Lonely Planet has partnered with San Juan-based travel community Platea to provide comprehensive guides, curated lists and insider tips for your next trip to Puerto Rico.
With a larger cluster of gay neighborhoods in Condado, the tourist district and Santurce, San Juan is arguably Puerto Rico’s most LGBTIQ+-friendly city.
San Juan’s bustling gay scene offers a variety of accommodations, restaurants, bars and clubs that cater to the LGBTIQ+ crowd. Daytime diversions like sun-worshiping on the beach, exploring historical landmarks and sampling authentic Puerto Rican cuisine are plentiful too.
Here’s our guide to the best LGBTIQ+ spots in San Juan.
Puerto Rico has a thriving LGBTIQ+ community
The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and hosts a trio of massive Pride celebrations throughout the year: San Juan Pride, Winter Pride Fest, also in San Juan, and Boquerón Pride in Cabo Rojo.
Laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, just like other places in the world, individuals –particularly those identifying as trans – may experience bigotry.
Where to stay
Cozy guesthouses, boutique hotels and upscale resorts – San Juan's robust accommodations can match whatever type of stay you have in mind.
Coqui del Mar
Situated in Ocean Park, this gay-owned guesthouse fosters a laid-back beachfront community within the Santurce neighborhood. Married owners Rob and Vianney have a wealth of knowledge on the best places to go and things to do in Puerto Rico, even offering guided excursions to El Yunque rainforest, Arenales Cave, cruising beaches and some lesser-known spots around the island.
Coqui del Mar promotes a strong social environment, and the entire first floor and one of the two pools are clothing-optional. Guests can choose from 12 different studios and bedrooms ranging in size and price.
Spacious apartments with full kitchens work well for couples, and smaller communal-style rooms are ideal for budget-minded solo travelers.
Beach bikes, kayaks and beach chairs are free during your stay. Eco-conscious guests will appreciate the property’s no-single-use-plastic policy as well as its rainwater cisterns, mango tree and herb garden.
As Puerto Rico’s only vegetarian, gay-owned and -operated hotel, a stay at this impeccable boutique property is an immersion into health, wellness and diversity. Created by partners Stephan Watts and Roy Delgado, it's a sublime respite in the heart of Ocean Park, just minutes from the beach.
Each of the nine rooms and three suites are bright, chic and tastefully appointed, with crisp cotton sheets, natural furnishings, soft tones and distinctive decor like indigenous artifacts, dreamcatchers and fragrant incense burners adding to the homey appeal.
Meals are 100% vegetarian with vegan options, and the chef sources local ingredients for the seasonally inspired menus. Guests can choose from a well-curated list of activities – morning yoga and meditation classes, paddleboarding, salsa nights, snorkeling excursions and other tours.
Condado Ocean Club
Formerly the Serafina Beach Hotel, this adults-only boutique hotel boasts sweeping views of both Condado Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Revamped and renamed, it opened as Condado Ocean Club in November 2020 – the first San Juan property to debut post–Hurricane Maria.
All 96 rooms (some with terraces) are awash with natural light, thanks to dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. Gray and white walls with dashes of sea green and turquoise create a chic tropical backdrop for bohemian-style furnishings and striking murals by local artists.
The venue's elegant sea-facing infinity pool, fringed with nine breezy private cabanas, is perhaps the biggest draw here. Several restaurants are a short walk away, or you can savor a meal onsite at Social, where the menu expertly blends authentic Puerto Rican dishes and continental cuisine.
What to do
Hit the beach
San Juan is home to two primary (unofficial) gay beaches. Condado’s Atlantic Beach is the most popular, especially on Sunday afternoons when LGBTIQ+ families, clusters of friends and tourists show up for some quality time in the sun. Ocean Park Beach is the other hot spot: lined with palms and stunning homes, this wide stretch of sand is a favorite for paddle tennis, kite surfing and other water sports.
Sip some rum
Off the sand, San Juan has plenty to offer as well. Puerto Rico produces 70% of the rum sold in the US, earning it a reputation as the rum capital of the world – the industry adds more than $300 million to Puerto Rico’s yearly economy, and its distilleries have created more than 700 jobs.
If you can’t secure a tour, the Casa Bacardí bar visit is the way to go – a ticket gets you a tasty tipple, a locally made empanada and the chance to chill at a waterfront pavilion with remarkable views of El Morro, Old San Juan’s iconic fortification.
You won’t need a ticket to enjoy La Casita de Rones, the flagship store of Rums of Puerto Rico, a marketing arm of the island’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Opened in the heart of Old San Juan in 2016, this distinctive venue pairs authentic Puerto Rican tapas and entrees with rum-based craft cocktails, and its well-stocked shop carries apparel, bar accessories and other rum-inspired souvenirs.
Take a food tour
A food tour is a delectable way to connect with the culture of Puerto Rico through its culinary heritage, letting you sample authentic dishes, talk with local farmers and glean insight into the island’s history. Spoon and Flavors Food Tours are the most popular options.
Where to eat, drink and party
Kweens Klub is the newest kid on the block, opened in December 2021 by owners Christian J. Marcano and Dr. Jesus Hernandez-Burgos – former drag-queen performers and pageant queens – as a safe and inclusive safe space for the LGBTIQ+ community and its allies.
Visit on Wednesday nights for Latinx music, or on Thursdays to cheer on your favorite queen during pageants, drag shows and talent competitions. Queer Night is Friday and Saturday when you can dance the night away to a variety of talented local DJs.
Tuck into lobster-stuffed cheese crepes or giant grilled prawns at Ostra Cosa, a gay-owned restaurant and bar located in Old San Juan. Service isn’t rushed, allowing diners to enjoy an alfresco meal set to a live soundtrack provided by local musicians. Try the Coco Loco, a coconut filled with coconut water and your liquor of choice. When you finish the drink, the bartender cracks it open so you don’t waste any of the alcohol-infused coconut meat.
Tia María Jose de Diego
Formerly called Tía Maria’s Liquor Store, Tía María Jose de Diego is a favorite local gay bar in Santurce, and the perfect spot for an authentic Puerto Rican party experience. Come for the karaoke, stay for the generous pours.
Zal Si Puedes Mini Bar
Another Santurce gem is Zal Si Puedes Mini Bar. Located on the first floor of the San Jorge Hotel, this intimate neighborhood bar draws an older set with nightly drag shows and live entertainment.
A farmers market by day and thriving party scene by night, La Placita transforms into its nocturnal alter ego around 10pm. There’s usually a mixed crowd – LGBTIQ+ locals and tourists – at Chueca Bar and Tapas.
El Local en Santurce
For a house-party vibe with eclectic decor and alternative music, head to El Local en Santurce, one of the city's most inclusive venues. Weekly drag shows (including drag kings), karaoke, reasonably priced drinks and a fun and lively atmosphere – what more do you need to have a good time?
Puerto Rico Queer Filmfest
Celebrating diversity and inclusion through film and music, the Puerto Rico Queer Filmfest is the Caribbean’s first and largest LGBTIQ+ festival. It takes place each November, showcasing international and local feature films and shorts.
Hydro Caribbean Festival
A major circuit event, the Hydro Caribbean Festival is also the first of its kind in the region, with the world's most sought-after DJs leading the party at some of the town's best gay-friendly venues.