Which Caribbean islands are safe for gay travellers?

Stefan Arestis

Well, we're glad you asked!

The Caribbean is a region of the Americas located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s famous for its tropical weather, beautiful blue skies and crystal-clear waters.

However, certain areas of the Caribbean are also infamous for their conservative politics and anti-gay laws. Spending a couple of weeks surrounded by palm trees and pina coladas might sound cute on paper, but just how safe is the Caribbean for the LGBTQ community?

To say these islands are something of a mixed bag when it comes to Caribbean gay travel would be the understatement of the century, in so much as they range from homo heaven in places like Puerto Rico and Curaçao, to the oh-lawd-think-twice-before-going-there islands such as Barbados and Jamaica.

In this article, we explore the gay friendly Caribbean islands we rate as the safest and most alluring for LGBTQ travellers. Keep reading to the end for a list of dishonourable mentions; in other words, the gay no-fly zones that should be avoided like the plague. No, crocs – and I don’t mean the semiaquatic, reptilian kind! For more gaycation inspiration, be sure to read our detailed guide to the top gay travel holiday destinations in the world.

Nomadic Boys chilling in the Caribbeans
The Nomadic Boys thriving in the Caribbean

How safe is the Caribbean for gay travellers?

Overall, it's very safe for LGBTQ travellers across most parts of the Caribbean. So much so that gay cruises in the Caribbean is super popular. There are sadly a few places in the Caribbean which criminalise homosexuality, which we recommend exercising a lot of caution if you do choose to go there (scroll down to the final part of this article for more about this).

When assessing how gay friendly and welcoming the Caribbean is for LGBTQ travellers, we looked at the following 4 factors:

  • Spartacus gay travel ranking: since 2012, Spartacus has published a detailed study of all the countries in the world. We like it because as well as looking at LGBTQ rights, it also takes into account other factors such as the attitude of locals to give you a bigger picture of how gay friendly a place really is.
  • LGBTQ rights: we looked at the LGBTQ rights of each island, specifically focusing on those that have legalised gay marriage and which have also passed other progressive laws.
  • Gay scene: what does each island offer to LGBTQ travellers? We looked at the gay scene of each island in particular if it has any gay bars, clubs, gay beaches and any Pride events that happen.
  • What is gay travel like to that island: the attitude of locals towards the LGBTQ community says a lot about how gay friendly it is. For example, have any openly gay-owned business been allowed to flourish, particularly any hotels.

So now let’s get into it…can you guess who we rate as the as #1?

Some of the Caribbean islands are more gay friendly than others, so make sure you do your research before your trip
“Look Seby, everything the light touches is our kingdom!”

1. Puerto Rico

The gayest Caribbean island is one of the largest too, with a population of around 3 million. Often referred to as “The Island of Enchantment”, Puerto Rico is also the highest-ranking Caribbean island on the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, at #23.

While you won’t find quite the same level of freedom as you would in Canada or certain parts of Europe, Puerto Rico is as good as it gets for the Caribbean queer community – and it’s good! All signs are pointing towards the island moving forward and becoming even more accepting in the future, which is a great thing for LGBTQ locals and travellers alike.

Puerto Rico is our top pick for the most gay friendly island in the Caribbean

Gay Puerto Rico in a nutshell

  • Population: 3 million
  • Spartacus rank: #23
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2015 (USA)
  • Gay scene highlights: Santurce gay village with places like Oceano and The Bear Tavern, Circo, SX Club and the Xteamworks sauna
  • Gay beach: Atlantic Beach in Condado
  • Best gay events: Winter Pride Fest and Pride Puerto Rico
  • Best gay hotel: Coqui del Mar San Juan Guesthouse

How safe is Puerto Rico for gay travellers?

The #1 pink haven in the Caribbean – that's the level of safety we're talking about here! A part of the United States Commonwealth, LGBTQ rights in Puerto Rico are, more or less, in line with those in the US, which makes Puerto Rico a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in the Caribbean. For example, Federal US hate crime laws protecting the LGBTQ community also apply in Puerto Rico. In addition, gay marriage was legalized on the island in 2015 following the momentous Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court decision. In relation to transgender rights, trans people have been allowed to change their legal gender since 2018.


The gay scene of Puerto Rico

Santurce is where it’s at for queer peeps. Situated in Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan, this area is home to over a dozen LGBTQ establishments, including Oceano, a super-trendy bar and restaurant that serves the best mojitos this side of Cuba. The Bear Tavern, meanwhile, offers delicious tapas with a side helping of Puerto Rican prime beef – by which, I mean, its clientele…!

As fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will know, Puerto Rico has turned out some of the finest drag artistes on the international stage, including Alexis Mateo and Vanessa Vanjie. Head over to Circo if you fancy a taste of the incredible local drag scene or you just want to shake what the Good Gay God gave you on one of the club’s multiple dance floors. Other highlights include the SX Club, which is packed to the rafters with exotic dancers(!) and Xteamworks, Puerto Rico’s first (and so far, only) gay sauna. There’s also the gay beach of Condado located in front of the Atlantic Beach Hotel.


Gay events in Puerto Rico

There are several fabulous LGBTQ events to be enjoyed at various times of the year in Puerto Rico. The Winter Pride Fest takes place in December – although “winter” is a bit of a reach, considering you can still expect plenty of sun and temperatures in the 80s °F (around 25-30°C).

The biggest and most popular LGBTQ event on the island is Pride Puerto Rico, which is usually held around May-June time in San Juan. What began as a small protest in 1990 has now grown into one of the largest and best Pride events in the Caribbean.


Travel highlights

Of course, there are plenty of other things to do in Puerto Rico for those days when your gay energy needs a little time away from the scene to recharge. Old San Juan is equal parts quaint and colourful – a cute combo of local culture and Puerto Rican history, with plenty of places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. It can get busy during peak season, but it’s worth a look for anyone visiting the island.

Beach-lovers can’t go wrong with a visit to Playa Flamenco, one of the most popular non-gay beaches in Puerto Rico. Playa Flamenco looks like a living postcard, with gorgeous white sands stretching out as far as the eye can see – to call it paradise is no exaggeration!

Coqui del Mar is a fab gay guesthouse on the very gay friendly and safe Caribbean island of Puerto Rico

Best gay hotel on the island

Check out the adults-only Coqui del Mar San Juan Guesthouse – “the gayest guesthouse in San Juan” by its own admission! You can book a villa, cabana, poolside room or studio, each self-contained for maximum privacy. It also has a very handsome communal pool in the annex – clothing optional of course!

Find out more

2. Curaçao

Curacao is one of the Caribbean’s smaller islands, with a population of 160,000. It’s located in the south of the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela, and is a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Whilst the Netherlands is one of the absolute best countries to live and travel for LGBTQ folks, Curacao still has an extremely long way to go in terms of its politics and legal system. However, we are starting to see some of that Dutch progressiveness rub off on this magnificent island.

Gay Curaçao in a nutshell

  • Population: 160,000
  • Spartacus rank: #78
  • Gay marriage legalized: not yet
  • Gay scene highlights: Lyric's Cafe and the Wet and Wild Beach Club
  • Gay beach: Moomba Beach
  • Best gay events: Curaçao Pride
  • Best gay hotel: Floris Suite Hotel and the Avila Beach Hotel

How safe is Curaçao for gay travellers?

Curacao has long been welcoming gay travellers for years. As Dutch-influenced territory, you can be sure things are relaxed and super safe here! There are plenty of safe spaces and LGBTQ-friendly places to stay in. Most of the islanders adopt a live-and-let-live ideology, which suits us just fine! Being gay has never been a criminal offence on the island, and discrimination based on your orientation was outlawed in 2011. However, whilst gay marriages are not yet legal in Curaçao, a bill to legalise gay marriage is currently going through the courts. There are also no provisions for trans people to change their legal gender.


The gay scene of Curaçao

The first thing that struck us about Curacao is its bright, colourful architecture. If you look at the island from above at a certain angle, I’m almost certain you can make out the Pride flag – if that isn’t a big gay welcome, I don’t know what is! Our favourite place in Curacao is Lyric’s Café, the island’s only regular gay venue. It’s small, but it has tons of personality and charm, with a comfortable lounge area and a dancing pole for when you’re really feeling your oats!

Many Curacao gays gravitate towards the Wet and Wild Beach Club, which is always a good time. The best night is Sunday when the Happy Hour Beach Party takes place from 5pm until 7pm and features the club’s resident DJ, with drinking and dancing going on into the early hours. In terms of gay beaches, the island doesn't have an official one, but Moomba Beach by the Floris Suite Hotel is an adults-only gay friendly beach where the boys hang out.


Gay events in Curaçao

For such a small island, Curaçao sure knows how to do Pride right! The annual, six-day-long Curaçao Pride festival takes place in late September. It hosts a battalion of local and international performing artists to thrill and delight the island’s LGBTQ locals and visitors. The festival includes several Pride parties like the Boat Party and the White Party, which are well worth attending. Also, be sure to check out the weekly LGBT happy hour at the Floris Suite Hotel. For more info, check out the Pink Curaçao website Events section.


Travel highlights

Curaçao has plenty of other non-gay sights to see too. The Christoffel National Park in the West End is packed full of local horticulture and features two driving routes and eight hiking trails. These include a two-to-three-hour hike up to the summit of Christoffel Mountain, the highest point on the entire island. It is a sight to behold, but not for the faint of heart!

If history and the arts are your cup of tea, there’s plenty to drink in during your time on the island. Willemstad is the cultural heart of Curacao, home to the Landhuis Bloemhof arts centre and the Gallery Alma Blou, as well as the Museum Kura Hulanda and the Queen Emma Bridge.

Avila Beach Hotel is a divine spot to stay right by the water on the Caribbean island of Curacao

Best gay hotel in Curaçao

The two main ones are the Floris Suite Hotel and the Avila Beach Hotel. The Avila has a unique and super picturesque location right on the beach, with an all inclusive resort option making it a popular venue for destination weddings and gay commitment ceremonies. The Floris Suite is an adults-only hotel that frequently sponsors gay events like Curaçao Pride and even has a gay Happy Hour in its Rainbow Lounge.

3. Martinique

Martinique is part of the overseas territorial collectivity of France, and as such, it is far more progressive in its equality for the LGBTQ community than some of its counterparts. Almost all its 375,000 inhabitants speak French, so those without at least a rudimentary understanding of the native tongue will do well to brush up on their parlez-vous-francais and their oui-oui-bien

Martinique is a beautiful Caribbean island that's a safe destination for gay travellers

Gay Martinique in a nutshell

  • Population: 415,000
  • Spartacus rank: #34
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2013 (France)
  • Gay scene highlights: no gay bars
  • Gay beach: Plage de la Petite Anse des Salines
  • Best gay events: Martinique Carnival and Martinique Gay Pride
  • Best gay hotel: Le Carbet Gay B&B

How safe is Martinique for gay travellers?

In terms of its politics and laws, Martinique is one of the more LGBTQ-friendly Caribbean islands. Being a French territory, it decriminalised homosexuality at the same time as its parent country back in 1791 and legalised gay marriage in 2013. Discrimination on the basis of orientation is illegal, gays can adopt and give blood, and trans people can change their legal gender. While gay conversion therapy is still legal, the courts are currently working to outlaw it. Sadly, the island’s legal system doesn’t formally recognise non-binary gender identities yet but, fingers crossed, it’s only a matter of time.


The gay scene of Martinique

Whilst Martinique doesn't have a gay scene, there are some gay-friendly and gay-owned establishments that are safe and welcoming for LGBTQ travellers. Our advice would be to stay at one of the island's gay guesthouses like La Kalenda Gay or Le Carbet Gay and ask them if there are any gay parties happening.

What Martinique does have is a gay-friendly beach area. At the far end of the stunningly gorgeous Les Salines beach is an area known as Plage de la Petite Anse des Salines. While it’s not exactly outwardly gay like some of the beaches you might have sauntered onto in the past, there is an unspoken consensus that this a safe place for LGBTQ travellers to congregate and meet other gay travellers and locals. There’s also a gay-friendly nude beach close by called Little Anse des Salines.


Gay events in Martinique

Not having much of a gay scene, you might assume that there aren’t any gay events going on in Martinique either, but there are a couple worth checking out. The Martinique Carnival takes place in late February and is extremely popular with the local LGBTQ community. The carnival is a very Mardi Gras-ish celebration of local culture on the island, which includes male and female performers gender-swapping for a burlesque-themed mock wedding.

Martinique also has a low-key Pride day that takes place every June on the Coin au Carbet beach. Sometimes called the La Gay Pride au Carbet, this spectacular event involves a colorful parade as well as a rainbow crossing painted in the streets of Carbet.


Travel highlights

Oh, Miss Martinique, you're not shy when it comes to pretty sights… If you’re into nature, the Balata Botanical Garden will blow your mind. Located near Fort-de-France, the Balata is home to 3,000 different species of plants. It’s a sight to behold and a lovely way to spend a quiet, relaxing day in Martinique. Speaking of Fort-de-France, it is the capital of the island and a great starting point for travellers wanting to take in some local culture. If history and architecture are your bag, you’ll love the Musee Departmental d’Archeologie, the Cathedrale Saint-Louis and Fort Royal.

Le Carbet is a gay B&B on the Caribbean island of Martinique with a fab rooftop Jacuzzi!

Best gay hotel in Martinique

There may not be any proper gay venues on Martinique, but one place is super-gay, for sure, and that’s the Le Carbet Gay B&B. Le Carbet is ideally situated in the bustling Pointe du Bout beach town. The standout highlight is the stunning roof terrace which features a clothing-optional solarium area.

Find out more

4. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten

What’s in a name? As you will know by now, some of the Caribbean islands belong to other countries. Many are owned by France, the Netherlands, the UK or the US, while others are independent and make their own rules. This island is something of an anomaly in that it is split into north and south sections. Saint Martin, the slightly larger north section, is part of the French Republic, while Sint Maarten, the south, belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is split between France and the Netherlands, but both sides of this Caribbean island are safe for gay travellers to enjoy!

Gay Saint Martin/Sint Maarten in a nutshell

  • Population: 78,000
  • Spartacus rank: #23 (France) #5 (the Netherlands)
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2013 in Saint Martin (France) only
  • Gay scene highlights: Eros Club and Bliss
  • Gay beaches: Orient Bay Beach, Happy Bay Beach and Cupecoy Beach
  • Best gay events: the Carnival Mardi Gras Parade
  • Best gay hotel: Villa Rainbow

How safe is Saint Martin/Sint Maarten for gay travellers?

Very safe! This unique Caribbean island is split between two very gay friendly European nations: France and the Netherlands. The Northern part is French domain and referred to as “Saint Martin”. The South is part of the Dutch Caribbean and is called “Sint Maarten”. Because of its unusual territorial situation, LGBTQ equality standards differ between the north and south sections. The north legalised homosexuality in 1791 and gay marriage in 2013, in line with French law. In the south, homosexuality was never considered a crime in the first place, but unlike its parent country, the Netherlands, Sint Maarten is yet to legalise gay marriage.


The gay scene of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten

Our favourite venue in the French part is Eros Club in Marigot, the capital of Saint Martin. It’s only open on Saturday nights from 11pm, but it is the place to be if you love a good party. There’s a battalion of beautiful male dancers, and the local drag queens are an absolute scream. Down south in Sint Maarten, check out L’Escargot, a restaurant with one of the gayest decors we’ve ever clapped eyes on. On Friday nights, the island’s best and brightest cabaret stars put on a fabulous show for diners. Once you’re suitably fed, watered and entertained, head over to Bliss, a gay-friendly restaurant and nightclub, to dance the night away under the stars.

There are also a few gay clothing-optional beach areas packed with hotties: Orient Bay Beach and Happy Bay Beach in the north and Cupecoy Beach in the south. You can thank me later!


Gay events in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten

Neither side of the island currently has an official Pride festival, but there are two carnivals during the springtime. The French side of the island has its carnival in late February, while the Dutch side’s carnival is later in the year, around April. Both events are pretty gay – I mean, they’re carnivals! – but the French one is certainly gayer. The Mardi Gras Parade takes place towards the end and sees performers swarm the streets dressed up to the nines. Meanwhile, the Dutch carnival takes place over the course of a month, so if you’re visiting the island around that time, you can’t miss it!


Travel highlights

There’s so much to do on this island, you’ll be spoilt for choice and wondering how you’re going to squeeze it all in – though we always find a way, don’t we? Pinel Island is top of everyone’s list, a stunning day-trip location. There are several different tour packages available, including boat tours and snorkelling experiences. Water babies will be living their best lives!

Back on dry land, Fort Louis is well worth a look, if only for the incredible view of the island once you reach the top – again, there are plenty of guided tours available if you’re planning to visit. GI Joe wannabes should head to Loterie Farm, packed with hiking trails and treetop obstacle courses, while animal lovers are sure to have a great time at the Parotte Ville Bird Sanctuary.

Villa Rainbow is a lovely gay spot to stay on Saint Martin, with a beautiful pool and incredible views

Best gay hotel in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten

If you’re looking for the gayest place to stay on the island, Villa Rainbow in Saint Martin is your ticket to paradise. It’s a small, quiet, gay-only guesthouse with a clothing-optional pool. It is tucked away up in Marigot’s Pic Paradis hills where you have THE best views of the island.

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5. Saint Croix

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the gayest Virgin Island of them all? Saint Croix, sweety! Best of all, neighbouring Saint Thomas Island is equally gay-friendly and only 25 minutes away in a seaplane. If you don’t like flying, you can also take a ferry over to Saint Thomas, which takes a couple of hours but is well worth the trip. Saint Croix is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands (not to be confused with the more conservative British Virgin Islands).

Saint Croix is the most gay friendly of the US Virgin Islands in our opinion

Gay Saint Croix in a nutshell

  • Population: 50,000
  • Spartacus rank: #56
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2015 (USA)
  • Gay scene highlights: Palms at Pelican Cove
  • Gay beach: Sand Castle on the Beach
  • Best gay events: St Croix Pride
  • Best gay hotel: Sand Castle on the Beach Boutique Hotel

How safe is Saint Croix for gay travellers?

No problems with safety here! The Virgin Islands are governed by the United States and, as such, are similar in terms of LGBTQ rights, which includes full marriage equality in line with US law. Saint Croix also passed its hate crime law in 2014, which includes provisions for crimes committed against LGBTQ people, of which there have been some reported cases. LGBTQ couples can adopt, and lesbian couples can access fertility treatment. While there is no legal ban against trans people changing their legal gender, the Superior Court of USVI has said they aren’t aware that such a petition has ever been lodged, so there isn’t yet a legal framework in place.


The gay scene of Saint Croix

Head to Frederiksted where most restaurants, bars and clubs proudly fly the rainbow flag! Specific places to check out include The Palms at Pelican Cove on Friday and Saturday nights. It can get busy, so we’d recommend making a reservation. The Palms also opens onto a gay-friendly beach area with lots of sights to see – and I’m not just talking about the sun, sea and sand! Our other top gay beach is in front of the Sand Castle on the Beach, which also happens to be our favourite place to stay on the island; more on that later.


Gay events in Saint Croix

When it comes to celebrating Gay Pride, Saint Croix is all for it. The Saint Croix Pride includes a launch party at Point Udall, a Pride art exhibition at the Caribbean Museum Centre for the Arts, and a glorious Pride Parade. The highlight is the popular after-party following the parade which kicks off at Sand Castle on the Beach.


Travel highlights

If you’ve had your fill of gay fun and frolics for a while, check out what else Saint Croix has to offer. There’s a fabulous boat tour of the Virgin Islands that is an incredible way to spend a day. The high price may be a bit of a barrier for couples, but if you’re travelling with a group, the boat seats up to nine guests, which makes it a much more affordable prospect.

For those who would prefer to keep their feet on the ground, groups of up to six people can go on a private day tour of the island that includes stops at Mount Pellier Domino Club, the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, the Cruzan Rum Distillery and more!

Sand Castle on the Beach is a stunning gay resort right on St Croix's most popular gay beach

Best gay hotel in Saint Croix

Situated in Frederiksted, Sand Castle on the Beach is at the epicentre of all things gay in Saint Croix. By far the most popular resort for gay travellers, the Sand Castle also happens to open out onto the most popular gay beach on the island – score!

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6. Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is a collection of six small islands, located south of Antigua and Barbuda. Interestingly, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy were once considered part of Guadeloupe until a 2003 referendum saw the two islands split off and become their own territory. As part of the French West Indies, Guadeloupe follows many of its parent country’s laws and, as such, is one of the more LGBTQ-friendly islands in the Caribbean.

Guadaloupe is a beautiful and LGBTQ friendly island in the Caribbean

Gay Guadeloupe in a nutshell

  • Population: 400,000
  • Spartacus rank: #34
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2013 (France)
  • Gay scene highlights: no gay scene
  • Gay beach: Anse Tarare beach and Plage Gay Naturiste de Sainte Rose
  • Best gay events: Guadaloupe Carnival
  • Best gay hotel: Les Jardins de Zephyr

How safe is Guadeloupefor gay travellers?

So safe that the island doesn’t have any documented history of any homophobic or transphobic hate crime! The legal framework of Guadaloupe is shaped by France, which includes full marriage equality (since 2013) and a full set of anti-discrimination laws. LGBTQ couples can also adopt and trans people can change their legal gender. Where Guadeloupe falls down is that it doesn’t yet recognise those who identify as non-binary, and like many other Caribbean islands, it hasn’t banned conversion therapy.


The gay scene of Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe doesn’t have any gay bars or clubs. Whilst there are many gay-friendly bars on the island, if you’re hoping to paint the town all the colours of the rainbow and party till the early hours, then you're better off heading to Curaçao. Guadaloupe is geared towards LGBTQ travellers who want to chill. If this is your gig, then you'll love the island's gay friendly nude beaches – Anse Tarare in Saint Francois and Plage Gay Naturiste de Sainte Rose.


Gay events in Guadeloupe

It’s very unusual for a city or country without a gay scene to have a Pride festival, and Guadeloupe, unfortunately, doesn’t buck that particular trend. However, like many of our other favourite gay-friendly Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its annual carnival. Taking place over two whole months between January and March, the Guadeloupe Carnival promises “colour, music, happiness and laughter” – all sounds pretty gay to me!


Travel highlights

Guadeloupe may not have much in the way of gay nightlife, but it's the perfect travel destination for LGBTQ travellers who prefer their adventures away from the nightlife scene. Guadeloupe National Park is a sprawling nature reserve packed with local flora and fauna, several native bird species and fabulous hiking trails, including a two-hour climb up the La Soufriere volcano that promises some spectacular views once you reach the top.

There’s also the Blue Lagoon Tour, a guided boat tour that includes visits to the teeny-tiny but gorgeous island of Ilet Caret, the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Natural Reserve and the Moustique River, with opportunities to go snorkelling and check out the mesmerizingly beautiful coral reef.

Les Jardins de Zephyr is a fabulous gay-male-only guesthouse on the stunning Caribbean island of Guadeloupe

Best gay hotel in Guadeloupe

Of all the options available to LGBTQ travellers, our favourite is the male-only guesthouse, Les Jardins de Zephyr in Basse-Terre. You're welcomed at the Zephyr with a fabulous evening buffet on the night of your arrival, where the adorable owners, Sylvain and Christophe, will fill you in on all the best places to visit on your trip.

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7. Bermuda

Located north of the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda is actually a cluster of over a hundred islands, the largest of which is known as Main Island. It’s small but very densely populated. What used to be a Caribbean island notorious for homophobic crime has evolved into a Pink haven, even legalising gay marriage in 2018.

Bermuda has become very gay friendly in recent years, so it's perfect for a pink holiday!

Gay Bermuda in a nutshell

  • Population: 75,000
  • Spartacus rank: #49
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2018
  • Gay scene highlights: Cafe Cairo
  • Gay beach: between Chaplin Bay and Horseshoe Beach
  • Best gay events: Bermuda Pride
  • Best gay hotel: Aunt Nea’s Inn

How safe is Bermuda for gay travellers?

Despite Bermuda's history of intolerance towards the LGBTQ community, the island nation has evolved massively in recent years to position itself as one of the top destinations for gay travellers in the Caribbean. In 2018, Bermuda legalised gay marriage and also allowed LGBTQ couples to adopt. It also has a generous set of anti-discrimination laws in place to protect the LGBTQ community which includes hate speech.


The gay scene of Bermuda

There are a handful of queer places in Bermuda to check out in the capital city of Hamilton. The main one is Café Cairo where you can grab a fabulous dinner followed by drinks and dancing until 3am courtesy of the resident DJ. There’s even a hookah bar if that’s your thing. The Little Venice Restaurant is a gorgeous Italian restaurant with some of the best food we’ve ever tasted and a positive reputation with the LGBTQ community.

There is a gay beach area situated between Chaplin Bay and Horseshoe Beach, near the parishes of Southampton and Warwick. While it’s a great place to meet other gay travellers and locals, cruising is a big no-no as police regularly patrol the area, particularly in the summer months.


Gay events in Bermuda

In August 2019, Bermuda had its very first Pride festival (the 2020 Pride was cancelled due to the global pandemic), attracting around 6,000 people – that's almost 10% of the island's entire population! Bermuda Pride is a 3-day festival, which includes a parade and plenty of parties largely based around Victoria Park. It is supported by the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, which does fantastic things for the LGBTQ community of the island.


Travel highlights

If you prefer your vacay with a side-helping of history, you won’t want to miss a trip to St George on the island’s east end. It is home of Tobacco Bay Beach and more museums than you can shake a stick at, including the St George Historical Society Museum and the Bermudian Heritage Museum. We also recommend checking out the National Museum of Bermuda in Sandys Parish.

We love an aquarium (who doesn’t?!) and Bermuda has a fabulous one situated in Flatts Village on the North Shore. The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is home to two hundreds of species of fish, coral, birds, reptiles and mammals from all over the world. The aquarium also runs whale-watching boat cruises in the spring, where you can spot Bermuda humpback whales as they migrate north.

Aunt Nea's Inn is a lesbian-owned and very homey spot to stay in Bermuda

Best gay hotel in Bermuda

Our top pick is Aunt Nea’s Inn in St George. This super quaint homely inn is lesbian-owned and comes highly recommended by customers on TripAdvisor. It is located in a quiet part of town, away from the large crowds, everything here geared towards harmony and pure relaxation.

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8. Cuba

Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean Sea, south of Florida and the Bahamas. It’s the second-most populated island on our rundown with over 11 million residents. Despite having quite an authoritarian government, it is constantly evolving in relation to LGBTQ laws, largely thanks to the efforts of Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro, who is one of the leading LGBTQ activists in Cuba.

Cuba has become a very gay friendly destination, largely thanks to LGBTQ rights activist Mariela Castro

Gay Cuba in a nutshell

  • Population: 11.3 million
  • Spartacus rank: #56
  • Gay marriage legalized: not yet
  • Gay scene highlights: Bar XY and Cabaret Las Vegas
  • Gay beach: Mi Cayito
  • Best gay events: None – cancelled from 2019
  • Best gay hotel: Casa Particular Jorge Silvio

How safe is Cuba for gay travellers?

Despite being an authoritarian regime, Cuba is very safe for gay travellers. We loved it and would go back in a heartbeat. There was a time when gay Cubans would risk their lives to flee the country for a better life in the States. However, thanks to the efforts of people like Mariela Casto, a full range of anti-discrimination laws have been introduced since 2013 which included laws gender equality. Cuba is also on the path to introducing marriage equality over the next few years…watch this space!


The gay scene of Cuba

Considering Cuba’s chequered past towards LGBTQ people, there is a rich and vibrant queer community here. Malecon, located on the coast of Havana, Cuba’s capital city, is where the Havana boys hang out in the evening. In terms of gay hangouts, check out Bar XY. Fridays and Saturday nights pop off in spectacular fashion with fabulous cocktails and hilarious comedy drag shows. For world-class cabaret with a Cuban twist, head to Cabaret Las Vegas. Just be wary of the dress code – men, leave your open-toed shoes at home! There is a gay beach called Mi Cayito on the Playas de Este, which is a 30-minute taxi ride away from Havana.


Gay events in Cuba

For many years, Pride marches have been held in Cuba every May to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia. However, in 2019, the organisers were forced to cancel the parade at short notice and with little-to-no explanation! Nevertheless, they showed up, in a tremendous display of strength, resilience and, above all, Pride! Sadly, the police also turned out – in huge numbers. Several attendees were arrested, and the rest were ordered to disperse. Clearly, the good fight is not over…


Travel highlights

If you fancy breaking up all the food, drink, dancing and debauchery with a little history and culture, Havana is full of stunning architecture and several interesting tourist attractions. The Malecon waterfront is a lovely place for a stroll in the sun, while the Museo de la Rivolucion is packed with photos and artifacts from the era of the Cuban Revolution. History fans won’t want to miss a trip to the colonial city of Habana Vieja, which is also the location of the stunning Plaza de la Catedral.

The Casa Particular Gayfriendly Casa Jorge Silvio is an adorably kitsch, gay friendly and central spot to stay while you're in Havana, Cuba

Best gay hotel in Cuba

Our favourite gay place to stay in Cuba is the Casa Particular Gayfriendly Casa Jorge Silvio (bit of a mouthful to be honest, Jorge!) in Centro Havana. It is adorably kitschy, quintessentially Cuban, and best of all, within walking distance of the Malecon, the old town and the La Plaza de Carlos III shopping centre.

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9. Saint Barthelemy

The trés chic Saint Barthelemy (or Saint Barts, as it’s more commonly known) is like Christmas in Disneyland for the LGBTQ community. This teeny-tiny island is another overseas collectivity of France, super-popular with celebs and very welcoming to gay tourists. What teeny-tiny St Barts lacks in terms of a gay parties, it sure makes up for in terms of gay beaches and hotels.

Gay Saint Barts in a nutshell

  • Population: 10,000
  • Spartacus rank: #23 (France)
  • Gay marriage legalized: 2013 (France)
  • Gay scene highlights: no gay scene
  • Gay beach: Saline Beach
  • Best gay events: none
  • Best gay hotel: Villa BelAmour

How safe is Saint Barts for gay travellers?

Very safe! As part of the French West Indies, Saint Barts follows in France’s progressive footsteps when it comes to LGBTQ equality. The island has a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws which follow those in France. In addition, gay marriage was introduced in 2013 when it was legalised in France and it includes adoption rights. All in all, Saint Barts is a haven for the gays!


The gay scene of Saint Barts

Saint Barts has an interesting and unusual reputation for being one of the most popular gay tourist destinations in spite of the fact it doesn’t have a single exclusively gay venue. It’s not that the island doesn’t provide safe spaces for the LGBTQ community – more so that it doesn’t need to. The general consensus seems to be that all spaces are safe spaces, no matter your orientation or gender identity. Prejudice isn’t really a thing in Saint Barts, which is just fabulous. However, if you're looking to party, you're better off heading to somewhere like Curaçao.

In terms of gay beaches, check out Saline. The far left and right sections are the most popular areas with the gay community, and it’s clothing optional, so you’re sure to see lots of sights!


Gay events in Saint Barts

Despite being exceedingly gay in every way, shape and form, Saint Barts doesn’t currently run any gay events or have a Pride festival. That’s a shame in a way, as we can imagine Saint Barts Pride being an absolute riot. On the other hand, we can kind of understand it. By all accounts, the people of Saint Barts actively encourage the LGBTQ community to live their truth freely and proudly 365 days of the year. When you look at it that way, it’s kind of great and represents a gold-standard of queer acceptance we hope the rest of the world can catch up to one day.


Travel highlights

The top attractions of St Bart's include the capital city of Gustavia, packed with museums, art galleries, fabulous French restaurants and some of the best places to shop in Saint Barts. Fort Gustave is a great place to take in some of the island’s history and culture.

Saint Jean is like a mini-Gustavia, located in the centre of the island. Saint Barts knows how to do shopping and dining like no other, and Saint-Jean is no exception. Saint Jean’s Bay Beach is beyond stunning and offers opportunities to partake in water sports like surfing and snorkelling.

Villa BelAmour is a gay owned villa that's perfect for couples wanting to enjoy the views over Saint Barts

Best gay hotel in Saint Barts

Villa BelAmour is owned by Thibault, a cute gay local guy (see video above). It is the absolute lap of luxury…and the best part? It’s all yours! It's ideal for couples, with a comfy lounge, fully decked-out kitchen and even an office for those who might need to check in with work now and again. And did we mention that gorgeous oblong-shaped pool…?!

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10. Aruba

We’re heading back to the Dutch Caribbean for this final main entry on our list of the Caribbean islands safe for gay travellers. Aruba is a constituent country of the Netherlands, an incredibly progressive nation. However, unlike some of the other Dutch islands on this list, Aruba’s LGBTQ equality legislation still needs a lot of work. It’s one of the lowest-ranking gay-friendly Caribbean islands on the Spartacus Gay Travel Index for 2020 at number 78, with a score of minus four.

Aruba is a gay friendly and stunning tropical island in the Caribbean

Gay Aruba in a nutshell

  • Population: 110,000
  • Spartacus rank: #78
  • Gay marriage legalized: none (Civil Unions since 2016)
  • Gay scene highlights: 7 Club Lounge Bar
  • Gay beach: Eagle Beach (mixed)
  • Best gay events: tbc
  • Best gay hotel: tbc

How safe is Aruba for gay travellers?

Aruba is safe and welcoming for LGBTQ travellers. It is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and generally follows the laws set by the Binnenhof. Aruba has quite a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws but has yet to introduce laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Similarly, gay marriage equality has not yet reached the island, but it is making strides in this direction, having introduced gay civil unions in 2016.


The gay scene of Aruba

District 7 in the capital city of Oranjestad is the centre of LGBTQ life on the island. The popular Jimmy’s Place has been rebranded as 7 Club Lounge Bar or “@7” and is still the biggest gay nightlife hotspot on the island. 7 Club is a chic, stylish hangout, perfect for meeting locals and other travellers and dancing your socks off to live music courtesy of world-famous performing artists and international DJs. In addition, Gin fans simply must check out the super queer-friendly Gin and Olive Garden.

Aruba has an unofficial gay section at Eagle Beach, but generally, it's a mixed crowd here, also popular with families.


Gay events in Aruba

Unfortunately, there aren’t currently any notable gay events like Pride going on in Aruba. Though the LGBTQ community is growing and becoming more visible. We hope to celebrate the first Aruba Pride event one day.


Travel highlights

There are plenty of things to do in Aruba. We’ve already touched on Oranjestad as the best gay hangout, but it’s also a fabulous place to visit in the daytime. The brightly coloured buildings really pop in the daylight. The town is always buzzing with activity, and it’s absolutely stacked with tourist attractions, including museums and art galleries, as well as restaurants and shops.

On the Oranjestad waterfront, you’ll find Wilhelmina Park, which is packed with horticultural delights and is perfect for a picnic. For the ultimate retail experience, head to the Renaissance Shopping Mall, home to Cartier, Chanel and Gucci, among others.

Bucuti and Tara Boutique Beach Resort is an incredibly romantic and gay friendly adults-only resort on the Caribbean island of Aruba

Best gay friendly resort in Aruba

We just love the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Oranjestad. We rate it as one of the most gay friendly Caribbean resorts. It is an adults-only paradise that opens out to the gay friendly Eagle Beach. Bucuti is also very gay friendly. It is not only a proud member of IGLTA, it is also TAG-approved for its service, employment policies and support of the LGBTQ community.

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Bonus mentions

So, that’s it for our run-down of the ten safest Caribbean islands for gay travellers. Before we move onto the islands you should avoid at all costs, here’s an extra couple of honourable mentions.

Saba

Saba is a municipality of the Netherlands and is very accepting of the queer community. Gay marriage was legalised in 2012 making it a top destination for gay weddings. There isn’t much of a scene to speak of, but the Tropics Café is gay-owned and popular with the LGBTQ community. The Saba Carnival, which takes place in February, also packs plenty of gay energy. Queen’s Garden Resort is one of the most famous gay-friendly resort on the island and in the Caribbean.

Bonaire

Bonaire is another Dutch municipality, so its LGBTQ report card is identical to Saba having also joined the gay marriage club in 2012. There is not much in the way of gay goings-on in Bonaire, but there is a gay area of Sorobon Beach that is worth checking out. In terms of gay hotels in Bonaire, check out the Harbour Village Beach Club Hotel, which is pure luxury with fabulous service. The hotel also operates regular diving excursions with all the necessary equipment provided.

Caribbean islands to avoid for LGBTQ travellers

Now for the dishonourable mentions.

There are 8 Caribbean islands where homosexuality is still illegal. Whether these laws are enforced or not is neither here nor there – ultimately, they send a terrible message to LGBTQ locals and travellers alike, and they paint a hideous picture of intolerance towards our community that has no place in the 21st century!

Barbados is by far the worst offender, where LGBTQ folks can wind up with a life sentence just for living their lives. In Antigua and Barbuda, you can be jailed for up to 15 years, while 10 years in the hole is a very real possibility for queer people in Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Nevis, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


For more inspiration:

Gay travellers to the Caribbean should not plan a visit before reading this guide on which are the safest Caribbean islands for LGBTQ visitors

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