Queer women can expect beauty and adventure in gay-friendly Puerto Rico

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With Puerto Rico adopting the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide last week, there is no better time to visit ancestral homeland of Naya Rivera, Michelle Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez.

Because it is U.S. territory, American citizens do not need a passport when traveling to Puerto Rico. In this regard, specifically its ease of access for residents of the eastern seaboard, Puerto Rico is an ideal getaway for those craving a Caribbean island holiday but—for better or worse—still want to feel “at home,” where American travelers can get by speaking English and using U.S. currency.

This point broaches perhaps the most ethical conundrum when visiting Puerto Rico that needs to be addressed by the conscientious traveler: how its territory status, and recent $72 billion debt crisis, has affected the living conditions of Puerto Ricans, over 40% of whom are living in poverty. On the mainland, the effects of this can be disturbing—can the conscientious traveler enjoy paradise inside the walls of a four-star resort while knowing that outside those walls, citizens struggle to make a living? The point is to not dissuade the traveler but apprise her of the reality of her holiday experience. To be clear, tourism drives Puerto Rico’s economy; most inhabitants work in the industry and are very proud of their home, and sharing and celebrating its beauty with visitors. The best way for tourists to support Puerto Ricans is, literally, to spend their money there, in support of local businesses, yes, but any where Puerto Ricans are employed.

HotelPhoto via stregisbahiabeach.com

For the most luxurious experience on the mainland, queer travelers will find romance and adventure at St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. This gorgeous 483-acre property is approximately a 30-minute shuttle ride (which one can arrange through the resort) from the San Juan airport, and is situated on the northeast part of the island, nestled against El Yunque National Forest, the otherworldly 28,000 acre subtropical rain forest where one can explore nature by hiking, or even zip-lining, and go for a dip underneath one of its waterfalls.

Puerto Rico, El Yunque Rain Forest, Waterfall

Even before marriage equality, Puerto Rico was gay friendly. My wife and I stayed at the St. Regis prior to this June’s SCOTUS victory, and not only was the staff very welcoming, but fellow resort guests were favorably indifferent to our hand holding and other respectful PDAs. The resort even embroidered our robes (which we, of course, were able to keep!) and laid them on the bed for us—a lavish touch that signified their acknowledgement and promotion of a #DeepLez agenda for romance.

ROBE

Whether a room with a tropical view or a luxe suite overlooking the Atlantic ocean, all rooms are equipped with marble bathtubs for some serious sexy time—I mean, a “bubble bath.” There is a spa on location and, even better, you can request spa services on the pool esplanade, in case you want to go for a swim after a rub down. A dip in the pool is advised for those wanting to swim; the Atlantic was cool and a bit murky well into June. That said, the beach, private to the property, is stunning and home to leatherback turtles—a nest of which hatched on the night of our arrival!

TURTLES