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.

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

Hotel San Bada

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.



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El Faro Beach Hotel

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.



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La Vela Boutique Hotel

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.



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Hotels Close to Espadila Beach

Hotel Playa Espadilla

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.



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Hotel Costa Verde

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.



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Hotels Close to Playitas Gay Beach

Parador Resort & Spa

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.



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Makanda by The Sea

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.



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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.

Hotel Villa Roca

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.



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Hotel Gaia

Surrounded by spectacular rainforest and wildlife, Gaia Hotel and Reserve is located near Manuel Antonio Beach, 7 minutes’ drive from the coast in Costa Rica and offers chic accommodation. The luxury hotel features a luxury spa, gym, pool and one day tours.

The air-conditioned rooms are beautifully decorated in neutral tones, with wood and wicker furnishings. They enjoy views over the tropical rainforest and come with a flat-screen TV.



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Tico Tico Villas

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.



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Gay Map of Miguel Antonio

Center map

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.

Gay Friendly

  • 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

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.

Villas in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio has some stunning villas available to rent. Built into the lush jungle of the National Park, the apartments offer your a complete escape from everything!

Villa Selva
16 guests · 10 bedrooms · 10 beds · 10.5 baths

Live it up in Costa Rica at Villa Selva. Not only is this one-of-a-kind luxury vacation rental an entertainer’s dream, with a DJ platform and three bars, it’s also set on two-and-a-half acres of lush rainforest close to the golden sands of Playitas Beach, surrounded by the breathtaking scenery that makes this destination such a draw. Reserve this gated estate to host a getaway with friends, a milestone birthday celebration, a family reunion or even an intimate tropical wedding.

Casa Karma

12 guests · 4 bedrooms · 6 beds · 4.5 baths

Casa Karma is an exquisite luxury villa located just minutes from Manuel Antonio Beach and National Park in Costa Rica. Featuring spectacular ocean views and extraordinary outdoor and indoor living areas, this four-bedroom vacation rental gives families, friends, and destination wedding guests the ideal private sanctuary for savoring one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Gay San Jose, Costa Rica’s Capital

Most people arrive in San Jose or “Chepe” and then head to some of the many beautiful beach-side towns and villages dotted across the country. Come for just a weekend so you can dance with the locals and then hit the road up to the jungle or down to the coast. The capital city’s high altitude means that the city is never too hot, even during the day.

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.

San Jose  is home to the biggest LGTB nightlife scene in the country. The gay scene is quite large with several bars, clubs and events. Tico’s (How the locals call themselves) from all over the region come into San José for its nightlife and can drive up to two hours just for a night of fun. Most of the gay bars and clubs are located in the centre of San Jose.

Explore the museums of San Jose, including the Jade Museum and the National Museum of Costa Rica and discover unique aspects of the local culture and history.

Getting to and getting around San Jose

  • The Juan Santamaria International Airportis about 20 minutes from San Jose in the town of Alajuela. Taxis are the hassle-free way to get downtown.
  • TUASA city buses depart every five minutes from the airport to downtown Alajuela, downtown Heredia, or downtown San José.
  • Bus stations are located on 2nd Avenue, on the north side of the Nuestra Señora de La Merced church.
  • INTERBUS has 150 daily routes, connecting all the main tourist destinations in Costa Rica.

When heading for town after dark, have your hotel call a taxi. Fares are cheap but be sure there’s a meter, or set the price in advance, or risk overpaying. Note that addresses here can be a bit complicated, but businesses often print “what to tell the taxi driver” instructions.

Gay Friendly Hotels in San Jose

Grano de Oro Hotel

This luxurious 3 star hotel is located in San Jose City Centre and features an on-site gourmet restaurant, free parking and free Wi-Fi. Hotel Grano de Oro also offers massage services and a rooftop garden.

Each spectacular, air-conditioned room at this property features beautiful wood décor, vaulted ceilings and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. They also boast free toiletries, plush linens and a coffee maker.



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Hotel Presidente

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.



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Gran Hotel Costa Rica

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.



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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:

Areal Volcano

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.

Take a guided hike to the volcano!

Nicoya Peninsula

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

Take a rainforest tour!

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.

Zipline through the park!

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