Where to surf/snorkle/beach - Belize or Costa Rica?

Mar 11th, 2008, 08:34 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 97
Where to surf/snorkle/beach - Belize or Costa Rica?

Hubby and I love to get away from it all. Beach is a must, snorkel or diving for me and (if possible) surfing for him. We like returning to St. John, Jost Van Dyke, V. Gorda, Cancun, Mazatlan (quick trip from Phoenix!). Not going back: Turks Caicos, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Nassau. We actually surfed on Tortolla and St. John. He loves Oahu for that but we are not in to that color of ocean. Carib turquoise is for us.

He works for US Airways so we must fly where ever they go, which limits us. Also, we have baby twins who will stay with family, so maximizing time is important. Under 15 hours with a red eye is preferred.

That leaves BVI, Antigua, Belize and Costa Rica. We are traveling mid May or early June.

I have no clue where to begin my search! Does Costa Rica compare with Belize (in June?). beaches great? too much crime in CR to relax? I started reading posts and it sounds sketchy with car rentals, at least...

Many thanks for any input!

sofun1 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:04 PM
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We've traveled throughout Costa Rica, and love it, but the snorkeling we've done there has not been good; if you're looking for that turquoise water and good diving and snorkeling, Belize would be a better bet for you. If you want to see monkeys and sloths, zipline, see active volcanoes, hike, etc. I'd go with CR. We've been to Cozumel, St. John, Tortola, Hawaii, etc. and if you're looking for beaches like that, CR probably isn't for you; it's still our favorite vacation spot though for everything else it offers, we just don't go there for beaches or snorkeling.
volcanogirl is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:37 PM
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No surfing in Belize - the world's 2nd largest barrier reef gets in the way.
hopefulist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 04:40 AM
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CR is known for great surfing; we've never gone, but I'm sure other people on the board could point you in the right direction.
volcanogirl is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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Just my observation about wanting both good snorkeling and surfing. I think you're going to have better luck with an island destination since having that 360-degree exposure gives you a better chance of having both clear and calm beaches and surf beaches.

We were on the southern Nicoya penninsula (Mal Pais) and the Osa and saw a lot of good surfing. I'm a diver and wasn't really tempted anywhere (I lived in the BVI for 7 years so I'm sort of spoiled) but have heard that diving in the Gulfe Dulce or on the other side of the Osa at Drake Bay is good. I personally thought that the beach at Mal Pais was beautiful -- but, then, I don't have to have the white sand/turqoise water to think so.

The diving in Belize is super.
sumi is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 05:11 AM
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Hi sofun1 -

We are big travelers to the USVI/BVI area and also to St. Martin/Anguilla. I've researched Costa Rica and Belize at length and we are making a trip to CR this coming May.

That said, we are not going to Costa Rica for the beaches. Go to Flickr and search "Manuel Antonio" or "Costa Rica" and look at people's pics of beaches. While pretty, they are nothing like Caribbean beaches. Sand is darker, water is darker and rougher. Good surfing though, if that's most important. There is a Caribbean side to CR, but most of the beach towns are on the Pacific.

Belize, on the other hand, has that Caribbean blue water since it's on the Caribbean. The problem is, the beaches aren't the best. In fact, to preserve the sealife, resorts don't clear the seagrass that grows right offshore (I'm talking about Amergris Caye here). Instead, you have to go to the end of a pier or out on a boat to reach swimming/snorkeling. That said, the snorkeling and diving in Belize is supposed to be the best in our hemisphere. Better than either Grand Cayman or St. John. For that reason alone, Belize is on my "short list".
alw1977 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Ive visited both CR and Belize. Belize hands down has the best snorkeling.It is home to the second largest coral reef.Gorgeous fish. Belize is very nice. The water is not as gorgeous in CR. But CR has the surfing. There are also nice beaches in Costa Rica. I love CR, but yes, you have to be careful. But that applies anywhere you visit.i saw a lot more wildlife in CR if you are interested in that. WHile Belize has more historical sites and temples. It just depends on what you wish to see. Good luck!
shaytravels is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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sofun1 - I am a NOVICE, but the end of May, 2005, my family took Mandingo Sail (www.visittamarindo.com) snorkeling. We had a great trip. A Floridian, who had traveled to the Carribean with his family stated that THAT day was the best snorkeling he had. We saw the most amazing fish, colors, etc. We got to hold a Blowfish. Go to www.mandingosail.com My family of four had the best time, and as I mentioned, it was all of our first time snorkeling - we will always remember CR - from Tamarindo, near Conchal Beach for our first experience. Please don't feel that this will be your worst experience. Pura Vida.
Dyer is offline  
Mar 13th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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So I've been looking more at Belize and a beach but discovered that the beaches and beach-side water seem to have seaweed everywhere! I tried finding a descent accommodations, away from it all, with a nice beach and snorkeling in walking distance. I didn't think it would be hard! Now I'm back to reconsidering CR, and Antigua!
sofun1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2008, 09:23 AM
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sofun, if you don't have your heart set on amazing snorkeling, CR is wonderful. The beach inside the park in Manuel Antonio is very pretty. A lot of first time visitors pair Arenal and MA - that gives you beach time and a chance to see the active volcano which is really cool.
volcanogirl is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 05:13 PM
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If you are still considering Belize, I can recommend Glover's Caye, through a company called SlickRock. It's a private island off the coast. The snorkeling and diving is fantastic (including night dives/snorkle, which was really memorable), and you pretty much right off the island. There's also kayaking, and you can kayak to other good snorkel spots with a guide.
No regular surfing, but you can also surf kayak on a reliable break right off shore, and windsurf many days. The only catch is that it is a rustic place - cabanas, outdoor showers, composting toilets. But the food is great, and the guides are fantastic. And it was a totally relaxing vacation where you can go at your own pace. (Small beach, but your cabana looks right out onto the sea.)
ChrissyJ is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 04:18 AM
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We stayed at Glover's Atoll Resort and had the time of our lives. We're planning a return trip next year. Most folks wouldn't be interested as it's VERY rustic (think Robinson Crusoe, no electricity or running water) but I can back up what Chrissy said about great snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. We saw huge nurse sharks, barracuda, huge schools of pilot fish and 2 dozen other kinds, beautiful sponges and coral and a huge spotted eagle ray snorkeling from shore. With diving I added turtles and dolphins and additional types of fish to the list. Sigh...

hopefulist is offline  
Apr 19th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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Chrissy J and hopefulist, thanks for mentioning Glover's Reef. I work for Slickrock Adventures and we operate the eco-resort that Chrissy stayed at. I stumbled across this thread just now and wanted to add that, in addition to surf kayaking and stand up paddle boarding offered to all our guests (along with a host of others), we actually do have a selection of regular surf boards for our guests to use. And use them they do, whenever the surf is peaking (see http://www.slickrock.com/surfingbelize.html and http://belizeadventure.com/2010/12/g...belize-island/ ) Granted, the waves never develop to anything of epic size, but on a good day they are plenty big enough for the average surfer. We've had many good rides at Long Caye. The Long Caye surf break, 50 yards off shore from our surf dock, is the only directly accessible surf break in Belize (not over living coral, and therefore safe to surf.) And regarding hopefulist's correct point about the rustic accommodations, he stayed on Northeast Caye, the island adjacent to Slickrock's Adventure Island on Long Caye. He's right. That setup really is for those who want bare-bones accommodations. But on Long Caye, we like to think we've been able to achieve something mid-way between that flavor of super rustic experience and the highly developed luxury of many of the other resorts in Belize. We like to call our style "five star camping". For a look at the accommodations check out: http://www.slickrock.com/accommodationsbelize.html
Franklin_Seal is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 09:05 AM
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To add to the discussion above. If the primary activity you want is surfing, you should definitely head to Costa Rica, and if the primary activity you want is snorkel/diving, you should definitely head to Belize.

Since your husband works for US Air, I bet you eventually head to both.

As a surfer who's written guide books to both country's I'll say kudos to Franklin and Chrissy for pointing out that yes, you can surf a little reef break at Glover's Reef when the conditions are right. Still, it's not a major break or that well formed.

Aside from Isla del Coco, diving and snorkeling in Costa Rica cannot compare to Belize. Still you can get some decent dives out of the Playa Hermosa/Ocotal/Guanacaste area, while still having access to breaks like Witch's Rock, Ollie's Point, Playa Grande, Tamarindo, Langosta, Ostional and more...

On the other hand, the whole length and breadth of the Belize Barrier reef is world class for snorkeling and scuba, with major props to the outer atolls like Glovers...
Eliot_Greenspan is offline  
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