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Costa Rica decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults in the 1970s. Since then, a series of legal rulings, on a judicial as well as administrative level, have turned things around for Costa Rican lesbians and gay men.

The Costa Rica constitution makes the Catholic Church the official state religion (church and state is not separated in Costa Rica), and about 80% or
more of the country is Catholic. So, you can imagine where the gay lifestyle sits in their eyes. Gay Costa Rica citizens are still fighting their straight counterparts so they can have the same benefits that heterosexual couples receive such as inheritance rights, pensions, and tax rights to name a few.

Besides the Catholics in Costa Rica, the gay community here is battling against the Evangelicals in Costa Rica, who came out 20,000 strong from all over Costa Rica to protest the last Civil Union bill that was sent for approval. It looks like the gay community has a huge hurdle to climb before they are seen as equals.

I just have to say… for a country that deems prostitution legal this seems like a fight that should have been overturned years ago.


Of all the Central American countries Costa Rica is said to be the most gay-tolerant/gay-friendly country, which makes it a highly desirable travel destination for the gay tourist. In the more recent years there has been a boom in the gay hotels being built in Costa Rica, as well as gay bars, gay travel agencies, gay tour operators, and restaurants. Places are popping up all over the country that caters to ‘men only,’ as well as ‘clothing optional’ places.

The U.S. travel industry ‘Travel Industry Association of America’ estimate gay travel represents $65 billion, or a conservative 5 percent, of the $1.3 trillion spent on traveling. So, no wonder Costa Rica is gay friendly to tourists, they see money coming in and ‘green’ is ‘green’ no matter whose spending it. It’s a shame the ‘friendly open hand’ only extends as far as the ‘gay money’ reaches.

The towns of Quepos and Manuel Antonio are known as very gay friendly towns of Costa Rica, with a hand full of gay owned hotels and restaurants in the area. There’s not really any gay night life going on there other then the new gay bar Liquid Lounge, or the occasional gay party put on by one of the local gay hotels.
Until recently, there was even a nude gay beach known as ‘La Playita’ where gay travelers had been coming for years. The beach is still there, and locals are trying to keep it known as a gay beach, however getting naked is now done at your own risk and can mean an unpleasant experience with the local authorities.

(When visiting this beach as well as any place in Costa Rica make sure you carry a copy of your passport. Not just a copy of your photo page but a copy of the stamp showing when you entered Costa Rica).


Featured Gay Hotels in Costa Rica

Hotel Villa Decary overlooks the majestic Lake Arenal as well as the beautiful Tilaran mountains. The area is blessed with a uniquely temperate climate of cool nights and warm days, and is rich with a lush and varied plant life, beautifully colored butterflies, more than 250 species of birds, and troupes of shy roaming howler monkeys. Watch a video of Villa Decary


Colours Oasis Resort is a gay and straight friendly hotel resort, located in the capital city of San Jose, and is a hidden gem. You can not tell from its exterior and entrance that behind those walls is a stylish haven for gay and lesbian visitors and their friends. Watch a video on Colours Oasis Resort


Las Aguas Jungle Lodge has all the amenities of a resort hotel. We are in the rugged mountains of Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Zone. Adjacent to the lodge are the waterfalls - Amazing, twin 60-foot-high falls located in a preserve of tropical forests, rivers, cascades and swimming holes.

San Jose, Costa Rica is pretty much like any other big city in regards to the gay scene. It has the gay bars, gay clubs, gay hotels, gay saunas, and the restaurants that all cater to the gay tourist. In all actuality San Jose has a much larger gay community then Manuel Antonio or Quepos does and falls second fettle to Manuel Antonio and Quepos only because there is no gay beach and crime is a lot higher in the San Jose area.


San Jose is home to nearly two-thirds of the country’s population, including a majority of gay and lesbians who migrate there from the more conservative rural areas of Costa Rica. Like any gay community, twinks, bears, leather daddy’s, circuit boys, lesbians, and transgendered organizations, as well as social gay clubs are popping up in San Jose. There are LGBT Human rights Organization in Costa Rica that seek to advance LGBT rights, promote greater education about LGBT issues and promote AIDS-HIV education. They have been a big help in the gay community in Costa Rica since 1992.

Outside of San Jose and the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area, you’d be hard-pressed to find other places that are as accepting- but small hotels and B & B's have popped up around the country in recent years that are gay owned or gay friendly. The La Fortuna (Arenal)
area in the northern plains has become home to a number of gay ex-pats and gay Costa Ricans. The area use to have two gay hotels Palo Verde Resort and a (clothing optional) hotel Hotel Abercam La Fortuna, but both places started the 2010 year off by closing their doors for good. There are a few other hotels just outside of La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano area) catering to the gay tourist.

In the past, Costa Rica’s gay bars were subject to random raids by truck loads of policemen. After a 1995 raid the local bar owners along with the gay activist took the case to the Supreme Court, which declared the raids illegal and discriminatory. The Costa Rica Supreme Court has also supported the right of gay owned saunas to operate, and ensured that people living with AIDS get state-of-the-art medical treatment. Costa Rica’s gay citizens are now safeguarded by some of the most progressive anti-discrimination laws in the Americas.

Although the country’s constitution protects homosexuals, they basically have a “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t act” policy in Costa Rica. They are a little more forgiving if you’re a gay couple from another country, but you wouldn’t want to act out ANY public displays of affection; including holding hands. Costa Rica is steeped in religion, and basically has the attitude towards gays as the United States had in the ‘60’s. So, just use discretion as we would not encourage outward displays of affection, as they are not really ready for it and you could be discriminated against in various degrees. So, when in Rome…………..

Gays and lesbians must realize that Costa Rica is a traditional
country whose residents may not take likely to your lifestyle, so be cool,
respect the country, and don’t openly flaunt your lifestyle until you
get into an environment where you can cut loose without any problems.