Out Travelers Michael and Matt Share Their LGBTQ+ Secrets for Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Escape with Michael and Matt
PHOTO BY MATTHEW SCHUELLER/MICHAEL LINDSAY
Husbands Matthew Schueller and Michael Lindsay share their LGBTQ+ secrets for Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
The happy, smart, and sexy duo are no strangers to Out Travelers, who were introduced to the married world travelers and their meet-cute in our Spring 2022 print edition. The social media savvy Schueller came out on his YouTube channel in a viral video that inspired Lindsay to come out himself and record a video reply, albeit a year later and 1,300 miles away. The rest is history, as they say.
The pair married in 2018, and when they’re not posting about their travels and life together on their social media, Schueller works as a nurse and Lindsay is a practicing dentist.
Manuel Antonio is definitely more notable for its nature than its food, but with that being said there are still some great places to grab a bite! Our favorite by far was the Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar – this hip unassuming bistro surprisingly served some of the best falafel we’ve ever had! With a full buffet of all the fixings and a chill patio to hang out with other travelers, it’s the perfect spot for lunch or dinner. Another great spot that can’t be missed is El Avion. While the food is decent, the chance to eat inside a wrecked airplane in the middle of the jungle is pretty fantastic.
Our top recommendation is to stay at GAIA Hotel and Reserve, a beautiful accommodation perched atop the hills overlooking the Manuel Antonio coastline. The hotel is LGBTQ+ owned and operated, and we really felt quite welcomed and at-home staying there. The staff is incredibly friendly, the 3-tiered pool is the perfect place to relax, and the property also acts as an eco-reserve for scarlet macaws. The Scarlet Macaw program is playing a key role in returning the once plentiful Scarlet Macaw population back to the region. We were really surprised at how many monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife we were able to spot while staying at the reserve.
The LGBTQ+ culture around Manuel Antoni is unassuming. As a small town, it isn’t known to be a hot-spot, but what it lacks in bars and clubs it makes-up for in nature. There’s no particular LGBTQ+ area, but we did hear that Playitas Beach, adjacent to the popular Espadilla Beach, is frequented by many gay travelers. Still, I think the best way to do Manuel Antonio is to bring your friends and make your accommodation Manuel Antonio's newest, hottest club!
Apart from grabbing your own alcohol and throwing a party on the beach, there are a few great restaurants to grab a drink and catch the sunset at the same time, including Restaurante Ronny’s Place and Emilio’s Cafe. As far as nightlife goes, you’ll see most travelers hanging around the Drunken Money, Bar Jolly Roger, and El Patio. The bars are quite relaxed and sometimes feature live entertainment.
The main draw to the area of course is Manuel Antonio National Park, and for good reason. The National Park is gorgeous, and home to a diverse array of wildlife. Book a walking and wildlife tour through the Manuel Antonio National Park website, and afterward spend the rest of the day at Manuel Antonio Beach. This beach is far more beautiful than many of the beaches outside the park, and while it requires a day pass, it’s absolutely worth it.
You will find a ton of great opportunities to take your best jungle photos within Manuel Antonio National Park. Outside the park, head to Playitas Beach for a more private tropical beach vibe. If you are looking to get some cute active photos, schedule a kayaking tour to explore one of the nearby mangroves!
On our last full day in Manuel Antonio, we wanted to experience a lesser-known beach where the locals actually go. We’d already been to the highly popular Manuel Antonio and Espadilla Beach, but when talking to a few locals it was recommended we check out Biesanz Beach. It was super difficult to get to on foot, as we ended up hiking for over an hour up and down a hilly road through the jungle. Since the beach sits within a cove, the water is calm and tranquil. The beach was full of families and groups of friends playing soccer, barbecuing, and sipping drinks from coconut shells. I remember it so vividly because as much as Manuel Antonio is a tourist hotspot, this beach was directly opposite that, but just as beautiful and arguably more fun. It felt like the true Costa Rica, and it made me wish we had spent more time there.