You may have heard about the amazing party scene in Costa Rica, and it’s all true – especially the part about the Costa Rica women. Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. If you so choose, you can meet a prostitute at a bar, brothel, or even on the street, without sneaking around or worry about breaking the law.
In fact, you’ll find that prostitution is accepted as a legitimate way for women in the sex trade to make a living. Instead of being an industry hidden in the shadows like in the United States and other countries, prostitutes in Costa Rica benefit from organized unions, medical cards, access to healthcare, and police protection. Professional sex workers are supposed to be regularly examined by a doctor, eligible for a free exam every 15 days as long as they carry an ID card from Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).
You’ll even find articles right in their national newspaper, the Costa Rican Times, exploring the role of prostitution in Costa Rican society. This one sung the praises of actually dating a prostitute: http://www.costaricantimes.com/sex-in-costa-rica-benefits-of-dating-a-prostitute/21443
We know by now that Costa Rica’s society is very progressive, on par with many Northern European nations when it comes to social issues. But why is their stance on legalized prostitution so different from their Latin American neighbors? In fact, Costa Rica’s legal system is based on Roman Law, not Common Law like most American countries. In Roman Law, if something isn’t specifically prohibited in their penal codes, it becomes legal by proxy, which is the case of the sex trade in Costa Rica.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a chaotic free-for-all. The government does aim to protect its citizens by making many activities that commonly accompany prostitution illegal. Those include facilitating the prostitution of another person – or pimping, human trafficking, prostitution rings, etc., which are all illegal. Of course, anyone caught soliciting a minor for sex will be punished with the steepest penalties enforceable under the law.
For those coming to visit Costa Rica from the United States, Canada, or other countries where paying for sex is seriously frowned upon, legal prostitution may seem awkward at first. However, tens of thousands of women make a good living in the system and wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not a part of Costa Rican society that’s going away anytime soon.
In fact, studies have shown that legal prostitution is a huge benefit to the women that voluntarily choose to work in that trade. Research shows that the majority of Tica prostitutes can make up to 125 times the average Costa Rican minimum wage per hour!
According to Monge-Nájera et al. 2009, Ramírez et al. 2009, Rojas et al. 2009, “Women who do sex work have incomes that are far superior to those they would have as cleaning ladies, receptionists, cheap laborers in the “maquila” sector or other jobs befitting their educational level” and “A recent study argues convincingly that sex work enables some Costa Rican women not only to subsist, but also to give themselves and their families a relatively high standard of living.”
It’s important to note that most of the women in this business have grasped the English quite well. That said, the better your Spanish is, the better the experience you will have. When I first moved to Costa Rica, I purchased this book about Spanish Verbs. It’s just over $10 and my whole verb-learning was done while doing my morning business. I shit you not, I learned one verb per day thanks to this book, and after many years of living in Central America, I’m functionally fluent. This book dumbs down the entire process by doing conjugations as well as putting each word in a sentence. This was a game changer for me not in many facets of life.
Where to Find Hookers in Costa Rica
For many years, the industry was rampant only in the San Jose area – in specific, the area referred to as the “Gringo Gulch” and an area referred to as “Zona Roja,” which is generally marked as one block north of the Mercado Central. In that area you’ll find everything from seedy pick up bars, to dingy strip clubs, to pay by the hour motels where guests assume the extra fees.
Of course, you’ll find that the business takes shape in all places in the country, however it won’t ever be as in your face as it is in this district. While beach towns may have a few women on the prowl, it’s much more discreet and it won’t typically be a destination for sex tourism like the Gringo Gulch. San Jose prostitutes and Jaco Prostitutes are by far the busiest in the country.
So What Does Prostitution Look Like in Costa Rica?
Many tourists and foreigners that touch-down in San Jose visit the notorious Hotel Del Rey, one of the most famous sex hotels in the world. Among good restaurants, bustling casinos, and multiple boisterous bars, hundreds of sex workers look to engage clients for the evening – or just a few hours – in the rooms upstairs. The women are protected and make great money, and, of course, the hotel patrons have no complaints.
Remember that even though Costa Rica is the wealthiest country in Central America, the majority of its citizens are just trying to earn a humble living, day-to-day. Unlike the perception in the U.S. or other rich countries, working in the legal sex trade in Costa Rica doesn’t indicate that you’re a drug addict or lazy. Consider that the average female Costa Rican college graduate only earns $600 a month and it’s a wonder why more women aren’t working in the field.
However, Costa Rica prostitutes can charge anywhere from $10 or $20 for a “quickie” on the street to a thousand dollars a night for a high-end, sophisticated call girl with model looks, but the typical transaction between a legal sex worker and a tourist probably runs $30-$60 USD. San Jose street hookers are normally transgender and may have a surprise for you, so be careful. It’s also rumored that many of the street walkers in San Jose are HIV Positive and banned from mainstream establishments.
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Oh, you wanted to know what they actually LOOK like?
Ok, well, Costa Rican women are some of the most beautiful and exotic in the world. Ticas tend to have lighter skin and are taller than the average woman in other Latina American countries thanks to their Spanish lineage and less indigenous influence. But there are also plenty of gorgeous ebony women from the Caribbean side of the country, and perfectly bronzed beach babes from the coasts.
Prostitutes in Costa Rica are, on average, young, well-dressed, speak some English or even are well-versed, have shapely bodies, and are often stunningly beautiful. Ticas also tend to be proud, independent, and won’t think twice about standing up for themselves. Some of these women even work regular jobs – like as teachers, nurses, waitresses, etc. and just need (or want) to make extra money on the side.
The sex trade is also populated by a whole lot of immigrants, young women who come to Costa Rica – legally or illegally – to try and make some money to support their poor families back home. At any bar, club or brothel, you’ll likely see an equal share of women from neighboring Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic and even Colombia as you will Ticas working as prostitutes.
So Outside of the Hotel Del Rey, Where Might one Encounter Prostitutes in Costa Rica?
There are plenty of other smaller bars and clubs in San Jose where prostitutes look to meet clients. Outside of San Jose, the touristy beach towns of Tamarindo and Playa Jaco are also hotbeds for prostitution, with every beach bar, reggae spot, and dance club packed with eager party girls on nights and weekends.
In San Jose and other cities in Costa Rica, you’ll find plenty of brothels packed with hard-drinking locals, Gentleman’s Clubs that look like U.S. strip clubs (and overcharge accordingly), and massage parlors veiling sex-for-money.
However, although prostitution may be legal, tourists should always exercise extreme caution. The scene isn’t as organized or savory on the streets, where drug use, crime, and diseases are more prevalent.
There are also plenty of “freelancers” – women who work in the sex trade but aren’t registered or get regular health check-ups. Those who choose to work outside of the legitimate system may be more likely to be involved with drugs or even theft.
Way too often, tourists are robbed by sex workers that pilfer things from their hotel rooms, take advantage of drunk patrons who literally have their pants down, or even slip something into their drink.
Therefore, it’s suggested that visitors put their valuables in their hotel safe, stay in credible establishments, don’t walk around the streets at night, and even avoid being on the beach late.
Definitely stay away from touts, handlers, and pimps. Trafficking and pimping ARE illegal in Costa Rica as we outlined. Furthermore, the involvement of a middleman usually signals that the transaction will be more expensive or that you might be getting set up. Taxi drivers, for instance, will usually drive you to an establishment that offers them the biggest kickback. Too often, the involvement of these touts or pimps can turn dangerous.
If you’re out exploring the party scene in San Jose for the first time, remember to stay safe above all else. Don’t get too drunk, always be respectful to women and anyone else you encounter, and exercise common sense.
Disclaimer: we are not promoting prostitution in Costa Rica. We are simply informing people as to the social climate as it pertains to this subject.
Books on Sex in Costa Rica
With the popularity of this topic, there are many opportunistic authors out there who can guide you into every nook and cranny of the adventure. Here are a few of the books you can find on Amazon:
- Gringo Gulch – Sex and Tourism in Costa Rica
- A Gentleman’s Guide to Costa Rica – An Insiders Guide to the Scene
Videos From Other People’s YouTube Channels About Escorts & Nightlife in Costa Rica
A look inside the Del Rey Hotel in San Jose.