If you are looking for the safest countries in Central America for a memorable trip with your partner, family, or friends, you’re in luck! In this guide, I will help you discover the top choices for your next vacation.
Central America is brimming with beautiful landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. It’s also home to some of the most stunning natural sights in the Americas. We’ve visited Costa Rica multiple times, and I can assure you that it’s an incredible destination with its natural and tropical wonders, volcanoes, and pristine beaches. Plus, it’s one of the safest countries in Central America to visit, so you can relax and enjoy your journey.
However, Costa Rica isn’t the only safe country in Central America. As you will see in this guide, there are other options that are worth exploring. That said, no matter where you choose to go, I highly recommend investing in the best travel insurance. Unforeseen incidents can happen in any destination, whether it’s related to health, lost luggage, civil liability, or the need for an early return.
We’ve been using Heymondo travel insurance for years, and their quick and professional responses have been a lifesaver for us on several occasions. For instance, during our trip to Costa Rica, I had food poisoning, and Heymondo’s support was really helpful. As a Capture the Atlas reader, you can even enjoy a Heymondo discount.
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Now, let’s explore the safest countries in Central America to visit. For this guide, we’ve taken our own travel experiences into account, as well as safety ratings from the Vision of Humanity statistics website. This website assesses each country’s security based on violent crimes in relation to its population. The countries receive scores on a scale of 1 to 5, with lower scores indicating higher safety levels. With this information in mind, let’s see which are the safest countries in Central America where you can travel with peace of mind.
1. Costa Rica, the safest country in Central America
♦ Overall score of 1.73/5
Costa Rica is considered the safest country in Central America. But that’s not the only good thing about Costa Rica. This country is one of the most beautiful destinations in Central America, featuring a rich landscape, history, and tradition.
If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, you’ll find a multitude of attractions to explore. You can start your journey by visiting the capital city, San José. This vibrant city is the perfect place to enjoy gastronomy, art, tradition, culture, and history. To get a head start on your San José experience, I recommend taking advantage of this free tour, which will provide you with a wonderful introduction to the city accompanied by a local guide.
If you are eager to delve deeper into the country’s natural beauty, Costa Rica offers numerous national parks, including Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its stunning beaches and scenic trails. To make the most of your visit, consider booking this excursion that allows you to fully enjoy the park’s diverse flora and fauna. Additionally, the Marino Ballena National Park is a must-see destination in Costa Rica, offering the opportunity to embark on a thrilling whale-watching tour.
Costa Rica offers a wealth of activities for travelers to enjoy with complete peace of mind, as it’s the safest country in Central America. However, I recommend securing travel insurance for Costa Rica to ensure complete protection against any unexpected issues or incidents.
If you want to know more about the best country to visit in Central America, you can check out our comprehensive guide on Costa Rica.
- Recommended accommodations:
When choosing where to stay in Costa Rica there are many options, but here are my favorite hotels:
2. Panama, one of the safest countries in Central America to travel
♦ Overall score of 1.94/5
Panama is undeniably one of the safest countries in Central America, and it offers much more than its world-famous canal.
You can start your journey by getting to know the capital, Panama City. Contrary to popular belief, it’s a modern city adorned with towering skyscrapers, museums, restaurants, shops, and more. To delve into its history and main attractions, you can join this free tour.
From Panama City, you can reach the San Blas Islands by taking this excursion. The contrast is truly remarkable, as you move from a bustling city to seaside villages with rustic wooden cabins. They have no electricity, Internet, or running water, adhering to the traditions of the indigenous Kuna people. I assure you that living like an authentic Kuna is an unforgettable experience and well worth the journey.
You can also visit Bocas del Toro, renowned for its stunning beaches. The main island, Colón, is where the capital, Bocas Town, is located. It serves as the departure point for many adventures, including an excursion to Playa Estrella and Isla Pájaros, as well as another exciting tour to Cayo Zapatilla and Cayo Coral. I assure you that these destinations are authentic tropical paradises that are really worth visiting.
Other captivating tourist destinations include the Barú Volcano, the tallest mountain in the country, and the Quetzal Trail in Baru Volcano National Park which travels through the jungle and tropical forest. This trail also connects Cerro Punta with Boquete, two charming towns located in the western highlands of Panama.
And don’t forget to visit the iconic Panama Canal. This artificial waterway spans about 50 miles and is steeped in history, including tales of pirates. I recommend taking this excursion to explore the Canal or joining this ship cruise to witness the Miraflores Locks, Pedro Miguel Locks, and the Bridge of the Americas.
For water enthusiasts, Coíba Island is the ideal destination for diving. And if you enjoy surfing, make sure to visit Santa Catalina. Panama offers tons of interesting places and a wide range of activities, all within a secure environment, making it not only one of the safest Central American countries to visit but also one of the safest countries in Latin America.
- Recommended accommodations:
3. Belize, another safe country in Central America to visit
♦ Overall score of 2.13/5
Belize is also one of the safest countries to visit in Central America, and although it is not the most touristy, it has many attractions to offer.
You can stay in Belize City, which is one of the most important cities in the country, although it often serves as a transit point for tourists since most excursions depart from here.
From Belize City, you can easily reach Caye Caulker, a genuine paradise for travelers and backpackers, offering numerous hotels and restaurants. Plus, this excursion departs from here, providing a comprehensive experience that includes visits to the seven most popular snorkeling spots within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
And if you love scuba diving, I recommend visiting the Great Blue Hole. This world-famous diving spot and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a giant sinkhole measuring nearly 1,050 feet in width and over 394 feet in depth, with an exceptionally rare marine biodiversity.
However, Belize has a lot more to offer; it’s also renowned for its impressive Mesoamerican ruins. Don’t miss out on exploring the Mayan ruins of Lamanai, which you can visit by taking this excursion from Belize City. Nearby, you can also head to the awe-inspiring pyramid temples of Altun Ha and marvel at the 52-foot-tall Temple of the Masonry Altars.
Another fascinating archaeological site is Xunantunich, a historical Mayan complex featuring more than 25 structures and ceremonial centers. I recommend taking this guided tour, but if you seek a more comprehensive experience, you can embark on this tour, which also includes a visit to the Actún, Tunichil, and Muknal caves. Here, sacred rituals such as sacrifices and bloodletting were performed, so it’s well worth going with a guide who can tell you the history of this place.
Belize is one of the best destinations in Latin America, especially if you have a deep appreciation for natural landscapes, wildlife, and history. Additionally, it ranks among the safest Central American countries, whether you’re traveling with family, as a couple, or with friends.
- Recommended accommodations:
Is Central America dangerous?
Central America is generally safe for travelers, with Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize standing out as the safest countries to visit in Central America. These countries offer a secure environment for tourists, thanks to their relatively low rates of crime and assault.
Nonetheless, as is the case on any trip, I recommend that you always keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially those of high value. You should also steer clear of areas that may be more prone to conflicts, especially at night.
We have traveled through Central America on several occasions, and I can assure you that we haven’t encountered security issues. People, in general, are incredibly friendly and always ready to assist tourists, so we never felt like we were in any danger.
That said, we personally always feel safer in rural areas than in large cities, especially at night, so I recommend avoiding the capitals after sunset, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
Tips for traveling safely in these Central American countries
The best advice I can give you for traveling through Central America is to use common sense. For instance, you should avoid putting yourself in risky situations, such as walking through non-touristy areas at night, especially in cities.
Trusting your intuition is equally important. If a stranger or a situation triggers your inner alarm, it’s not because you are overly cautious. Trust your gut and avoid unnecessary risks.
Despite ranking among the safest Central American countries, I recommend getting reliable travel insurance to cover any unexpected issues or incidents in any of these destinations. Even in safe places, theft can happen. Plus, unforeseen expenses like falling ill or a minor accident requiring medical attention can occur anywhere. It’s essential to have coverage for your luggage, civil liability, and other unforeseen events.
For years, we’ve used Heymondo Insurance, and we’ve been pleased with their service. During my Costa Rica trip, I experienced food poisoning, and Heymondo handled all medical expenses right from the beginning. You can find more instances of how they’ve assisted us in our HeyMondo review.
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I also recommend you not to carry too much cash, even in the safest Central American countries. Instead, you can choose one of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards.
For added security, consider using tracking devices like Airtags on your backpacks or suitcases. This way, you can keep tabs on their whereabouts, especially when you need to leave them in luggage storage.
Lastly, staying connected is a valuable asset. Having Internet access while traveling allows you to check the safety of your destination, locate the nearest police station, inform your loved ones of your whereabouts, and more. To stay connected, I highly recommend the Holafly eSIM and using our code to get a discount on Holafly.
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With this knowledge, you’re ready to explore the safest countries in Central America. If you’re interested in other safe travel options, take a look at our guide on the safest countries in South America.
If you have any questions or wish to share your experiences in these countries, please leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you!
Enjoy your trip!