Costa Rica is one of the most gay friendly countries in Central America with Manuel Antonio being known as one of the more popular gay hotspots for locals and travellers alike.
Manuel Antonio a relatively small seaside town, immersed in lush jungle, home to the most visited national park in Costa Rica (Manuel Antonio National Park) and offers lots of exhilarating adventure activities.
The harbour area has seen a lot of development and it has been tagged as the ‘Miami of Costa Rica’ so perhaps it is no surprise that gay tourists are attracted here!
In our short travel guide to ‘Gay Manuel Antonio’ we will share some of the best gay bars, events, trips and gay friendly hotels as well as the ‘must do’ activities during your stay in Manuel Antonio.
There is a lot on offer in Costa Rica for LGBTQ travellers, see our complete LGBTQ travel guide to Costa Rica for more.
Gay Manuel Antonio Travel Guide
Why is Manuel Antonio so popular with gay travellers?
Manuel Antonio became a gay hotspot by accident according to the locals.
By pure coincidence, as Manuel Antonio grew in popularity, many hotels just so happened to be gay owned which enhanced its popularity with the gay travel market.
As a result, with a higher proportion of gay tourists visiting Manuel Antonio came the demand for gay bars and events to compliment the gay owned hotels and naturally ‘Gay Manuel Antonio’ was born.
Gay Bars in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio was the first place in Costa Rica outside of the capital city (San Jose) to have a gay bar.
Here you will find a much more chilled gay bar scene to that of San Jose. However, during peak seasons, you can still expect to find a lively atmosphere.
CAFE MILAGRO Bar & Restaurant – Manuel Antonio
Cafe Milagro is long noted to be gay friendly. Great quality food and enjoy the bar area before or after dinner. Sing along/dance along to the nightly live music. Excellent wine list and wide selection of craft beers!
Drunken Monkey Bar
When we visited, the was Club Karma, formerly Cockatoo and now ‘The Drunken Monkey’. The location has always been the site of a gay bar so naturally this bar welcomes everyone and is popular with the gay crowd.
Enjoy beers or cocktails, dancing, DJ, drag shows and other special entertainment.
Gay Events in Manuel Antonio
Sunday Sunset Session and Pool Party
This is a weekly event hosted by Gay Tours Costa Rica.
It runs from 2-6pm at Téva Hotel & Hostel (next to Verona Condos), with no cover charge and a happy hour.
It’s a nice chilled out event to meet other LGBTQ+ locals and tourists.
Pride on the Beach – Manuel Antonio
Gay Tours Costa Rica also run an annual Pride on the beach celebration.
For up-to-date dates and information head to their Facebook page.
Gay Hotels in Manuel Antonio
There is no shortage of hotels here, from top end luxury, to budget and long term stays (you might not want to leave).
All the hotels in this list are open to all, however some market themselves more towards the gay clientele.
Tico Tico Villas – Adults only
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 $1 bus ride up the hill from the nearby town of Quepos.
Equally, you can jump on the bus in the opposite direction and be at the beach or the magnificent Manuel Antonio National Park within 30 minutes.
The entire place is a beautiful, jungle oasis. Stepping off the street and into the grounds, you are immediately surrounded by trees, exotic plants and the local wildlife. There is even a sloth that visits occasionally!
In the centre of the property is the pool and sunbathing area. Given that you are in a jungle environment you absolutely need a pool. We loved relaxing here to cool down during the day and to top up our tans!
Each room is unique and vibrantly decorated using local artwork. Given that the rooms cater for longer term stays, everything you could possibly need is included. We very easily could have lived here ourselves!
Villa Roca Boutique Resort
Villa Roca Boutique Resort is one of the best-known gay hotels in Manuel Antonio.
It is an adult only hotel, gay owned and operated and has 12 rooms plus 4 apartments. This is a clothing optional resort, with a 24 hours pool, jacuzzi and poolside bar.
The hotel is located in a heart of Manuel Antonio, in lush rainforest grounds along the Pacific Ocean, the views are one of a kind, and it is just 3km from Manuel Antonio National Park.
‘Casual elegance and luxury living spaces to relax before your next adventure!’
Coyaba Tropical is another adults only bed and breakfast which markets itself as ‘The “Straight Friendly” place to stay in gay Manuel Antonio’.
The bed and breakfast is set in two renovated Spanish Colonial buildings, it has 5 rooms, a pool and a jacuzzi.
You can find Coyaba Tropical just 10 minutes from the beach and Manuel Antonio National Park.
Gay Beach in Manuel Antonio
There are three gay beaches (or gay beach areas) in Manuel Antonio.
- Playa Espadilla – this is the main beach and the northern end is popular with the LGBTQ crowd
- Playa La Macha – a little bit of a hike, however this is a gay nude beach.
- Playa Playitas – further north across some rocks from Playa Espadilla, a well known gay hangout (be mindful of the tides).
For more details, maps and more head over to our ‘Guide to the Best Gay Beaches in Manuel Antonio’.
What to do in Manuel Antonio
Gay scene aside, Manuel Antonio is a beautiful town surrounded by diverse and lush green forests.
Make sure during your visit that you:
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited national park in Costa Rica and for good reason.
You can spend a full day here, exploring the park, spending time on the beach the park backs on to and spotting all the unique wildlife, including of course plenty of sloths!
This was a half-day activity, including pick up and drop off at our hotel.
The cruise worked on an all-inclusive basis. 8 alcoholic drinks per person were included, unlimited soft drinks, and a delicious meal. Snorkelling equipment is included, and on-board there were Jacuzzis, water slides and sunbathing areas.
This was a fantastic activity, and we were even lucky enough to spot dolphins on our way back to Quepos.
Jungle Night Tour
Costa Rica has some of the best wildlife we have ever seen, however some only come out at night.
Make sure to book yourself on to a night tour where you can spot tarantulas, scorpions, sloths and the iconic tree frogs!
We highly recommend Costa Rica as a destination, we can’t say enough good things about it. Try out the trip planner below and see what it comes up with for you!
We hope you found this gay travel guide to Manuel Antonio helpful, for more on Costa Rica check out:
- Gay Guide to Costa Rica (San Jose, Puerto Viejo and Manuel Antonio)
- Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary
- Costa Rica Packing List
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