If you are a single male traveler, you most likely know about the dark side of Costa Rica. People in the know, know. There is a side of Costa Rica that is so dark that it’s claimed lives, created crime, and ruined relationships. While prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, it’s an extremely riveting topic to many people. Today I’ll share the truth about Costa Rica hookers and prostitutes, because any traveler to the country should be aware of what happens there, whether they are for or against it.
The Sex Industry in Costa Rica
I studied in Costa Rica in the year 2000, and had a very brief run-in with this industry, but only during my one weekend of free travel from my home base, near Liberia, Costa Rica. Along with some friends, we chose to stay in a hotel – one that would later become infamous – called the Hotel Del Rey.
“Cold beer, casino gaming, sportsbook, and Air Conditioning,” read the advertisement in the Frommer’s book. Having been studying in Guanacaste for a solid two months, we felt that we all deserved some of the amenities we weren’t afforded in the scorching hot Guanacaste climate. That said, four of us split a two bedroom room for the weekend not knowing what we had just gotten ourselves into.
“Make sure to come to the lobby at night,” said the man behind reception, who ended up being Greg Ruzicka, an owner of the hotel at the time. “There will be 100’s of women who want you,” he continued.
Being barely 21, and wet to the prostitution scene in Costa Rica, we had no idea that the pay for play model was so in your face.
Needless to say, that night was an eye opening night. Admittedly, all of us college students, two months fresh off the boat from Minnesota, were terrified to even make eye contact with the women. When you do, the lock in on you and you become their mission. Scared, we sat at the bar, watched American sports, and drank cold beer. The scenery and people watching was amazing, and something that would never be forgotten.
Fast forward to 2018, I had a business in Costa Rica over a decade ago. I had a house, land, and a full fledged life down there. A lot of entertaining went on at the Del Rey and other nearby establishments. I was a local. I was friends with all the bartenders, security, and of course, the local street vendors. When you are a local, it’s one thing, but to be a foreign local, that’s another. They welcome you, and you will never go forgotten. Even if you keep to yourself, people take notice.
Usually I was flanked by 2-3 or more friends as well as personal security, so I wasn’t hard to find in the San Jose area. While I don’t visit as much as I’d like to, and the scene has really changed, today I present to you my recollection of 17 years traveling to and living in Costa Rica.
It’s important to know that my musings are mostly about the San Jose Escort scene. Since I lived outside of San Jose, and worked, this was my area of expertise.
San Jose Costa Rica Prostitution
First off, this is 100% legal in Costa Rica.
(Disclaimer: I’m not here promoting or condoning it – just presenting facts for travelers.)
However, there are two things to remember.
- No minors. No exceptions. Don’t even think about it. You will be locked up immediately.
- Pimping is illegal. Women are all independent in this trade.
Here’s a recent arrest that proves that the country does NOT mess around on either item. – BUSTED.
Also, it’s not something most people try to celebrate, and there are many groups trying to get rid of the sex trade. (Read – http://qcostarica.com/crack-down-on-prostitution-in-san-jose/)
The trade has unions, medical cards, and access to health care. If you are a professional sex worker, the protocol is to be examined by a Doctor every 15 days. You must carry a CCSS card for this.
Like Amsterdam, the sex scene is openly discussed in Costa Rica. It’s something people know about, talk about, and have opinions on. I’ve seen many famous people from the USA and other countries in places where prostitutes roam. More than I could probably remember even.
As far as facilitating prostitution in Costa Rica, (pimping, trafficking, sex rings) it’s a very significant crime. The view here is that nobody should be forcefully entering this trade, but if they want to, they can.
Another reason that will attract Costa Rican women to the sex trade is that they can make up to 125 times the average minimum wage in Costa Rica. Let that sink in for a second, and you’ll see why women will go to great lengths to earn $100 while their friends work for only a few dollars per hour. The quality of life can drastically be brought up in just a few hours per week, if they play their cards right.
You’ll also find that working women will have a grasp on the English language most of the time. At least they know the sexual buzz words, that’s for sure.
Where to Find Sex in Costa Rica
Since I moved away in 2010, a lot of the scene has supposedly moved to Jaco Beach. The Jaco prostitutes enjoy the nice beach life as well as growing tourism trend and mainly congregate at the Hotel Cocal & Casino. While they do exist in other areas, Jaco, along with the declining San Jose sex scene, are the two predominant areas.
San Jose offers the “Gringo Gulch,” an area that is also called the “Zona roja.” (Red light district.) This is normally reference to the zone one block North of Mercado Central and it houses seedy bars, dingy night clubs and hourly motels.
Travel Tip: In Costa Rica, a “night club” is somewhere females dance. A “strip club” in the USA.
That isn’t to say you won’t find Costa Rican prostitutes in other areas of the country, but that’s just the belly of the beast. The busiest working women are in Jaco and San Jose.
Where Will You Find Sex in Costa Rica in 2018?
Again, most everyone starts their adventures at the iconic H0tel Del Rey. It boasts a restaurant, 24 hour bar, casino, sometimes a sportsbook, a coffee station, and more sex workers than you could ever meet over a three day weekend. Rooms are upstairs, and heavily guarded by security. There is a fee to take women to your room, of course.
Typically, the bartenders here earn very well. They aren’t afraid to drink with you – on your tab of course. They are very good at running it up by drinking things they wouldn’t drink on their own dime, like Grey Goose.
When you recall that the average female who graduates college only earns around $600 monthly, you’ll see why this place is so catty.
Inside the Del Rey, you’ll find sex starting at $20 for a low end, normally old, overweight, and very imperfect Dominican or Nicaraguan. On the high end of the spectrum, you’ll find that a fresh off the boat Colombian with all the accessories will ask for $300. You get all types of types in between, and of course, things will change based on their current need for cash, their desire to be with you physically, and of course, how their day is going so far.
Sure, you can find many options below $20 in Costa Rica, which is downright frightening. These are mostly street hookers in San Jose, mostly known for their transgender traits and desire to rob you. Many carry knives, and they are usually part of the old adage “good from far, far from good.” Be very careful, because as locals say “they are on the street for a reason.” This normally refers to the lack of ID card, having an issue at a place like the Del Rey, or just being volatile and getting the old 86. They could also be HIV positive.
What do Costa Rica Prostitutes Look Like?
On average, the typical Costa Rican woman is very attractive. With their exotic look, tan and silky skin, what’s there not to like? They are lighter than most Latinas, which many guys like. What I
like best is their accents and the way they speak Spanish – it’s much more clear than neighboring countries.
There are, of course, many types of Costa Ricans. You have an entire side (Limon, the East Coast) of people with Caribbean roots, so if you like darker women, they are represented down here too. Don’t forget, there are women from many other Latin American countries, not just Ticas. You will find all types working in this industry.
You’ll find that most Costa Rican’s enjoy the beach. So, if you find that special someone and strike up a several day romance, keep that in mind, and think about taking a trip. They will not say no, especially since you are paying their way.
Where Do Prostitutes Hang Out in Costa Rica?
This article summed it up best as far as where do they hang out to find Johns. The Del Rey being #1, and the Jaco Beach area, mostly the Cocal Hotel & Casino, are the main staples. However, they do hang out at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Barrio Otoya, just blocks from the Del Rey, as well as many lower end, dingy massage par-lours. While the law is against these, (several people will argue against that but the number of raids, shutdowns, and arrests speak otherwise) you’ll find many unassuming operators in San Jose and beyond. There have been reports of all sorts of conditions, prices, and activities, but again, I don’t mind hanging out in a well trafficked hotel and bar, but I typically stay far away from the other spots.
Also, keep in mind, these are regular people! I’ve had many occasions where I’ve seen the women dancing the night away in Disco’s like Club Vertigo, Frankie Go’s, and Castro’s Bar. I can’t even state if any or all of them are open as I write this in 2018, so I may be dating myself with that comment. The fact of the matter is, they have lives too. If you catch them with their guard down, strike up a conversation, you never know where it could go.
Travel frequently? Make sure to check out our recommended travel essentials page: https://www.allworld.com/must-have-travel-accessories-to-pack/.
Also, if you are booking a flight to Costa Rica, check out which airlines are the safest.