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Central America solo trip ideas: hot places to visit right now

These are the best places to visit in Central America ALONE according to experienced solo travelers, digital nomads, and expats. Browse away and let me know which one you plan to visit!

???? Reader Mail: Hola, Trisha! I love your solo travel life! I have been following your journey since 2012 but I never really had the courage to travel by myself. 

I guess with everything that’s happening in my country, I want to leave for a little bit and breathe another air. I mostly want to learn Spanish and I thought that Central America is just a flight away from my home in San Francisco.

What are your best places to visit in Central America and what are your best tips for solo traveling there? I am really excited for this journey and I look forward to speaking with you regarding planning my travels.

Thank you for all that you do! Your blog is a gem!

-Annie H., San Francico, CA

Hola Annie!

I am glad you decided to travel to Central America! This is my favorite region in the world and I consider this area as my blog’s expertise and strong suit.

I did travel to Central America extensively but in this post, I asked fellow pro solo travelers to pitch in and give their suggestions on the best places for Central America solo travel.

However, I did not include Mexico here since it’s part of North America. I do, however, have a blog dedicated to Mexico content only which is called Mexico Insider. Please feel free to browse that if you want to include Mexico in your trip (well, you should!)

Anyway, here’s the list – I hope you let me know which destinations you pick. Good luck on your journey and if you need help in planning, you know where to find me!

Xx,
Trisha

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best places to visit in central america

⛔ Is Central America safe?

Not all Central America destinations are safe but it is possible to travel Central America solo. The places to visit in Central America alone in this list have brief descriptions about safety so make sure to read them carefully!

As always, I make sure that whatever you read on this blog is authentic and realistic so rest assured that I will always tell you if I feel safe in a destination or not.

But always remember that safety is objective and personal. What’s safe for you doesn’t mean it’s safe for me and vice-versa. We are all unique solo travelers in our own way so you are the only one who can deem a place safe.

best places to visit in central america

✨ Which is the best country for Central America solo travel?

This is a tough question but my favorite destinations in Central America solo travel are Cuba, Panama, and Nicaragua. I’ve had many great solo travel experiences in these 3 countries and I consider myself knowledgeable in these countries when it comes to traveling solo.

For sure, everything depends on what you want to do when you travel solo so browse away and find the right destination for your solo trip to Central America!

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???? Best places to visit in Central America

#1: El Valle de Anton, Panama

????️ by Sanne Wesselman of Spend Life Traveling

I would say all of Panama is a great solo travel destination, but I especially enjoyed the laid-back, friendly atmosphere in El Valle de Anton.

El Valle de Anton is a small town with a very unique setting: inside the second largest volcano crater in the world!

I took a bus from Panama City to El Valle de Anton, which takes about 2 hours. The buses are quite comfortable, safe, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation with fellow passengers.

People seem even friendlier in El Valle than in other parts of Panama. At the market I had great conversations with local artisans and in one of the cafes I made friends with a couple of locals who had lived in this town their whole lives.

And because El Valle de Anton, or Anton’s Valley in English, has become a popular travel destination, it’s also easy to meet other travelers here.

I arranged a cooking class with a local family which was such a nice way not only to cook a few Panamanian dishes, but also to get to know more locals, which I value even more when traveling alone.

All in all El Valle de Anton is a great escape from more hectic Panama City and a great destination to visit for Central America solo travel.

central america solo travel

Plan your trip to El Valle de Anton:

#2: San Ignacio, Belize

????️ by Melissa Smuzynski from Parenthood and Passports

San Ignacio, Belize is one of the best places to visit in Central America solo. Located in far western Belize, the town is ideal for solo travelers looking for budget lodging and adventure activities. The town has several hostels and various eco-lodges that are great for meeting other travelers.

I stayed in a jungle lodge just outside the town that had a lot of on-site activities and communal areas where everyone congregated in the mornings and evenings.

There is also a large weekend market in the town that is a lively place to meet people. The friendly vendors offered me samples of their fruits and other products and I danced in the street with crowds of locals who welcomed me into their circle.

One of the best things about the town is that it makes for a great base location for the many things to do in San Ignacio. The jungle and forest reserve near the town boasts waterfalls, caves, and Mayan ruins that are fun and educational to explore.

Overall, I felt safe in San Ignacio and met a lot of backpackers traveling alone. However, many of the attractions in the surrounding area are quite remote and the roads leading to them aren’t in great condition.

The safest way to explore these isolated attractions as a solo traveler is on a guided tour. You not only get to meet others on tours to places like ATM Cave or the Caracol and Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, but you don’t have to worry about getting stranded alone in a remote location.

best places to visit in central america

#3: Viñales, Cuba

????️ by Babs from Mums on FlipFlops

If you’re looking for the best solo travel destinations in Central America, I can definitely recommend Viñales in Cuba.

Viñales is a small village in western Cuba. While it is one of the touristic hotspots, it feels like stepping back in time and into everyday Cuban life. Tourists don’t interfere with the way things go, they just blend in.

Cuba in general is a great destination for solo travelers because it is very safe. Viñales is not any different. The village consists of one main road with the restaurants and a shop (the only place in Cuba where I’ve found an actual shop!) and then a couple of dirt road side streets. I’ve walked around at all times of the day and night and I’ve never felt uncomfortable.

The Cubans are extremely friendly and very welcoming to foreigners. They will go above and beyond to help. The best way to travel in Cuba is by staying in a casa particular.

You’re likely to meet other travelers as most casas offer 2 rooms. And you’ll become a family member of the host in no time. I still refer to one particular casa as ‘My Cuban Family’ and we still keep in touch, even 2 years later!

best places to visit in central america

#4: San Juan, Nicaragua

????️ by Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far

Nicaragua may sound intimidating but is actually a pretty safe country for solo travelers. I’d personally recommend San Juan del Sur, a budget-friendly beach town with a quiet and slow atmosphere.

It’s never been a target for violence, and overall I felt a really peaceful vibe while the locals are generally welcoming of tourists. I also walked around the main part of San Juan del Sur after sundown and it felt quite safe, especially because there were many restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, although I would suggest avoiding the outskirts of town.

Plus, you might notice signs warning you not to go to the beach at night, quite literally saying that “YOU WILL GET ROBBED”. This is golden advice that you absolutely should heed! All in all, I was always aware of my belongings and stuck to tourist trails while exploring the town, and experienced no safety issues.

There are lots of fun things to do in San Juan but I personally enjoyed staying at Rapture Surf Camp for a couple of nights and learning to surf. It’s such a lovely place with room options including dorms, tents, or regular AC-ed rooms. More importantly, it has great food and a fantastic community, making it really easy to meet new people!

Central America Solo Travel

#5: Utila, Honduras

????️ by Jill from Jill On Journey

Before I got to Honduras, I had heard both security warnings by travelers who had been there long ago, as well as backpackers raving about this authentic place. After leaving aside my insecurity, I decided that I need to experience it by myself and headed to the small island of Utila.

And I was instantly caught by the relaxed charm of this gem. As I walked along the main road after getting off the ferry, I got a flashback of an infamous Thai island.

The road was filled with diving schools, bars, and backpackers. I knew quickly that I’d love this place. And the next few days only strengthened my initial feeling.

Every day I went diving and hung out with fellow travelers, divers, and locals. On such a tiny island with one main road and no cars allowed you get to know the place and the people fast.

And after a calm day, in the evenings the handful of restaurants and bars filled quickly. So it was super easy to meet other travelers and make new friends.

I didn’t feel unsafe once. Even when I slept in a dorm room where we couldn’t lock the room, everyone was really calm. “No worries, this place is totally safe”, everyone told us. So I left all my belongings in a keyless room in the country I was so uncertain about.

I still love thinking back on my time in Utila and I’m still in contact with some of the friends I met there. And I highly recommend any traveler in Central America not to skip Honduras. Especially in Utila, you’ll fall in love with this country.

central america solo travel

#6: San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

????️ by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures

My favorite location for solo travel in Central America is San Pedro La Laguna, or just San Pedro, located along the coast of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

Out of all the different stops on my backpacking Guatemala itinerary, San Pedro stan

ds out to me as the location where I felt very at home as a solo traveler.

The town offers a bit of everything I love about solo travel, including nature and hiking opportunities, a variety of social hostels and cafes, and cultural experiences like local markets and Spanish schools.

San Pedro is a popular town for backpackers and expats, many of who stay for extended periods of time, and the locals are very kind towards foreigners so I felt particularly safe there as a solo traveler.

The highlight of my time in San Pedro was hiking to the top of Volcan San Pedro, a dormant volcano that overlooks the town, Lake Atitlan, and neighboring volcanoes that Guatemala is famous for.

I would love to return to San Pedro to spend time at one of the local-run Spanish language schools, which focus on personalized learning experiences. It makes San Pedro a perfect pit stop before continuing solo travel to other Spanish-speaking countries in Central America.

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#7: Corn Islands, Nicaragua

????️ by Carley from Home to Havana

Long a favorite Central American destination with backpackers and surfers, the word is starting to get out about the islands known as the Islas de Maiz – the Corn Islands – off the coast of Nicaragua.

Some of the best Caribbean islands off the beaten path, Big Corn and Little Corn are well worth visiting for solo travelers in Central America.

You’ll feel the laidback vibe of the islands as soon as you step off the plane, though if you’re looking to kick back and drop off the grid, I recommend skipping Big Corn and heading directly to Little Corn.

As a solo traveler, I immediately fell in love with the friendly atmosphere of both locals and other travelers on Little Corn. No major resorts or hotel chains here; Little Corn is just laidback hostels and cabanas on the beach with hammocks, perfect for your Central America solo travel.

Little Corn is tiny, and there are no cars on the island, so everything is compact and easy to get to, making it easier to meet other travelers.

The Corn Islands are easily accessible by daily flights from Managua, Nicaragua to the airport on Big Corn. To reach Little Corn, take a half-hour boat ride, available regularly from the municipal dock.

Central America Tours

#8: Antigua, Guatemala

????️ by Taylor Deer from Brown Eyed Flower Child

There is something special about doing a solo trip. I love being able to experience and take in a destination all to myself. As much as I enjoy sharing my adventures with another person, solo trips have allowed me to do everything and anything I ever wanted during my travels.

From my personal experiences, it has also opened me up to meeting new people that I probably wouldn’t have met if I were with friends or family.

One of my favorite solo trips was to Guatemala! I loved spending time in the beautiful city of Antigua where I got to take in all the beautiful architecture and scenery, enjoy a hike with a bunch of awesome strangers and savor authentic food that was recommended by locals! There are endless activities for everyone to enjoy if you’re pondering on what to do in Antigua, Guatemala.

Antigua boasts a major expat community, making it a safe and great solo trip destination. Even though there is crime everywhere in the world if you stay within the city walls, don’t go out by yourself at night or show off your valuables, you will be completely fine by yourself in Antigua.

The people of Antigua are friendly and willing to help you get around. In addition, most hotels, hostels, and accommodations are located within a protected wall with security.

I also woke up early one morning and brought my tripod out to take photos of myself in Antigua. All of my belongings remained safe!

Overall, I loved how walkable Antigua was and that there were plenty of ways to meet people; from having fun at rooftop bars to participating in the Volcan Acatenango hike.

The moment I arrived in Antigua, I immediately fell in love with the city and couldn’t wait to get out there and explore all that it had to offer.

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to explore the food scene, I always enjoy getting restaurant recommendations from locals and that is just what I did.

People were excited to give me their favorite spots that I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I didn’t ask. I also ended up meeting a new friend from the Netherlands during breakfast at Café Sky, which is a great rooftop bar and restaurant.

We found out that we were going to be doing the Volcan Acatenango hike together on the same day, with the same company. The two of us made a lot of great memories on that hike and met a lot of other wonderful people from around the world.

No matter what you choose to do during your time in Antigua, Guatemala, you will not have a difficult time having fun during your solo trip. I cannot wait to get back in the future!

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#9: Havana, Cuba

????️ by John from Your Destination is Everywhere

I traveled solo to Cuba in the summer of 2020, after graduating from high school. Although many of my friends thought I was crazy for going to Cuba alone since it’s not a well-known tourist destination, it turned out to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve visited.

I spent 11 days exploring Cuba’s capital city, Havana. It is vibrant and bustling. The locals here were so friendly to me and almost everyone seemed so happy to have a conservation with me.

I made it a goal of mine to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people on this trip, and I ended up making some local friends that I still keep in touch with to this day.

I never once felt unsafe, although there were moments of awkwardness and confusion. Although I never experienced this myself, the hostel staff warned us that harassment is pretty common here.

I stayed in a hostel for the first 2 nights before switching to “casa” for the rest of the trip. Casa is essentially a local guest house. Not only that they are affordable, but staying there allows you to meet the locals and experience their ways of life.

Everyone was so patient with my limited Spanish and one of them even gave me a free walking tour of the city! Overall, I think Havana is an amazing solo travel destination with its beautiful architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals.

central america solo travel

#10:Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

????️ by Katie of Katie Caf Travel

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is known as the deepest lake in Central America. Lake Atitlan was formed by volcanic activity 84,000 years ago – Looking out from the shore, you can see endless mountains rimming the horizon of the lake which are actually all active volcanoes!

I had the honor of solo traveling to this gorgeous location in winter 2022 and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. In addition to the magical landscape, Lake Atitlan is the perfect place for a solo traveler because of Guatemala’s fantastic hostel culture.

In all the main towns on Lake Atitlan you can find luxurious hostels at every budget. If you’re a Digital Nomad, like I am, I stayed at the Selina in the town of Panajachel so that I could have consistent wifi. If you’re there to party, I recommend Free Cerveza, which has a perfect view of the lake in the town of Santa Cruz.

All of the hotels/hostels in the town of San Marcos are known for catering to a spiritual crowd, and there is always a yoga retreat going on somewhere.

Out of all of my travels, Guatemala was the most welcoming country for solo travelers. There are endless social opportunities, and most tourists travel by shared shuttles and take group tours. It would be difficult to leave Guatemala without making at least one friend!

places to visit in central america

#11: Lake Yojoa, Honduras

????️ by Wes Ellery from Walk About Wes

Lake Yojoa, situated in the northwest of the country, is the largest lake in Honduras. Honduras is one of the least visited countries in Central America and is often cited as the most dangerous.

I wanted to experience the country for myself and make my own opinion. My favorite destination in the country was Lake Yojoa, a playground for its middle classes.

During my 3 night stay, I never met a foreigner outside of my hostel. This is a place really off the beaten path, and I feel privileged that I was able to visit it. It’s ideal for a solo traveler as the locals are happy to engage with you and find out why you chose to visit their country.

One afternoon I was sitting next to the lake and a group of 3 guys arrived on dirt bikes. Straight away they approached me, and in their broken English said they saw me walking here and wanted to talk to me.

They had lived in the area their whole lives and the main guy talking wanted to improve his English (his English was far better than my Spanish!).

They insisted I drink a beer with them, and they were fascinated to know about my experience in their country and Lake Yojoa. They hoped I was enjoying myself and offered me to join them for dinner in town. This was typical of the welcome I received in Lake Yojoa.

In conclusion, Lake Yojoa was a safe place to visit and broke my preconceptions of safety in the country.

best places to visit in central america

#12: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

????️ by Lori Sorrentino from Travlin Mad

One of the very first times that I traveled by myself was to the remote rainforest of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. I had wanted to do a solo adventure and the pristine rainforest of the Osa seemed to fill the bill.
Upon arriving at the airport in Puerto Jimenez on the Osa, I felt just a bit confused, as in which way from here?

I asked directions to my pick-up point for my lodge, and was met with smiles, a little English, and warm greetings. One gentleman actually walked with me about half a block while pointing to where I needed to go.

So it was true. The Costa Ricans are a very friendly people and go out of their way to help and make you feel welcome. As I moved around between towns and lodges, I met travelers from other countries, usually over dinner or on a hike, some of whom I am in contact with to this day.

But I never felt that I needed to be with others. With my rudimentary Spanish it was easy to have conversations with Costa Ricans.

Whether with locals or other travelers, I never felt unsafe or alone on this trip, and made some lifetime friends on that first trip, and have gone back again and again.

best places to visit in central america

#13: Panama City, Panama

????️ by Becky Schaefer of Becksplore Travel

Panama City was the first destination that I had traveled to in Latin America, so I didn’t really know what to expect and how safe I would feel traveling around Panama solo.

But within probably my first half an hour of walking around the city, a local had started talking to me on the street to wish me a great stay in Panama, which already made me feel really welcome in Panama. In general, all the locals I talked to were super friendly!

While I felt quite safe in Panama City, I noticed quite the difference between walking outside with people I had met in the hostel with a guy present vs. walking outside with another girl. I did feel uncomfortable once or twice as I experienced some catcalling.

Other than that I have not had any bad experiences traveling solo in Panama City. It was also really easy to travel around the city by Uber. I was advised by the hostel to take Ubers rather than taxis because of safety, but I had also taken taxis alone once or twice, as I had no internet on my phone to call an Uber, which felt completely fine.

What I loved about traveling solo in Panama City, is that I met a lot of other solo travelers, which made it really easy to meet new people. The hostels I stayed in were great and very social as well.

There is a lot to do in the city and I think it is a great destination for solo travelers. Especially if it is your first time in Central America!

central america solo travel

#14: San Blas, Panama

????️ by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

One of the best places to visit in Central America is San Blas Islands in Panama. This hidden gem is usually overlooked by travelers because of its remote location, making this an ideal vacation spot.

There are actually 365 islands in San Blas, with a few being inhabited, and none of them being crowded.

The San Blas Islands are located in the Kuna region of Panama. Since this region is autonomous, you’ll need your passport to enter. I booked transportation via car and then a boat to get to the islands.

I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the Kuna people. Whether I was sharing a drink with them on the beach or learning about their history or culture.

I was also able to visit a number of other islands which offered different experiences. Snorkeling is available on most islands and features hundreds of types of fish, lobsters, and turtles.

Visiting San Blas Islands was a great place to unwind, disconnect from society and reconnect with breathtaking nature.

central america solo travel

#15: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

????️ by Jessica Schmit from Uprooted Traveler

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, with its safe atmosphere and endless activities, is the perfect destination for a solo traveler. Located on the Pacific coastline and offering both gorgeous white sand beaches and lush rainforests, it’s no surprise that there are tons of awesome things to do in Manuel Antonio, regardless of whether you’re flying solo or not.

Because it’s a well-trodden backpacking destination, there are lots of affordable accommodations that have a social atmosphere to meet other travelers, like Millenium Hostels, or spaces that are digital-nomad friendly, like Selina Manuel Antonio.

While the town itself is fairly small, there are plenty of beach bars within walking distance if you’re staying along its main drag.

That being said, there are generally no sidewalks and the windy and hilly roads made me nervous to walk alone late at night- so just be mindful of cars!

Of all the places I visited in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio had the most aggressive buskers, although they usually get the hint with a firm no.

Other than that, though, I found the locals to be incredibly friendly towards visitors- locals that I met out and about were constantly providing me with beach recommendations, the best sunset spots, and other insider tips and tricks.

central america solo travel

#16: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

by Indranil from Paradise Catchers

Fifteen minutes to the Santa Teresa beach town, it was getting dark. This last stretch of the road was unpaved and bumpy. I was wondering if I will find many people there, as the town lies at a remote corner of the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica.

As I took the last turn, the deserted approach road turned into a bustling street. It ran between a line of restaurants on one side and the Pacific on the other.

The visitors were a diverse lot with the groups of surfing enthusiasts or the solo travelers finding their little space for some remote work or a coffee at the co-working spaces or cafes.

Life during the day revolved around the beaches and I never felt alone in the solo buzzing street as the night falls.

The locals I met during the stay, were the most cosmopolitan in all of Costa Rica. My Argentinian boutique hotel owner spoke about how the town had changed over her thirty years of living there.

I shared my travel photos with the Cuban cook at a fusion restaurant as he spoke about his ancestors in Havana.

While yoga and surfing are two primary activities that Santa Teresa is known for, I chose the former. As a solo traveler, I would just worry about what I wanted in this little town, torn between calmness and adrenaline rush.

best places to visit in central america

✈️ Ready for your trip to Central America? This blog thrives on reader questions so feel free to ask questions about the best places to visit in Central America by using the comment box below. You can also sign up for 1-on-1 coaching with me if you need more help!

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Lee

Thursday 21st of July 2022

Great tips here, I hope to visit as many as possible on my next trip to this region.

Taylor

Saturday 16th of July 2022

This is an amazing article! Central America holds a special place in my heart. I love Guatemala, Costa Rica and Belize for solo travel in Central America, but I’d really like to do Panama and El Salvador next! These experiences have inspired me. :)