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Belize vs. Costa Rica

Old Sep 16th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Belize vs. Costa Rica

My boyfriend and I are trying to choose between traveling to Belize or Costa Rica this December. We want to mix some beach relaxation with some exploration/nature and will probably have about 10 days to travel. We have some budget restrictions as well...Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 02:22 PM
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I first went to Costa Rica in 1982 and have been visiting Belize for 15 years or so. I like them both very much.

Costa Rica has changed dramatically since I was first there. On my first trip, a beer at a nice hotel bar was 15 cents. Now prices are about the same as in Florida except for meals at local restaurants. Overall, Belize and Costa Rica have similar price levels for tourists, though Costa Rica might be a little cheaper at the low budget level.

Costa Rica gets six or seven times as many international tourists as Belize. Despite the mass tourism, it's a beautiful little country, far more scenic than Belize, and with more varied scenery ... beaches on two oceans, 12,000 ft. volcanos, a big city, small colonial towns, cloud forests. The highest mountains in Belize are only about 3,700 ft., and much of the country is savannah and rather nondescript bush, though there are beautiful areas in the Pine Ridge and true jungle in the far south, and of course the Caribbean coast and cayes are stunning.

Belize is smaller than Costa Rica, but I don't think that's much of a factor in the average vacation. It takes longer to get around either country than you'd think by looking at a map. Driving from north to south of Belize is going to take 7 hours or so. With 10 days, you're only going to be able to see two or, if you stretch it, three places.

Certainly if you want snorkeling Belize offers much more than Costa Rica, though Costa Rica's Pacific beaches are more classically beautiful. Costa Rica also is more of a monoculture than Belize, which is truly multicultural. And of course Costa Rica doesn't have the Maya ruins that Belize has. But, again, in terms of varied and beautiful scenery, Costa Rica takes the prize.

Finally, the matter of language. English is the official language of Belize, and it's all you need to go almost anywhere in the country. In Costa Rica, hotel people, tour guides and some young people speak English, but like most of Latin America once off the tourist track you need Spanish or at least a phrasebook. Unless your Spanish is fluent, you won't be able to meet and talk in depth to local people in Costa Rica, as you can in Belize.

--Lan Sluder
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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How much time would I need to visit Belize? Perhaps the ruins, a little jungle and some time on one of the cays?
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Old Sep 21st, 2005, 10:09 AM
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Both countries are great, and it's hard to choose between the two. We did Belize in 2003 and Costa Rica in 2004, doing a combination of land and sea activities. In Belize, we stayed in Belize City (Radisson) and took day trips to Tikal (Guatemala) and went cave tubing and hiking in the jungle (Jaguar Paw Lodge), then we went to Ambergris Caye for some relaxation on the beach (Belizean Shores) and snorkeling. In Costa Rica, we used San Jose (the Intercontinental) as our base to tour volcanos and the La Paz Waterfalls, do some zip lining, and mountain biking. Then we flew to Tamarindo (Capitan Suizo) for the beach portion. Costa Rica has more natural sites, while Belize has lots of ruins. They were two of the best trips that we have ever taken, and were similarly priced. I really have a hard time saying which I liked better. We spent a similar amount of time as you will be (we only had 9 days, though), so either country is possible. As Lan said, CR is so much bigger that you do need to factor in more travel time from one side to the other, but you have it. We didn't have any language problems in Costa Rica--people spoke English everywhere we went, but English isn't their national language like it is in Belize. Really hard to choose!
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Old Sep 21st, 2005, 12:43 PM
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Hi,
When in December are you planning to go? I am going to CR at Christmas and airfare and hotels are EXPENSIVE and quite booked up! We would have preferred to go at a different time of year, but it's the only time all 5 family members were available to go!!
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