Puerto Rico is considered the most gay-friendly island in all of the Caribbean making it an ideal destination. Of course, you need to be smart everywhere you travel, but your “Out-of-the-Closet-ness” factor is on your side on this little island just south of the southern tip of the US. No trip to Puerto Rico is complete without visiting the island’s capital, San Juan and indulging in the unique culture, gastronomy and nightlife.
Table of Contents
1. General Tips
2. Transportation & Airport Transfer
3. Gay Hotels in Puerto Rico (San Juan)
4. Sightseeing & Activities in San Juan
5. Gay Tours in San Juan
6. Restaurants and Cafes in San Juan
7. Puerto Rico Gay Bars and Clubs
8. Puerto Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
9. Gay Beaches in Puerto Rico
10. Gay Events in Puerto Rico
11. Day Trips from San Juan
Puerto Rico has its very own culture and customs yet is very much connected to the United States. Though Puerto Rico is not one of the 50 states, it is a territory of the US, which means Puerto Rican’s receive a US passport and the currency is the US dollar. Great news for any Americans who want to visit – that’s right, you don’t even need a passport, there’s no money exchange and it’s just a quick flight from the southern US with many direct flights to other major US cities. There are also a number of direct flights from other parts of Latin America and easy connections to Europe through Spain.
San Juan has lots to do and see and it’s worth spending at least a few days there before visiting other parts of the island. Popular neighborhoods include Old San Juan, Isla Verdo, Condado and Ocean Park. There is no gay neighborhood in San Juan. The LGBT+ bars and clubs are spread out across the city, but you'll find that most places in San Juan are gay-friendly. You can spend half a day exploring Old San Juan where you’ll find blue cobbled streets, open plazas and lots of great boutique shops – all styled in Spanish architecture. The old town is compact so it’s all easily accessed by walking. Puerto Rico has a tropical climate so it’s beach weather all year long.
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Transportation & Airport Transfer
The best way to get to your San Juan hotel or accommodation from the airport is to take a taxi or Uber. Taxi rates are fixed at around $21 depending on your destination. Rideshares like Uber can pick you up at the designated area on the ground floor of Terminals A and B. Bus service also runs from the airport, however, they don’t allow large luggage on the bus so taxi or Uber is a good option. You can also pre-book a shared airport transfer.
Taxis are easy to find at the airport if you’re just arriving as well as throughout the metro areas like Condado, Santurce, Isla Verde, Miramar, Ocean Park, and other nearby districts. Ridesharing in Puerto Rico is now common in San Juan but Uber is currently the only major rideshare company offering its services on the island.
Gay Hotels in Puerto Rico (San Juan)
San Juan currently only has one gay hotel in the city. Coqui del Mar listed below is the only property marketed and operated as a gay hotel/guesthouse. The other hotels listed below are all gay-friendly. While a few of the properties below are even LGBT+ owned and operated, they are open to all guests and don't offer the same LGBT+ atmosphere as a gay hotel would.
Coqui del Mar Guest House – This small gay-owned guest house is located in Ocean Park and has 12 different room types to suit all budgets. They offer large apartments with full kitchens or even a shared, hostel-style room for solo travelers on a budget. Get a local vibe while soaking in the two pools (one is always clothing optional), or the jacuzzi. Walk to the gay-friendly beaches, the gay cruising beach, bars, restaurants and lively San Juan scenes. Highly recommended if you're looking for a great social atmosphere with other gay guests. The property is also 420-friendly and can help you get a license to purchase legally during your visit.
O:live Boutique – This boutique, luxury hotel offers 15 rooms and an easy walk over to the beach. Expect a full Mediterranean-style experience from its modern, eclectic decor to the rustic, Mediterranean restaurant in the hotel.
Serafina Beach Hotel – Ideally situated in the bustling heart of Condado, directly on stylish Ashford Avenue. It’s a full-service lifestyle boutique hotel offering a chic oasis for urban travelers.
La Concha a Renaissance Resort – has a friendly vibe and close proximity to the gay beach. You can expect to see other gay guests here. It has a mid-century modern look and an upscale casino set in a fabulous oceanfront shell-shaped building. The property has multiple swimming pools and a sexy, lobby bar.
The Tryst Beachfront Hotel – this hotel is located right on Atlantic Beach and years ago was actually a gay hotel. Although no longer a gay hotel, it is located directly in front of the gay beach (popular on Sundays) and just around the corner from Oasis, one of Saun Juan's popular nearby gay bars. The hotel also has a nice outdoor restaurant with beautiful ocean views.
Andalucia Guest House – a gay-owned gem in Ocean Park. This cozy inn is decorated with Spanish/Moroccan flare and is surrounded by trendy restaurants and shopping and is located just four blocks from the beach. The owners are welcoming and eager to share their favorite San Juan tips. This guest house remains one of the city’s best values.
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Sightseeing & Activities in San Juan
Barcardi Distillery – you can’t miss a trip to the Barcadi Distillery to take a tour of the famous rum-making facility. Tours of the distillery include a traditional rum tasting tour or a mixology style experience where you learn to make mojitos and piña coladas. This tour includes transportation from San Juan, but you can easily reach the distillery by ferry (the most economical route – Aqua Express #2) from Old San Juan to Cataño and then catch an Uber or a taxi to the distillery. It's also possible to go the entire way by car but the ride will be more expensive as it goes around the entire bay of San Juan. Book tour →
Culinary Tours – Indulge in the food pleasures of Old San Juan on a food and history tour of the fortified colonial city. Walk its blue cobblestone streets and taste some of the food and drinks that make Puerto Rico so inviting for foodie fans. Book tour →
Old San Juan – take a tour of the oldest city in the US and its territories. Explore the Las Americas Museum featuring African and native heritage. Then see the Fort San Cristóbal filled with fascinating history and artifacts. Finish with a spot of shopping in the old town. Book tour →
Gay Tours in Puerto Rico (San Juan)
Puerto Rico Gay Tours – this tour company is operated by the owners of Coqui del Mar Guesthouse. Enhance your gaycation in San Juan with a trip to the rainforest, explore amazing caves or take a guided excursion to the gay beach. They offer regularly scheduled gay adventure trips with a certified gay tour guide. Book tour →
Restaurants and Cafes in San Juan
Marmalade – a mix of contemporary French, Caribbean and Spanish cuisine. Put yourself in the chef’s capable hands with a tasting menu or build your own feast from the a la carte menu, with wine pairings from Marmalade’s well-stocked cellar.
1919 – the food at this upscale restaurant isn’t just farm-to-table — it’s ocean-to-table. Enjoy sophisticated dishes, from crispy grain salad to braised veal cheeks over an apio polenta, passionfruit curd, coconut ganache and pineapple-cilantro sorbet.
La Casita Blanca – one of the most traditional dining spots in the San Juan metro region. With a delightfully old-school setting in Santurce, this restaurant will not only satisfy your taste buds but warm your soul. Every day, a list of 10 to 12 dishes are posted on a whiteboard, with items like stewed beef with rice and beans, codfish and mashed root vegetables, and crabmeat gazpacho waiting to fill your belly.
Cayo Caribe – a friendly eatery where creole and seafood dominate the menu. From savory mofongo with lobster to mahi mahi tacos to arroz mamposteao and chuletas (pork chops), this restaurant offers home-cooked Puerto Rican cuisine at its finest.
Cocina Abierta – the menu takes an open-minded approach to food, sourcing flavors from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and beyond. Located in the heart of the Condado, this lively, modern spot is close to many popular hotels.
Acapulco Taquería Mexicana – you’ll think you’ve gone to taco heaven when you step into this Mexican joint in the trendy Calle Loíza neighborhood. Whether you’re in the mood for chilaquiles, totopos, or tacos loaded with everything from carnitas to pollo al pastor, you’re in for a fiesta for your mouth.
Shibo – this casually elegant establishment blends Asian and local tastes and techniques for something truly one-of-a-kind. Try Creole spins on tapas, miso mofongo, or sancocho (Latin-American stew) ramen — plus a sushi bar offering creative rolls and fresh-from-the-sea sashimi.
Jose Enrique Restaurant – somewhat of a local celebrity – since Gordon Ramsay named him the best chef in Puerto Rico and had him on his show – Jose Enrique’s restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Expect authentic cuisine cooked with fresh local ingredients. Due to the fame factor it gets busy, so arrive early and tuck into such delights as swordfish schnitzel and a mouth-wateringly good hangar steak.
Puerto Rico Gay Bars and Clubs
During your stay in San Juan you can’t miss the local nightlife scene. The Condado neighborhood is where you’ll find most of the gay bars and gay-friendly places. Puerto Rico’s nightlife scene is exciting and the gay scene is fairly well developed for such a small island.
Tia Maria Bar & Liquor Store – yes, it’s a bar and not a liquor store, despite the name. This is a very popular bar with both locals and tourists.
SX Club – a popular club with strippers, go-go dancers and a darkroom. Friendly bartenders and strippers, loud music and a dance floor in the front.
The Bear Tavern – a local gathering point for bears and admirers. Opens at 6pm so it’s a good option for evening and early night plans out.
Oasis – a restaurant, lounge and bar open all day and until late. Monday nights are popular with happy hour and go-go dancers. Located just around the corner from Atlantic Beach (the gay beach).
La Sombrilla Rosa – if you’re looking for a gay bar with the authentic Puerto Rican attitude, then this popular establishment is the place to be. Found in the centre of the action – on San Sebastian Street in San Juan old town – it's pink, the drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is guaranteed to make you cheerful. Try the jello shots!
Toxic Nightclub – what’s you poison? This club caters to all tastes with themed drag shows, stand-up comedy, sexy strippers and even the odd Circuit party. Whatever night is being held there’s always a two-story bar with happy hours and large dancefloor with neon lights to dance on till the early hours. Open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday nights and found in the Santuce Arts District.
Puerto Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
Xteamworks – San Juan’s gay sauna/bathhouse. Look for the doorbell next to the steel mesh gate on the right side of the ground floor entry. It’s a bit too far to walk home, so best to take a taxi or Uber back to your hotel at night.
Gay Beaches in Puerto Rico
There are also a number of beaches in and around the city, but you’ll find Atlantic Beach is where the gays gather – mostly on Sundays in front of the Tryst hotel. Atlantic Beach has been gay since the 60s' but it's less obvious these days as San Juan has become so open to the LGBT+ community. Ocean Park nearby is also gay-friendly, but it tends to be full of younger crowds and college students. During the daytime in the gay-friendly areas you shouldn’t have any problems with your partner, but like anywhere, just use your best judgment and be cautious of who’s around you.
Gay Events in Puerto Rico
Hydro Caribbean Festival – Hydro Festival is the first gay music festival in the Caribbean. The event is relatively new on the gay circuit scene. Planning your trip around this event is a good option if you enjoy circuit parties.
San Juan Pride – the pride event takes place in June and hosts a parade plus a variety of events and parties during the weekend.
Winter Pride Fest – the only winter LGBT+ event in Puerto Rico offering 4 days of parties and events including a pool party, catamaran tour, drag shows and a burlesque brunch.
Day Trips from San Juan
Bioluminescent Bay – one of the most unique things you’ll find in Puerto Rico is the Bioluminescent Bay on Isla Vieques. While you can do this as a day tour, you should consider staying overnight at the gay-owned and operated Casa de Amistad in Vieques. Known as Puerto Mosquito or Mosquito Bay, this destination is one of the best bioluminescent bays in the world and it’s considered a natural landmark of Puerto Rico. When visiting the bay at nighttime you’ll find a light emerging from the water caused by a micro-organism. The water glows whenever it’s agitated, leaving a trail of neon blue light. Book tour →
El Yunque National Forest – see a unique ecosystem that has amazed visitors for centuries. Stop at the popular Waterfall La Coca, view a beautiful panorama from the Yukaho Tower and onto the Puente Roto to see the Mameyes River. Book tour →
Featured image by Discover Puerto Rico.