Need help planning my trip to Belize and Costa Rica

Old Aug 9th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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Need help planning my trip to Belize and Costa Rica

My wife, myself and another couple are looking to go to Belize and Costa Rica next year, most likely May 20th through June 5th. I'll just give you a quick run down of who we are and what we enjoy so that may help you plan this. We are some what adventurous and enjoy tropical places(just like everyone else). We enjoy doing day hikes during travels. We have been to Cozumel a couple times and enjoyed the beauty in the ocean and also liked the price that came along with the all inclusive but we didn't like how "touristy" it was and how there was really nothing to do besides hang out on the main strip and buy things. We did enjoy going over to Playa and hanging out at Xel Ha but again very touristy and it didn't feel too safe once we got off the beaten path. We have also went to Hawaii a couple times and loved it. We loved everything about Hawaii, the hikes, the water, the rain forest, the cities, the overall beauty and of course the people. The only thing that makes us want to try places besides Hawaii is the cost and we would also enjoy traveling to other parts of the world to see what there is to offer. We have done a lot of research and have decided on Costa Rica and Belize. We need someone with actual travel experience in the area to help us out. We want some adventure, some beauty, some relaxation and of course some place safe to go outside the gates. We love diving so good dive spots would be cool. We love to fish so I'm sure we'll do that once. We plan on going on hikes so any that you have done and enjoyed let me know. I think the ruins would be good to see but I'm not overly excited to see all of them, just some of the more fascinating ones. Any advise for places to stay would be great, and of course any ideas for places to EAT would be even better! Does 7 whole days in each country sound good? Let me know what you all think, any help would be awesome.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 06:53 PM
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I forgot to add I bought a bunch of books already, mostly lonely planet books. Let me know if you have any questions that will help with clarification. Money isnt too much of a problem, meaning I don't want to stay in hostels but at the same time I think its a waste of money to stay in a 5 star resort when much of the time is spent outside anyways. Somewhere in between would be great! Thanks
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 07:24 PM
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Looking at Belize (never been) or Costa Rica for a trip next year around the same time as yours. Went to CR in May 2010 and had 10 nights...felt like it was not enough. Leaning towards Belize, but don't think we'll have more than 8 nights.

Our previous CR trip:
Day 1 - Arrived at SJO and traveled to Monteverde with a private driver.
Day 2 - Full day in Monteverde where we did zipline and hanging bridges and a night hike.
Day 3 - Morning hike in Santa Elena Reserve, lunch and then jeep/boat jeep to Arenal.
Days 4 & 5 - Full days in Arenal; weather wasn't great and we never got a totally clear view of the volcano. We were worn out on first day and due to weather we just kind of hung out as we were concerned about hiking on slippery trails. Second day took a full day trip to Cano Negro for a boat ride which included lunch.
Day 6 - Private driver picked us up in Arenal and drove us back to San Jose (with a quick stop at the waterfall for photos) where we spent a night in a B&B outside the city and had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Xandari.
Day 7 - Fly to OSA on Sansa for 3 nights at BDC.
Days 8 & 9 - Hiking on BDC trails and massage for me!
Day 10 - Fly to SJO via Nature Air and stay one night in the Santa Ana area prior to our flight back to the US the next day.
Day 11 - Hang around the B&B in the AM and then off to the airport for our return.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 02:12 AM
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weather2travel.com Climate guiodes

might rethink your dates may begins the

rainy season winter best for me.

Personally choose one or the other xport between

expensive or a hassle thebusschedule.com via Guatemala

Honduras Nica a long slog flights expensvie.

For Belize belizefirst.com

Victoria House Ambergriss

robertsgrove.com cavesbranch.com for adventure

for CR

hotelvillacaletas.com

tabacon.com

bosquedelcabo.com

my favs there...

Flights down on Spirit.com To SJO always cheapest for me

Happy Travels pare back for better experience...
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 04:51 AM
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I'd really consider deciding between the two countries and just seeing one. There is plenty to do/see in either country for two weeks. To travel between San Jose and Belize City is close to $500.00 on Taca, with a stop in El Salvador. Taking the bus would be very long and exhausting.

Diving will be much, much better in Belize. Does everyone in your group dive? If diving is a priority, consider one of the atolls, or a place such as Southwater Caye. If you'd rather be in a place with a town and other activities, look at Ambergris Caye, or possibly Caye Caulker.

With two weeks, I'd split your trip between three locations, probably the Cayo district, stay in one of the jungle lodges around San Ignacio.

Depending on your interests, I'd also spend time in far southern Belize, around Punta Gorda, which is much less developed, or head to the Placencia peninsula for some beach time.

Placencia and Ambergris Caye are different enough that I think both places are worth spending some time. Diving will be easier from Ambergris, since it's less than a mile off the reef. Placencia is 19 miles.

I'll let someone else do Costa Rica ideas, it's been too long since I've been there.....
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 04:59 AM
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TACA is the only airline that flies between the two countries. I would do my diving and snorkeling in Belize. If you want bonefish or permit, that in Belize too. If you want big fish, save that for CR Pacific side. Belize has incredible cave systems with artifacts, Mayan sites and interesting diverse cultures and is English speaking. We do not have gated resorts per se and visitors freely move around. CR has denser forests, more wildlife you can see, white water rafting and more that thye CR experts will tell you about. I know Belize. The countries are somewhat similiar, but Belize only has about 340,000 people and about 200,000 overnight visitors a yr, alot less than CR.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 05:56 AM
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If you're not terribly into ruins, I would probably do Costa Rica for the two weeks. You can only see a small fraction of what it has to offer in a two week period.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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In Belize, we like Chaa Creek for jungle and love Victoria House for water/island time. Definitely visit Hol Chan for snorkeling. It's amazing. The Blue Hole is popular for diving.

In CR, we love Arenal. Check out the Lost Iguana or Nayara. Do the waterfall hike, the Hanging Bridges hike, maybe a volcano hike (not much activity lately), the natural hot springs like Eco Termales and Tabacon, raft with Rios Tropicales, zipline, and do the Cano Negro tour with Sunset Tours.

If you really want to get away from it all, Bosque del Cabo on the Osa - great for hiking and wildlife. Love Xandari mentioned by Deb for a first or last night near the airport - beautiful views, a spa, and a good open air restaurant on site, as well as trails and some small waterfalls on the property.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 02:55 PM
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I have visited Ambergris Caye two times. I stayed at the same resort, Holiday Hotel, a family owned establishment right in the center of town. It is convenient to any part of town, the diving boats are right on the beach, and the water taxi is also right there. I did the mainland trip to cave tubing and zip line, the 1st time. Then I did the ruins with the cave tube and zip line the 2nd time. It was very worth both trips. I snorkeled off the reef, and it was wonderful. I was with a diver, but I didn't take my refresher course for the trip. But 3 divers have told me how great it is!
The Tackle Box restaurant/bar is a great place to hang out and they make the BEST Pina colada's~ April was a great time to go, weather was great and the conch is in season and VERY plentiful!! I would go back in a second!! Hope you enjoy!
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 03:02 PM
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JL, how long did it take to get to the cave tubing from Ambergris? Did you take a boat and then a van to do it?
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 04:31 PM
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I just spent 2 weeks in Belize at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, it is an exceptional Eco-lodge in the middle of the most pristine jungle setting. This place is the real deal, "touristy" it is not, once there, you will feel like family. There are two ruins close by that are not crowded, and truly quite impressive! San Ignacio, the little village down the road has a wonderful Saturday Market. You can canoe from Chaa Creek down the Macal river and into town, it is absolutely beautiful and serene. A driver will meet you later in the day to bring you back to the lodge.
There is horseback riding, good hiking & biking trails, including The Rain forest Medicine trail. At the Blue Morpho Butterfly farm there is a Naturalist guide that will guide you through the metamorphosis of these brilliant blue beauties, and a small museum. The Early bird walk is a colorful way to start the day with sightings of Toucan's, Parrots, Mot Mot's, and many, many more brilliantly colored birds. Along the way you will see howler monkeys in the Mango Trees and lizards lounging about. The sunset canoe trip is lovely, and don't miss the creatures of the night walk.
These are just a few of the offerings that you can enjoy on the resort itself. The guides will arrange trips to the ruins, zip-lining, the cave's as well as other trips. These trips are especially nice because the groups are small, and the guides are very knowledgeable & passionate about their country.
The cottages, the food, the people and the ambiance are just wonderful. The restaurant serves both Belizian fare, as well as innovative contemporary cuisine.
Chaa Creek offers a package that includes a stay on the island's that I have heard nothing but excellent reviews from other guests about.
Diving & snorkeling is the best I have ever experienced. There is a rhythm to Belize unlike any other of tropical places that I have traveled to...a stunning, adventure that feels like your own discovery...
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 07:51 PM
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tango,
I'm in my research phase...so I have a few questions.

Are the activities on site at Chaa Creek reasonably priced?
Did you use the meal plan there?
Did you rent a car?
I'm making an assumption that a guide was with you on your canoe trip into town since you mention a driver picking you up later. Is that correct?
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 04:45 AM
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Deb, we stayed at Chaa Creek too and really liked it. In my opinion the activities were pretty expensive, except for the early morning birding which was free. You can also check out Pacz tours - they're pretty popular, and we used them to go to Tikal. We did the meal plan and did not rent a car; it's pretty isolated and off a bumpy road, but it's a beautiful property. The people that we saw canoeing did not have guides with them. Service was great there, and the food was good.
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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sjukich!

This is Edgar from Cayo Adventure Tours located in San Ignacio Town,Cayo District,Belize C.A.. These are some our Tours that we offer and services: Caracol Maya Ruin,The ATM Cave,Tikal, Barton Creek, Xunantunich Maya Ruin,Mountain Pine Ridge, Cave Tubing, Zip-Lining, Bird Watching, Macal River Canoeing, Horseback Riding and Airport Shuttles. For more details you can contact us via e-mail or you can check out our website www.cayoadventure.com. We will be looking forward to hear from you. Thanks in advance! Cordially, Edgar
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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Deb:

This is Edgar from Cayo Adventure Tours located in San Ignacio Town,Cayo District,Belize C.A.. We offer those services and activities. For example,Macal River Canoeing! For more details you can contact us via e-mail [email protected] or you can check out our website www.cayoadventure.com. We will be looking forward to hear from you. Thanks in advance! Cordially, Edgar
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 09:52 AM
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@volcanogirl, It is about an hour by boat to the mainland then about 1 1/2 hours by car depending on which one you go to. The tours offer lunch also. There is a tour agency right next to the internet cafe on the main street. It's a long skinny place you walk in to. They are the best. DO NOT buy a tour from the street booths, I hear they are a rip off. I can get the tour agency name if needed.
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 09:56 AM
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Oh, I went to Xunantunich Maya Ruin, and I was told by a couple people that it is the nicest one, great sites!! I have pics if anyone wants a preview!
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 10:04 AM
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Thanks, JL!
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Deb - just an FYI I found, during my research, that PACZ offers better pricing on many if the same tours CC offers and when I asked if they would offer a discount for multiple tours they said yes. Even with the additional pick up/drop off cost they were less but I also noticed both CC's and PACZ prices have went up.
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 02:52 PM
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I think with CC it gets more affordable if other people go with you, i.e. lower transporation costs, etc. kind of like BdC does. We couldn't find anyone that wanted to do the same tours that we did so we couldn't take advantage of it.
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