Best Costa Rica Gay Beach (The Ultimate Guide)

The best beaches in Costa Rica where gay travelers and locals hang out are in Manuel Antonio. Playa Espadilla, Playa Playitas, and Playa La Mancha are gay-friendly. 

It may look hard to find a gay-friendly beach in Costa Rica, especially ones that are similar to the vibes you get at Island House in Key West. However, when you narrow your search to Manuel Antonio, it becomes easier to spot ideal areas. 

I have been to Playitas Beach. It’s so peaceful and quiet compared to the main strip. This is why I readily recommend it as the best beach area where LGBTQ communities can enjoy themselves. 

There are other amazing options, too. In this article, I will introduce you to three of the best gay beaches in Costa Rica, explain how to get there, describe the activities available at these spots, and provide other relevant information you ought to know before going. 

Key Takeaways

  • Official gay beaches in Costa Rica are saturated around Manuel Antonio.
  • The best overall option is Playa Playitas, for all intents and purposes 
  • Playa Espadilla Norte is an ideal option if you don’t mind somewhere overgeneralized. That is to say, you still see a mix of straight people here. 
  • Consider Playa La Mancha if you want a gay beach area with clothing options. It’s also an ideal, secluded area. 
  • Most of the ideal gay-friendly beaches in Manuel Antonio are suitable for surfing.
  • Parking is free but limited at these beaches, so expect to pay around $3 for all-day parking.

Pro Tip:

  • Many of these beaches are in secluded areas, so you’ll need a 4-wheel drive to get there unless you decide to walk.

Review of the Best Gay-friendly Beaches in Costa Rica

Let’s now look into these beaches one after the other so you can know what to expect when you go there as a gay traveler. 

1. Playa Playitas

  • Address: Manuel Antonio Beach, Puntarenas Province, Quepos, Costa Rica
  • Things to do: Surf, picnic, sloth and monkey viewing, take pictures
  • Ideal for: Small sandy beach and an LGBT meeting place
  • Rating: 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor

Playa Playitas is the number one consideration when trying to pick an ideal beachfront for gay or lesbian hangouts. 

The sandy beach has lush vegetation and is closed at high tide. Another reason to love it is that it’s super huge, so you don’t have to worry about it being crowded. 

You can even take refuge in the trees all the way to the end of it. It’s a beautiful spot for a picnic. There are locals here that ring boards or offer surf lessons as well. 

Many review sources say this beach is clothing-optional. But upon a recent visit, I realized it isn’t anymore. 

HOW TO GET THERE 

To get to Playa Playitas, especially if you’re coming from Quepos, Take a bus to Manuel Antonio, which travels solely on Manuel Antonio’s main road. You will stop at Manuel Antonio’s National Park, from where you can access the beach. 

If you’re driving, don’t drive to the end of the road because there is almost nowhere to get to the beach if you come. And you need a 4×4 drive for this journey. 

A better alternative would be to use WAZE to get real-time destination directions to Playa Playitas Beach. 

Friendly Advice: 

  • Bring snacks and food along, as there are no stores around
  • There is no entry fee to Play Playitas gay beach as it is not inside Manuel Antonio National Park

What I like about this beach 

  • It is popularly recognized as a gay and lesbian hangout spot in Costa Rica, so you can never go wrong with this option when looking for a gay beach to chill at. 
  • The sand and water were perfect. 
  • The large rock formations make for great pictures. 
  • The waves here are great for surfing. 
  • Occasional sloths

What I don’t like about this beach 

  • Parking is limited; you may pay around $3 for all-day parking.
  • No longer clothing is optional

2. Playa Espadilla Norte

  • Address:  9RWQ+WQJ, Unnamed Road, Provincia de Puntarenas, Quepos, 00000, Costa Rica
  • Things to do: Relax and enjoy the beachfront; go sloth-seeing; shop and support local businesses; and enjoy nature and sunset
  • Ideal for:  Picnic and Sunset
  • Rating: 4/5 on Tripadvisor

If you want a gay beach with a busy, vibrant, cosmopolitan public vibe, then consider Playa Espadilla. There is lots to see and do here, and this spot is best enjoyed in the early morning before all the vendors set up and late in the evening for sunset views.

Despite being gay-friendly, you might still see some families here. Although the water can be rough for children and those not confident in the water,. 

You can also see sloths here, especially on trees near the car park. 

The one downside of this gay beach is that there are too many vendors. It is rare to sit down to relax peacefully without someone trying to sell you something.

So I recommend you bring your chairs and blankets. 

HOW TO GET THERE 

The beach is quiet and secluded, a stone’s throw away from Manuel Antonio Park. But you can use WAZE for real-time direction. Once you get to Manuel Antonio Park, you can ask around.  It depends on where you’re staying in Manuel Antonio, too. 

Pro Tip:

  • Parking is free here, but there are attendants. You can smartly avoid paying and then tip the guy who will ‘watch’ the car a few times.

What I like about this beach 

  • Beautiful beach and sunset views
  • Surrounded by nature 
  • Easier to access 
  • Umbrellas, chairs, and gear are available for rent.

What I don’t like about this beach 

  • Too many vendors
  • Water is not palatable for swimming or surfing, especially for beginners. 
  • Not an ideal beach for absolute privacy
  • There is so much shady business going on, but if you don’t fall for it,. 

3. Playa La Mancha

  • Address: Little Cove between Quepos and Manuel Antonio. 
  • Things to do: Relaxed swimming, snorkeling, taking pictures
  • Ideal for:  Hikers looking for a secluded gay beach to chill. 
  • Rating: 5/5 on Tripadvisor

Playa La Macha is between Quepos and Manuel Antonio. It’s a bit hidden because you can’t drive straight to it, which is why it feels so private.

The beach sits naturally among the mountains and cliffs, so expect to see some snorkeling opportunities here. 

What I love about this place is that the water is clear and blue. It’s a good spot for all sorts of people, whether you’re traveling alone or just want a quiet escape. 

Since it’s secluded, there aren’t any amenities like showers or bathrooms. You won’t find rental chairs or food vendors, either. Bring your snacks and drinks for a good time. 

But it can get a bit busier during peak times.

To get there, you just have to take a short walk along a trail. Parking is about 300 meters away.

HOW TO GET THERE 

The trail’s starting point is close to the Bongo Hotel on the old road leading to Manuel Antonio. You can locate it using Google Maps.

Just follow the signs along the trail to reach this beautiful, untouched beach.

You can also access the beach via the Ruta Mae, which starts near the famous Pez Vela marina and ends at Manuel Antonio Beach. 

What I like about this beach 

  • Surrounded by nature 
  • Privacy 
  • It is ideal for relaxing swim
  • Snorkelling advantage

What I don’t like about this beach 

  • There are no amenities or stores because it’s too secluded 
  • It takes a 40-minute hike to get there 

Final Verdict

Overall, I’d recommend Playa Playitas in a heartbeat as the best gay-friendly beach in Costa Rica. What makes it even a better choice is that the salesmen do not come here, so you can generally enjoy the area on your own.

The beach areas I’ve recommended in this guide remain nice spots for gay couples or solo gay travelers to hang out in Costa Rica. 

Still, expect to see families and those staying in nearby hotels also at the beach. But if you stay to the side, it shouldn’t bother you that much. 

I hope you found this helpful.

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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