Belize vs. Costa Rica

Jan 23rd, 2014, 03:25 PM
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Belize vs. Costa Rica

Is Belize similar to Costa Rica? My family (wife, me and 2 college boys) did a family vacation to Costa Rica 2 years ago and we are now considering going to Belize this May for a week. We would split the trip 3 nights in the jungle and 4 nights in Ambergris near San Pedro (beach). We are looking for a new experience. Could you please tell me if Belize is too similar to Costa Rica? Thank you!
3Kubed is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2014, 04:46 PM
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I haven't been to CR so can't compare. I CAN say that we have no interest in visiting CR and are heading to Belize for a 4th visit (2-4 weeks each) in March. Our travel priorities are fascinating contemporary cultures, Maya sites, awesome caving, and easy access to great snorkeling and diving (and for my husband, flats flyfishing). Costa Rica doesn't really compare to Belize on those. We've had good bird/wildlife experiences in Belize but I've read comparisons that favor CR on that count and on beaches, which don't really matter much to us.

My photos with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy trails!
hopefulist is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2014, 06:51 PM
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Belize has better snorkeling and water activities, ruins. and food. Jungle is good, but overall in terms of biodiversity and ecotourism and inland adventures Costa Rica is considerably stronger.
RAC is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 02:36 AM
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We adore Costa Rica and go every year; we've also been to Belize and thought it was great. Love Costa Rica for the amazing wildlife, great hiking, volcanoes, waterfalls, and fabulous adventure activities. Loved Belize for the great snorkeling and history/ruins, but didn't see nearly as much wildlife as we have in CR. The official language of Belize is English, so that makes things pretty easy if you don't speak Spanish. Our favorite thing was snorkeling at Hol Chan where we saw sea turtles, colorful fish, nurse sharks, and big rays. For us CR is better on land, and Belize is better under the water. Very friendly, welcoming people in both places. A lot of places in Belize have sea grass in the water so snorkeling isn't always readily available right off the beach.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 03:50 AM
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I've been to Costa Rica 3 times and finally got to Belize last year primarily for the snorkelling. I agree with volcanogirl: choose your destination according to the activities that appeal to you most. Both are wonderful destinations. There is something 'new' and interesting no matter where you travel or how often, if you have a sense of adventure and curiosity.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 05:36 AM
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Thank you very much, very helpful!

More thoughts and comments are welcome as I am still trying to decide if Belize (3 days jungle and 4 days beach) will be too much of a rerun of our Costa Rica vacation 2 years ago.
3Kubed is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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Belize has some of the best Mayan ruins anywhere, something Costa Rica has not.
sylvia3 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Agreeing with the above! I've been to Costa Rica 3 times, and Belize once for a land vacation and once on a cruise stop. I absolutely loved both vacations. I'd go back to either, for different reasons. I'm a huge fan of ruins, and could visit them over and over, so for that reason Belize if fascinating for me. Some of the most amazing Mayan ruins are there. There was nothing more fascinating to me than going to the ATM cave, or even the trip we took to Tikal, and we only did it as a day trip! We did a split of I believe 5 days jungle and 5 days on Ambergris Caye. It was perfect. The snorkeling was fantastic, and the relaxation of just being feet away from the ocean, was amazing after spending the days in the jungle.

I don't really think you can compare it to our time in Costa Rica. Yes, CR has the jungle, but it's a totally different environment than Belize.

I found the countries to be very different. You won't find it to be a rerun - unless you choose similar activities as your CR trip.

You can read about our Belize trip in detail, and much of a couple of our Costa Rica trips on my blog if you're interested:

I don't think you can go wrong with either location!
ShellD is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 09:33 AM
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If you focus on the Mayan ruins aspect, you would definitely have a much different experience than in Costa Rica.

Have you looked at maybe spending those three nights at Tikal instead?

We've spent time at Lamanai, in San Ignacio, and in Tikal/Flores, and didn't find any of those experiences redundant with Costa Rica.
RAC is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 06:27 AM
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I agree with all of the above. We've been to Costa Rica four times, and Belize/Tikal once, and found them to be completely different. I would return to either country in a heartbeat - Guatemala too.
Cattail is offline  
Sep 12th, 2014, 03:37 AM
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I am in the same exact situation with 2 young adults. We loved CR and are looking into Belize for January. WhAt did you do???
argmom is offline  
Sep 13th, 2014, 04:25 PM
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Hi we did a few days in the jungle and a few at the beach in Belize. It is a different experience than CR. I had a very similar opinion to volcanogirl. I love the beaches, wildlife, volcanos, rainforest in CR. The snorkeling in belize is great, the culture there and ruins are interesting to.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 10:50 AM
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Jul 12th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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jenni0025 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2017, 04:34 AM
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I LOVE BELIZE. To be fair, I am just in the research process for an upcoming Costa Rica vacation.

In 2015 we went to the Placencia Peninsula area of southern Belize. We decided we did not want the expensive, more busy area of Amber Gris and San Pedro.

In the southern part of the country you can experience snorkeling on incredible reefs (I was a beginner), endless beaches, small village native culture, fabulous food, with quick access to the jungle with the Jaguar Preserve, Mayan temples, zip lining and more.

We stayed in a cabana on the beach at the smaller Maya Beach resort that has an award winning restaurant and wonderful staff. We went off season in May and loved every bit of it. Rent a golf card to take the 20 minute trip to the town of Placencia and experience the culture along the way. However, it is easy for the inexperienced international traveler because they usually speak English well and take the American dollar. Lots of ex-pats there as well.

That all being said, we want to venture out to a new destination. St Thomas or Costa Rica?
NRitzman is offline  
Feb 27th, 2017, 06:06 AM
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I will add that northern Ambergris Caye might have fewer people and smaller hotels in some areas than does Placencia, in some areas.
Katie_Valk is offline  
Feb 27th, 2017, 08:27 AM
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"St Thomas or Costa Rica?"
I'd chose CR for the wide range of accommodations, beaches, jungle, rainforest, volcanoes, even weather (rain to desert, hot to cool). No ruins, but an incredible amount to see and do.
sylvia3 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2017, 09:17 AM
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I'd choose Costa Rica too; we've been to St. Thomas as well and enjoyed it, but it's very developed.
volcanogirl is offline  
Mar 9th, 2017, 08:30 PM
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Another thing to think about is whether or not you like a high surf. The waters on the Carib side can be much calmer than the western shores of CR. The reefs and underwater life is a bit more diverse in Belize.
As for food, I've found the food in CR much better than Belize. Belize actually doesn't allow many brands of foods and foods from outside Belize. you'll often see these foods but they're mostly bootlegged.
cybor is offline  
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