca is frequently visited by exotic wildlife and colorful birds. The Urban Chic atmosphere with the large array of modern cocktails are perfect to lounge by the pool and snack on fresh fruit or tortillas and salsa.
- For breakfast visit Emilios café offering delicious eggs Benedict and brioche French toast!
- The Buena Vista beach club bar and grills is located on Playa Espadilla where you can dine on the sand with an ocean breeze!
- El Avion is a world famous must see restaurant, former cargo plane transformed into a two level bar and restaurant with amazing views. /
- Gabriella’s steak house in the marina offers fine dining and specialises in seafood, Waguy steak and delicious pasta dishes.
- La Luna – A truly superb dining experience is at GAIA’s La Luna. It offers top quality cuisine, with a 180 degree panoramic vista of the Pacific coastline and surrounding rain forest. Perfect for fantastic sunsets.
Gay Beaches in Miguel Antonio
Manuel Antonio has long been known for its secluded gay beaches and resort hotels. The best beaches for sunbathing and water sports include Manuel Antonio Beach, Espadilla Beach, and Escondido Beach.
- Playa Espadilla
Playa Espadilla is the main beach at the end of the main road through Manuel Antonio, and the most popular with tourists. You will find most of the gay boys in front of the surfing area. The western edge is bordered by the Manuel Antonio National Park, offering spectacular scenery. Stay in the Espadilla Gardens 3 Star to be close to this beach.
- Playitas Beach
Meaning ‘little beach’ in Spanish ,Playitas Beach is the most popular gay beach as it is slightly more secluded than the Playa Espidalla. Located on the Western side of Espadilla beach, gay tourists tend to gather at the far end at the cove during low tide. Access to this white-sand beach is closed off for roughly two hours before and after high tide, when waves block entry to the shore. Shana by the Beach residence is close to this beach.
- Playa La Mancha
Those looking for an all over tan should consider Playa La Mancha west of Playitas (beyond the rocky point, take care during high tide). It is the most secluded beach in all of Manuel Antonio. The beautiful Gaia resort hotel is close to this beach
- Espadilla Sur Beach
A golden-sand stretch between two rocky outcrops, Espadilla Sur forms the smaller section of Espadilla. You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to access the beach, since it’s located in the protected area of Manuel Antonio National Park.
- Manuel Antonio Beach
This secluded, white-sand beach is reached via a winding footpath that begins in the local town of the same name. It’s part of a beautiful national park which not only boasts unspoilt scenery, but native wildlife such as iguanas, capuchin monkeys and three-toed sloths. For this reason, you’ll need to pay a small fee to access Manuel Antonio.
Things to do in Manuel Antonio
- Explore the national park with your own guide.
- Relax in the hot springs and bathe beneath wild waterfalls.
- Go off-roading on an ATV to explore Costa Rican scenery, including rural villages, streams, bridges, and plantations
- Take a hike to see the blue morpho butterflies and the crazy monkeys.
- Combine a Zip line through the three canopies with white water rafting in the jungle.
- Head to the harbour area, known as the Miami of Costa Rica and explore the shops and restaurants.
Getting to & Around Manuel Antonio
The Juan Santamaria International Airport is located 20 minutes from San Jose in the town of Alajuela. From here you can rent a car for the three-hour drive to Manuel Antonio, take a shuttle bus, or opt for the 20-minute flight onward to Quepos La Managua Airport.
The sights and attractions of Manual Antonio are spread out across a large area so a renting a car is a great option. Private tours are also available with some great guides offering interesting tours and experiences.
Gay San Jose
San Jose has a small but welcoming gay scene. There are plenty of places to have a few drinks and mingle with the locals. Our recommendation is to take a day or two, preferably over the weekend when the gay bars are at their busiest. The city is easy to explore and has some worthwhile sights and attractions.
San Jose Hotels
Hotel Presidente San Jose City Center is located in the heart of San José and 100 m from Costa Rica’s National Theatre and Plaza de la Cultura. This 4 star hotel offers free daily breakfast buffet and free WiFi access.
The property boasts unique designed interiors and is a short taxi drive to the gay bars and clubs.
If you are looking for a 5 star escape then the Gran Hotel Costa Rica is for you. The hotel is within 5 minutes’ walk of San José Cathedral and the National Theatre.
The hotel building has been recognised as a site of architectural interest.
Gay Bars in San Jose, Costa Rica
Gay Bars in San Jose, Costa Rica
- Puchos Mens Club is a gay strip bar in the centre of San Jose’s gay nightlife. Great atmosphere with strippers, drag queens and events including TicOsos Bear nights and leather events. Popular dark room and mostly younger guys.
- Zona Rosa is a cheap and cheerful venue in North San Jose with karaoke
- Club Teatro is one of the biggest gay night clubs and is famous for its wild drag shows and hot guys. Highly recommended. Music is usually dance, electro, and top 40, with some latin tunes.
- La Avispa is situated in the centre of the downtown gay area. A local institution since 1979, it has become a central party of LGTB life. More popular on Friday nights, this old, charming club plays mostly Latin and urban tunes.
- Oráculo is a gay club and bar on Avenue 10 above Puchos Mens Club, surrounded by the other gay destinations in downtown San Jose. More cruisy, expect strippers, naked shows, underwear nights and a busy darkroom.
Gay Friendly Restaurants in San Jose
- Park Café offers gourmet European inspired dishes, beautifully presented in a unique garden setting.
- Café de los Deseos serves delicious dishes inspired by cultures from all over the world in a artsy setting.
- For find dining visit the La Divina Comida restaurant featuring European and Costa Rican dishes in a wonderful setting. La Divina Comida is located in the Escazu district and specialises in seafood places such as ceviche and superb Peruvian-fusion dishes.
- La Esquina de Buenos Aires brings the best of the Buenos Aires parrilla(grill) into an inviting environment.
- La Terrace – Dine with chef Patricia Richer offering the service of Chef à Domicilio. She will basically be receiving you at her home. A beautiful, old colonial house built entirely from wood in 1927. An elegant and luxurious place for intimate dinners.
Exploring beyond San Jose
The capital is the perfect gateway to Costa Rica’s best attractions. Our top recommendations include:
Standing at more than 5000 feet high, the Areal Volcano should be one of your trip highlights. Best to visit between February and April for an unobstructed view.
- Approximately a three and a half hour drive from San Jose.
- Combine your trip with a visit to the Tabaccon Thermal Resort.
Take a guided hike to the volcano!
Enjoy some of the best sunsets in the world at Nosara Beach. With more than 80 miles of beaches along the Nicoya shoreline the peninsula is famous for its colourful fish and tranquil turquoise waters. The beaches are popular with sun worshippers and surfers.
- Approximately four to five hours drive from San Jose.
- Don’t miss a visit to Tamarindo’s Playa Grande and Playa Aveyanas
Monteverde National Park
Famous for its unique position as a forest in the clouds, Monte Verde is one of the most visited sites in the country. Visitors are greeted with a sea of tall trees amidst tropical fog giving the illusion of floating in the sky. The park is also home to more than 400 different types of birds, 450 species of orchids and 100 mammals. Book a private tour to avoid the crowds.
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