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  • Writer's pictureLisa Cappello

Is Costa Rica Safe for LGBTQ Visitors?

The short answer to this question is yes, Costa Rica is generally a safe country for LGBTQ visitors. It’s helpful to understand Costa Rica’s history with regards to gay rights and marriage equality.

Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

In 2020 Costa Rica became the first Central American country other than Mexico to legalize same-sex marriage. This victory was widely celebrated across the country, even while there was some dissent. In 1977, the country passed its first law recognizing same-sex relationships, and in 2008 an antiquated law criminalizing homosexuality was declared unconstitutional. Costa Rica also has laws that protect transgender people from discrimination in employment and housing, which stands in stark contrast to many other Central American countries, where discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression is still widespread. Overall, Costa Rica’s policies are a beacon of hope for the region.

General Advice for Staying Safe

So, while the country’s politics are progressive when it comes to LGBTQ rights, in practice it is still important to take some precautions when traveling. Note that most of these precautions are prudent regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The country is diverse and local laws and customs may not be consistent everywhere you plan to go. And even though the laws may be friendly towards LGBTQ folks, there are still plenty of people with homophobic and transphobic viewpoints in this traditionally Catholic country. In general, it is best to avoid public displays of affection unless you are confident that you are in a safe space. It is also advisable to dress somewhat conservatively in order to blend in with the local culture. Another common sense piece of advice is to travel with trusted companions and to make sure that others know of your travel plans.

Where to Stay?

Many hotels and resorts have language on their website indicating their support of the LGBTQ community. When in doubt, a phone call or email inquiry can help to put your mind at ease. We can also help in that regard - we are familiar with lots of hotels, resorts, and rental properties that are LGBTQ friendly and we are happy to share our recommendations. Here are some of the friendliest LGBTQ destinations to consider:

San Jose - Our capital city is home to many gay bars and clubs and hosts numerous Pride events throughout the year. The city’s main plaza is a popular gathering spot for the LGBTQ community.

The Caribbean Coast - The towns of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita are popular spots for LGBTQ visitors looking for a laid-back beach experience.

Guanacaste (Pacific Coast) - Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, popular beach towns like Tamarindo, Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa are all welcoming and offer lots of activities and nightlife options.

Manuel Antonio - This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica and visitors will find abundant outdoor activities, along with a vibrant nightlife. It is also known to be very LGBTQ friendly.

Let Us Help You Plan a Perfect Vacation!

At the Costa Group every customer experience is important to us. One of our co-owners is a member of the LGBTQ community, and we love to work with other members of the community in crafting vacations that exceed all expectations. We work with many hotels, providers, guides and drivers who are LGBTQ friendly, and we are always looking to do business with these trusted vendors. The best way to ensure that you have a great vacation where you feel safe and supported is to work with us on developing a custom itinerary. We can tailor it to your budget (from economy to luxury), your timeframe, and your interests. To learn more, visit our homepage or fill out our custom itinerary form and we'll get started putting together an itinerary for your dream vacation!


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