San Juan Gay Travel
wolfyy’s San Juan gay guide to 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’s 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 winter gay destination, and most of the LGBT people you’ll meet while visiting San Juan will likely be gay travelers from other places in the United States. So many of the guys at the gay beach and the surrounding hotels 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
First-time Puerto Rico gay travelers should definitely stay in San Juan for at least part of their trip. This is where you’ll find the largest LGBT population, a ton of nightlife, and gay-friendly hotels.
San Juan’s Condado neighborhood is the most popular hotel area. This stretch of oceanfront has the most luxurious and upscale hotels, all centered around the Condado Vanderbilt.
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
I stayed at Condado Ocean Club, a gay friendly hotel in San Juan that was renovated and rebranded a few years ago. It used to be called the Serafina Beach Hotel.
Condado Ocean Club was truly the perfect choice. It’s affordable, relaxed, and upscale without being too stuffy.
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 toward the expensive end of the spectrum, but everything you could need is within the hotel. They have 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
The historic La Concha Renaissance is another popular gay-friendly hotel in San Juan. 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 hotel is famous for its large concrete conch shell facing the beach. It underwent renovations 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.
Join Marriott’s BonVoy program if you haven’t already. You can get perks like free upgrades and collect points to use toward free nights!
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 guesthouse 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 Fifty Five 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
San Juan’s 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.
Even after spending two afternoons at this awesome local gay beach, I still couldn’t get enough. There’s always a ton of fun people, good music, and guys splashing in the water.
Follow the crowd to Julius Restaurant If you’re looking for alcohol near the gay beach. They serve delicious tropical drinks inside carved-out pineapples.
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 of hours walking around Old San Juan to take in the spectacular architecture and colors.
Cool off with delicious gelato at Anita La Mamma del Gelato while you’re exploring. This place truly has some of the best gelato I’ve tasted! They’re easy to find, located next to umbrella street.
Riding motorized Bird scooters all the way to Old San Juan was one of the most memorable experiences of my visit. My partner Michael and I followed the bike path all the way from Condado to Castillo de San Cristóbal, where Old San Juan begins.
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
Firstly, if you’re staying in Condado, you should make dinner reservations as soon as you can. Even though 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 of 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 are 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.
I highly recommend ARYA rooftop for breakfast or brunch. The restaurant is within the O:LV Fifty Five hotel.
I walked there earlier in the morning around 9:30/10 AM and had no issue getting a table without a reservation. It seems they’re busiest with the late-morning group brunch crowd.
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 more on the casual side, I wouldn’t discount eating here! It’s affordable and definitely authentic.
La Factoría is a restaurant and bar that everyone seems to recommend in Old San Juan. 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 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 have shut due to the pandemic. Not to worry though—I’ll let you know where the current best gay hangouts are.
SX The Club
SX The Club is one of the most well-known gay clubs in San Juan. They have great DJs, welcoming bartenders and the bar is relatively easy to get to from Condado.
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.
Partying around La Plaza del Mercado de Santurce is another huge part of San Juan’s gay nightlife. This area is 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.
San Juan Gay Travel Tips
Renting Electric Scooters
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 app. Just walk up to any scooter 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.
For the most part, 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 something with a little alcohol in it (although this isn’t technically allowed). It’s not cheap, though! You’ll also need cash.
Pack Your Tropical Vacation Essentials
Before you head off to paradise, check wolfyy’s useful list of what to pack for the tropics. You’ll find my favorite waterproof gear, lightweight clothing ideas, rain gear, and tons more.
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 writes 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.
Next, check out more tropical destinations with wolfyy’s gay guides to Holbox, Mexico, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.