how similar is Belize to Costa Rica?

Old May 9th, 2007, 04:59 AM
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how similar is Belize to Costa Rica?

My husband and I are thinking of taking a sort of last-minute trip to Belize or CR. We've been to CR twice and loved it (Manuel Antonio, Montezuma, Monteverde, Arenal) but haven't been to Belize. It looks beautiful, and we haven't yet decided where in Belize we might go, but we're wondering whether some of the things that make CR attractive to us also apply to Belize:
-Is it as easy to get around within the country, by bus or renting a car or whatever?
-Would we be able to get along as well without speaking much Spanish?
-I've looked at some hotel prices, and they seem comparable--is that true? We can stay at pretty nice places for less than $200? Is food also relatively inexpensive?
-We would be going in June and are comfortable with the rainy season on CR's Pacific coast. Is it about the same in Belize, generally? (Rains a bit during the day but it's not a downpour all day?)
-We felt pretty safe as American tourists in CR--same w/Belize?

If these things are much different, we may go back to CR, because we know we like it and don't have a ton of time for planning. But if they seem generally similar, we may be up for visiting a new country.

I've got some research to do about where to go, but do you have recommendations for books on Belize? Are there some cities/sites you'd say are must-sees? Thanks for any input you can give me!
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Old May 9th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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OK, ignore the Spanish question (Duh for not knowing that English is the official language. Sorry!)

I should have added that wildlife is a big draw. If you've seen monkeys, macaws, toucans, and other wildlife in Belize, where was it?
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Old May 9th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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The main draw to Belize is water sports, snorkeling, diving, fishing, etc. Personally I prefer Belize to CR. Prices are about the same in Belize and CR. Its very easy to get around Belize but people travel by plane or boat mostly since the major tourist spots are mostly islands off the coast.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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We've been to Belize 4 times and like it. I've always felt safe as an American tourist.

You might like our trip reports and pictures from our trips.

www.AlandSueJohnson.com
Click trip reports / Belize in the menu

We tried to put some information there to help people plan a trip. You might consider spending time in the Cayes for snorkeling and relaxing. You can go inland to the San Ignacio area to see that part of the country. You can also get to Tikal in Guatemala from there. Tikal is huge and is worth spending the night from what I'm told. We didn't have time.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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I'm not interested in CR because it doesn't have much diversity of culture compared to other CA countries or ancient ruins; I love Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Here's a link to our trip photos with travelogues in case you're interested:

www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Old May 9th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Belize has better water sports/snorkeling/diving etc. than CR.
Also San Ignacio/caving (Achtun Munichal Cave was fantastic to see mayan ruins and skeletons etc in the cave!), tubing, etc. Close to Tikal, so you can go to Guatemala to get some culture. Belize is easy to get around because its small, good infrastructure, english speaking etc.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 03:14 AM
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We get a tinch less rain here than in CR, usually sporadic rains, but weather patterns are changing worldwide. We have about 500 plus species of birds, monkeys and toucans included. We have scarlet macaws, but in certain areas. We are culturally diversed and all 270,000 people pretty much get along, English speaking, we accept US$ the same as local currency, nice jungle, pine savanahs, mangroves, rivers, mts with waterfalls, river and horse trips. We we have that CR doesn't is the largest barrier reef in the hemisphere and the cultural legacy of the Maya, with impressive Maya sites, caves with musuem quality artifacts. Belize people in general are friendly and and talkative, easy going and I feel a very comfortable degree of personal safety travelig around on my own in remote areas. I'd look at the Cayo district for inland and Placencia for beach.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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Haven't been to Belize, hope to go sometime. That said, if wildlife is your major interest, I can't even imagine anyplace being better (for that) than Costa Rica.

But you already know that. The thing about CR that intrigues us is that there are so many different areas with total different lifezones. Makes it more like 12 countries in one. Hard to top that. . .but no doubt Belize is beautiful.

Another positive for us (regarding CR) is that we are always working on our Spanish skills. We get a nice boost every time we go. I prefer NOT to be in places where English is widely spoken. Others would feel totally the opposite, and I can appreciate that as well.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Thanks, all.

Shillmac, I agree and love CR, but I'm not very well traveled, so I'm trying to decide whether it's silly to keep going back to CR when there are so many places I've never been! Our decision may come down to the air fare and whether there's a big difference in price. If we go to the Caribbean side of CR, which we haven't seen yet, is there a specific place you'd suggest? Thanks for all your help!
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Old May 12th, 2007, 03:01 AM
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Go to Belize... you will love it! I've been to both CR and Belize and find them comparable in terms of price, infrastructure, and friendly people. However, they have some nice differences too, since both are very diverse places. I loved both countries, but must admit I have a slight preference for Belize.

I'd suggest splitting your Belize trip between an inland location and the beach. Inland, San Ignacio is where most people go to enjoy Mayan ruins, cave tubing, hiking, etc. Definitely do the ATM cave hike. You might even be able to work in an overnighter to Tikal (highly reccommended!). Then go to the beach... San Pedro or Caye Caulker would be good choices. Lots of great snorkeling, scuba, fishing, and relaxing to be done there.

I am certain you will love Belize... give it a try!
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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Yes. . .I'd suggest any of these: Aguas Clars bungalows (beachside), nice little sandwich, pastry, cappucino shop on property; Azania bungalows, across the street from the beach, very pretty property; or for something different, Almonds & Corals Tent Camp, down further a few km, nearer to Manzanillo. Loved it there! They now have some "deluxe" tents--the website looks pretty cool.

There are also a couple of beach and tree houses that have been reviewed on this board. Check out:

www.costaricatreehouse.com

I think that will get you to that site. If not, you can google it.

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Old May 12th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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Disculpeme--that'a Aguas Claras. ..not Aguas Clars. . .
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Old May 13th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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I believe for nearly all places in Belize you need Malaria meds, correct? Sounds like a wonderful place but as I travel with kids and we are all skitters fave dessert I it struck me that I had read about tons of mosquitos and sandfly's. And much to our suprise we never have a problem in Costa Rica, (nor in Panama last trip).

This would not always be a deterrent, just something to consider. Set me straight if the "mosquito coast"(Belize) is a myth....
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Old May 13th, 2007, 05:55 AM
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Actually the CDC lists both CR and Belize for malaria risk. In Belize, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are low risk since there is nearly always a strong breeze on the Cayes. This helps both to keep bugs away as well as to moderate the temperature.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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We spent nearly a month in Belize in July and august of 2003 - hbeart of the "green" season. We hardly saw a mosquito the first half of our trip (central and western Belize including the San Igancio area, Tikal, Caves Branch) or on Glover's Atoll where we spent our blue water time. We needed repellent at the zoo and the mozzies were horrendous in the Cockscomb Reserve and the Sittee River Village area. We didn't see a single sand fly thanks to the continuous gentle breezes on the island.

I realize others have had different experiences but I think it's typical for the Cayo area to be fairly bug free, a major tourist haunt with good reason.

Armed with Sawyer's Time Release Deet as needed we felt safe from the mozzies and undo deet absorption. We have always taken chloroquine on our trips to CA (5 trips so far, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize) because I've seen what a life-long bout with malaria is like.

The best of the cool things about Belize is the wonderful cultural diversity, though the natural wonders (especially the diving) were inspiring. Happy trails!
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Old May 14th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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Thanks, all! I've got a lot to think about...
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Old May 21st, 2007, 05:03 AM
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Allison, I am huge fan of CR, and contemplated this question for a couple of years.

This February we spent our time in Belize and very much enjoyed it.

The two countries are very differnt BUT, it different in a good way, because Belize offered other things that I had not experienced in CR. The ruins were very impressive, the snorkeling was totally awesome!

Our trip to Belize was unbelievably easy and relaxing, yet full of adventure. I posted a report here, back in Feb or March, also posted pictures if you are interested.

After 4 trips to CR and 1 to Belize, we will return to both again and probably again.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 07:55 PM
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Faithie - cases of malaria are few and far between in Belize. Classification as a "malarial" area seems to vary from country to country, and from medical clinic to clinic. Don't let it deter you from visiting!

We haven't been to Costa Rica for many years, but I don't remember the mossies and sandflies being any worse or better than Belize. Just bring bug spray or baby oil, and you shouldn't have too many problems.
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