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Drag queens and friends, San Jose

Where Ticos Come to Work and Party

San José has most of Costa Rica's gay bars and saunas and is certainly the center of the gay scene. If you're looking to go dancing or cruise in a bathhouse, you'll want to plan to spend part of your Costa Rica vacation here.

The city itself isn't the most exciting although it is undergoing some urban renewal which is improving things. Many Tico's (Costa Ricans) will come into San José for nightlife or for work but actually live in one of the many surrounding communities of the Central Valley. You may find therefore that some venues (especially the bathhouses) are busier earlier than you would expect as people go after work rather than come in from far away. The city can also feel a little empty a night in certain areas, including around some of the gay bars, so please exercise caution in these areas at night as muggers have been known to prey on solo travelers, especially one's who are drunk. Take a taxi when leaving bars such as Puchos or La Avispa. Please see our Safety page for more info.

Many Ticos like foreign guys and they like to party and go out, especially on weekends, so have fun and enjoy the attention! For more info on cruising and picking up guys read our article Sex and the Single Tico.

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Best of Gay Costa Rica

Best of Gay Costa RicaColours Oasis Resort
 www.coloursoasis.com

Key West styled boutique hotel and the only exclusively gay hotel in San Jose. 20 rooms, all with private bath, some with kitchen and living room. Great for traveler looking to hang out by the pool and meet fellow travelers. Pool and sun terrace, jacuzzi, gym/exercise area. Full restaurant and bar. Quiet neighborhood in the embassy district a short taxi ride to all bars and gay activities.
 2296 1880, 1-866-517-4390 from USA
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 Average room rate: $119
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Best of Gay Costa RicaB&B Casa Mandala
 www.casamandalacr.net

Located in the neighborhood of Rohrmoser one of the most beautiful and tranquil areas of San José, surrounded by green areas and views of the volcanoes, near to the main tourist, financial and historical areas of the capital. The house has a nice atmosphere with relaxation areas which invite guests to relax with tv room, open kitchen, dining room and cozy terrace. Relaxing massage is also offered. There is a comfortable sunny patio where you can enjoy a free continental breakfast. Mandala House is operated by its owners to be a new "gay friendly" B&B in San José.
 8411 9827
 Average room rate: $65
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Best of Gay Costa RicaDaVinci's Dental Care
 davincisdentalcare.com

Dentistry from a team approach. They make it a priority to use the latest science and highest technology available, such as Digital Smile Design Technology and Micro dentistry as well as state-of-the-art equipment, including computed dental radiography which uses 90% less radiation, intra-oral video cameras Laboratory and other advanced technology. DaVinci's Dental Clinic has many LGBT clients both foreign and local. The clinic is ideally located with easy access to gay and gay-friendly establishments
 2290 6062, USA number: (305) 280-2272
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Hotels

Best of Gay Costa RicaB&B Casa Mandala
 www.casamandalacr.net

Located in the neighborhood of Rohrmoser one of the most beautiful and tranquil areas of San José, surrounded by green areas and views of the volcanoes, near to the main tourist, financial and historical areas of the capital. The house has a nice atmosphere with relaxation areas which invite guests to relax with tv room, open kitchen, dining room and cozy terrace. Relaxing massage is also offered. There is a comfortable sunny patio where you can enjoy a free continental breakfast. Mandala House is operated by its owners to be a new "gay friendly" B&B in San José.
 8411 9827
 Average room rate: $65
 View on map

See full details

Best of Gay Costa RicaColours Oasis Resort
 www.coloursoasis.com

Key West styled boutique hotel and the only exclusively gay hotel in San Jose. 20 rooms, all with private bath, some with kitchen and living room. Great for traveler looking to hang out by the pool and meet fellow travelers. Pool and sun terrace, jacuzzi, gym/exercise area. Full restaurant and bar. Quiet neighborhood in the embassy district a short taxi ride to all bars and gay activities.
 2296 1880, 1-866-517-4390 from USA
 see reviews on Tripadvisor
 Average room rate: $119
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Casa 69

Historic house renovated to a charming B&B. Located just four blocks east of the National Museum, no more than 10 minutes walking distance to the center of town and to gay nightlife. No longer gay owned but gay friendly and continues to have a fair number of gay clientele.
 2256-8879
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 Average room rate: $45
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Costa Rica Guesthouse

Guesthouse within easy walking distance of center in pleasant neighborhood. Not primarily gay but they advertise as gay friendly.
 2223-7034
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Hotel Kekoldi

Gay owned hotel located in central San Jose. Mixed clientele.
 (506) 2248-0804
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Secret Garden

Charming gay owned two room bed & breakfast in the Rohrmoser embassy district (close to Colours Oasis Resort). Secure, parking, quiet, personal service. Ideal for longer stays (ask about weekly & monthly rates).
 2290 3890
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 Average room rate: $60
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Bars

Al Depiste Bar

Popular hangout in the Zapote part of San Jose. Well known for the "bocas", great variety of tasty foods. Live music and activities all the week. Karaoke on Fridays and Gogo dancers on Saturdays.
 2234-5956
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Babel

Gay and lesbian bar and lounge with occasional shows. Cocktails, beer and snacks. Alternative/Queer crowd. Open Wed & Thu 9:00pm - 3:00am, Fri & Sat 9:00pm - 6:00am
 2222 5510
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Bar La Cueva del Oso

"Bear Cave" is a gay bar for bears, wolves and friends. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 7pm.
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Bar Margot

Small fun, cruisy bar with with mainly blue collar type locals.
 2223 2163
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Bochinche

Popular Trendy bar for younger types. Mostly locals.
 2221-0500
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Buenas Vibraciones Bar

Lesbian owned bar popular with both lesbians and gay men. Good gathering place to hangout with or meet new friends. Open 7 days a week
 2223-4573
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Castilla Bar

Small friendly bar with food served. Primarily lesbian but gay men welcome too. Open daily from 6 pm.
 2221 0656
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Puchos Night Club

Popular place with all types and featuring erotic dancers. Darkroom.
** Was destroyed by fire in June 2013 but reopened and remodeled by Sept 2013.
 2256-1147
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Zona Rosa

Cruise bar. Very busy with locals. Also has full cinema booths in back with glory holes and dark room. Costs $5 to get a day pass which allows you to go in and out all day.
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Discos/Dance Clubs

Club El Teatro

Trendy Dance Bar. Gay and Mixed. Electro, Pop, Latin Music. Drag and stripper shows. In the former Club Oh space. Open Fridays and Saturdays plus some special events only.
 2256-1003 o 2256-1052
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La Avispa

Popular dance club favoured by locals. Good age mix and local dance club experience. Sunday afternoons are legendary with a mix of latin disco and salsa.
 2223-5343
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Venue

Lounge / restaurant / disco
 2234 5009, 6027 8297
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Restaurants

El 13

Cafe, Bar and Restaurant. Happy Hour 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday.
 2221-7228
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Olio Restaurante y Pub

Restaurant specializing in Mediterranean and seafood. Lunch, dinner or drink. Popular gay spot to start a night out or have a romantic date. Open Monday to Friday noon to midnight, Saturday 6pm to midnight.
 2281 0541
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Bathhouses/Saunas/Massage

100 Celsius Lounge

Newly open bathhouse / social club with Lockers, Jacuzzi, Sauna, Steam room with maze, Dark room, Sling room, Glory holes, Porn room, Lounge. Hours Noon - 10 pm daily.
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Blue Door Massage

Massage for men by men
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Hispalis Sauna

Largest of all saunas in San Jose. Varied crowd with all types of guys. Bar, Restaurant, Cruising Areas, Jacuzzi, Sauna, Steam Room. 7 Days a week Noon - 1am. Wednesdays are Naked Nights. Note: saunas in Costa Rica tend to be busier early evening and after work versus late night
 2256-9540
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Las Termas de Paris

Look for door on corner with purple curtain. Behind the curtain you'll find a small bathhouse with lockers, cruising areas and booths. Open daily 1 pm - 9pm, most popular after work. Admission is 3,000 colones with a special rate on Wednesdays of 2,500. Women and minors not admitted.
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Oasis Erotic Massage

Erotic massage by men for men. Open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm.
 8824 8511, 8648 9504
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Community Centres

Cipaq
 cipacdh.org

The "Centro de investigación y Promoción para America Central de Derechos Humanos" is a human rights organization focusing on LGBT rights in Central America. Investigations, press outreach, radio show.
 2280 7821
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Casa Cari

Center for LGBT culture and spirituality. A project initiated by the Rainbow Community in February 2008 to create a physical space for group meetings. Dedicated to promoting culture and spirituality of the LGBT community in Costa Rica. Home of the following groups:
- Comunidad Arco Iris (LGBT spirituality)
- Fenix (personal growth)
- Vivencias (spiritual and group support)
- Cinema CARI (LGTB Cinema)
- Colectiva Lesbica (Women's group)
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Cruising Area

Cinema 2000

Cinema showing straight porn films but with lots of gay action happening in the seats and other areas. Entry 3000 colones ($6)
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Parque National

Downtown central cruising park. Now with free WiFi too.
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Video Relaxx

Video booth store with gay and straight films, cruising.
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Video Rexxx

Cruisy adult movie theater. Open noon to 11 PM daily. Entrance 2500 colones.
 8845 7899, 8847 5920
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XXX Adult World

Sex toys, porn videos for sale. Video booths.
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Shopping

Nuestras Letras

The first gay bookshop in Costa Rica is now open! Librería Nuestras Letras providing a place to find a selection of alternative literature. Open Mon-Fri 3-7pm and Sat/Sun from 12noon-5pm.
 2236-6671
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Services

Best of Gay Costa RicaDaVinci's Dental Care
 davincisdentalcare.com

Dentistry from a team approach. They make it a priority to use the latest science and highest technology available, such as Digital Smile Design Technology and Micro dentistry as well as state-of-the-art equipment, including computed dental radiography which uses 90% less radiation, intra-oral video cameras Laboratory and other advanced technology. DaVinci's Dental Clinic has many LGBT clients both foreign and local. The clinic is ideally located with easy access to gay and gay-friendly establishments
 2290 6062, USA number: (305) 280-2272
 View on map

See full details

Additional comments from our visitors about San Jose LGBT Places

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Costa Rica Cruiser from San Jose, Costa Rica
Safety Advice for Hooking up in Costa Rica

I don't want this to sound overly alarmist, but there are certain precautions that the inexperienced gay traveler should take when meeting local guys in developing countries.

Costa Ricans are very friendly people and are pretty open about gay life. However, given that it is a poorer country, there is a segment of the population that preys upon foreigners. Keep in mind that the average unskilled working stiff makes about $15-$20 day.

I have lived in Costa Rica for 5 years and over that time I have learned a few things (thankfully not the hard way).

Here are some basic tips to keep you safe.

Do not walk around downtown San Jose at night. Taxis are only a few dollars and are usually available outside the bar you are leaving from. If you are leaving from a bar or sauna and do not see a taxi, have the counter person or doorperson call one for you.

If walking around during the day, refrain from wearing jewelry such as gold chains, watches etc. Also keep displays of using such items as cell phones and ipods to an minimum. You are just sending out messages that you have "goodies".

When going out, keep the amount of cash that you have with you to the just amount you need for that night. You also can leave all ID including passport in your hotel safe. You are required to have a photo-copy of your passport with the entry stamp as well. This is legal ID all over Costa Rica except when you do face-to-face bank transactions and an original copy is required. Try and have photo copies done before you leave, but if you do not, most decent hotels will do it for you.

Keep park cruising to day light hours. If cruising around downtown parks, there are very cheap hotels that you can go to for sex. Latin culture is designed this way as very few people live alone and given that latins are very horny, casual encounters and sex outside of relationships is very common.

If you bring someone back to your hotel room, make sure that he is not expecting money. If he is, negotiate the price and what that includes ahead of time.

Most gay hotels and hotels that are used to guests bringing back local friends make person register at desk with ID. This is a good thing as it is for your protection and other guests. If your new found friend does not have ID, that should be your first sign that he might not be trustworthy. I would stick to taking him to a sex hotel or sauna.

If you do not know the person or do not have reliable references about the persons character, it is not advisable for you to have him stay the night.

Make sure all your valuables in your hotel room are locked up. It is a very good idea that until you know someone not to display signs of wealth such as expensive cash, credit cards, cell phones, computers, etc.

If having sex in venues like sex clubs or parks, be very mindful about things in your pockets such as car keys, cash or wallet.

If you are a victim of crime or threats, my advice would be to call the police. That will usually end things right there. Almost anyone involved in illegal activity does not want to deal with the police. They are counting on that you are too afraid to call.

Unlike other Latin countries I have visited, the police in Costa Rica overall are quite friendly and will try and help. The whole country on a whole is not really homophobic and even though many do not approve of homosexuality, they are not hostile about it.

October 19, 2009

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