Natural beauty and adventure await gay honeymooners in Costa Rica
Photo: Melissa Varnadoe
Zip line through the canopies of a rain forest, rappel down a waterfall, relax on a sun-drenched beach, or gaze at lava flow down the side of a volcano. Whether you and your betrothed are looking for adventure and activity or peace and tranquility, you can find it all in Costa Rica.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Costa Rica’s weather is considered pleasant all year round, although their rainy season runs from May to August. If you want to see turtles, be sure to check the season for the area you are visiting.
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Costa Rica. Politically and socially, Costa Ricans are still fairly conservative. However, tourism is a major economic contributor for the country and they know how to treat all guests, including LGBTQ, with respect and hospitality. Manuel Antonio is considered the friendliest of areas and is even home to a gay nude beach, La Playita.
Real Intercontinental Hotel and Club Tower You probably won’t spend too much time in or around San Jose, but if your flight times have you there overnight, you’ll find this modern and accommodating hotel in the upscale suburb of Escazu will completely suit your needs and even a few desires. The rooms are bright and comfortable, and the heated outdoor pools are divine.
Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa Perfectly located and directly facing Arenal Volcano, this hotel offers lush grounds, an eco-friendly spa and even its own thermal hot springs reserved for guests only. Each of the spacious suites boasts incredible panoramic views of the volcano as well as an indoor hot tub. Nothing quite says honeymoon like a hot tub in your room.
Hidden Canopy Boutique Hotel The delightful owner and host welcomes lovebirds to spend the night perched in their own private tree house at this marvelously unique bed and breakfast. With each chalet literally built within the canopy of the cloud forest, it provides artful design nestled perfectly within a serene natural setting.
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Sunbathe on your choice of three beaches, get pampered with couple massages at the spa, go horseback riding on the beach, take a dip in the breathtaking infinity pool, or take in a round of golf. Your choices are seemingly endless at this picturesque beach resort.
Photo: Courtesy of Gaia Hotel and Reserve
Gaia Hotel and Reserve This adults-only five-star hotel is tucked away in the pristine coastal forest above Manuel Antonio. The hotel staff prides itself on personal service and is always ready to assist you in choosing from the myriad of excursions available in the area. The luxurious rooms and exotic setting lend themselves to acting as if you’re the only two people in the world.
Manatus Hotel Enjoy comfort and magnificence amid the beautifully rugged nature found in this remote region. Let this hotel take care of you from beginning to end. The rates are inclusive of your transfer to and from San Jose, which includes a high-speed boat ride through the backwaters, as well as all your meals and a number of guided tours through the area.
WINE & DINE:
Take advantage of Costa Rica’s long tradition of raising cattle at La Patagonia Restaurante in Escazu. This quaint little restaurant offers glorious cuts of beef prepared in the Argentinean parrilla style and also has a commendable wine list.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience to kick off or end your honeymoon, head downtown to the restaurant at the El Grano de Oro Hotel. The romantic atmosphere is only rivaled by the exceptional food and service.
Stop by Casajo’s Del Arenal for a relaxed lunch in their open-air dining room. The owner is always on hand to share his recommendations and even with his limited English, he’ll ensure you get a delicious meal. Just be sure to start with the incredibly fresh ceviche; it’s not to be missed.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, you can’t beat the views from Café Agua Azul. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s a great place for a burger, perfectly seared tuna or just a sunset cocktail.
Located poolside at the Hotel Byblos, the Bistro Pizzeria&Restaurant offers both local cuisine and delicious pizzas. Visit for happy hour, and keep your eyes peeled for birds and monkeys as you sip on your 2-for-1 cocktails.
Sofia’s is your fine dining choice in the town of Santa Elena while its sister restaurant, Chimera, offers innovative tapas in a casual setting. Both offer excellent service and delicious fare.
A couple, one from France and one Costa Rica, opened a restaurant here, which resulted in the beautiful marriage of French and Latin cuisines at Nibbana Beach Bar and Restaurant.
For a true local experience and excellent seafood, El Pescador is the place to go. Situated on the beach, the neighborhood restaurant serves ice cold beers that pair perfectly with homemade chips and guacamole.
Photos: Melissa Varnadoe (L), infobarrel.com (R)
SEE & DO:
No matter what area of Costa Rica you visit, you’re sure to enjoy the amazing array of flora and fauna. Orchids, bromeliads, lizards, monkeys, sloths and a host of tropical birds make this country a nature-lover’s paradise.
If you end up with some time to spare in San Jose, check out the Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica to peruse through its extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts or head up to the nearby Volcano Poàs National Park to see the two crater lakes near the summit of this active volcano.
If you’re in San Jose on a Sunday and want to mix it up with some Costa Rican “family,” don’t miss the tea dance at the city’s oldest and still most popular gay bar, La Avispa.
Arenal Volcano The main attraction may be the majestic and active Arenal Volcano, but don’t miss out on the many adventure excursions they have available like waterfall rappelling and zip lining. Afterward, relax in one of the many natural hot springs located in the area.
The Arenal Volcano National Park also provides great views and trails through the young secondary forest and old lava fields.
If you grow tired of the traditional methods of transport, you can always take a boat ride across Lake Arenal and ride horseback through the countryside all the way to Monteverde from Arenal. Once there, take a tour of one of the small co-op coffee plantations or go directly to the mystical Monteverde or Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves for a canopy bridge tour or hike.
Thrill seekers also can find many zip-lining tours available in the area or can take a guided night tour of the forest to its the nocturnal inhabitants, like frogs and tarantulas, come to life.
Bring beach towels and a picnic lunch for your hike through Manuel Antonio National Park. This popular park boasts an unmatched diversity of wildlife, and you’re sure to see a few monkeys and sloths on your way to the beach.
Take surfing lessons, go sailing, jet skiing or sea kayaking, or just frolic in the waves at Tamarindo Beach. If you visit between October and March, you can catch the leatherback turtles nesting on the neighboring beaches of Playa Grande and Playa Langosta.
If you are visiting between June and October, visit Tortuguero National Park to witness the miraculous plight of the endangered green sea turtle. Depending on your timing, a night tour of the beach could have you seeing them mate, nest or even hatch.
PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR:
Adventure, eco-chic travel, relaxation, sand and surf, nature and wildlife at its finest.
DAYS TO STAY:
If you plan on staying put in one destination you can easily enjoy it in 3-4 days. If you want to hit a few different places you’ll want to plan to stay at least 5 days to a week.
OH, AND BY THE WAY:
Although Costa Rica is a small country, curvy mountainous roads make for long trips in-between destinations. A drive of 25 miles can easily take an hour or more. Renting a car is easy and roads to major destinations are usually in fair condition, although some require four-wheel drive. If driving in unfamiliar territory doesn’t sound appealing you, Costa Rica offers a host of other options including short domestic flights, private shuttles, mini-buses and public transportation between all major attractions.
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