San José is the capital city, the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of Costa Rica. When visiting anywhere in this country, you’ll probably spend at least one night here at the beginning or end of your trip. Don’t worry, San Jose has plenty of diversions, with wild nights on the town and some of the nation's best gay clubs for dancing, cabaret, strippers and drag performances. The Marcha y Festival de la Diversidad, is the area's Pride celebration each June.
San Jose’s high altitude keeps evenings cool, meaning that it’s never too hot, even during the day. A little afternoon rain might fall during most of the “green season" from mid-May to mid-November, but rarely enough to keep you indoors; plus rates are often lower than in the winter months. During the many holiday fiestas in this land of Catholic faithful, the streets and parks can become very crowded with celebrating Ticos (local slang for Costa Ricans).
A pleasant day trip from San Jose is Cartago, the old capital 23 kilometers away, where two cathedrals draw tourists. One is a 500-year-old ruin, the victim of several earthquakes; the other, famous for an appearance of the Virgin Mary, attracts pilgrims by the millions.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport is about 20 minutes from San Jose in the town of Alajuela. Taxis are the hassle-free way to get downtown.
TUASA city buses depart every five minutes from the airport to: downtown Alajuela, downtown Heredia, or downtown San José (a trip of about 35-minutes), all for about US$1. When returning to the airport from San José to the airport, inform the bus driver of your destination. Bus stations are located on 2nd Avenue, on the north side of the Nuestra Señora de La Merced church.
You definitely don’t need a car in San Jose, as the traffic is terrible and the one-way streets are confusing. If you’re staying overnight before heading out to other parts of the country, arrange for your rental car company to deliver the car to your hotel.
When heading for town after dark, have your hotel call a taxi. Fares are cheap but be sure there's a meter, or set the price in advance, or risk overpaying. Note that addresses here can be a bit complicated, but businesses often print "what to tell the taxi driver" instructions.
Currency and Money
The colon is the currency of Costa Rica. There are plenty of ATMs in downtown San Jose, so no need to carry a lot of cash.
Use caution when walking or night cruising for hustlers in Parque Nacional (Avenidas 1and 3 at Calles 15 through19), or in Sabana Park.
Check out Squirt.org for more local cruising information.
Media & Resources
For our gay and lesbian businesses listings, map and resources with contact and website information, plus some restaurant and hotel suggestions, see our gay San Jose travel listings.
OrgulloGay, a Costa Rican local and international gay news blog, is in Spanish only.
Ernesto's by Gecko Trail Adventures assists gay clients with their travel needs drawing on deep and wide knowledge of Costa Rica's gay community throughout 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.
Ticosos.com website covers what's going on with the bear community in Costa Rica.
Las Aguas tropical lodge is the gay destination in the rugged mountains of Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Zone, south of San Jose. Villa Roca is a resort between Quepos and the National Park of Manuel Antonio, exclusively for gay men, lesbians and their friends. Banana Azul, operated by two gay Canadians, is on the Caribbean Coast at Playa Negra, near Puerto Viejo and Limón. Each has a website with information on tours and scenic local attractions.
To help protect some of Costa Rica's natural beauty, see SeaTurtles.org for news and information.
For general news about Costa Rica, in Spanish, incuding coverage of LGBT issues, see La Nación.
Hotels & Guesthouses
Casa Rainbow Canyon (Calle Copey off Radial Colón, Santa Ana), between the airport and the city, a men-only bed & breakfast with pool and patio, cable TV, AC, DVD and WiFi. Open year-round.
Colours Oasis Resort (Blvd de Rohmoser, at Parque La Lomita), a long-time gay and straight-friendly destination in San Jose, offers modest luxury, rooms and apartments; pool, spa, massage, and their concierge can help you find local bars, clubs, saunas, restraurants, and area tours.
Hotel Kikoldi Garden (Avenida 9, Calles 5 & 7, Barrio Amón), gay-friendly small art deco hotel, tropical interior garden, 10 rooms, private bathrooms, telephone with free local calls, cable TV, free WiFi and computer for free use of guests.
See more hotel options at our map & listings pages.
Outside San Jose there are several resorts and guesthouses that cater to gay travellers. Each has a website with information on tours and scenic local attractions.
The Las Aguas tropical lodge is the gay destination in the rugged mountains of Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Zone, south of San Jose.
Peace of Paradise features six gay-friendly rental units in the rain forest above Manuel Antonio, not far from the beach and the National Park.
Villa Roca is a resort between Quepos and the National Park at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, exclusively for gay men, lesbians and their friends.
Banana Azul, operated by two gay Canadians, is on the Caribbean Coast at Playa Negra, near Puerto Viejo and Limón.
A sampling of some popular clubs follows. See our listings and photo gallery pages, plus local media updates.
Babel Lounge (Avenida 10, Calle 11 & 13), eclectic queer/alternative, mostly young mix, men/women, Ticos/expats, playful, raunchy, arty, sometimes kinky; DJs play a bit of everything.
Bochinche (Calle 11, Avenidas 10 & 12), video bar and dance club, full of guys, mostly younger crowd goes all night long Saturdays.
Buenas Vibraciones (Avenida 14, Calle 7 & 9), Lesbian-owned bar on avenida 14 (between 7&9th), open nightly, mostly women, but men-friendly too.
Club El Teatro (Calle 2, Av 14 & 16), gay/mixed Friday/Saturday dance club, men/women mostly young crowd, stage shows, strippers/go-gos; former site of Club OH!
D'Club (Calle 2 Avenida 8-10. Parque Central), gay/ mixed dance club, shows, go-go dancers, theme parties.
El 13, (Avenida 14, Calle 9), upscale dance club/ lounge and restaurant; theme parties, chic young gay mix.
Energy Bar, (Paseo Colon), restaurant/ show and dance bar at Paseo Colon, in front of the Ambassador Hotel; special holiday and theme parties, naked nights, drag shows, male strippers.
La Avispa, (Calle primera, Av 8 & 10), long-time gay dance and show club with a mixed crowd, salsa, samba and merengue plus chart hits; big Sunday afternoons for latin disco/ salsa dance mix.
LOV Men's Mercadeo (Paseo Colon 75), Metros Norte gay men-only cruise club, bar/lounge, go-go dancers.
Olio Restaurant & Pub (Calle 33, Barrio Escalante), gay favorite Italian dining; lunch, dinner and cocktails, elegant and friendly atmosphere.
Pucho's (Calle 11 & Avenida 8), late-night bar and disco club with raunchy strippers and go-go boys who get quite erotic in “anything goes” performances - especially on "Caligula" nights. Also hosts TicOsos bear parties.
Venue (Centro Comercial Plaza Arte, East Side), large dance club, open to all, but very gay friendly, with periodic circuit take-over dance parties.
The area around Alajuela and San Jaquín near the airport, northwest of San Jose, is home to two gay places to check out:
Casa Vieja, (400m east from Iglesia de Monserrat, Alajuela), lively gay bar and restaurant for a mostly macho crowd, with cabaret drag shows and theme parties.
Ricks (500m east of Casino Fiesta, Carretera Heredia, Río Segundo de Alajuela), gay/ straight-friendly bar/restaurant/café 5 minutes drive from the airport, lively karaoke crowd, male go-go dancers, drag shows, weekend DJs and dancing, specialty “bocas” and good local cuisine.
100° Celsius Lounge (Calle 2, Ave 16), men's sauna club, open daily noon to 10pm, cabins, Jacuzzi, dark room, porn video room, sling, glory holes, DJ music lounge, theme party nights.
Blue Door Massage (Calle 3a, Avenida 7 & 9), nothing fancy decor, men for men erotic massages, mostly locals.
Cinema Rexxx (Avenida 1, 75m east of Parque Nacional corner), adult video screenings, gay cruising, open nightly midnight to noon.
Oasis Erotic Massage (Avenida 4, Calle 20 & 22), man on man erotic massages, bedrooms frolics, variety of guys on hand to choose from.
Sauna Club Hispalis (Casa 1762, Avenida Segunda 1762), modern sauna and steam room, busy cruise maze, big jacuzzi, and swimming pool, plus bar and restaurant. Full-nude days, especially crowded Sunday afternoons.
Las Termas de París (Avenida 7, Calle 7), older facility north of Parque Morazán, sauna, large Jacuzzi, social area, porn videos, cruise maze.
See our gay San Jose listings section for these and more, with locations, websites and contact information.