San Juan Gay Guide
UPDATE September 1, 2021:
San Juan Gay Guide: New Executive order takes effect September 2, 2021. All bars and clubs must close by midnight. Proof of vaccination is required for entry. Face masks require indoor businesses. Many clubs may alter their hours to open earlier than usual due to this order.
San Juan Gay Guide to Condado: (the main tourism area along the beach)
– Oasis is open every day.
San Juan Gay Guide to Santurce: (across the highway from Condado & Ocean Park/Calle Loiza)
– Tia Maria is open on most days (Mon/Tues may close early).
– El Purgatorio may close on Monday and Tuesday.
– Xteamworks is open Friday – Sunday from 6-11pm (this will be their new permanent schedule) The space is being used by a gym on weekdays.
– Plaza del Mercado (La Placita) is open – not specifically gay, but lots of fun.
– Zal Si Puedas is open except Monday and Tuesday.
– Bear’s Tavern not verified yet, no reports of being open since covid-19 restrictions.
– SX will be open on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8p but gets busy late.
Circo, Babylon and Toxic have closed.
San Juan is still a great place to visit and perfect for working remotely!
Puerto Rico is the best Caribbean island for
LGBTQ vacations, weddings & real estate!
Gay Bars in San Juan’s Condado Tourist Area:
Although Condado used to be the center of all gay nightlife, gentrification has left the traditional tourist strip with only one gay bar. But don’t worry – its a short walk under the highway to the Santurce Arts District where all the action continues just a 10 minute walk from Condado hotels.
- #1. Oasis (formerly Splash) – 6 Ave Condado across from the Marriott, next to Sandy Beach Hotel. Monday night is very popular with lots of strippers, low lights and much too much artificial smoke/fog/yuck…
Look for Walgreens and CVS and walk toward the beach. Open afternoons til night. Neighborhood bar and tapas restaurant just a few steps to the beach.
- Oceano Restaurant Beach – Also check out the beach in front of Tryst Hotel (formerly Atlantic Beach Hotel and no longer a gay hotel) and Oceano Restaurant which is still very gay most days. Two blocks from Oasis (formerly Splash) if walking on the beach. Look for Calle Vendig if arriving via Ashford Avenue.
- Street Cruising – Lots of gay guys and gals live in Condado – so cruise along Ashford Avenue any time of day or night!
Gay Bars and Clubs in Santurce Arts District:
If you are at any of the Condado hotels – you can get to the Santurce Arts District by just crossing over or under the highway. There are three clusters of gay bars in the Santurce Arts District:
- Stop 18 at R.H. Todd Ave & Ponce de Leon Ave near the Metro Theater and Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Stop 22 is further down Ponce de Leon Ave at the intersection of De Diego Ave near the Fine Arts Center & Puerto Rico Museum of Art.
- Stop 24 is another 7-10 minute walk near the the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Calle Bolivar or Calle San Jorge.
You can easily walk between each of the areas in about 10 minutes or grab an UBER.
Note: ‘Stops’ or ‘Paradas’ are how locals estimate location along Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Arts District. This is a remnant from the old trolley system which hasn’t run since the 1940’s. There are no signs with the numbers (even at the bus stops) but all locals and taxi drivers will understand the general location from the ‘stop’ or ‘parada’ number.
Santurce: Stop 18 Gay Bars – across the highway from Condado near Metro Theater & Museum of Contemporary Art:.
- #2. SX – 1204 Ave Ponce de Leon – Late night strippers and dance every night. Find the stainless steel door (usually with a doorman) and then go downstairs. There is a straight bar just next door at street level, so don’t get confused. Hot bartenders, strippers, loud music, dance floor in the front. Go upstairs at the back and then downstairs to find the darker, less noisy ‘hang-out’ area.
- #3.Toxic Night Club – (closed October 2020) 613 Calle Condado – late night strippers and more.
- #4. Circo (permanently closed as of October 2020) – 650 Calle Condado – Multi-level video bar and disco.
- #5. El Purgatorio – Corner of Calle Condado and Calle del Carmen – Late afternoon and evenings.
Side Trip Before the Gay Bars: Plaza del Mercado – Salsa, Food, Drink & FuN!
Stop 20 for Plaza del Mercado: If you’re on Ponce de Leon walk ‘against traffic’ past the Metro Theater and walk 3 blocks to Ruben’s Café Restaurant (open 24/7) and Calle Dos Hermanos (directly across from the big blue church) . Take this small street one long block to Plaza del Mercado – also known as ‘La Placita’.
This is the traditional neighborhood market that has been a Santurce landmark for more than 100 years! During the day you’ll find local fruits and vegetables, a juice bar, cigar maker and several food stalls and restaurants. At night, restaurants, bars and clubs surround the marketplace and side streets Tues – Sunday nights. On Thursday and Friday nights locals take over the streets for ‘street party’ festivities with lots of salsa and dancing in the streets.
Not a gay event, but lots of fun and since its between the two gay bar areas – its a great way to get the night started before going on to the clubs. Check El Coco de Willie bar in the corner by the gazebo for the best $5 Piña Colada in the Caribbean!
Santurce: Stop 22 Gay Bars: On the Santurce side of the highway between the Fine Arts Center & Puerto Rico Museum of Art. If taking a taxi, tell them Ponce de Leon & Ave. De Diego – Santurce.
- #6. Tia Maria Bar & Liquor Store – 326 Ave De Diego – Neighborhood Gay Bar. Open from afternoon til midnight or 1am on weekdays, later weekends. Make sure you go on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday nights for gay Karaoke from about 9pm until ???
Santurce: Stop 24 Gay Bars: This is the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Calle Bolivar to Calle San Jorge. If you arrive from Ocean Park via Calle San Jorge, go past the San Jorge Children’s Hospital and up the hill to San Mateo Church. Then only one short block downhill to Ponce de Leon.
If walking along Ponce de Leon from Tia Maria, you go past the Ciudadela Condo Complex, First Bank, Arrivi Theater, Cobian’s Plaza and some vacant buildings until Abracadabra, 787Coffee, Asia de Lima restaurant and Hotel San Jorge for Zal Si Puedes.
- #8. Zal Si Puedes – 1700 Ave Ponce de Leon. Small, friendly club catering to the 40+ crowd. Open Wednesday – Sunday nights from about 10pm til about 2am. Drag shows are mostly Thurs – Sat nights about 11:45pm but a diva may show up at any moment. Friendly and Fun! Located at Hotel San Jorge. The bar has seating for about 15 people – but often has up to 50 crowded in for shows plus spill-over on the street. You’ll see all the classic Latina Divas – like La Lupe, Yolandita, Paloma San Basilico, plus Barbara Streisand and Donna Summers thrown in if you’re lucky!
- #9. Xteamworks – 1752 Ave Fernandez Juncos. Bathhouse on street-level, open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6pm-11pm. A little hard to find, so check out their website for map. It’s next to a gas station with 24 hour mini-mart. Look for the doorbell next to the steel mesh gate. Very discrete from the street – very hot once you get there! Too far to walk home, so UBER is a great option – or head back to Zal Si Puedes (two blocks away) or Babylon (four blocks away) and continue the fun! www.xteamworks.com
San Juan Gay Guide to Ocean Park/Calle Loiza Gay Bars: On the edge of the Ocean Park neighborhood is Calle Loiza – the hottest neighborhood for hipsters, New Yorkers and Europeans looking for a Bohemian atmosphere just a few blocks from the best beach in San Juan.
- #10. Bears Tavern – 101-115 Cll Degetau. Join the local bears for drinks, dance and food. Very friendly crowd in the only bear-cave in San Juan. Does not seem to be open – will update as soon as we have info.
- Coqui Del Mar Guesthouse – 2218 Calle General del Valle, Ocean Park, San Juan, 00913. Just off the map to the right near the ocean.
Parking: If you rent a car and drive to the bars, please make sure that there is nothing visible in the car – like many large cities – radios, GPS systems, phones, or even an empty bag or box may be an invitation to smash a window.
Also, double-check to see if all doors are locked, since some opportunistic people may just try every door of every parked car on the street hoping to find one unlocked. All of this is opportunistic stuff, not serious crime, but can ruin a night at the clubs, since you’ll have to make a police report if there is any damage to a rental car. A little precaution should make sure you don’t have problems.
You may also come across a local parking tradition. You may meet a ‘tacato’ or ‘helpful street person’ who will offer to help direct you to an available parking space. The tradition is to give them 50 cents or a dollar for the assistance. In exchange, they will ‘protect’ your car while you are in the clubs. I’m not sure how much protection they actually offer, but everyone gives them a tip and just having someone hovering around the area of your car is not a bad idea. Most of them speak some English, so they are often also a good source of directions.
Parking Tip: even if there are parking meters or the curb is yellow, you can park late at night – but don’t park in handicap blue curbs, emergency red curbs, crosswalks, or bus stops.
Santurce Arts District: For more information on the Santurce Arts District, see www.avenidadelasartes.com