Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Get Naked (or almost) in San Juan

We'll leave the (rainbow) light on for you :)
Looking for the quickest, warmest place to remove some clothing - where your US passport (or visa!) can still work? Come to San Juan! Plus, you will support the critical tourism industry that helps to fuel the economy of Puerto Rico - because while tourist areas are back - the broader island remains in rough shape! You can also come down and support a gay-owned guesthouse, Coqui Del Mar - conveniently located near to all of San Juan's landmarks (and a block from the beach!). Five years since my last blog - all the best reasons to go remain the same, despite Hurricane Maria - but I'll explain why its never been better to return to this beautiful Caribbean outpost.

Five years ago I focused on San Juan as the leading gay destination - and that has not changed - despite some progress in the region on LGBTIQ issues. Puerto Rico remains the most safe for us.

Still, the first reason to go to Puerto Rico - they are even holding the 2020 global tourism summit here! - is for the warmth and the beaches. Especially when its still cool up north - or cold - escaping to the Caribbean could not be easier (and cheap from major cities in the US). Just a block from the cozy Coqui Del Mar, is Ocean Park Beach, which is often considered San Juan's second queer or queer-friendly beach. The water could not be more perfect in terms of temperature - and the waves don't toss you too much. Word of warning - if you're trying to sneak a skinny dip - the water is pretty clear... technically there are no nude beaches in Puerto Rico (but I'm sure many informal ones!).

Condado Beach - the gay beach alongside Atlantic Beach Hotel
While you can walk - and some of the way along the beach - its even easier than it was before with uber as the best form of transport. Head over to the Condado, where the LGBTQ community congregates - especially on Sundays - to hang out on the beach, alongside the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Formerly an exclusively gay hotel - it no longer is (but the beach is!). And if you need a break from the sun - go over to the beautiful La Concha for a drink or food (or sneak a dip into their gorgeous pools!). I easily made friends with locals - as well as tourists down from DC. Gay boys from across the country come down to this beautiful get-away.

Fish tacos almost anywhere!
And as I noted, if you're looking to go with a group, single or with that special one (or 2), Coqui Del Mar offers the best location - along with 2 pools and a hot tub to relax after a long day! I'm so glad I had the pleasure to stay there with leading global LGBTQ travel blogger Travels of Adam just last month! The guesthouse not only offers its prime location - but its also 420 friendly! Legally you're able to have weed for medical purposes (but of course, that's not stopping anyone interested in this form of recreation). You also can book tours, enjoy classes on mojitos, and take bikes out for no extra charge. It's like your own small community on vacation - whether you want to make friends or just snuggle with your significant other(s).

But of course, you'll also need to try out the local cuisine - mofongo and really anything with fish or plaintains! La Casita Blanca was a quick ride from the Coqui -- Even Buzzfeed agrees that Puerto Rico has the best food. We truly enjoyed the all the dishes - especially fish tacos - and amazing drinks. Plus they even have to-go liquor! - these kid-like drink boxes don't exist back in the contiguous 48. I found my favorite to be the Rum Punch :)

To-go liquor pouches
are perfect for the beach
If you're also looking to make this a full-on gaycation, you can also explore the bars. Check the websites, but the gay bars are semi close to the general party square called La Placita in Santruce. For a local (str8) start to the evening (late, around 10 or 11pm) with live music, dance with the locals at Taberna Los Vazquez and get yourself one of the best-made mojitos in the world! When the live music ends – head over to Tia Maria's, a classic gay dive and after cross the street to chill on the roof of the gay-friendly Santos Rooftop. Then everyone will eventually end up at Circo though it never seems to get too busy, despite its the space. Maybe it was less busy when I was there because most were making a friend a bit quicker, in the dark corners at SX bar around the corner from Circo. For a more local divey scene (and this cool rainbow) check out closer into the city at El Cojo.

But you won't even need to go far to find the party if you stay at Coqui Del Mar for Pride weekend May 31-June 3 because they will hold a completely clothing optional weekend - and also hold parties many of the evenings. Enjoy a Pride that's not your typical one here in the US - and show your solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in San Juan.

Hope to see you there! You might even see a rainbow on your way...