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Manuel Antonio Gay Travel

wolfyy’s Manuel Antonio gay travel guide to hotels, things to do, gay bars, beaches, & the local gay scene.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio is undoubtedly the best gay destination in Costa Rica. With beautiful weather year-round, the country’s best gay hotels, and a growing gay scene, you can’t pass up a visit!

Manuel Antonio gay travel

I spent four days in Manuel Antonio and absolutely loved the laid-back and gay-friendly atmosphere. Without much effort, I met several gay locals, travelers, and ex-pats who live and work in this lush seaside jungle town.

Manuel Antonio gay guide
Manuel Antonio gay travel

Manuel Antonio has been known as a gay-welcoming Costa Rican hotspot for a while. Now with each passing year, the local gay scene is starting to rapidly grow. The area seems to be attracting increasing numbers of gay ex-pats, some of whom have already opened their own gay-friendly resorts.

Manuel Antonio gay guide

In this guide, I’ll cover the top local gay hotels, bars, beaches, and things to do here in Manuel Antonio. For advice and recommendations in other parts of the country, see wolfyy’s gay guide to Costa Rica.

Gay Manuel Antonio: Hotels & Where to Stay

Manuel Antonio has a big range of accommodation styles ranging from ocean-facing cliffside resorts to immersive jungle-style villas. And among them are Costa Rica’s most popular gay hotels.

Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel
where to stay in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel

While searching for the perfect place to stay, keep in mind that Manuel Antonio is just a small part of the broader Quepos Province.

The area is relatively spread out and popular hotels span from the El Cerro area to the north, down through central Manuel Antonio, and all the way to the beachfront near Manuel Antonio National Park.

where to stay in Manuel Antonio

Hotel Villa Roca

Hotel Villa Roca is Manuel Antonio’s premier gay hotel popular for their prime location, unbeatable views from their infinity pool, and a multi-level sexy hangout area called “La Roca & Enchanted Forest.”

The pool and hot tubs and pool are open 24 hours—a great chance for some night swimming. Neon lighting in the hot tubs makes for a sexy vibe at night, too.

Room types range from economy-size to spacious suites with ocean views. Largest of all is the 1000 square-foot “La Villa” apartment-style suite, consisting of two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a private terrace, and more.

Manuel Antonio gay hotel

Villas Jacquelina

I stayed at Villas Jacquelina during my time in the Quepos-Manuel Antonio area, attracted to their unique treehouse-style villas and gay-friendly atmosphere.

Sharing their open-air penthouse apartment with a few friends was an experience I’ll never forget. We woke up to golden sunrises that made our villa glow, along with the lovely sounds of birds chirping in surrounding trees.

Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel
Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel
Villas Jacqualina Manuel Antonio

The staff and owner Esteban were incredibly friendly and made us feel right at home. With yoga & meditation sessions, daily breakfasts, and lots of common spaces, there was a wonderful sense of community.

Villas Jacqualina Manuel Antonio

I particularly loved spending time perched on elevated the outdoor net, taking in the beautiful views while lounging in the shade. Villas Jacquelina also has a lovely pool area, plenty of hammocks, and a kitchen area for guest use.

Oasis Diverse Adult Retreat

Oasis Diverse Adult Retreat is a new gay owned and operated clothing optional adults-only resort in the heart of Manuel Antonio.

Owner and Chef Stephan Pluchino has created an exceptional piece of jungle paradise, with a brand-new pool, a waterfall, and a hot tub that holds at least 20 people!

The resort also has a gym and an enormous kitchen, which is where your delicious breakfast will come from, included with your stay. Chef Pluchino also provides personal catering services and cooking classes for guests upon request.

Get a better look at Oasis Diverse Adult Retreat in the video below!

Hotel Villa Roca

Hotel Villa Roca used to top the list of gay hotels in Costa Rica, but recently the property’s management has shifted their concept to just be a gay friendly hotel (which has led to some disappointment).

Manuel Antonio gay hotel

But, they’re still popular for a prime location in the heart of Manuel Antonio, unbeatable views from their infinity pool, and a multi-level sexy hangout area called “La Roca & Enchanted Forest.”

Manuel Antonio gay hotel
Manuel Antonio gay hotel

The pool and hot tubs and pool are open 24 hours—a great chance for some night swimming.

Room types range from economy-size to spacious suites with ocean views. Largest of all is the 1000 square-foot “La Villa” apartment-style suite, consisting of two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a private terrace, and more.

Manuel Antonio gay hotel

Vacation Rentals in Manuel Antonio

The vacation properties in Manuel Antonio listed on VRBO are absolutely incredible. With one quick look, you’ll see plenty of options with beautiful views, spacious open-air living rooms, and inviting backyard pools.

Nightly rates for a good portion of these homes and villas are more than affordable. And from here, you can go as high-end as you like.

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort

Looking for luxury? Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort is the only true beachfront luxury hotel in Manuel Antonio.

The views of local beaches to the south are incredible. And even though the property is close to the water, you still get the feeling of being encompassed by the jungle.

Arenas del Mar Manuel Antonio
Arenas del Mar Manuel Antonio
luxury beachfront resort in Manuel Antonio

Photos of Arenas Del Mar honestly speak for themselves. My favorite room feature is the open-air living space with a tub perched along the balcony!

luxury beachfront resort in Manuel Antonio

The hotel also has two on-site restaurants, a gorgeous and intimate glass-walled fitness center, a private beach area, and a hammam.

Tico Tico Villas

Tico Tico Villas has some of the best ratings of any hotel around. They’re a collection of studio apartment villas popular with gay travelers as an affordable and adult-only property.

With a beautifully kept pool area, reliable wi-fi, and in-room kitchenettes, Tico Tico Villas has everything a traveler could need. They also welcome digital nomads, offering reduced weekly and monthly rates.

Manuel Antonio Gay Travel Experiences

Tour Manuel Antonio National Park

Sloths, monkeys, and beautiful butterflies are just a few creatures everyone loves seeing in Manuel Antonio National Park. I highly recommend a visit, both for the wildlife and the stunning local beaches that are only accessible from inside the park.

Manuel Antonio National Park tour

Booking a guided nature tour is the best thing you can do. Tons of tourists strolling the trails miss out on seeing hawks, sloths, bats, and other animals because they can’t spot them on their own.

sloth in Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park tour
sloth in Manuel Antonio National Park

A guide will bring a telescope on a tripod for the group so you can see the high-up and camouflaged wildlife. Be sure the tour description explicitly states the guide will bring a scope (like the one linked above)!

Manuel Antonio National Park beaches

Pro-tip for those driving to Manuel Antonio National Park: before you reach the entrance, you’ll encounter locals in the street posing as park officials. Their sole intention is to funnel you into overpriced parking.

Even though it feels strange (they yelled aggressively at our car), you should ignore them and continue driving. Further down the road, there are inexpensive parking lots.

Manuel Antonio gay traveler
Manuel Antonio gay traveler
Manuel Antonio National Park beaches

Volunteer at Kids Saving the Rainforest

Kids Saving the Rainforest is a local wildlife refuge in Quepos that’s operated by a gay ex-pat living in Manuel Antonio. If you love caring for animals and are interested in helping local rehabilitation efforts, this is a wonderful chance to volunteer while still being on a tropical vacation.

Single-day volunteering is most common at Kids Saving the Rainforest. However, devoting multiple days is also an option. Signing up on their website is easy, too. The day begins with a tour of the sanctuary, followed by various activities, lunch, and helping feed dinner to the animals.

lunch restaurant food

Grab Lunch at Emilio’s Cafe

Craving a meal with a view? Emilio’s Cafe is an LGBT friendly restaurant with one of the best ocean views in Manuel Antonio.

Emilio's Cafe Manuel Antonio
Emilio's Cafe Manuel Antonio
lunch restaurant food

While the food was delicious and the service was super friendly, the highlight of eating at Emilio’s was seeing incredible Scarlet Macaws flying overhead. The restaurant is set on a cliff and surrounded by jungle, so there’s a good chance you’ll see some beautiful birds.

beach in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Gay Beaches

Costa Rica’s only official gay beaches are here in Manuel Antonio. While they’re not as busy as others around the world, they do exist!

Manuel Antonio gay beach
Manuel Antonio gay beach
gay traveler at beach

Playa Playitas is for all intents and purposes the Manuel Antonio gay beach area. Also, this beach is basically the same place as Playa Espadilla Norte.

Some travel resources will mention Playa Espadilla as a local gay beach, but this is overgeneralized. If you’re going to find any gay locals or other LGBT travelers, it’ll be at Playa Playitas.

gay traveler at beach
Manuel Antonio gay travelers
beach in Manuel Antonio

Playa La Mancha is known to be a clothing optional gay-friendly beach located toward the northern end of Manuel Antonio. It’s much more secluded and you’ll need to hike down a trail to reach from the main road to reach the beach, which takes around 20 minutes.

As always, wear your best gay swimwear to attract some attention along the beach!

Manuel Antonio gay travelers

Manuel Antonio Gay Bars

Drunken Monkey Lounge is now the main gay bar in Manuel Antonio after opening in early 2022. (You may see other websites mention gay bars, but these are likely outdated or a real stretch).

A colorful and quaint gay hangout, Drunken Monkey Lounge is largely popular with locals for dancing. There’s seating along the bar as well as plenty of space to hang out on the rear deck.

Drunken Monkey gay bar
Drunken Monkey gay bar
Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel

You may run into other gay travelers here on a busy night, perhaps if Drunken Monkey attracts those staying at the nearby Villa Roca gay resort. But generally, it seems most travelers focus their energy on daytime activities.

Manuel Antonio gay friendly hotel

While several other bars in Manuel Antonio are openly LGBT friendly, Drunken Monkey is the only actual gay bar. So if you’re curious, this is the spot!

Manuel Antonio gay travel

Manuel Antonio Travel Tips

Pack Your Tropical Adventure Gear

As you prep for your adventure, check wolfyy’s useful list of what to pack for tropical destinations. You’ll find my favorite waterproof gear, lightweight clothing ideas, rain gear, and tons more.

wildlife in Costa Rica
wildlife in Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio gay travel

How to Get to Manuel Antonio

Reaching Manuel Antonio by car takes about three to four hours by car from Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José.

driving to Manuel Antonio from San José

I recommend renting a car in San José and driving yourself to Manuel Antonio since having your own vehicle makes exploring the area way more convenient and comfortable. But taking public transport and taxis are also viable options.

Shuttle bus and minivan transfers are cheaper, costing between $40 and $60 depending on the pickup location and size of the vehicle.

gay Manuel Antonio
driving to Manuel Antonio from San José

Public buses operated by Tracopa are even cheaper, but since they don’t stop at the airport, they’re only useful if you leave from their central San José bus terminal.

gay Manuel Antonio

Taxis and private SUV transfers between San José and Manuel Antonio will generally cost between $150 and $200 USD. While not as cost-effective, they do offer more timing flexibility and comfort.

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Don’t miss wolfyy’s broader gay guide to Costa Rica, which has recommendations and advice for visiting the country’s other top tourist spots.

Or, skip to wolfyy’s San José gay travel guide to discover Costa Rica’s capital city.

For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.


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