Looking to travel to Costa Rica or Honduras for vacation but not sure which is best? If so, this article is for you! 

Costa Rica is known for its breathtaking landscape, cultural richness, and beautiful natural attractions. Honduras is known for its captivating Ancient Mayan civilizations, natural beauty, and abundance of wildlife.

So, which place is better for vacation? I’ve personally visited both places and found that they share a few similarities such as having lush rainforests and comforting Central American cuisine. 

But they have key differences that set them apart.

Keep reading to learn the key differences in beaches, climate, cost, nightlife, and more between Costa Rica and Honduras! 

This guide will help you decide where to vacation next by giving you the key attributes of these two Central American countries.

costa rica and honduras
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Costa Rica vs Honduras: A Quick Comparison


Costa Rica



Lush rainforests, Steep mountains, golden sand beaches, active volcanoes

Mountainous rainforests, coastal lowlands, white sand beaches

Tourist Activities

Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Cafe Britt Coffee Plantation Tour

Ancient Mayan city of Copan, West Bay Beach, Gumbalimba Park, Roatan Chocolate Factory


Manuel Antonio Beach, Hermosa Beach, Playa Tamarindo

West Bay Beach, Chepes Beach, Tela Bay


Traditional Central American Cuisine with indigenous, Spanish, and African influences

Central American Cuisine with Spanish, Mesoamerican, and Caribbean influences


Costs around $111 daily on average for one person

Costs Around $57 Daily On Average For One Person

What is Costa Rica known for?

Located in Central America, Costa Rica is a country with lush rainforests, volcanoes, steep mountains, and tropical beaches. It’s known for its striking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and abundance of natural attractions.

Whether you’re looking to hike volcanoes or lush rainforests with waterfalls, there is plenty of natural beauty to explore.

In addition, the country is home to a variety of picturesque beaches along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts that are ideal for swimming and watersports. 

Popular tourist activities in Costa Rica include ziplining, whitewater rafting in raging rivers, volcano hiking tours, and visiting hidden waterfalls.

costa rica

Throughout the rainforests in Costa Rica is an abundance of wildlife. You can tour national parks like the Tortuguero National Park or Manuel Antonio National Park which are home to koalas, diverse bird species, and tons of fascinating wildlife. 

If you’re a fan of Central American cuisine, you’ll absolutely love the cuisine in Costa Rica. 

Some must-try dishes if you plan on visiting include “Sopa de Pejibaye” which is a soup made of starchy palm fruit blended with cream and chicken stock! Other must-try dishes include patacones (mashed green plantains), ensalada palmito (palm heart salad), and platanos maduros (fried ripe plantains).

Similar to Honduras, the people of Costa Rican are friendly and hospitable. One of the best ways to visit Costa Rica is to immerse yourself in the culture by interacting with locals, participating in traditional festivals, and visiting San Jose Central Market.

San Jose Central Market is a lively market with vendors selling fresh produce, meat, coffee beans, clothing, and more! 

The nightlife in Costa Rica is lively as well, with many popular beachfront bars, live music venues, and relaxed lounges in Tamarindo. 

All in all, Costa Rica is an incredible vacation destination if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the culture, explore a truly remarkable landscape, and enjoy flavorful Central American cuisine.

What is Honduras known for?

Located between Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is a vibrant country in Central America. Honduras is known for its wealth of natural resources, breathtaking landscapes, and captivating Ancient Mayan ruins. 

From mountainous rainforests to coastal lowlands, Honduras offers a variety of beautiful natural attractions. You can tour through underground caves, go hiking in cloud forests, or go whitewater rafting if you’re looking for an adventure. 

For more information on the best things to do in Honduras, check out this 2 week itinerary.

What sets Honduras apart from Costa Rica is its fascinating ancient Mayan City of Copan, where you can go to view Ancient Mayan ruins built between 400 and 800 AD!

costa rica

Like Costa Rica, Honduras has an abundance of natural parks such as Pico Bonito National Park where you can go to hike through lush rainforests and enjoy the natural beauty.

There is also Gumbalimba Park which has swimming pools, interactive animal exhibits, and play areas making it a great spot to take kids. 

Honduras also has beautiful white sand beaches with calm waters that are ideal for swimming or snorkeling.

The majority of the beaches are located in Roatan, which has coral reefs that are part of the second-largest barrier system in the world! If you’re looking to snorkel, West Bay Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in Honduras. 

Honduran cuisine includes a blend of Spanish, and Caribbean influences and features many fresh seafood dishes. Some must-try dishes in Honduras include carne asada and baleadas (flour tortilla filled with refried beans, cheese, and meat), plátanos fritos (fried plantains), and sopa de caracol (conch soup). 

Akin to Costa Rica, the people of Honduras are kind and hospitable. Many special celebrations including festivals, street parades, carnivals, and musical performances are held throughout the year where you can experience the culture firsthand. 

While Honduras is not known for its nightlife, major cities like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula have popular bars, clubs, and live music venues where you can enjoy a night out.

Overall, Honduras is an excellent destination that offers culturally rich experiences, and top-notch hiking and snorkeling opportunities.

Which place has the best beaches?

Both Costa Rica and Honduras are home to a variety of beautiful tropical beaches where you can go to swim. Costa Rica offers lush rainforest-fringed beaches, whereas Honduras has beaches with vibrant coral reefs.

One of Costa Rica’s most stunning beaches is Manuel Antonio Beach, a golden-sand beach located in Manuel Antonio National Park.

People go to this beach to surf, attend festivals, or take a swim after exploring the lush rainforest. 

costa rica beach

Jaco Beach is another popular beach in Costa Rica, which has restaurants, shops, beach bars, and resorts spanning across the shore.

On the other hand, Honduras beaches are known for their white sand beaches with crystal clear waters making them great for snorkeling.

A popular beach in Honduras is West Bay Beach, located in the city of Roatan, which is home to an abundance of vibrant coral reefs. Alongside the shore are beachfront resorts, spas, gift shops, and restaurants as well. 

Here are some of the most notable beaches in Costa Rica.

  • Playa Tortuguero
  • Playa Negra
  • Playa Salsa Brava
  • Playa Chiquita
  • Playa Punta Uva

These are some of the most notable beaches in Honduras.

  • West Bay Beach
  • Tabyana Beach
  • Half Moon Bay Beach
  • Camp Bay Beach
  • Trujillo Beach

Things To Do In Costa Rica

Whether you’re looking to hike through lush rainforests, interact with wildlife, or go surfing on a golden sand beach, Costa Rica has something for you. 

The Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. This national park has a multitude of walking trails, lush rainforests, hidden waterfalls, and golden beaches ideal for surfing. It’s also home to monkeys, sloths, and diverse bird species that you can observe while hiking!  

costa rica

Another must-visit destination in Costa Rica is the Arenal Volcano, a large active volcano where tours are held.

You can hike through the Las Colados trail, soak in natural hot springs, go ziplining through the canopy, or go horseback riding! The Las Colados trail is the “lava flow trail” which is a 1.2-mile trail that marks the location of the 1992 eruption and overlooks the volcano. 

Since Costa Rica is known for producing some of the world’s most flavorful Arabica coffee beans, you won’t want to miss out on going on a coffee tour. The Britt Coffee Tour is a popular 90-minute coffee tour that’ll take you through their large coffee plantation and roastery while educating you on sustainability practices!

If you’re looking to enjoy a blend of beaches, nightlife, and cuisine, staying in the town of Tamarindo is a good idea.

Tamarindo has stunning golden sand beaches, national parks, watersport activities, gyms, and breweries. In Tamarindo, there’s a moonlight night market, held from 6 PM to 9 PM every Thursday, that features live musical performances, DJs, fire dancers, and clowns for kids. 

Costa Rica also has a variety of unique museums to explore, including the National Museum, Stamp Museum, Children’s Museum, and Costa Rican Art Museum. 

Here is a list of some of the most popular tourist activities in Costa Rica.

  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Coffee Farm Tour
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • La Fortuna Waterfall
  • National Museum of Costa Rica
  • National Theater of Costa Rica
  • Tamarindo Moonlight Night Market
  • Corcovado National Park

Things To Do In Honduras

Honduras’s unique landscape, history, and abundance of wildlife make it an excellent place to visit. Whether you’re looking to explore Ancient Mayan ruins or relax on a white-sand beach, there’s something for everyone in Honduras. 

In Western Honduras, you can visit the ancient Mayan city of Copan, which is home to the Copan ruins. The Copan ruins are fascinating ancient ruins built between 400 and 800 AD that are a must-see attraction for anyone visiting.

Throughout Copan, there are hieroglyphic stairways, impressive plazas, and ancient carvings that provide a glimpse into the rich history of the Mayan civilization.

ancient mayan ruins

Similar to Costa Rica, Honduras is home to multiple national parks and museums. Gumbalimba Park is a national park that has a botanical garden, swimming pools, and an animal preserve that’s home to the white-faced Capuchin monkey, This is a great place to take kids. 

The two most popular islands in Honduras are Roatán and Utila. Roatán is home to the West Bay Beach, Gumbalimba Park, botanical gardens, monkey sanctuary, and more. Utila, on the other hand, is slightly less developed but offers ample snorkeling and diving opportunities. 

Check out the best things to do in Utila for a full list of activities.

If you’re looking to snorkel, West Bay Beach in Roatán is one of the best spots to go.

Here are some of the most notable tourist activities in Honduras.

  • Copán Ancient City and Ruins
  • Gumbalimba Park
  • Lancetilla Botanical Garden
  • AJ’s Monkeys and Sloths Wildlife Park
  • West Bay Beach
  • Roatán Island
  • Utila Island
  • Pico Bonito National Park
  • Lago de Yojoa
  • Museum for National Identity 

How does the climate differ?

Both Costa Rica and Honduras have a tropical climate with hot and humid weather throughout the year. The average temperature in Costa Rica ranges from 75 F to 90 F, whereas the average temperature in Honduras ranges from 75 F to 93 F

The dry season in Costa Rica runs from December to April, whereas the wet season occurs from May to November. Similarly, the dry season in Honduras runs from November to April, whereas the wet season runs from May to October. 


In Costa Rica, the official currency is the Costa Rican Colon (CRC). The conversion rate of USD to the Costa Rica Colon is: 1 Costa Rican Colon = 0.0019 USD

In Honduras, the official currency is the Honduran lempira. The conversion rate of USD to the Honduran lempira is: 1 Honduran lempira = 0.041 USD. Although the USD is accepted widely throughout both places, you should convert dollars to their currency for tips and emergency situations. 


The official language of both Costa Rica and Honduras is Spanish. English is also widely spoken in hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas.

Which place has the better cuisine?

Both Costa Rica and Honduras have delicious traditional food with locally sourced ingredients. Costa Rican cuisine consists of traditional Central American cuisine with mild flavors and fresh local ingredients.

One of the most popular Costa Rican dishes is “gallo pinto,” a combination of rice and beans, often served with eggs, cheese, and plantains. Other popular dishes include palmito (palm heart salad) and sopa de pejibaye (palm fruit soup).  

In contrast, Honduran cuisine showcases a fusion of Mesoamerican, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. A popular Honduran dish is “baleada,” a flour tortilla filled with beans, cheese, and other scrambled eggs, avocado, or meat. Other popular dishes include pupusas, plantain chips, chicharrones, and carne asada.

Here are some popular dishes in Costa Rica.

  • Gallo Pinto: A common traditional breakfast dish made of rice and beans.
  • Sopa de Pejibaye: A comforting soup made with creamed palm fruit, chicken stock, onion, garlic, and sweet peppers.
  • Platanos Maduros: Fried ripe yellow plantains that are often served as an appetizer.
  • Casado: A plate of rice, beans, meat, salad, and fried plantains.
  • Olla De Carne: A healthy beef and vegetable stew made with beef short ribs and fresh vegetables.
  • Arroz con Camarones y Pollo: Dish of rice with shrimp, chicken and vegetables.
  • Rosquillas: Traditional cornmeal biscuits with cheese or sour cream.
  • Tortilla de Queso: Cheese tortillas made out of cornmeal or wheat flour that are filled with cheese and cooked until golden brown.
refried beans and eggs

These are some of the most of the best dishes you’ll find in Honduras. 

  • Baleada: A wheat flour tortilla filled with refried beans, cheese, avocado, meat, or scrambled eggs.
  • Catrachas: Fried corn tortillas topped with cheese and refried red beans (similar to a tostada).
  • Sopa De Caracol: A hearty seafood soup made with conch, coconut milk, vegetables, and spices.
  • Carne Asada: Roasted beef marinated in flavorful spices and served with tortillas and traditional side dishes.
  • Platanos Fritos: Fried yellow plantains commonly served as a side dish.
  • Tamales: Steamed corn dough filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, or vegetables, wrapped in banana leaves.
  • Rondón: A hearty, rich seafood stew made with fish, shrimp, coconut milk, vegetables, and spices.


Honduras is generally much cheaper to travel to than Costa Rica. The average daily cost in Costa Rica is around $111 per person and only $57 in Honduras, it is approximately $57. However, there are a variety of ways you can enjoy traveling to Costa Rica on a budget. 


Both Costa Rica and Honduras have an abundance of nightlife hotspots, but Costa Rica has more to offer overall. 

In Costa Rica, one of the popular nightlife destinations is Tamarindo. This beach town hosts a moonlight night market every Thursday from 6:30 to 9:30 PM that features live DJs, musical performances, and more. It’s also home to multiple lively bars including Sharky’s Sports Bar. 

The capital city of San Jose in Costa Rica is also home to many popular bars such as Craic’s Irish Pub and The Jazz Cafe, Area City Bar, and more.

The nightlife in Honduras is not as abundant as Costa Rica but there are still plenty of spots to enjoy a night out. Some of the best nightlife spots are located in the capital city Tegucigalpa including Aura Club and La Ronda Bar. 


Costa Rica and Honduras are generally safe for travelers, especially in tourist areas. However, the US Department of State’s Travel Advisory states that you should exercise increased caution when visiting Costa Rica due to crime.

For Honduras, the US Department of State’s Travel Advisory states that you should reconsider traveling to Honduras due to crime. 

When To Visit: Costa Rica vs. Honduras

The best time to visit both Costa Rica and Honduras is during their dry seasons from April to December. However, the rainfall in Costa Rica varies primarily due to region rather than season.

The northwestern part of Costa Rica is the driest region, which includes Tamarindo and Guanacaste, where the majority of tourist activities are located. 

Which country does Costa Rica belong to?

Costa Rica is a country in Central America that’s an independent sovereign nation. 

Is Honduras considered part of the Caribbean?

Honduras is part of the Caribbean because it has a Caribbean coastline, but it is primarily regarded as a Central American country.

Which destination is better for families?

Costa Rica and Honduras are both exceptional vacations for a family trip with each offering a range of kid-friendly tourist attractions. 

In Costa Rica, families can visit Manuel Antonio National Park to zipline, go horseback riding, and observe fascinating wildlife including sloths and diverse bird species. There are also coffee plantation tours, chocolate factories, and volcano tours that are great spots to entertain kids. 

Honduras is home to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park, Carambola Botanical Gardens, and Gumbalimba National Park where kids can interact with monkeys and observe tons of diverse bird species.


Our Final Thoughts: Which destination is better?

Costa Rica and Honduras are exceptional vacation destinations that have breathtaking landscapes, delicious traditional cuisines, and rich cultural backgrounds. 

Costa Rica is more developed than Honduras so it is generally safer, has more tourist activities, and a more abundant nightlife. In my opinion, Costa Rica’s diverse landscape with volcanoes, coffee plantations, and steep mountains is overall more captivating than Honduras.

If you’re looking to tour volcanoes, hike through lush rainforests with scenic waterfalls, visit a coffee plantation, and enjoy a lively nightlife scene, Costa Rica is for you. 

If you prefer relaxing on a white-sandy beach, snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs, and visiting magnificent Ancient Mayan ruins, Honduras is for you. 

No matter which place you choose to visit you’ll be left with unforgettable experiences. 

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