If you’re an LGBT+ person looking for gay friendly travel in The Caribbean, you should know that this collection of islands isn’t necessarily more or less homophobic than any other part of the world. Attitudes on homosexuality (and sexuality in general) are rooted in restrictive, colonial ideals which aren’t so easy to shake off. For this reason, some Caribbean islands are much slower to evolve with respect to gay rights, but there are several that have made meaningful strides in this regard.
Your experience as a gay person could be shaped by two factors: whether you’re out of the closet, and where you are on the island. You’ll likely find a safe haven in major cities where the bulk of the tourist action is, while obscure towns which don’t get as much vibrant traffic might disapprove if you kiss your same-sex partner. However passionate you may feel about trying to change this, remember that you’re a visitor, so your efforts will probably be futile.
It isn’t helpful to be paranoid. But it’s worth it to do research and check with LGBT+ people who have traveled to your island of interest. As a rule of thumb, read the room. Pay close attention to your immediate environment and the people in it. If you feel unsafe, try to remove yourself. Your gut won’t lie to you.
Here are seven islands in The Caribbean that are open to gay friendly travel.
1. St. Martin
It makes sense that St. Martin, being French and Dutch, would adopt the same progressive stance on homosexuality as its parents.
On the French side, there’s Marigot, described by some as a miniature French Riviera, with its charming little shops, restaurants, and its port, which allows you to island hop easily.
With your passport, catch a ferry to Anguilla, but be aware that this island is conservative outside of resort settings. You can go for an afternoon to the famed Shoal Bay, and make St. Martin or nearby St. Barts your base.
You can’t go wrong with St. Martin’s 37 beaches. Orient Bay is great for the nudist crowd of any sexuality, and Cupecoy Beach, known for its dramatic limestone cliffs, has a steady gay following.
2. St. Barts
St. Barts is dripping in wealth, evident in its fantastic villas, luxury resorts, and yachts.
You can rest assured that the locals, with typical French indifference, aren’t going to be pressed, worried, or concerned about who you take to bed.
There isn’t a designated gay scene like Chelsea in New York or The Castro in San Francisco, but you’ll be able to live your best gay life in just about every bar and club.
Saline Beach is said to be good for cruising, especially for gay men.
Other nice beaches include Gouverneur, Flamands, and Lorient which are remote, wild, and calm, respectively.
3. Puerto Rico
When it comes to embracing LGBT+ culture, Puerto Rico is definitely a leader in the Caribbean.
According to Discover Puerto Rico, the island “celebrates two annual pride parades,” and San Juan, the capital, blends history with the present in a seamless way.
Here, you’ll find El Cojo, Tia Maria Liquor Store, The Bear Tavern (so named for the type of gay men it attracts) and Circo, the biggest gay club in the city.
This beautiful Dutch island hosts many parties and cultural events in honor of Pride Month in June.
No need to venture too far beyond the capital city of Oranjestad, where the bulk of the top bars and clubs are. Even those that aren’t marketed as “gay” have a pervasive, welcoming attitude, so you’re sure to fit right in.
The Dutch island of Curaçao is about 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and some architecture favors Amsterdam, as you can see above.
It’s the sister of Aruba and Bonaire, and they are collectively called the ABC islands.
Travel Gay recommends Cabana Beach Club, which hosts the best parties on Wednesdays and Fridays, though it’s hopping just about every night.
Other spots include Wet & Wild Beach Club, Rainbow Lounge (part of the Floris Suite Hotel) and Mambo Beach Club.
Gay Pride was scaled down this year because of the pandemic. But if you’re in town when the full-fledged event is happening, get ready for a colorful celebration of a vibrant community.
6. St. Croix
There is an underlying conservatism in St. Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands, but you shouldn’t have much trouble here if you’re gay.
Will you see rainbow flags hanging out of businesses? Probably not. But again, you’ll likely be fine.
The best stretch of sea and sand here is probably Dorsch Beach (also called Sandcastle Beach) with clear, gentle water.
For accommodations, consider Sandcastle On The Beach, a boutique resort which is owned by a gay couple.
This island is known for its sophisticated blend of French and Caribbean flavor.
As articulated by Wow Travel, “in terms of laws and general sentiment, Martinique is very gay friendly.”
Here again, there isn’t really a gay scene, but Plage des Salines and Grande Anse des Salines are gay-friendly beaches.
After a volcanic hike and trekking through the jungle, reward yourself with some delicious sugarcane rum.
There are a number of hotels welcoming to gay travelers, the most well- known being The Apolline Hotel, with Creole inspired decor and furnishings.
If you’re traveling with your same-sex partner and your children, a nice, family-friendly accommodation is Resort Carayou Hotel and Spa.