Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular coastal towns, and it is quickly garnering a reputation as a hotspot of LGBT+ tourism. This small and tranquil location has managed to retain an untouched beauty despite years of tourism and development. The pristine beaches, crystal clear water, and luscious jungle provide the perfect backdrop to an incredible gay vacation.
A diverse and exciting area, Manuel Antonio is home to an expansive nature reserve and visitors often delight in its rugged and unspoiled nature. Home to a varied selection of plants and animals, Manuel Antonio is brimming with nature, cultural sights and activities, none of which should be missed.
In recent years, Manuel Antonio has seen an influx of gay tourism with visitors coming from the USA and across the globe to enjoy the stunning surroundings and growing gay nightlife scene. There is a range of venues that specifically target gay individuals and many of those that don’t can be considered gay-friendly. Social attitudes towards LGBT+ have also improved here, meaning Manuel Antonio is now an attractive and exciting destination for gay travelers.
Tucked away amongst dense jungle foliage and fully immersed in the rainforest environment, Tulemar Resort is a 4-star gay-friendly hotel. The range of accommodations at the resort is truly astounding, with beach chalets, jungle cabins, and spacious guest rooms all on offer. The Tulemar Resort even has a private beach and guests can enjoy the modern pool area that offers uninterrupted views across the dense greenery and the glistening blue sea.
If you’re looking for a truly gay trip to Manuel Antonio, consider staying at the Tico Tico Villas, a gay-owned and gay-focused property that boasts 12 boutique rooms and abundant communal spaces. The hotel is adults-only, meaning that it’s a great choice for those wanting a more peaceful and tranquil trip. Tico Tico Villas is located very close to Manuel Antonio’s central area and the local bus stops right outside.
Located in the heart of Manuel Antonio and promising affordable luxury, Hotel Mandarina is the perfect base for gay travelers who are keen to explore the area to its fullest. Well connected to the rest of the area, the hotel is close to the best gay nightlife in Manuel Antonio. Guests are also encouraged to make full use of the on-site pool, gym, and beautiful outdoor terrace.
Combining gay bar and cafe culture, Mogambo BarCafe is an LGBT+ venue that is a popular hangout with the local gay community and is regularly attended by visiting tourists. Located just 500 meters from one of Costa Rica’s most popular gay beaches, the bar offers fantastic views of the dramatic coastline and beautiful ocean. Mogambo has a relaxed tropical atmosphere and routinely holds events such as karaoke night and live music.
For the best clubbing experience in Manuel Antonio head to Club Karma. This spacious club is the largest gay venue in the area and routinely draws large crowds. The outdoor patio and dance floor are where most of the action happens, with the club’s stage often hosting performances from local artists, drag queens, and dancers. The lively and carefree atmosphere here is infectious, making Club Karma a must-visit destination on your Manuel Antonio itinerary.
Whilst not an exclusively gay venue, Cafe Milagro is still a great place to drink, socialize and relax in Manuel Antonio. Popular with the local LGBT+ population, the bar has been providing high-quality service to a mix of visitors for decades. The bright and colorful exterior is immediately noticeable and the bar becomes very busy as the night goes on. Gay travelers will often head here to meet and connect with local residents and other visitors.
Playa Espadilla is the main gay beach in Manuel Antonio. Thin and extremely long, the beach is like an image of a tropical paradise, with palm trees hanging peacefully over the warm, white sand. Located inside an expansive and luscious nature reserve, the beach is naturally beautiful and relatively untouched, the western edge of Playa Espadilla is particularly stunning. However, most of the gay visitors to the beach hang out at the eastern edge, close to the surfing area. In summer, the beach is teeming with gay locals and tourists.
Fans of a more liberating beach experience may prefer Playa La Macha, a secluded and intimate beach that is just as beautiful as Playa Espadilla but more accepting of nudity. Manuel Antonio’s most popular gay nudist beach is slightly off the beaten track and visitors may have to navigate small jungle paths to reach it, but once you set eyes on the glistening water and tranquil seclusion, the journey will seem well worthwhile. As the beach is less known than nearby counterparts, do not expect large crowds, although you may run into a few gay tourists.
Gay rights in Manuel Antonio
LGBT+ rights in Costa Rica have advanced dramatically over recent decades and the country is making positive steps in equalizing life and liberty for its LGBT+ population. In 2018, after years of oppressive laws, the country’s human rights commission ordered the abolition of laws prohibiting same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Same-sex marriage was officially legalized in May of 2021.
Whilst the constitution of Costa Rica does not explicitly outlaw discrimination on the grounds of perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, looser legislation is often interpreted to protect LGBT+ people from such treatment and there have been numerous cases where this has been successfully achieved.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Manuel Antonio