We are looking to do a ten day trip using the july fourth holiday (or rather monday the 5th) in order to squeeze an extra vacation day out of my husband's work. Given the seasonal timing, flight distances, desire for beach/diving/warm weather, we were looking at belize or panama.
We are aware it is low season and the start of rainy season for both areas.
Belize: This was the first plan due the the quality of diving and number of cayes available for exploring. HOWEVER, we don't want an ALL diving trip and I started reading that the beaches were crummy. This pretty much killed it for me, so I read about other nice beach areas in Central America and was directed to Panama, specifically Bocas and San Blas.
Panama: I have considered this destination in the past. My impression is that you get a little culture/city/nightlife with panama city. Follow that with 2 or so days in San Blas for ultimate clear water/sugary beach, but uber bland accomodation. We don't mind some level of rusticity, but my husband won't be thrilled with a beach shack, and definitely not for more than a night or two. After San Blas, return through PC and head to Bocas for diving/beach. Can you get any jungle/zipline/rafting in the vicinity of Bocas?
Questions: Are the beaches really that bad in Belize? Are they much better in Panama that we should choos panama over Belize?
Is there anywhere decent to stay in San Blas? I understand diving is illegal, is there somewhere nearby there to go or would we have to wait until Bocas?
Nightlife: Ambergris Caye v. Bocas in low season...thoughts? We are newly married in our '30's and live in NYC, so we like to go out and not be completely isolated.
Any other opinions/thoughts or comments on things we haven't considered, would be appreciated. We just took a huge trip to southeast asia and have another next winter to southern africa, so we are trying to keep the costs/travel distances down a bit for this summer trip. I have been most everywhere in south america, the caribbean, mexico. Not interested in Guatemala, my sister said Honduras was expensive for what you get, and Nicaragua and el Salvador don't seem developed enough for the needs of this particular trip. Also looked at Columbia, but travel within the country and to the beaches on their internal flights was somewhat pricey as compared to panama.
Thank you in advance!
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