The Caribbean attitude toward sexual preferences is relaxed. Combine the Caribbean with a rainbow twist, with its ‘fun in the sun’ destinations, and care free attitude and it seems like an ideal vacation spot for gay and lesbian couples. Unfortunately not all the islands in the region are the same. In fact, the Dutch, French and US Virgin Islands are openly welcome to same sex couples, where as islands like Jamaica and Barbados…well let’s just say not so much.
Here are some gay friendly Caribbean destinations for gay travelers.
With its French flair and a numerous private villas to choose from, St. Barts is has been called the most gay-friendly island in the Caribbean! Gay St. Barts (or St. Barths or St. Barthelemy) attracts a huge crowd of travelers, and it’s no wonder: there are a multitude of beaches, delectable restaurants, renowned hotels, and shopping options. There isn’t a gay only beach or specific gay and lesbian bar in St. Barts, but it is one of the gay friendliest locations in the Caribbean. This is the place to get lost in the Caribbean for a few days, far from the cruise-ship crowds.
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St. Maarten/ St. Martin
Both Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin have long been popular with the LGBT crowd, with many private villas for rent and beaches and bars where gay and straight couples peacefully mingle. Gays can be found at the island’s only gay night club Eros (found on the French side of the island), and on the beaches of Baie Rouge and Orient Beach, both also nude. Beyond the beach and shopping scene, the island has great deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving is excellent, with various reef, wreck, night, cave and drift diving options. St. Maarten’s reputation was somewhat sullied by a 2004 incident where a gay couple was assaulted near a popular beach bar, but island tourism officials were quick to apologize, and the island remains near the top of the list for many gay Caribbean travelers.
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Puerto Rico remains the oldest city to fly the American Flag: San Juan, its capital. The island has long been a popular destination for east coast and Midwestern visitors. As more and more people from out west have taken Caribbean cruises, they have discovered the unique charm, beauty, and excitement of this Island and its warm and friendly people. So, let’s start our exploration with Gay San Juan. Gay travelers visiting Puerto Rico will find the Caribbean’s only real gay nightlife scene: San Juan highlights include the Atlantic Beach Bar (with a weekly drag show) and clubs like Eros. On both the mainland and the island of Vieques you can find gay-friendly resorts. Condado Beach is also known as one the most visible gay scenes on the island where there are a number of gay clubs, cafes and beach hideaways to keep you entertained. Gay travelers in Puerto Rico have the benefit of protection by U.S. anti-discrimination laws.
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US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands has become increasingly popular among gay travelers, many of whom wind up at the welcoming Sand Castle on the Beach Resort in Fredericksted. There isn’t much gay or lesbian infrastructure on St. Croix for gay travel. But the island does have a gay hotel, a couple of gay-friendly clubs and a gay business guild, and it remains popular with gay locals and tourists alike. Gay travelers visiting the USVI can expect a friendly and tolerant attitude throughout the U.S.V.I., and if public displays of affection are not exactly embraced, the reaction is not likely to be more than a second glance.
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Curaçao has in recent years put itself at the forefront of gay tourism in the region. It launched a gay and lesbian travel Web site, many of its hotels are members of gay tourism associations, and there are three LGBT bars (a rarity in the Caribbean) that are open nearly every night of the week. Even life partners of citizens can receive permanent residence on the isle. After Puerto Rico, it’s probably the best bet for any kind of all-gay vacation in the Caribbean. Curaçao is also that rare Caribbean isle with a bona fide gay event – the “Get Wet” weekend in September, with outdoor movies, pool parties and boat trips.
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Dominican Republic | Santo Domingo
The oldest European-founded city in the Americas, Santo Domingo is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. With upscale restaurants, high rise condos and office towers lining the streets, this may not be how most people picture the Caribbean. As the economic hub for the nation and the region, Santo Domingo has a lot more to offer than sun, sand and sea. It’s a must-see destination for those looking for sophisticated entertainment, shopping and an exciting night life. Santo Domingo offers the gay traveler a range of gay bars and clubs and some gay friendly resorts.
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So you tell us, when it comes to Caribbean nightlife, does the island scene thrive with gay flavor?