Gay Vacations in Costa Rica

Scarlet macaws gathering in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
Scarlet macaws gathering in Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park (Ralph Lee/National Geographic/Getty)

Costa Rica Highlights

  • Go during the "green" season for discounts. Costa Rica's high season, which is its dry season, is from late November to late April. But it's the May through mid-November wet season (called the "green" season by locals) when prices dip. Showers fall mainly in the afternoon, so it's not too bad.
  • Rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Costa Rican roads can be bad, so spend the extra money and rent a sturdy four-wheel-drive, which is almost mandatory during the wet season when roads can turn into mud puddles.
  • Dress sharp when going out. Locals dress up for a night on the town in San Jose, so bring some nice clothes. Wearing shorts and t-shirts can deny you admission to some establishments.

The "Switzerland of Central America" enjoys a relatively high standard of living, has no standing army, and has been a stable democracy for years. No wonder it's also one of the most progressive countries in Latin America in its views toward gays and lesbians. "Ticos" (the nickname Costa Ricans call themselves) are a friendly, educated, and tolerant lot, and Costa Rica has emerged in recent years as one of the most popular Latin American destinations for LGBT travelers.

Most of the gay establishments are found in the booming yet admittedly unattractive capital city of San Jose. More than 30 LGBT venues beckon here, as well as several gay-focused lodging options. And don't forget pride celebrations every June in San Jose. The other area where gay life thrives is the Pacific coast haven of Quepos, near the famous gay nude beach at Manuel Antonio National Park. Several gay-focused hotels are found in this area as well, and it's the main destination for gay travelers.

San Jose does have some sites worth visiting, like the Museo Nacional and its archaeological items, colonial furniture, costumes, and religious art, or the Museo del Oro Precolombino, home to a sparkling collection of pre-Colombian gold pieces. And be sure to check out the Teatro Nacional, which was built in the 1890s and hosts plays, operas, concerts, and ballets. Beyond San Jose, Costa Rica is really made for the adventurous eco-tourist who enjoys the outdoors. Activities include trekking through cloud forests, hiking up live volcanoes near Lake Arenal, soaking in natural hot springs, surfing along the Pacific coastline, or zooming on a zip-line jungle canopy tour.


Published: 23 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Costa Rica

$83
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Volcano Lodge and Springs
$193
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Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose
$196
Average/night*
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The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal
$83
Average/night*
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Pumilio Mountain and Ocean Hotel

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