This question comes up so often when you talk to travelers and backpackers in Central America, but not yet in Honduras… Having been born in Mexico City from basically European ancestors, I look every bit as a tourist in Honduras as any single one of you would, and having lived in this lovely country for over 21 years I can certainly provide some input on the subject… So, Is Honduras safe for tourists?
I arrived in Honduras in August of 1993, and immediately fell in love with the country (And a lovely Honduran lady who later became my wife). I lived in Copan Ruinas for a year and half, and then ended up in San Pedro Sula for about 7 years, before I finally made it out to La Ceiba, which is where I decided I wanted to live in. Upon arrival in Honduras, I realized that there was so much to do here, and yet so little information that most travelers would miss out on the myriads of lovely places, towns, national parks, beaches, etc that Honduras has to offer. That in mind, I dreamed up a business plan, and came up with the idea to create a travel guide that would provide tourists with information on where to go, what to do, what not to do, and how to get around this country. The travel guide was originally titled “Copan Tips”, but quickly became “Honduras Tips”. For almost 17 years, I had the perfect job, to travel throughout Honduras, finding the different treasures that it has to offer visitors, from near of afar lands that wish to discover the authentic feel of Central America, its friendly people, dense tropical jungles and lovely colonial towns. Ohhh and of course it’s unique Islands, both in the Caribbean and the Pacific! This was a dream job, but as everything, it got old, so after 17 years, I jumped on the opportunity to sell out when there was a buyer and moved on to my next dream, a bed and breakfast in the lovely property that my wife and I purchased in 1999 on the banks of the Cangrejal River, across from Pico Bonito National Park, just outside of la Ceiba. So if I am trying to answer the question about whether Honduras is safe for tourists or not, I believe that I am qualified to answer it!
After 21 years in Honduras, I can truly state that the average Honduran is a friendly, peaceful and hardworking person. Yes like most of us, he will try to cut corners when he can, and he might even get a thrill if he breaks the law here and there, but he is by no means a murderer on the loose looking for “gringos” to murder or assault. As a general rule, Hondurans are friendly and trustworthy, and as a foreigner, you can actually approach them and ask for directions or advice, and they will honestly help you if they can.
Tourism was a booming business until the 2009 crisis when president Zelaya was ousted, and the international press got into its current Honduras bashing mode, which has been extremely successful in getting out the idea that Honduras is extremely dangerous. The honest truth is that we never had a civil war, like most of the press insisted we did, and the USA and other countries punished Honduras by issuing alarming travel warning practically declaring that your life is at risk if you visit the country.
The reality is that Honduras is safe for tourists, that each of those areas that are regularly visited by international travelers is safe and that the local community will actually look out for you. As in all big cities in the World, there are areas that are very unsafe, where gangs run the show and have a different set of laws, and this is the fact in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and some of the other big cities in the country. However, these are areas that offer nothing to the tourists, and are therefore not visited by any. I actually love to walk downtown in Tegucigalpa, in the Central Park, in front of the Cathedral and down the pedestrian street to the museums and theater building. Have I ever felt unsafe? Definitely no, threatened, hell no! Do I look like a local? Heck, I believe I probably look more like a tourist than you! So the general rule, when visiting Honduras is try to stay in groups, do not carry expensive equipment or jewelry that will make you stick out, use your common sense and ask the locals where you should not go. I have driven all over the country, by day and by night, stayed in the big cities and the small towns, hiked in the forests where there are few other tourists and can assure you that nothing has ever happened to me! Use your common sense and come on out and discover Honduras for yourself! Is Honduras safe for tourists? You bet it is!