Home to the second biggest barrier reef in the world, beaches, and sparkling turquoise sea, as well as a whole host of Mayan ruins, amazing coffee, and the second largest rainforest in the Americas, Honduras is extremely biodiverse: there are 770 bird species alone.
But Honduras is far from Eden. Violence has long ruled here. This Central American country actually has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Drug trafficking gangs, corruption, and extreme poverty keep Honduras down.
Naturally, you’re going to be wondering, “Is Honduras safe?” That is why we have created this insider’s guide looking at the safety of travelers in Honduras. We are all about smart travel and we’re here to help you travel smart too.
We are going to be covering a whole lot of topics in this epic Honduras safety guide. We’ll be answering super important questions including “How safe is Honduras right now?” and “Is it safe to live in Honduras?” We also give loads of tips for solo travelers and families.
For your trip to Honduras, our handy guide has you covered.
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How Safe is Honduras? (Our take)
Biodiversity is a huge part of Honduras. There’s more nature here than you can shake a stick at. Couple that with 470 miles of (mainly) Caribbean coastline, a load of beaches and tropical islands, as well as Mayan ruins and you got yourself a dream destination.
It might sound like paradise… But it isn’t. Honduras isn’t exactly what we’d call safe.
This Central American country suffers from what many countries in the region have suffered from or are currently battling with – namely corruption, gangs, and drugs. With those come violence and poverty. So backpacking Honduras isn’t always just a breeze…
In fact, most people in Honduras have a family member in a gang. So, yeah. We’re not going to lie – it’s pretty sketchy.
However, whilst it’s quite dangerous, the government is promoting tourism in Honduras. And people do go.
Some areas are also safer than others. For example, the Bay Islands are safer than the mainland. Many people do travel to this particular part of Honduras, even with their families.
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Honduras Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Honduras. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Honduras.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
Is Honduras Safe to Visit Right Now?
Visiting Honduras right now is as safe as it ever was: not very.
However, More than 2 million tourists visited in 2017. A large chunk of those arrived via cruise ships, however. That’s mainly to visit islands like Roatan. Chances are, if you are arriving via a cruise ship, you will be safe. Traveling around the country is a more complicated matter.
The government of Honduras is committed to attracting more tourists. By 2020 they want an additional million tourists annually. Clearly, with the pandemic, that goal wasn’t reached, but it’s not been forgotten either.
Honduras is one of the murder capitals of the world. The rate of young people killing other young people is down to two main gangs: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18. They practice “war taxing”, which is essentially just demanding money from people. This helps keep everyone in poverty.
There have been protests due to contested election results in late 2017. In these demonstrations, more than 1,500 were arrested and 30 people were killed.
That said, the government claims there has been a 52% decrease in violent crime over the past five years. In fact, according to InSight Crime there has definitely been around a 26% drop in crime since 2016. This is due to negotiations between criminal groups and the government, and possibly because of economic aid from the US.
So whilst it’s getting safer, it’s a slow process. We’d say only experienced, intrepid travelers should tackle this one alone. Anyone else would do well with a trusted tour group.
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Safest Places in Honduras
There are probably more sketchy areas in Honduras than there are safe ones. generally, if you’re visiting with a guided tour, you should be fine. However, if you decide to travel independently, you’ll face quite a few challenges. To make sure you’re having a successful trip, we’ve listed the safest, and the no-go areas below.
The Bay Islands are the only palace in Honduras that can (kind of) be considered somewhat safe. While there were a few violent crime incidents, most travelers have a safe and pleasant stay. You can also visit the island through a guided tour, which will add another layer of safety to your trip. These are the safest islands:
Once you get off the ferry in Utila you have officially entered an alternate reality. Utila is unlike the rest of mainland Honduras in just about every way. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by backpackers, dive shops, hostels, burger shacks, smoothie stands, and pirate bars.
It is important to know that Utila is very much a developed backpacker hotspot. Don’t expect to discover an undeveloped private island. That said, the development that has taken place has not totally sucked the island dry of its charm. It may have improved it actually.
Roatan is the largest of the Honduras Bay Islands. Roatan is the more developed, more expensive, and family friendly big brother of Utila. The island attracts a very different crowd indeed. Expat retirees, yachties, families with kids, and cruise ship tourists make up a large majority of the demographic found on Roatan at any given time.
One good thing I can say about Roatan is that the dive sites are excellent around the island. If you are a keen diver, Roatan is well worth a visit.
Places to avoid in Honduras
We’ve made it pretty clear that Honduras isn’t the safest country. You can definitely push your luck by staying in the wrong neighborhood as well. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can seriously get you in trouble. That’s why we listed the no-go areas in Honduras below. Note that they are generally safe to visit during the day (with a bit of caution obviously), especially if you have a local guide, but should be fully avoided at night.
- San Pedro Sula – this is an area that has a lot of gang activity, you should definitely be careful when visiting or might even think about leaving it out if your Honduras itinerary completely. Poverty is bad in San Pedro Sula so you’ll definitely have to watch all of your belongings and stay very aware of your surroundings.
- Tegucigalpa – this is another area with lots of gang activity. While tourists usually aren’t targeted by gang wars and violent crimes, you still need to take a lot of caution while visiting this district. Stay away from the small alleys and side streets and stick with the areas where there are a lot of people. Completely avoid it at night!
- Any public transport station – these attract thieves and sketchy characters. If you have to wait for your bus or taxi, stay inside a cafe or restaurant until your ride arrives.
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Gang violence is a big issue in Honduras. These drug trafficking gangs rule people’s lives. Lucky for you, you’re not a Honduran citizen. So you’ll likely escape having to pay “war tax” (or facing the consequences). The poverty resulting from all this is what you’ll have to watch out for. Namely, being robbed. There are some safety points that travelers should know for anywhere they travel, but Honduras requires these special considerations.
- Don’t carry your valuables (or all your cash) around with you – why risk getting them stolen? You can keep extra bank notes and passport copies in a money belt for emergencies.
- On that note, don’t even LOOK wealthy – designer clothes, jewelry, SLR round your neck = advert for thieves.
- Protests can happen out of the blue – careful of large crowds. Don’t get involved.
- Protect yourself against mosquitoes – these nasty critters carry malaria, zika virus, and dengue fever. Cover up, use repellent, burn coils.
- Hand over the goods – if someone does try robbing you, let them. Seriously. People die resisting robbery.
- Carry a dummy wallet – a throwdown, fake wallet, whatever. It should have just a little cash in it to hand over in the event of a mugging.
- Take care of beaches after dark – especially in Tela and the North Coast. Attacks on tourists have been reported.
- Be vigilant in busy places – tourist spots, airports, bus stations, cities in general. This is pickpockets’ paradise.
- Be aware that there are high levels of HIV and AIDS in Honduras – it’s important to keep that in mind.
- Use ATMs only in shopping centers, hotels, inside banks – only these areas.
- And don’t use ATMs at night – there have been attacks on people.
- Or get too much out at once – again, why risk it? Small amounts only.
- Keep valuables locked in a safe – room robberies can happen. You don’t want to lose your passport.
- It’s best not to travel around after dark – it’s riskier.
- Be careful in border areas – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The border with Nicaragua is also littered with unmarked minefields.
- DON’T DO DRUGS – they’re illegal and you could end up in a “rehabilitation center”. Plus, why contribute to the gangs?
- Watch out in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa – this is where the two main gangs operate. In the day, it’s generally ok, but at night you should just take a taxi.
- Nature is dangerous here, too – venomous snakes, crocodiles, poisonous spiders. Watch your step, basically.
- Hurricanes can and do occur from June to November – if caught one, you’ll want to be staying in a STABLE building.
- Make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines – check with your doctor and see what you’ll need for Honduras.
It’s not 100% safe in Honduras. Not really. But traveling there is possible, of course. And if you’re visiting as part of a tour, then you’re likely to stay safe.
Independent travel is going to require A LOT of being careful. Travel smart and make sure your safety and security is your number one priority.
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Seeing the world without anyone to answer to, getting to challenge yourself and grow as a person. There are definitely a fair few pros to solo travel. At the same time, traveling alone can be stressful, boring, lonely, and dangerous in varying quantities.
And we’re not going to lie, Honduras doesn’t exactly lend itself to solo travel. This is essentially an unsafe country. You’ll need to be a confident traveler. This isn’t one for first-time backpackers. But if you’re thinking about it, here are some tips.
- Traveling alone to remote areas can be sketchy. As in, dangerous. You either take extreme care or make some travel buddies to go with.
- Make sure to stay at well-reviewed, trusted accommodation. You can see from reviews if the staff somewhere consists of dodgy people. Read reviews, find somewhere that’s right for you, and book yourself a room or a bed. You’ll get to meet fellow travelers at the best places.
- Don’t go off-grid. Make sure you keep in touch with people. Post a few Facebook updates. Send some messages. Facetime your parents. Just make sure that people know where you are.
- Don’t hitchhike or take lifts from strangers – especially if you’re by yourself. People traveling alone are definitely going to be more of a target than a group of people.
- When you’re walking around, look confident. The more lost you look, the more of an easy target you’re going to be. Try to memorize a map of the area because you definitely don’t want to be getting your phone out all the time, either.
- Stay aware at all times. This isn’t the sort of country where it’s just a couple of problem areas and that’s it. A lot of Honduras is risky. Don’t let your guard down, stay vigilant, and use your common sense.
- That said, it’ll be cities where most crime occurs. Therefore these are the places that carry the most risk. Be on high alert in urban areas.
- When it comes to transport, leave plenty of time to get to your destination. Traveling after dark, either on foot, on a bus, or in a car, can be dangerous. Make sure you arrive before night falls.
- Ask locals about what areas they think are safe. Or simply get recommendations for things to eat, drink, see or do. It’s a good way to get to chat to locals, but also just a good way to see things that maybe other tourists won’t be asking for.
- With that in mind, use those Spanish skills. Learn a few words and phrases. It will open up the country for you, both in terms of talking to people and simply getting around.
Hondurans are warm and welcoming people who have to live day in, day out with the violence in their country. Chatting to them means getting first-hand knowledge, and means your experience is going to be a lot richer.
Traveling here is definitely adventurous, but that doesn’t mean it’s off-limits for solo travelers. People do it. You can too.
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Is Honduras safe for solo female travelers?
Honduras may have one of the highest murder rates in the world, and as a solo female traveler, that doesn’t sound very inviting as a destination. We get it. We’re not going to say it’s the safest place to travel, nor is it going to be the easiest place to travel as a solo female.
But the thing is women DO travel alone to Honduras. It can be a super enriching experience. With all the threats of violence, there’s a low number of tourists, so oddly you can really have an authentic experience here while getting to know Honduran women, too.
It can be safe as a solo female traveler in Honduras. Of course, being a woman anywhere is going to come with additional risk. So keep that in mind – and have a read of our safety tips for solo female travelers thinking of taking a trip to Honduras.
- If you’re the sort of person who prefers to be around people to chat with, head to the Bay Islands. This is the safest area of Honduras and this is also the place where you are going to find a lot of other travelers. It’s perfect for sharing travel stories, trips and maybe even making a travel buddy or two.
- Other ways to meet fellow travelers – and feel safer – involve joining a tour. They can even help take you across other Central American countries on your travels, too.
- If not, plan everything in advance. Leave fewer things to chance and risk. This will definitely help not just your peace of mind but will help you FEEL and BE safer.
- Check in and let people know your plans. Whether that’s with friends and family back home, or with accommodation staff, or both. Let people know where you are. Somebody knowing where you are is much better for your safety than nobody knowing where you are.
- Honduras has a macho society. Be aware of how women are perceived, and their role in the male-dominated world of this country. This doesn’t necessarily mean that women are more threatened, just that you might have to be a bit more aware and assertive.
- It’s not a good idea to go out to bars and clubs by yourself. You’ll get the wrong attention. Go with a male friend or go out with a group of people.
- Dress modestly and cover up to avoid unwanted attention. Anything that shows too much is going to attract too much attention probably. It’s best to be as incognito as possible. Blend in.
- Catcalling definitely happens in Honduras. Don’t make a big deal about it. It will probably cause more stress than you’ll want. The best course of action is just to ignore it and walk on, but involve someone else if the harassment continues.
- Be aware that Honduran women are oppressed by the government. Abortion is completely illegal (having been recently re-criminalized). There’s very little in terms of gender equality. The opposite in fact.
Honduras may sound scary, but if you take into account the advice of locals, plan ahead, and use your common sense, Honduras will open up to you as a solo female traveler. Honduran women face daily struggles. Sexual violence and oppression are frequent tragedies here.
But if you meet the local ladies and learn about their lives you’re going to have a VERY enriching experience on your hands. There’s a lot to learn about Honduras that goes beyond gangs and beaches. It’s a country with a big heart. And Honduras can be a safe place for solo female travelers, but we’d only recommend it after some solo travel experience.
More on Safety in Honduras
We’ve covered the main safety concerns already, but there are a few more things to know. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Honduras.
Is Honduras safe to travel for families?
In certain areas, yes – Honduras is safe to travel for families.
Take the Bay Islands, for example. You’ll be able to travel around here with relative ease. Especially through a tour company.
And this area is great for children. Your little ones get to see the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. And that is pretty cool.
La Ceiba on the northern coast, with mountains, jungles, and beaches, is a chilled and adventurous area to explore. Plus there’s Copan: the ancient Mayan archaeological site, complete with amazing sculptures. This is a pretty safe area to visit.
Honduras, in general, is open and welcoming to children.
We don’t want to recommend traveling to the rest of Honduras with your family. Of course, you can book a local tour that can look after your safety during your trip, but make sure your research leaves you feeling absolutely confident in the reliability of the tour you choose.
You’ll also have to take care that your children don’t stay in the sun for too long. It can get SUPER hot in Honduras. That means suncream, sun-hats, and limiting time in the sun.
Is it safe to drive in Honduras?
Nope. Not really. It’s not very safe to drive in Honduras.
Locals drive at crazy speeds on the highways, there are random toll roads that make the cost high (but if you don’t take them, alternative routes are often not paved), and there are animals on the road. We’d classify it as generally hazardous.
If you’re not on a highway you’ll probably need a 4×4. It’s pretty extreme. And watch out for bad road conditions after heavy rain.
You should ask locals on the best routes to take to any given place. Sat Navs might not always tell you the best route.
And there are roads that have higher levels of attacks, including carjacking. From Limones to La Union, from Gualaco to San Esteban, and from La Esperanza to Gracias… These routes can be dangerous. All of these are in Santa Barbara Department, which also sees hijackings around Tela, La Ceiba, and El Progreso as well as Trujillo.
Don’t drive after dark. Please.
Honestly? It’s just better to have a local driver drive you around. Don’t put yourself through that stress.
Is Uber safe in Honduras?
There is NO Uber in Honduras.
For now, there are 15,000 taxis who want your attention. So…
Are taxis safe in Honduras?
Taxis are all over the place in Honduras. And they’re… generally safe.
Radio taxis are always a better option than hailing one off the street. Get your accommodation to either recommend a good company or just book one for you.
If you do get one in the street, ensure that you tell the taxi driver that you don’t want to share the taxi. This is when things can get sketchy. Just in case, that’s “No quiero compartir el taxi.”
You will have to agree on a price before you get in. And taxi drivers probably won’t have enough change to cover a big bill, so carry small denominations.
At nighttime, you should really get a taxi. There are taxi ranks in a lot of locations.
Is public transportation in Honduras safe?
Well… Public transportation can be a little tricky in Honduras, and it’s not always safe.
The public buses consist of the good old chicken bus. They’re old U.S. school buses that are poorly maintained, and overcrowded. Certain routes that these take have been the target of armed attacks.
But travelers DO take these buses. They’re fairly easy to use, but be aware of the risks.
City buses travel around the cities and towns themselves. They are “taxed” by gangs. Sometimes the drivers are assaulted.
There are private coach services that connect cities and towns that are usually more maintained and more comfortable than the chicken buses.
These are pretty safe. They’re run by private companies, obviously, and are more expensive than public buses. You basically pay for safety, but better safe than sorry we’d say.
There are also passenger ferries if you want to go to the Bay Islands. You can catch a ferry from the mainland at La Ceiba to either Utila or Roatan. A ferry also runs between Trujillo and Guanaja.
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Is the food in Honduras safe?
The food in Honduras is super tasty. On the Caribbean coast, there are plenty of delicious dishes to sample, with tortillas and things like refried beans served up with every meal. One example: tajadas (fried plantains, topped with cabbage and served with ground beef).
It’s a mix of European, indigenous and Caribbean influence, and you’ll love it. Here’s how to not get ill whilst trying local delights.
- Using some Spanish will get you pretty far. Just order something at any restaurant using the words plato típico – this just means refried beans, rice, a bit of cheese, plantains and some tortillas. Simple and tasty.
- Ask locals where’s good to eat. Where you can go to get some REAL local food. Someone is bound to know somewhere that’s amazing.
- If you’ve got no locals to ask, just use your eyes. Look and see where locals are eating. If a restaurant or eatery of any sort looks busy, that’s probably because it’s good, both in terms of taste and not making you ill.
- Don’t eat at tourist traps. You’ll most likely get watered-down versions of Honduran food and Western stuff. Chances are it wasn’t cooked with too much care.
- There’s a lot of fresh fish in places like Tela and Roatan, and you should definitely try it. Ask what’s been caught that morning. Basically, you’ll want fresh fish. There are things like ceviche, which is raw fish, so you just need to make sure that this really IS fresh and that where you’re eating it can be trusted in terms of hygiene.
- Steer clear of anything that you can’t peel yourself. You don’t know how clean the person’s hands are who’s been peeling and chopping the fruit. So do it yourself. You can get LOADS of fresh fruit at the markets – just make sure you WASH it before you eat it.
- Don’t go TOO in on the food when you first arrive, especially if you get ill from food quite easily. The flavors, spices and portion sizes here might slap you down on the toilet for the first few days of your trip. So… Take it easy! At least at first.
- And last – but definitely not least – is the old classic: WASH YOUR HANDS. It’s simple. You don’t know how grubby your hands are getting before you eat your lunch or dinner so just wash them. Save yourself from yourself.
- Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Honduran ingredients in Latin American Spanish.
Honduras isn’t different from lots of other great backpacking countries in that you’re never absolutely safe from food-borne illness. Use these tips to reduce the risk, but we also recommend that you pack some medication fit for a bad stomach.
Can you drink the water in Honduras?
It is honestly NOT safe to drink the water in Honduras.
Lots of travelers stick to bottled water, but please don’t. There’s a huge problem with single-use plastics in the Earth’s water and you don’t have any assurance whatsoever that your bottles will be properly disposed of, even if you’re careful to sort them in the proper bin.
We travel with a filter bottle, the GRAYL GEOPRESS or we just boil the water for a few minutes and store in a refillable water bottle. It’s better for the environment and ends up being more economical in the long run.
So no. Don’t drink the water without treating, and steer clear of ice cubes, too.
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Is Honduras safe to live?
Honduras has been through a lot in recent years.
Many Hondurans don’t have access to clean water and medical care. Over 60% of the population live below the poverty line.
Gangs play a big part of life here. There are an estimated 115,000 gang members. Everyone from children to adults are recruited.
Not only that, but the corruption in everything the low to the high levels of the politics here is standard. Politicians are manipulated by criminals or other politicians. It’s a massive issue.
All that in mind, there are places that expats do live in Honduras.
There is an expat community in Trujillo. This coastal city is more welcoming to gringos than other places and features beaches fringed by coral reefs and there’s a lot of new development happening here.
There’s also La Ceiba. This has a pretty good expat community too. It’s also a nice place since the ferry to Utila runs from here, making it easy to escape to the tropical paradise of the Bay Islands whenever you feel like it.
People live here with children, by themselves, as couples, some retire here, and some people have even started up their own hostels or other businesses.
Whilst many people DO live here, it doesn’t mean Honduras is safe to live. Living in Honduras means you’ll have to adjust your life to the way of life here. That means getting used to gangs, violence, and corruption.
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Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Honduras?
There are quite a few cute Airbnbs in Honduras, and as long as you stay in one of the safer neighborhoods, we’d say that renting an Airbnb is perfectly safe. Make sure to check the reviews from previous travellers to check for any problems during their stay. Don’t open the door for anyone, unless you’re expecting a visit. This rule especially goes at night.
Is Honduras LGBTQ+ friendly?
We wouldn’t recommend members of the LGBTQ+ community to visit Honduras unless they’re prepared to keep any sort of affection behind closed doors. Honduras isn’t a gay-friendly country, however, there are some movements that are going in the right direction. Activist groups, like the Grupo Prisma, have formed that educate and inform the general public as well as fight the current rules against homosexual relationships.
FAQs on Honduras’ Safety
Planning a safe trip to Honduras can get quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on safety in Honduras.
So, is Honduras Safe?
It may not exactly be classed as safe, but Honduras shouldn’t be ignored. People here live in pretty supreme poverty – 60% of the population living in poverty really is a lot of people.
It pays to travel smart in Honduras – like ANYWHERE in the world. And when it comes to the extreme violence of Honduras, those very high figures come from gang violence. Gangs attacking other gangs. Or gangs attacking Honduran citizens for not paying “war tax”. The likelihood of you getting caught up in all that relies very much on you being somehow related to one of the gangs.
But you won’t be (in a Honduran gang, that is). There’s no reason to get mixed up with a gang in Honduras. Simple as that. Keeping yourself away from any situation to do with them will be a good way to keep yourself pretty much safe. So when it comes to safety in Honduras, we think you’ll generally be fine, especially in the Bay Islands. Honduran people are friendly and welcoming.
Don’t Forget your Honduras Travel Insurance
It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.
There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!
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Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀
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