Tips for LGBT Travelers
What You Need to Know to Plan Your Next Getaway
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Planning a trip can be a daunting task, but for a gay traveler, it can be even more difficult. There are limited resources for the LGBT community, so Travel Channel has put together a quick list of gay travel guides, websites and other resources to help you plan your next gay vacation.
Gay and Lesbian Travel Guides
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When planning a trip, some travelers enjoy the flexibility of having a travel guide on-hand to highlight important travel tips and must-see sights. Damron and Spartacus travel guides are our picks for top gay travel resources; both are chock-full of gay-owned or gay-friendly destinations, accommodations, restaurants, bars and more.
Damron, a popular travel source since 1964, publishes the Men's Travel Guide and Women's Traveller each year. Damron lists thousands of gay-friendly businesses in the US, Canada, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia. Accommodations, bars, bookstores, gyms and a calendar of events are just some of the info you’ll find inside these guides. Damron also has a travel app. Gay Scout by Damron is available for travelers who enjoy sightseeing and exploring without carrying extra weight.
The Spartacus International Gay Guide is another annual travel guide for planning your gay getaway. Spartacus, much like Damron, also has other guides that travelers can purchase, including the International Hotel & Restaurant Guide. This comprehensive international travel guide is sometimes difficult to find at US bookstores because it’s published by a German company.
Even though we suggest LGBT travelers check Damron and Spartacus travel guides and their websites, we also suggest looking at more familiar brands, such as Frommer's, Shermans Travel and Lonely Planet. These travel guides offer great general information, but in most cases, also provide insightful travel tips for “friends of Dorothy.” So you really can’t go wrong with picking up a mainstream travel guide.
LGBT Online Travel Sites
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In addition to travel guides in print, online travel websites can reduce the stress of planning a trip. Out Traveler covers the pulse of LGBT travel, including hot trends, topics and destinations. The website provides travelers with city guides and vacation packages.
IGLTA, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, is another great resource to find LGBT businesses and destinations. This site provides the best locations and packages for individual, group, corporate and student travel. It has dozens of links to hotels, cities, countries, travel agents and tour operators around the world. IGLTA publishes its annual member directory, a listing of businesses around the world. All businesses are listed in alphabetical order by country for ease of use.
Another useful travel aid is Passport Magazine, available in print and on the interwebs. This magazine covers all the regular gay travel faire with a keen focus on business travel, and international destinations and events. Yes, there is a Passport Magazine app, but it’s only useful if you’re looking for aspiration, or if you want to check out the magazine on your iPhone or iPad. Passport is a great travel resource with in-depth articles about exotic destinations, travel gear and much more.
In addition to Passport Magazine, GayCities is a popular website to check out for gay travel information. Plan your next getaway using more than 200 extensive city guides, a LGBT events calendar and other unique features. Register to become part of the GayCities community and connect with other travelers. Ask questions and get real answers from locals or travelers in the know. For the tech savvy, check out the nifty GayCities app.
Gay-ville may not have a mobile app yet, but it’s a great website to get tips from locals, pick up the local lingo and find low-cost accommodations in a few gay-friendly destinations around the world, including Rio de Janeiro, Mykonos, Berlin and Sydney. Don’t be startled, but this website appears to be more popular among gay travelers in Europe. However, we’re sure you’ll be able to glean some helpful information, especially if you’re into couch surfing and crashing in a host family’s spare bedroom.
SydneySydney has 6 gay-friendly beaches that have become popular LGBT destinations, including North Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach and Tamarama Beach. Obelisk Beach and Lady Jane Beach are popular, secluded spots for nude sunbathers. Water taxis are provided as transportation to Obelisk Beach, and during the summer, expect frequent visits from one of the famous Sydney Harbor Ice Cream Boats to help keep things cool. 960 1280
CancunCancun is a hot beach destination for spring breakers, but it’s also the location of a popular gay beach, Playa Delfines. The water is generally treacherous to swim in, but the white sand is perfect for sunning, and the view is incredible. This beach is also popular for surfing and a great place to take surfing lessons. Gay couples and singles enjoy Playa Delfines, and it has become known unofficially as the gay beach in Cancun. 960 1280
MauiWe’d be remiss if we didn’t have at least one Hawaiian beach on our list. Gay and lesbians converge on “Little Beach” in Makena State Park, located about 1 mile past the Maui Prince Hotel. This beach is so secluded that you have to hike up and over a lava-flow trail to get to it, but it won’t be hard to miss. 960 1280
Fire Island, New YorkHead to Fire Island’s Pines Beach if you’re looking for a fun party beach with gay-friendly shopping, hotels, vacation rentals and a vibrant nightlife. Nudity is allowed on the shore. The island plays host to several LGBT events, including the multicultural Fire Island Black Out in Cherry Grove. 960 1280
Tel Aviv, IsraelTel Aviv is famous for its never-ending beach line. Nearly 9 miles of blue sea, open horizon, sun and lots of people make it the perfect beach destination. The city has a few gay-friendly beaches, including Ga’ash nude beach, a popular gay beach outside Tel Aviv. Visit Hilton Beach if nude sunbathing isn’t your thing. It’s a little strip beach located near the Hilton Hotel. 960 1280
Fort Lauderdale, FloridaKnown as the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is where the boys are. Sebastian Street Gay Beach, located near most of the gay resorts, is one of the most popular beach destinations for gay tourists. Along with dozens of gay-friendly shops along the beach, the city also thrives with fun gay bars and restaurants, such as Hamburger Mary’s, a great place to start or end the night. 960 1280
Vancouver, British ColumbiaVancouver has a couple beaches that attract a LGBT crowd. English Bay Beach (pictured) is located on the city’s West End, close to the Davie Street Gay Village. Sunset Beach and Wreck Beach are 2 alternate beach options. However, a little hike is required to reach secluded Wreck Beach, where nudity is permitted. Take the path marked Trail No. 7 to get there. Gay and lesbian couples and singles converge on the area south of the North Arm Breakwater. 960 1280
Manuel Antonio, Costa RicaEco-friendly Costa Rica has long been a vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts, but it also has a popular gay beach, Manuel Antonio’s Playita Beach. La Playita, aka Playa Dulce Vida, is a semiprivate beach, accessible by climbing over large rocks north of Playa Espadilla. Just don’t get trapped during high tide. And just so you know, there’s no nude sunbathing in Costa Rica. After having some fun in the sun, grab a drink at Bar Tutu or the Liquid Lounge. By the way, there are gay-friendly vacation rentals and hotels available in the area. 960 1280
Miami BeachSouth Beach, or SoBe, conjures up images of sunny days at the beach, a continuous flow of sexy men and women, high-end shopping on Lincoln Road, fine dining on Ocean Drive and nonstop nights of partying at popular gay bars and clubs, including Twist, Score, Palace and Mova. Every year, SoBe plays host to the world-renowned White Party in November and, in March, the Winter Party, the biggest gay beach party in North America. Check out Miami’s Haulover Beach if you’re looking for a nude beach. 960 1280
Brighton, East Sussex, EnglandBrighton is the UK’s gay capital. The town’s seafront has bars, restaurants, nightclubs and amusement arcades between the piers. Brighton Beach has a nudist area, south of the easterly part of Kemptown, aka the “gay village.” West Beach, Telscombe Cliffs, Duke’s Mound and Shoreham are a few hot beach spots. Visit Brighton and find out why the bohemian atmosphere of this beach town has led to the largest LGBT crowds in the UK. 960 1280
Ibiza, SpainStraight or gay, everyone knows about the small island of Ibiza’s reputation as a party haven, but it’s also known for its beaches, each with its own distinctive beauty. Figueretes, the town beach, is for sunbathers who enjoy a low-key crowd and calm sea. Es Cavallet, located on the southern side of the island, is the main gay beach, where nudity is welcomed. Visit Cala Conta for stunning sunset views. Port Des Torrent is perfect for gay couples, and Ses Salinas is known for its diverse crowd and great beach bars. 960 1280
Provincetown, MAProvincetown, a gay and lesbian resort community at the tip of Cape Cod, ranks among the world’s great seaside vacation destinations. Along with hosting its annual Gay Pride celebration, P’town continues to improve with more upscale inns, fine art galleries and superb restaurants. Peak season for the New England town is usually July through August. Stay in the town’s West End, go for a fun bike ride and go sunbathing on Herring Cove Beach or Race Point Beach. 960 1280
Sitges, SpainSitges’ Playa de la Bassa Rodona is increasingly becoming a straight beach, but it is packed with gay men during the peak season. This beach is located below the Picnic Restaurant and across from Hotel Calipolis. Nude sunbathers looking for more privacy should head to Playa del Muerto or Playa de las Balmins. Visit Barcelona's Barcelonetta Beach if you're looking for a quick day trip. Barcelona is only a 45-minute train ride away from Sitges. 960 1280
Cape Town, South AfricaMost people know about Cape Town's turbulent history, but few people know about Clifton, the small, affluent suburb located outside the city. There are 4 beaches, but the Clifton Third Beach has become the popular spot for gay sunbathers, primarily men. This paradise is a great spot to watch the sun set in the summer, but be mindful of the no-public-drinking policy. It's strictly monitored, so don't say you weren't warned. 960 1280
San DiegoSan Diego is a beach city, and Black’s Beach is the popular beach hangout for gay travelers. This is one of the oldest nude beaches in the US. The expansive beach has room for everyone, and even the dolphins and seals make an appearance offshore. Just a word of caution: The climb from the beach back up the cliffs is a tough hike. 960 1280
Mykonos, GreeceMykonos has become a well-known spot for beach lovers and partygoers. The Greek island’s Elia Beach is probably one of the most gay-friendly stretches of sand in the Mediterranean. It’s a United Nations of gays from all over the world, basking in lounge chairs while sipping cocktails and gazing at the electric-blue waters. Just a word of caution: It may be wise to plan ahead. Taxis may be hard to come by, and buses and ferries stop at relatively early hours. 960 1280
Rio de JaneiroWe know all about the popularity of Copacabana Beach, but Ipanema Beach (pictured) is what’s really hot! Ipanema’s gay spot, Farme Gay Beach, is a little to the east of Rua Farme de Amoedo. It’s the best place to make friends with the locals outside of the bar and club scene. Party promoters often distribute fliers with discounts to gay parties and clubs. After the beach, head to the popular hangout Cafeína e Tô nem Aí for a beer or a snack. 960 1280
Nice, FranceThis is not the typical gay destination in Europe, but it is slowly becoming a popular spot. Nice is now the second-most-visited city in France for gay tourists, after Paris, and with more than 35 gay outlets, we're sure there’s something for everyone. In addition the vibrant gay and lesbian club scene, this beach town has several museums, high-end shops and a famous flower market, and it plays host to the annual Pink Parade. Nice has a gay and gay-friendly beach, Coco Beach and Castel Plage, respectively. For adventurous sunbathers, there are 2 more gay beaches located outside the small French town. 960 1280
Rehoboth Beach, DelawareRehoboth is the quintessential beach town, with dozens of small shops, restaurants that serve up fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, and a boardwalk with a few amusement thrills and arcades. Poodle Beach is the gay section on Rehoboth Beach. It can get crowded here during the peak season, but there is an energetic social scene. Lesbians prefer North Shores Beach. And after the beach, most gay men grab a few beers or cocktails at the Aqua Grill or Blue Moon, 2 of the town’s popular gay hangouts. 960 1280
Best Gay Beach Destinations 20 Photos
RSVP Vacations, Two men kayakingRSVP Vacations: Self-proclaimed “originator of the gay and lesbian cruise concept,” RSVP Cruises has welcomed more than 35,000 LGBT guests since its opening in 1985. Their focus is on fun, including kayaking, shopping, and after-hours activities like gay bingo, leather and underwear parties or costume contests. 960 1280
The Red SeaUndersea Expeditions: Explore the world, underwater! Undersea Expeditions’ exquisite scuba vacations provide gay and lesbian travelers with a unique way to see the world. Novice and experienced divers can take scuba trips to Maldives Indian Ocean, Philippines Coral Triangle, Egypt’s Red Sea and other fun destinations. 960 1280
Aquafest CruisesAquafest Cruises: Aquafest is one of the largest sellers of gay and lesbian group cruises in the US. Afternoon T-dances, single get-togethers and gay beach parties are just a couple organized activities. This travel company also helps schedule smaller gay and lesbian groups on world-class cruise lines. Let the fun begin! 960 1280
Atlantis Events, Afternoon T-DanceAtlantis Events: Atlantis prides itself on being the largest gay and lesbian tour operator in the world, attracting 20,000 travelers each year. Book 1 of their cruises on a top-rated ship, and explore Rome, Mykonos, Istanbul, St. Barths, Barbados, Copenhagen and many more fun destinations. 960 1280
Alyson Adventures, two women on safariSweet: Sweet mixes the best in lesbian travel with environmental awareness, allowing guests to enjoy the world, while also making it a better place. All of their vacations are carbon neutral, yet they still travel to amazing destinations. And yes, there are top-notch lesbian entertainers and wild parties, but they also raise money for worthy causes. 960 1280
Hanns Ebensten Travel, Gay traveler in Southeast AsiaHanns Ebensten Travel: Hanns Ebensten Travel creates trips to take travelers to exotic destinations, including Southeast Asia, Egypt, Israel, Peru and Namibia. Small groups, personal touches and a unique style set them apart from other tour companies. 960 1280
Alyson Adventures, Camping in the Swiss AlpsAlyson Adventures: This tour company is about small, intimate groups for outdoor adventures, which include hiking in the Swiss Alps or scuba diving in the Caribbean. Alyson Adventures offers active getaways for gay men, lesbians and their friends. 960 1280
Olivia, Women on the beachOlivia: Olivia has been the leader in lesbian cruises and resort vacations for the last 20 years. They charter entire ships or rent out entire resorts. Costa Rica, Whales and Sea of Cortez, Barcelona to Rome and Splendor of Scandinavia and Russia are a few of their charter cruises. An additional perk is that travelers can connect with other ladies on their boat beforehand via Olivia’s social networking site. 960 1280
Two men walking on the beachSource Events: For almost 10 years, Source Events has customized trips for gay travelers, taking them to places like the Caribbean Islands, South Africa, Austria and Machu Picchu. This tour company is the perfect choice if you’re adventurous and a thrill-seeker. 960 1280
Pied Piper Travel, Friends on a cruiseship's deckPied Piper Travel: Each trip with Pied Piper Travel offers exquisite dining, elegant events, special shore excursions and other personal touches that make their trips anything but mainstream. Book your reservations with this tour company to visit Bermuda, Australia, the French Riviera, Panama, the Canary Islands, Croatia, Alaska and many more destinations. 960 1280
Best Gay Cruises 10 Photos
Astoria Waldorf Spa (Carefree, Arizona)Relax at this upscale spa at The Boulders, located in Carefree, AZ. Get a turquoise clay wrap, an avocado citrus scrub, hot stone message, back wax or chakra balancing. The Astoria Waldorf Spa is the perfect combination of traditional and outré, upscale and low-key, active and relaxing. 960 1280
CLAY Health Club + Spa (New York, New York)NYC’s Clay Health Club & Spa is a full-service spa that offers patrons exercise classes, nutrition programs and personal trainers. The eye and neck mask, green tea peel and Thai massage are a few unique spa services you can try out at the 40-room Inn. The spa offers a membership and is opened to the public. 960 1280
Exhale Spa (Atlantic City, New Jersey)Socialize, detox and unwind at the Exhale Spa located at the Atlantic City’s Revel Resort. This spa has 32 therapy rooms for facials, massages and body-slimming treatments. Enjoy a drink from the bar and relax near the bask spa pool. In addition to taking care of the body, Exhale Spa also offers Core Fusion and yoga classes that are physically and mentally challenging. 960 1280
Aire Ancient Baths (New York, New York)Go on a relaxing retreat to Aire Ancient Baths. Try a session of thermal-bathing rituals that date back to the Greek and Roman baths in the 5th century B.C. Start off in the warm-water pool, then the hot-water pool, the high-steam room and lastly the cold-water pool. We recommend guests book the “Bath & Acoustic” package to enjoy the baths and a relaxing massage, while enjoying the soothing sound of a Flamenco Roots concert. 960 1280
Life Balance Spa (Tucson, Arizona)Outdoor spa treatments, skin care and body renewal rituals are just a few spa treatments available at the Life Balance Spa at the Miraval Resort and Spa. Get a bamboo body smoother, desert rain scrub, aqua Zen massage and more. Try the Ultimate Ayurvedic Treatment, which includes Shirodhara therapy to relax and balance your nervous system. 960 1280
Nidah Spa (Santa Fa, New Mexico)
Inside Santa Fe’s Eldorado Hotel, Nidah Spa helps guests rejuvenate with treatments, using natural, local ingredients like stones, plants and herbs. A chocolate peppermint sugar scrub, a turquoise-gemstone massage and a chile-honey body wrap are just some of the many treatments guests can expect when checking into this spa.
Grand Resort and Spa (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)Visit Ft. Lauderdale Beach’s largest gay-owned men’s resort. Grand Resort has a fitness center, clothing-optional courtyard, 10-man Jacuzzi and a hair salon. The award-winning spa offers various packages, including the 5-night Pampered Getaway package with your choice of a 50-minute Swedish or deep tissue massage, a facial, a body scrub (glacier salt body scrub or a “Jack Black” signature body scrub), an exfoliating manicure, standard pedicure and a complimentary bottle of champagne. 960 1280
San Francisco Spa (San Francisco)Part of the gay-friendly Kimpton Hotels, Hotel Monaco’s San Francisco Spa uses organic, eco-friendly ingredients in a peaceful setting. Among the fragrant treatments is the lavender dreams body scrub and chamomile body scrub. Try the sunless tanning treatment if you want to sport a nice tan without baking in the sun. 960 1280
Spa Kea Lani (Maui)Try Hawaii’s signature Lomilomi massage at 5,500-square-foot Spa Kea Lani at the Fairmont Kea Lani, located in Maui. You can use their outdoor, ocean-side cabana for a secluded treatment. The sun on Maui can be crazy strong, which is one of the reasons why the Ho’ona (soothing) Facial is one of the spa’s most popular requests. 960 1280
The Spa at the Mandarin Hotel (Washington, DC)Located in Washington, DC, The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, offers an Oriental Bamboo Massage in a Zen-Nirvana themed room, heavy on the Buddha accessories and forest green ornaments. The Jade Enzyme Facial exfoliates dead skin and enhances the rejuvenation process. It’s a full-throttle spa experience that lives up to the hype to wow the most finicky spa connoisseurs. 960 1280
Spa Montage (Beverly Hills, California)Located in the center of the “Golden Triangle” around Rodeo Drive, this 20,000-square-foot facility has separate private lounges for men and women with skylights and a fireplace, and locker rooms with steam, sauna, whirlpool and Swiss showers. Spa Montage provides fitness classes, Holistic spa services, facial therapies to address shaving irritation and more. We suggest the Montage Beverly Hills’ signature Day of Indulgence package. 960 1280
Shui Spa (Provincetown, Massachusetts)Experience a tranquil, comfortable, unisex full-service spa environment at Shui Spa in Provincetown, MA. Special features include a warm mineral therapy tub, sauna and steam room. The spa also offers various packages, massages, healthy food menu, body treatments, and energy treatments to reduce stress, release toxins in your system and help you rejuvenate. 960 1280
Sir Spa (Chicago, Illinois)Chicago's Sir Spa offers special packages for a relaxing birthday party or an intimate date with that special someone. Guests will enjoy the private Grooming Club Lounge for mingling before, during and after treatments. A scalp massage, in-grown hair treatment, reflexology massage and a 4-layer face treatment are just a few of the many different ways Sir Spa helps its customers renew and rejuvenate. 960 1280
AWAY Spa (Vieques, Puerto Rico)AWAY Spa at the W Retreat & Spa, in Vieques, Puerto Rico, features a full-service beauty menu, covering hair, nails and waxing --just to name a few. A special mani/pedi section is perfect for social gatherings with friends or a great way to meet new ones. Treatment suites feature garden settings, some with ocean views and private outdoor shower areas. We suggest the My Away Massage to ease backaches, especially after a long flight. 960 1280
Best Gay-Friendly Spas 14 Photos