San Juan Gay Travel
San Juan gay travel advice for the best hotels, resorts, gay bars, beaches, restaurants & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: San Juan, Puerto Rico
The gorgeous, tropical city of San Juan is incredibly gay friendly and is the center of Puerto Rico gay life. Tons of travelers come to Puerto Rico to let loose and have a good time, and the gay community is no exception.
Puerto Rico is a classically popular vacation destination, and most of the LGBT people you’ll meet while visiting in San Juan will likely be gay travelers from other places in the United States. So many of the guys who were staying in surrounding hotels and enjoying San Juan’s gay beach were from large U.S. cities.
I visited Puerto Rico with my partner Michael, and we never encountered a single issue related to being LGBT. Every restaurant and hotel we visited were more than accommodating. I couldn’t have asked for a better gay San Juan experience!
San Juan, Puerto Rico Gay Hotels & Resorts
For first-time Puerto Rico gay travelers, you should definitely stay in San Juan for at least part of your trip. This is where you’ll find the largest LGBT population, a ton of nightlife and gay-friendly hotels.
The most popular hotels in San Juan are in the Condado neighborhood, centered around the Condado Vanderbilt. This stretch of oceanfront has the most luxurious and upscale hotels. There are plenty of restaurants around and you’ll be perfectly situated within walking distance to the gay beach.
Here are a few of the best San Juan hotels for gay travelers.
Condado Ocean Club
Guests let loose on the wonderful infinity pool deck, which has a close-up view of the ocean. I don’t think any other hotel has this good of an ocean view! The rooms have super-cold air conditioning and the service was exceptionally friendly.
The Condado Vanderbilt is undoubtedly the most luxurious hotel in San Juan. A lot of gay travelers I encountered on my trip were staying here.
It’s definitely on the more expensive side, but everything you could need is within the hotel, including several restaurants and cocktail lounges, a spa and a fitness center. If you’re the type of traveler who wants 24-hour room service availability and the finest service, you should go with the Condado Vanderbilt.
La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
San Juan’s historic La Concha Renaissance is another popular gay-friendly hotel. It’s also the closest luxury hotel to the local gay beach. If you’re a fan of Marriott properties, this might be your choice!
The La Concha Renaissance hotel is famous for its large concrete conch shell facing the beach. The hotel underwent renovations totaling $220 million in 2007, and to this day is well-kept with modern interior finishes. There’s quite a variety of rooms and suites to choose from as well.
Coqui del Mar Gay Guest House
Coqui del Mar Gay Guest House is a hugely popular adults-only San Juan gay hotel. They have a quaint guest house vibe, located in the Ocean Park neighborhood.
The hotel is clothing-optional (and they’re the only clothing optional gay hotel in San Juan), so you can let loose in the pool! They’re also environmentally friendly by not using any single-use plastics.
Day passes are available on Saturdays if you want to drop by to enjoy the pool and jacuzzi. It’s a great way to make some new gay traveler friends!
O:LV Fifty Five Hotel
After seeing the gorgeous interior of O:LV Hotel, I definitely need to give them a mention. The deep grey marble tile and brass finishes have such an opulent feel. Not only is the interior design flawless, but the rooftop pool and restaurant are stunning. The hotel is also adults-only.
O:LV is located on the bay side of Condado, so you won’t have direct beach access. But with that marble rooftop pool and expansive view of Laguna del Condado, you’ll be just as happy.
San Juan Gay Travel Experiences
The San Juan Gay Beach
Even after spending two afternoons at the gay beach in San Juan, I still couldn’t get enough. There’s always a ton of fun people, good music and guys splashing in the water.
The San Juan gay beach is located on Atlantic Beach between the Renaissance Hotel and the jetty. Walking along the shore, you can’t miss it. Look for all the rainbow umbrellas. The center area has a big Puerto Rican gay flag.
If you’re looking for alcohol near the gay beach, follow the crowd to Julius Restaurant, which serves delicious tropical drinks inside of a carved-out pineapple. Otherwise, you’ll want to bring your own drinks. There aren’t any stands or bars that sell alcoholic drinks.
Visit Old San Juan
The eye-popping colors of Old San Juan are exactly as you imagine them to be. They’re bright, bold and they’re all over this historic town. Spend at least a couple hours walking around to take in the spectacular architecture and colors.
While you’re exploring, cool off with delicious gelato at Anita La Mamma del Gelato. This place truly has some of the best gelato I’ve tasted! They’re east to find, located next to umbrella street.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the most famous castle in San Juan, is best visited at night. It’s the perfect place for a stunning sunset with unobstructed views to the west. The castle is beautifully lit in the evening.
Restaurants in San Juan
I firstly want to mention that if you’re staying in Condado, you should definitely make dinner reservations as soon as you can. While there are plenty of restaurants in Old San Juan that allow walk-ins, options for quality dinner spots in Condado can be scarce with all the tourists.
Your best bet is to make some backup reservations on OpenTable with my recommendations below. And then once you arrive in San Juan, you can cancel or modify them as you like.
Here are some of my favorites and a couple crowd-favorite restaurants.
SOCIAL is a gay-friendly restaurant in San Juan attached to the Condado Ocean Club hotel. I’d recommend eating here at least once. I will say, the food is a bit expensive relative to the portion size, but the flavors this place creates is so worth it.
Serafina San Juan
Serafina has a fun, casual vibe with indoor/outdoor seating right in the heart of Condado. The energy here is impressive and overall the restaurant is quite popular. I really enjoyed their upbeat music.
Try to make a reservation, since their space fills quickly. Alternatively, Serafina is a great place to grab an evening drink. Don’t go too late though, or you may end up waiting in line a while.
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The rooftop is pretty relaxing with the backdrop of the pool fountains and a panoramic view of the bay. We even say some manatees popping up to the water’s surface among all the paddle-boarders while we were eating! ARYA is definitely a chic spot.
Cayo Blanco was such a friendly restaurant where I got some delicious Puerto Rican style seafood. The octopus was the best I’ve eaten in my entire life! Margaritas here were stellar too.
While Cayo Blanco is a more on the casual side, I wouldn’t discount eating here! It’s affordable and definitely authentic.
One restaurant and bar that everyone seems to recommend in Old San Juan is La Factoría. I gave this spot a try, and I have to be honest with you—it’s not worth it. I have a feeling this is one of those tourist-perpetuated “best restaurants.”
While La Factoría is a gay friendly restaurant, the food was actually the worst I had eaten in San Juan. Plus, it took an hour of standing in line to get in. So, I think it’s worth letting other gay travelers know that I found this spot to be mostly hype.
San Juan Puerto Rico Gay Bars
There are a decent bunch of San Juan gay bars to choose from. Many of them however have closed down in the past few years, and even more are shut due to the pandemic. Not to worry though—I’ll let you know where the current best gay hangouts are.
SX The Club
One of the most well-known San Juan gay clubs is SX The Club. They have great DJs, welcoming bartenders and the bar is relatively easy to get to from Condado. They were closed due to the pandemic during my visit, but they’re now reopening as of June 18, 2021!
SX The Club frequently hosts live drag shows and special events like Electric Night and Urban Night. Their Facebook page is always updated with the latest parties.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, another huge part of San Juan gay nightlife is partying around La Plaza del Mercado de Santurce, an area generally known as La Placita. On weekends, crowds take over all the streets around the market, which are filled with bars and restaurants.
There’s a specific gay area among the bars here in La Placita. You can find a bunch of LGBT locals and tourists hanging around Chueca Bar.
Chueca Bar isn’t explicitly labeled as a gay bar. But it’s pretty clear that this is a huge gay nightlife spot from the staff, people outside and the neon rainbow lights inside! I made a few new gay friends right outside the place, having cocktails in the street.
Right next door, El Techo Rooftop Bar is a chic new establishment popular with gay locals. They offer a more relaxed vibe with table service. The views are incredible, a perfect place to be during sunset if you’re not by the beach!
Depending on timing, you might need a reservation to get in. It’s best to call ahead to check.
Note: Circo’s Bar is still closed from the pandemic. Check their page for further updates.
If you’re looking for a place to dance, this is it! Circo’s Bar gets rowdy with locals and tourists alike. They put on fun drag performances and have some sexy go-go dancers to watch.
The space is relatively large and definitely has more of a club vibe than other gay bars in San Juan. And while they don’t have too many reviews online, they’re definitely one of the more popular spots.
San Juan Gay Travel Tips
As soon as you arrive in San Juan, you’ll see everyone zipping around on little motorized scooters. Honestly, these are so fun to ride! You rent them using the Bird application. Just walk up to any one that’s available on the map and pair to ride.
Within the main Condado area, they go a little slower, but once you’re a bit farther away, they can really pick up speed. Be careful not to go too far though, or you’ll exit the area of operation. You can view the boundaries of this area on the app’s map.
In most cases, buying drinks on the beach in San Juan is difficult. They usually aren’t available since the beaches are lined with private hotel bars, which are restricted. So, it’s best to bring your own.
There are some men and women with little frozen ice carts that walk along the gay beach. They will sometimes sell you a something with a little alcohol in it (although this isn’t technically allowed). It’s not cheap, though! You’ll also need cash.
Taxis and Uber in San Juan
Finding taxi cabs and Uber rides in San Juan can certainly be stress-inducing, especially when they’re nowhere to be found! Here are the basic facts to know ahead of time.
Uber is available throughout San Juan, but since the number of drivers can be limited, prices may be absurdly high and come with long wait times.
Taxi cabs are usually a better option. They operate with flat fares within tourist zones and they only take cash. Any website that talks about metered rates is wrong.
The San Juan Airport Taxi stand is super convenient. Drivers won’t try to price gauge you, especially since the staff write your flat-rate price onto a ticket before your ride. Just make sure to pull cash from an ATM ahead of time.
The downside of taxis comes when you’re only traveling a short distance, but still have to pay the fixed rate. This is when Uber can be a convenient option. The trick though, is to request a ride way in advance. The wait time for a ride might be nearly 20 minutes, but if the ride only costs $7, I’d say it’s worth it.
Enjoy your travels to beautiful San Juan!