Nude beach in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Manuel Antonio has been a popular destination among gay travelers for years, and seemed the obvious choice to begin our gay Costa Rica experiment.
The Manuel Antonio/Quepos area (also affectionately known as MANtonio and GAYpos) has been on the gay Costa Rican map for a number of years. San José is perhaps the only place in Costa Rica more gay friendly, but that’s to be expected, big city and all. Manuel Antonio WAS also widely known for their exclusively male, gay nude beach; and it has been enjoyed by thousands of butt-ass-naked gay GUYS over the years, at least until recently.
We needed/wanted this gay experiment to start off on the right foot, and we were pretty certain Manuel Antonio would deliver the positive results we were looking for. HEY, we didn’t say this was scientific.
The Gay Costa Rica Experiment
Most travel books will tell the gay traveler to keep their ‘gayness’ to themselves while traveling in and around Costa Rica, and although it may be one of the better gay friendly Latin American destinations; Costa Rica is definitely a ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell, Don’t ACT’ country- traditional and steeped in the Catholic religion. They don’t mind knowing you’re gay, but they don’t want to SEE you acting gay (which for this experiment means- Public Displays of Affection). Really, in Costa Rica, ‘gay friendly’ basically means that some entrepreneurs, who were either gay themselves or understood that ‘green’ is ‘green’ no matter who gives it to you, opened a few hotels, restaurants and bars, in search of yet another avenue to separate a tourist from their dollar. It’s not like the country itself is ‘accepting,’ it’s purely a ‘money thing’. So, hence the Frommer’s book tip of keeping your ‘gayness’ to yourself.
You gotta start somewhere and we decided the ‘beaches’ would be a good beginning. So, the hypothesis is as follows:
IF a gay couple engages in appropriate (what a straight couple would take for granted and be acceptable to others) public displays of affection on the beaches of Costa Rica, THEN they will NOT be discriminated against.
So, would the beach at Manuel Antonio be gay friendly or would we find ourselves knee-deep in faggot discrimination?
The main Manuel Antonio beach was packed. We held hands and walked along the beach and back again. We stopped 3 times and engaged in appropriate flirting, making out behavior. Don’t understand? It means whatever it is you would do with your significant other at the beach, if you were feeling romantic and in love- what ‘straight’ people take for granted and others in the area deem as appropriate. There was NO grinding or appearing as if we’d be fucking anytime soon.
We pretty much called this.
The hand-holding didn’t get much PLAY; some held a stare a little longer, but as long as we kept walking, they weren’t that interested. Making out and flirting, we got ‘looks,’ lots of ‘looks’. Some watched because they were bored, some because we happen to be in their line of sight, some seemed interested to see if would eventually have sex right there on the beach, some looked because we’re not that bad looking, and others stared as if they had happened on a REALLY bad car accident. And then there ARE ALWAYS those stares from the folks that just may have been FOLLOWERS of the late Jerry Falwell. Somebody whistled, not sure who, but no one, I mean NO ONE made an inappropriate remark (at least to our face) and no one approached us in an aggressive manner. One gay man lightly pushed his partner while we passed them and said something to the effect of, “why don’t WE do that?” Another gay couple did approach and told us we made a cute couple and it was nice to see 2 people obviously in LOVE. It’s only fair to mention, we also got A LOT of the ‘other’ stares, the 'I wouldn't mind F**k'in around with you in a VERY GAY way' type of stares. Come on, don't be shocked, we are gay and we are in Manuel Antonio for God sake, comes with the territory….. just sayin.
Manuel Antonio is a tourist HOTSPOT, almost exclusively so. Not many ‘locals’ really. The tourists visiting Manuel Antonio are from all over the globe, so most just believe it’s acceptable behavior, especially the Europeans, and yes, you can tell the difference. It’s the ‘straight’ AMERICANS that were more likely to stare as if we were a bad car accident, and their ignorance was embarrassing, Asians also, but they didn’t have the balls to make themselves obvious, but ike I said, Europeans, by and large, didn’t seem to care. The locals that work the beach looked, but my guess is they had seen it all before, and didn’t give a shit.
We never felt uncomfortable, but I could see that some were VERY UNCOMFORTABLE, after all, there were children to protect from those……….arrogant, gringo fags. I know, they didn’t say it, but a few times you could definitely ‘feel’ the hate.
We will be replicating this behavior on the beaches around Costa Rica because, like I said, you gotta start somewhere and I can assure you, La Fortuna is NOT that place.
*Just to SAVE OUR ASSES- we aren’t recommending you do 'ANYTHING' in regards to ACTING GAY (public displays of affection) while in Costa Rica, I guess we're just the type of guys that don't really give a shit.