Manuel Antonio/ Quepos

About a quarter of Costa Rica is made up of nature preserves. One of the most accessible is Manuel Antonio National Park, on the Pacific Coast. Jutting out into the ocean, this thickly forested peninsula has some of the easiest wildlife viewing on the planet. In a morning, without venturing too deep into the undergrowth, you are practically guaranteed to see iguanas, sloths, anteaters, and three types of monkeys.

And you don’t need to leave civilization to experience all that nature. Just outside the gates of the park is Manuel Antonio, one of the most gay-friendly resort areas in Central America. This is one of the few places in the region where two men can walk down the street hand in hand and not get harassed. There is a cluster of gay hotels and a sprinkling of gay bars and restaurants. A bit farther from the park is Quepos, a fishing village that also attracts some gay travelers.

There's plenty to do in and around Manuel Antonio and Quepos: relax in hot springs or beneath wild waterfall cascades, hike the paths to see peaceful blue morpho butterflies or raucous monkeys, dip your toe in the azure waters of the Pacific. Whitewater rafting, horseback riding and sweeping through tree canopies on zip lines are a few of the many ways to experience Costa Rica. Amigos del Rio and Canopy Safari are two local companies that provide adventures in and on the water, and amidst the trres.

Gay Manuel Antonio lists three gay beaches in the area: Playa Espadilla with a gay section at the far end; Playa Playitas, the long-time gay favorite which was ecroached on by the gay-unfriendly Arenas del Mar resort hotel; and Playa Machas, where people now go for an all-over tan a bit to the west of Playitas, past the rocky point - but locals advise against crossing over during the high tide.

 

Getting here

The Juan Santamaria International Airport is about 20 minutes from San Jose in the town of Alajuela. From here you can rent a car for the three-hour drive to Manuel Antonio, take a shuttle bus, or opt for the 20-minute flight onward to Quepos La Managua Airport. Sansa is the local carrier with flights costing around US$55-75 each way. Nature Air also flies here.

Getting around

Having a car to get around will make travel a lot easier as the sights are spread over such a large area. If you don't drive, your hotel is likely to have tours, package arrangements, and information about other alternatives to driving yourself. GayTours Costa Rica offers adventure activities and leisure tours for gay men and lesbians.

Interbus and Ride Costa Rica operate bus and shuttle services throughout the country.

 

Currency and Money

The colon is the currency of Costa Rica. There are few ATMs outside San Jose, so you might want to use the ATM before you leave the airport.

 

Local Media

Gay Manuel Antonio is the local gay website source for attractions, accomodations, food/drinks and events information throughout the year. Gaycations Costa Rica is another resource for LGBT listings, with a nationwide map.

TravelCostaRicaNow is an English-language website with general and gay-specific info about various parts of the country.

Gente 10 is a glossy magazine with local coverage of the Costa Rican LGBTI community, and an online reader to flip through their pages.

The Tico Times is an English-language newspaper that often covers gay issues.

Puerto Quepos, and PuraVida are two more local websites.

Colours Destinations website lists gay package tours to destinations throughout Costa Rica, including the Manuel Antonio/ Quepos area.

Our San Jose Activities page has 15 entries with information about other regions around Costa Rica, including national parks, wildlife refuges and eleven out of the way guesthouses of interest.

Anywhere Costa Rica, CostaRicaTraveller, and Interbus websites have more  tips on getting around the area, and beyond.

 

Accomodations

Coyaba Tropical Guesthouse B&B (Km 1.5 Manuel Antonio National Park Rd, Manuel Antonio; 506-2777-6279), gay owned and operated, casual Jamaican and Canadian hospitality, modestly priced elegance, 5 rooms, pool, beach and jungle adventures.

Hotel Mandarina (Rte 618, between Quepos & Manuel Antonio; 506-2777-5205), gay-friendly former Kekoldi, 11-unit affordable boutique-style hotel rooms, pool, sun deck, WiFi.

La Mansion Inn & Improv Restaurant (Punta Quepos Rd, Manuel Antonio; 506-2777-3489), 24 hillside rooms, Mediterranean design, terrace, ocean and jungle vistas, seafood and steak bistro meals, bar, pool, Jacuzzis, and gym.

Peace of Paradise | Paz de Paraiso (150m south of Super Josef Market; 506-2777-4557), six gay/ lesbian-friendly rentals, affordable prices; exotic rainforest adventures.

Shana Hotel Residence & Spa (Punta Quepos Rd; 506-2272-7036), gay-friendly jungle retreat suites, sea views, international gourmet dining at El Gusto Restaurant, infinity pools, spa services, yoga.

Villa Roca (Rte 618, Manuel Antonio; 506-2777-1349), gay owned and operated hillside resort south of Manuel Antonio, 11 rooms, 4 apartments, rain forest and Pacific Ocean vistas, clothing-optional infinity pool and Jacuzzis, poolside lounge and terrace, LGBT special event parties, all-guest-room WiFi, made-to-order breakfasts, spa treatments and massages. La Villa rental residence with optional chef.

See more lodgings options at our hotels & guesthouses map and listings pages.

 

Going Out

Bar Mogambo (Raphael's Terrazza Restaurant, Beach Rd), gay party bar near Playa Espadilla, men/women mix, DJs, drag shows, theme parties.

Emilio's Cafe (Manuel Antonio Village), breakfast, Mediterranean lunch and dinner, great views; gay-friendly evening crowd,  live jazz.

Karma Lounge (Cockatoo Bldg, Rte 618, Manuel Antonio), gay, straight-friendly lounge, DJs, theme party nights.

Lush Tapas & Lounge (Canyon Dr, Manuel Antonio), gay-friendly tapas bar/lounge, craft beers, wines, music, dancing.

Z Gastro Pub (Marina Pez Vela, Quepos), Mediterranean-inspired seafood, steaks and pasta entrees, soups and salads, tapas and burgers, smoothies and fresh juices; beach sand bar and cocktail lounge.

San Jose, the capital city, has a much busier gay nightlife scene of nightclubs, saunas and cruising spots, a short and inexpensive flight away --see our article and map & listings pages for details.

A mainstream dance club at the Quepos waterfront, the Cuban Republik Club, has Thursday through Saturday dancing to electronic, Latin, and Reggaeton music; chicos-4-chicas male dancers, and theme party events.

CLOSED: Disco Arco Iris; and Liquid Lounge.

For some Manuel Antonio restaurants and cafes, see our map and listings pages.

- staff - November 2016