Which one: Belize or Costa Rica??

Jan 11th, 2002, 12:50 PM
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Which one: Belize or Costa Rica??

I'm having trouble deciding between visiting Belize or Costa Rica. What are your opinions on both of these countries? Which is easier to plan a cheaper vacation? Which has more stuff to do/see? Which is easier to get around? HELP! I want a vacation with lots of adventure, ease in transportation, easy to budget, not touristy, scenery.
Jan 11th, 2002, 05:06 PM
Lan Sluder
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I first went to Costa Rica in 1982 and I've written or co-written six books on Belize, so I know a little about the two places.

They are similar in some ways and very different in others.

The big differences: Belize has hundreds of Maya ruins and great diving and snorkeling. Costa Rica has neither (except for some diving way off the Pacific coast and some limited snorkeling on the Atlantic side.)

English is the official language of Belize, whereas English is spoken almost not at all in CR except in tourist areas and by students and upper class Ticos.

Belize is a true multicultural society; CR is essentially a monoculture, except on the Atlantic side.

Costa Rica has much better beaches (on the Pacific side.) CR has a much greater variety of scenery -- coasts on two oceans plus alpine-like 13,000 foot mountains and volcanos, whereas Belize's highest point is just 3,700 feet and the scenery doesn't vary as much as in Costa Rica.

CR has a big, ugly city and is predominantly rural otherwise, except for a few small towns and developed tourist enclaves; Belize has a small, ugly city, and is predominantly rural otherwise.

Unless you speak Spanish, Belize is easier to get around in on your own, though neither is difficult.

Both have great birding and wildlife spotting. Belize has better caving. Costa Rica has better rivering. Belize has better and more interesting jungle lodges.

As to being cheap, neither are, though both are cheaper than either the U.S. or the Caribbean. Both have deluxe hotels and expensive resorts. Both have cheap hotels and basic places to stay. Overall, the price of food and everyday items will cost you less in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is probably overall a little cheaper for travelers, but the difference is not that great anymore.

Belize gets about 150,000 international tourists a year. Costa Rica gets about 750,000, so CR is more touristy in some ways, although that is somewhat misleading because CR is a larger country.

--Lan Sluder
Jan 12th, 2002, 06:10 AM
Robbie Felix
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Hi Lans,
Pretty fair assessment of both places, however, one thing I don't really understand is the "monoculture" statement. Here in Costa Rica we have a truly international culture if ever I have seen one. Maybe I just misunderstand what you mean by monoculture. Here in Manuel Antonio and throughout Costa Rica we have people from all over the world who speak a myriad of languages, also have the cuisine of many countries, even places that are basically rural....
I am not tryng to be argumentative, I think you summarized the two perfectly, I am just puzzled by that statement.
I came to Costa Rica from the San Francisco bay area, and one thing I love about where I live is that it is a little tiny town of 8,000 and yet we have Latin folks , Asians, Europeans, Black, white, brown , Indians etc all in one little tiny town almost in the middle of nowhere! It is almost the same melting pot as San Francisco without the city. Personally I love that, can eat Thai food, Indian food, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Costa Rican, French , Italian or German food here. And I suppose if I wanted to could learn any of the languages from those places as people speak them here.
I enjoy the international , multi-cultural part of Costa Rica. I may be missing the meaning of monoculture completely.
Regardless, your assesment s a great one and thanks!
Jan 12th, 2002, 06:31 AM
Katie Valk
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Lan is referring to the local indigineous population of Maya, Spanish, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna. Then we have immigrants who have settled in Belize in numbers are well, such as the Mennonites, Lebanese, Orientals and political and economic refugees from our surrounding countries who fled to Belize from civil strife and for teh dream of a better life.

Katie Valk
Jan 12th, 2002, 12:40 PM
Robbie Felix
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Thanks, Katie!
I had no idea, guess we will have to make a visit there sooner rather than later. Sounds wonderful.
Best wishes,
Jan 14th, 2002, 07:16 AM
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Hi Lucretia:

My friends and I have been to both countries in this past year. As we liked both places, they were very different. In Belize we stayed at a jungle lodge called the Banana Bank and did day trips from there. We did horseback riding, snorkeling on the reef, Mayan Ruins in Belize and to Tikal, went to the zoo, city tour of San Iganico and surrounding area.

In Costa Rica we stayed at Vista del Valle and did day trips from there. We did the Arenal area for a day, whitewater rafting, La Paz Waterfall garden and Paos volcano, canopy tour, trip to the pacific ocean and a crocodile tour.

On both vacations we kept pretty busy. They were both comparable in price even though the exchange rate was better for Costa Rica. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Jan 14th, 2002, 07:39 PM
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If you can only go to one, my vote is for Costa Rica. You have two completely different coasts to choose from, and it's very cheap. I was there for a week and only met 5 Americans the whole time. Make sure to go river rafting...seeing the wildlife via the river was very cool. KD

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