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Costa Rica, Belize, Riveria Maya

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Feb 3rd, 2010, 10:45 AM
  #1
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Costa Rica, Belize, Riveria Maya

Still trying to plan my anniversary trip, see http://www.fodors.com/community/cari...rsary-trip.cfm, but had a couple questions about Central America.

I like the idea of Costa Rica, with both beaches and rain/cloud forest. What part of CR should I be looking at the have nice calm sandy beaches, more for swimming, sunbathing, having a drink that is also close to rain forest, zip line tour, ATV tour, etc?

I would like to stay in the same hotel/resort for all 4-5 night and not travel to different hotels. Would CR be a better trip if we did more around some throughout?

Would a better option be going to Belize or in the Riveria Maya in MX?

I want a nice place to stay, preferably AI, beachfront on a nice beaches, but the option to take a short trip to see ruins, or a rainforest, zip line, etc. Nightlife isn't too important. Would like a couple low key bars and some nice resturants. A bar on the beach wouldn't be too bad either.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 10:57 AM
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Check out Tulemar Bungalows and Buena Vista Villas in Manuel Antonio - not a lot of AIs in the area, but tons of good restaurants. The beach inside the park is beautiful, lots of wildlife. With such a short trip, I probably wouldn't move around much - maybe spend a first or last night at a place like Xandari, close to the airport. They have some nice hiking, waterfalls, and good open air restaurant and spa.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:03 PM
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If you're set on an AI, I'd recommend Riviera Maya. They have some of the best, especially if you pick one of the adults only. For an anniversary trip, you could pick Valentin Imperial or one of the Secrets resorts. Generally the food is better than ones that are all buffet and they are very luxurious. They will be close to ruins and excursions like zip lines or snorkeling etc. They'll all have pool bars and beach service or bars.

Costa Rica doesn't have ruins and isn't known for AI's. They have a variety of restaurants and usually people visit two or three locations. In my husband's view, it's a more active vacation than going to Mexico. I'd agree I suppose. At least how we travel. For us our Mexico trips are more relaxing at the resort, eating, some drinking by the pool or beach and a few excursions. In Costa Rica it's more about seeing the country and exploring. Hiking and adventure.I'd agree that Manuel Antonio would be a good choice for you if you go there and Tulemar Bungalows is nice because they have their own beach.

Belize has the ruins that Costa Rica doesn't and it has great sea life. You have a mix of jungle and ocean - but it would be a split between the cayo and one of the cayes. And they really don't have the AI resorts either. However many places offer packages that include meals. We did a package in the jungle, but not one at Ambergris Caye since there are so many restaurants.

Based on what you say you're looking for, I'd pick Mexico.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:48 PM
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Much as I love Belize, it does sound what you're describing is what you'll find in Mexico.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 04:20 PM
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Although Costa Rica is my favorite I agree that Mexico sounds more like what you're looking for. I just returned from Valentin Imperial Maya & loved it. Their beach is one of the larger ones & the staff was wonderful. We took a day trip to Tulum & shopped in Playa del Carmen.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 05:15 PM
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I'd be okay without doing the AI if resturants were nearby. Not doing an AI is appealing because of the variety involved. Just not sure how much more/less expensive. I know the AI opinions have been beat to death but which would be better in this situation?
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:05 PM
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It depends on who you ask. You'd have to pay me to stay at an all-inclusive. Just not the way I travel. There are some really nice small hotels on the beach in Playa del Carmen. Whether it's a better deal or not, depends at least partly, on how you eat and drink.

I'm much happier at a small beach bar, paying for drinks as I go, and chatting with whoever wanders by, including the locals, which you won't see at an all-inclusive.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 10:36 PM
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We haven't had much luck with AIs - the quality of the food isn't usually as good as what you can get at restaurants, plus I think it's fun to go out exploring and see the local area.
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Feb 4th, 2010, 05:46 AM
  #9
 
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I think it depends what you're looking for and where you go. My husband loves AI's in Mexico -AND he's a chef. If you pick a good AI, one that doesn't focus on buffets, I think you can get good foods. The only place we've found good AI's is in Riviera Maya. Other Carribean countries don't compare. If you go to one with several a la carte restaurants usually you can find quality food. And I think it also depends what you're looking for in a vacation. If you're looking for what Jean talks about - spending time with the locals, visiting local restaurants and bars, no an AI isn't going to fit the bill. But if you want to be catered to, relax on a beach or at the pool, have a drink by your side, have usually pretty much the ulitmate luxury, 7 or 8 different restaurants, and go on a few excursions for us, that's why we go to Mexico in between our "adventure" vacations. For us, Mexico AI's are our escape and relax vacations. We don't worry about money while we're there, if we want to go out to a restaurant or bar off the resort, we do, if we want to do some excursions we do, but everything else, including tips has already been paid for. We're leaving in a month for Mexico and I can't wait....can you tell
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Feb 19th, 2010, 07:20 AM
  #10
 
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My husband and I are going back to the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen (45 mins south of Cancun). Have not been there is 4-5 years b/c the beach was badly destroyed in Emily but they just rebuilt it and it is beautiful I hear. It is AI but a la carte only, no buffet and they are 2-3 story villas w/private concierge in each spread throughout the property. 5 or 6 restaurants and pants are needed for men in the evening. We loved it. Also short walk to town which they also rebuilt and you can take a ferry to Cozumel from town as well. Hopefully it will still be as good as we remember. Check out their website. It does sound like Mexico is for you.
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Feb 19th, 2010, 07:23 AM
  #11
 
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My husband and I are going back to the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen (45 mins south of Cancun). Have not been there is 4-5 years b/c the beach was badly destroyed in Emily but they just rebuilt it and it is beautiful I hear. It is AI but a la carte only, no buffet and they are 2-3 story villas w/private concierge in each spread throughout the property. 5 or 6 restaurants and pants are needed for men in the evening. We loved it. Also short walk to town which they also rebuilt and you can take a ferry to Cozumel from town as well. Hopefully it will still be as good as we remember. Check out their website. It does sound like Mexico is for you.
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Feb 19th, 2010, 07:24 AM
  #12
 
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One more thing about Royal Hideaway. It is pretty much adult, on one under 16 allowed.
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