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Belize vs Costa Rica – Which is the Better Vacation?

Last updated on January 19th, 2023 at 07:48 pm

Belize vs Costa Rica – While Belize has some of the most amazing snorkeling and underwater life, Costa Rica is more diverse, and gives you a lot of access to nature and a varied vacation. In this article, we compare a vacation in Belize and a vacation in Costa Rica to help you choose which is better for you.

We’ll look at Costa Rica and Belize’s Access to the airport, beaches and nightlife, and other things to do, food, culture, hotels and budget, and more.

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Comparing Belize vs Costa Rica

Belize and Costa Rica are both top destinations for an incredible trip in Central America. In Costa Rica, you have beautiful beaches both in the Pacific and Caribbean sides, with access to wildlife and natural parks. Meanwhile, in Belize, you have the Blue Hole, the Caye Islands, beaches, and incredible underwater marine life.

Here’s a quick summary of the main differences between Belize and Costa Rica:

CategoryBelizeCosta Rica
Cost of Travel for a Week for 1 person$1400$1500
Beaches and ActivitiesIncredible beaches in Belize good for swimming and underwater activities include the Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Hopkins, Dangriga, and Punta Gorda.

For other activities, you can go cave tubing, visit the Belize zoo, explore Great Blue Hole, Visit various Mayan Ruins and go snorkeling and diving
For calm and blue waters, Costa Rica has the Caribbean beachside: Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Jaco, Hermosa, Dominical, Playa de Coco, and Flamingo

For surfing, you have the Pacific beaches: Puerto Viejo, Playa Coches, Puna Uva, Chiquita, Playa Negra, Manzanillo, and Bonita

Other activities: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero National Park
Nightlife and Parties“The Swing Bridge,” located in Belize City (capital), is a popular spot for nightlife, with a number of clubs and bars that stay open until the early hours of the morning.

For nightlife in beach towns, go to Placencia and Caye Caulker, which have a more laid-back atmosphere and are known for their laid-back beach bars and reggae music.
Lots of nightlife options in El Pueblo, San Jose’s (capital) downtown area – good for jazz clubs, salsa nights and more. You can also have nightlife in the beach towns of Jaco and Tamarindo.
Food and Drinksrice and beans, stewed chicken, fry jacks, conch fritters and other seafood, ceviche, and plantains. There are lots of restaurants as well for international food options. Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), Casado (Pork), patacones, plantains and empanadas. Costa Rica has a lot of foreign and touristy restaurants as well as international food options.
CultureCosta Rica and Belize are both in Central America with a lot of the same culture like language and food.

In Belize, popular music styles include punta, reggae, and soca, and popular dances include the punta and the brukdown.
In Costa Rica, popular music styles include salsa, reggaeton, and folk music, and popular dances include salsa, merengue, and cumbia.
A summary of top things to do, cost of travel, culture, beaches and nightlife for Belize vs Costa Rica

Booking Your Travel Insurance – Costa Rica vs Belize

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Getting There: Belize vs Costa Rica

Getting to Belize

Belize is in Central America, with Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. There are several ways to get to Belize:

By air: The most common way to get to Belize is by flying into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City. The airport is serviced by several major airlines, including American, United, and Delta.

By land: You can also enter Belize by land from Mexico or Guatemala. There are several border crossings along the border with Mexico, and one main crossing with Guatemala at Benque Viejo del Carmen.

By sea: You can also arrive in Belize by boat or cruise ship. The major port is in Belize City, but there are also smaller ports and marinas in other parts of the country.

Once you arrive in Belize, you can get around the country by bus, taxi, or rental car. It’s a good idea to have a plan for getting around before you arrive, as public transportation can be limited in some areas.

Getting to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is also in Central America, with Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Here are several ways to get to Costa Rica:

Fly: The most common way to get to Costa Rica is by plane. Costa Rica has two main international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in the capital city of San Jose, and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in the province of Guanacaste. There are direct flights to Costa Rica from several major cities in the United States, as well as from other countries in Latin America and Europe.

Drive: Costa Rica is located in Central America, and it is possible to drive to the country from some of its neighboring countries. However, keep in mind that the roads in Costa Rica can be rough, and it may take a long time to drive to the country.

Bus: There are several bus companies that offer long-distance bus service to Costa Rica from other countries in Central America. This can be a budget-friendly option, but it may be a longer and less comfortable journey.

Boat: Costa Rica is located on the Pacific coast of Central America, and it is possible to reach the country by boat from some of its neighboring countries. However, this is not a common way to get to Costa Rica and may not be practical for most travelers.

Make sure to plan ahead as it is important, and make sure you have all of the necessary documents, such as a valid passport and any required visas or travel insurance before heading to your trip in Costa Rica.

Beaches and Activities: Belize vs Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its national parks and wildlife, with beaches both on the Pacific and Caribbean side of the country, while Belize is known for its underwater marine life and its blue waters. Let’s look at the top things to do when in Belize and Costa Rica below.

Pacific beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has many beautiful beaches along its Pacific coast. Some popular destinations include:

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica - Belize vs Costa Rica

Located on the Central Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio is known for its stunning white sand beaches and national park.

Tamarindo

Belize vs Costa Rica- Which is the Better Vacation?

Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Tamarindo is a popular surf spot and beach destination.

Jacó

Located on the Central Pacific coast, Jacó is a popular beach town with a lively nightlife scene.

Playa Hermosa

Located on the Central Pacific coast, Playa Hermosa is a picturesque black sand beach known for its great surf.

Playa Dominical

Located on the south Pacific coast, Playa Dominical is a popular surf spot with a laid-back atmosphere.

Playa de Coco

Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Playa de Coco is a popular beach destination known for its diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Playa Flamingo

Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Playa Flamingo is a luxury beach destination known for its crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches.

Caribbean beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has many beautiful beaches along its Caribbean coast. Some popular destinations include:

Puerto Viejo

Belize vs Costa Rica- Which is the Better Vacation?

Located on the southeast Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is a laid-back beach town known for its surf and beautiful beaches.

Playa Cocles

Located just south of Puerto Viejo, Playa Cocles is a beautiful beach with crystal-clear waters and great surf.

Punta Uva

Located south of Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva is a secluded beach with beautiful coral reefs and great snorkeling and diving.

Playa Chiquita

Located just south of Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita is a beautiful beach with clear turquoise waters and a laid-back atmosphere.

Playa Negra – Costa Rica vs Belize

Located south of Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra is a beautiful black sand beach known for its great surf.

Playa Manzanillo

Located on the southeast Caribbean coast, Playa Manzanillo is a secluded beach with beautiful coral reefs and great snorkeling and diving.

Playa Bonita

Located on the southeast Caribbean coast, Playa Bonita is a beautiful beach with crystal-clear waters and a laid-back atmosphere.

Beaches in Belize

Belize has many beautiful beaches along its Caribbean coast. Some popular destinations include:

Ambergris Caye

Belize vs Costa Rica- Which is the Better Vacation?

Located off the coast of Belize, Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and is known for its beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters.

Caye Caulker

Caye Cauker in Belize, Belize vs Costa Rica- Which is the Better Vacation?

Located just off the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is a small island known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches.

Placencia

Located on the southern coast of Belize, Placencia is a popular beach destination with a long stretch of sandy beaches.

Hopkins

Located on the southern coast of Belize, Hopkins is a small village known for its beautiful beaches and friendly locals.

Dangriga

Located on the southern coast of Belize, Dangriga is a small town known for its beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage.

Punta Gorda

Located on the southern coast of Belize, Punta Gorda is a small town known for its beautiful beaches and diverse culture.

There are many other beautiful beaches to explore in Belize. It’s a good idea to do some research and choose a beach that meets your specific preferences and needs.

Other Top Activities and Things to Do in Belize

Visit the Maya ruins

Belize Xunantunich - Belize vs Costa Rica

Belize is home to many ancient Maya ruins, including Caracol, Xunantunich, and Lamanai. These sites offer a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the Maya civilization.

Explore the Great Blue Hole

Blue Hole in Belize - Belize vs Costa Rica

The Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole located off the coast of Belize. It’s a popular destination for scuba diving and offers stunning views of the underwater world.

Visit the Belize Zoo

The Belize Zoo is home to a wide variety of native animals, including jaguars, tapirs, and crocodiles. It’s a great place to learn about Belize’s rich biodiversity.

Go cave tubing

Belize is home to many beautiful caves, and cave tubing is a popular activity that allows you to explore them by floating through the water on an inner tube.

Visit the Cayes

Belize vs Costa Rica- Which is the Better Vacation?

The Cayes are a group of small islands located off the coast of Belize. They are known for their beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere.

Go snorkeling or diving

Belize is home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, and it’s a great place to go snorkeling or diving. You can see a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and colorful fish.

Learn about Belizean culture

Belize is a culturally diverse country, and there are many opportunities to learn about its rich cultural heritage. You can visit museums, attend cultural festivals, or interact with the local people.

Belize vs Costa Rica: Culture

With Belize and Costa Rica both being part of Central America, they have many cultural similarities as well as some differences. Here are some ways in which the cultures of Belize and Costa Rica compare:

Language

Both Belize and Costa Rica have Spanish as the official language, although English is also widely spoken in Belize. In Costa Rica, there are also small communities of speakers of indigenous languages such as Bribri and Cabécar.

Music and dance

Both Belize and Costa Rica have rich cultural traditions in music and dance. In Belize, popular music styles include punta, reggae, and soca, and popular dances include the punta and the breakdown. In Costa Rica, popular music styles include salsa, reggaeton, and folk music, and popular dances include salsa, merengue, and cumbia.

Food

Both Belize and Costa Rica have diverse and flavorful cuisines that are influenced by a mix of indigenous, African, and European traditions. In Belize, popular dishes include rice and beans, stewed chicken, and fry jacks, while in Costa Rica, popular dishes include gallo pinto, casado, and arroz con pollo.

Religion

Both Belize and Costa Rica are predominantly Christian countries, with a mix of Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations. There are also small communities of practitioners of other religions such as Islam and Buddhism in both countries.

Overall, both Belize and Costa Rica have rich and diverse cultures that are influenced by a mix of indigenous, African, and European traditions. While there are many similarities, there are also some differences in the music, dance, food, and religion of the two countries.

Cost of Travel: Belize vs Costa Rica

Budget for Belize, for one week, one person

The cost of traveling to Belize for one week can vary depending on factors such as the time of year you go, the mode of transportation you choose, and the type of accommodation you prefer. Here are some rough estimates of the costs of traveling to Belize for one week as a single person:

Airfare: Prices for flights to Belize can vary widely depending on where you are coming from and when you travel. Expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1,000 or more for a round-trip ticket.

Accommodation: There is a wide range of accommodation options in Belize, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Prices can range from $50 to $500 or more per night. If you are on a budget, you may be able to find a room in a guesthouse or hostel for around $50 to $100 per night.

Food: The cost of food in Belize can vary depending on where you eat and what you order. Expect to pay around $10 to $20 or more for a meal at a mid-range restaurant. If you are on a budget, you can save money by eating street food or cooking your own meals.

Transportation: The cost of transportation in Belize can vary depending on the mode of transportation you choose. Renting a car can cost around $50 to $100 per day while taking a bus or taxi can be cheaper.

Overall, it’s a good idea to budget around $100 to $200 per day for your trip to Belize. This should cover the cost of accommodation, food, and activities, but you may need to adjust your budget up or down depending on your specific needs and preferences. For a one-week trip, this would come to a total of around $700 to $1,400.

Budget for Costa Rica, for one week, one person

The cost of a week-long trip to Costa Rica will depend on various factors, including your mode of transportation, where you stay, what activities you do, and how much you spend on food and souvenirs. Costa Rica is a small country in Central America with a variety of attractions and activities, including visiting national parks, rafting or kayaking on the country’s rivers, and exploring the country’s diverse natural beauty.

If you plan to fly to Costa Rica, the cost of your plane tickets will be a significant part of your overall expenses. Costa Rica has two main international airports, Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR). From there, you can either take a taxi or rent a car to get to your destination.

Accommodation costs in Costa Rica can vary widely depending on your budget and preferences. There are options available for all price ranges, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury resorts. If you plan to stay in a hotel or resort, prices can range from around $50 to $500 or more per night, depending on the location and amenities.

Other expenses to consider during your trip to Costa Rica include meals, activities, and souvenirs. Costa Rican cuisine includes a variety of seafood and tropical fruit, and prices for meals can range from $10 to $30 or more, depending on where you eat and what you order. Prices for activities, such as tours and excursions, can also vary widely.

Overall, it’s difficult to give an exact estimate of the cost of a week-long trip to Costa Rica without more information about your specific plans. However, a rough estimate for a budget-conscious traveler might be around $1,000 to $1,500 per week, including flights, accommodation, meals, and some activities. This is just a rough estimate and costs could be higher or lower depending on your specific plans.

Which is more expensive, Belize or Costa Rica?

The cost of traveling to Belize and Costa Rica can vary depending on factors such as the time of year you go, the mode of transportation you choose, and the type of accommodation you prefer. In general, Costa Rica is generally considered to be more expensive than Belize, especially in popular tourist areas such as San José and the Arenal region.

However, there are also many budget-friendly options available in both countries.

Top Food to try – Costa Rica vs Belize

Food to Try in Belize

Belize has a diverse and flavorful cuisine that is influenced by a mix of indigenous, African, and European traditions. Here are some top foods to try when in Belize:

Rice and beans: Rice and beans is a popular and flavorful dish that is served throughout Belize. It is typically made with red kidney beans and white rice, and is often seasoned with herbs and spices.

Stewed chicken: Stewed chicken is a popular dish in Belize that is made by simmering chicken in a flavorful sauce made with tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is typically served with rice and beans and a side of vegetables.

Fry jacks: Fry jacks are a popular breakfast food in Belize. They are made by deep-frying a dough made from flour, baking powder, and salt, and are often served with beans, eggs, and cheese.

Cassava bread: Cassava bread is a traditional bread that is made from the root of the cassava plant. It is a staple food in Belize and is often served with meals.

Conch Salad or Conch Ceviche Bahamian Cuisine

Conch ceviche: Conch ceviche is a popular seafood dish in Belize that is made with raw conch that has been marinated in lime juice, onions, peppers, and spices. It is typically served as an appetizer or a light meal.

Ceviche: Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in Belize that is made with raw fish or seafood that has been marinated in lime juice, onions, peppers, and spices. It is typically served as an appetizer or a light meal.

Plantains: Plantains are a popular side dish in Belize that are made from a type of banana that is cooked and served like a vegetable. They are often fried or baked and served with meals.
Overall, there are many delicious foods to try in Belize, and it’s a good idea to try a variety of dishes to get a sense of the local cuisine.

Food to Try in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America with a diverse and flavorful cuisine that is influenced by a mix of indigenous, African, and European traditions. Here are some top foods to try in Costa Rica:

Gallo pinto: Gallo pinto is a popular and flavorful dish that is served throughout Costa Rica. It is made with black beans and rice and is often seasoned with herbs and spices. It is typically served as a breakfast dish, but can also be eaten at other times of the day.

Casado: Casado is a popular dish in Costa Rica that consists of rice, beans, a protein (such as chicken, beef, or fish), and a side of vegetables. It is a well-balanced meal that is often served at lunch or dinner.

Arroz con pollo: Arroz con pollo is a popular dish in Costa Rica that is made with rice and chicken. It is often seasoned with herbs and spices and served with a side of vegetables.

Patacones: Patacones are a popular snack in Costa Rica that is made by deep-frying slices of green plantain and flattening them with a press. They are often served with a variety of toppings, such as beans, cheese, and salsa.

Empanadas: Empanadas are a popular snack in Costa Rica that is made by folding dough over a filling and baking or frying it. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as beans, cheese, or meat.

Tamales: Tamales are a traditional dish in Costa Rica that is made with a corn dough that is filled with a variety of ingredients, such as beans, cheese, or meat, and then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. They are often served as a snack or a side dish.

Best Time to Visit: Belize vs Costa Rica

Best Time to Visit Belize

Belize has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather year-round. The country has two main seasons: a dry season that lasts from November to May, and a rainy season that lasts from June to October.

The dry season is generally considered the best time to visit Belize, as the weather is relatively dry and sunny, and there is less chance of disruptions due to storms. During this time, the average temperature is around 80°F (27°C) during the day and 70°F (21°C) at night.

The rainy season is also a good time to visit Belize, as the country is lush and green during this time, and the rain tends to come in short bursts rather than all day long. However, it is important to be prepared for rain and to pack a rain jacket or umbrella. During this time, the average temperature is around 85°F (29°C) during the day and 75°F (24°C) at night.

If you are interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the Maya ruins, the dry season is probably the best time to go. If you prefer to relax on the beach or enjoy the lush vegetation, the rainy season may be a good time to visit.

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Like Belize, Costa Rica has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather year-round. The country is known for its biodiversity, and its climate varies depending on the altitude and the region.

The dry season in Costa Rica lasts from December to April, and the rainy season lasts from May to November. During the dry season, the weather is generally dry and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from 70°F (21°C) in the highlands to 90°F (32°C) in the lowlands.

The rainy season is also a good time to visit Costa Rica, as the country is lush and green during this time, and the rain tends to come in short bursts rather than all day long. However, it is important to be prepared for rain and to pack a rain jacket or umbrella. During this time, the average temperature is around 85°F (29°C) during the day and 75°F (24°C) at night.

If you are interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the national parks, the dry season is probably the best time to go. If you prefer to relax on the beach or enjoy the lush vegetation, the rainy season may be a good time to visit.

Currency and ATMs

Belize

The official currency in Belize is the Belize Dollar, with the symbol BZD or BZ$. The good thing is it’s easily converted to USD or US Dollars. The current exchange is 2.01 Belize Dollars to 1 USD

ATMs in Belize only dispense in Belize dollars so keep that in mind. ATMs accept both Visa and Mastercard. Some businesses accept USD, and most accept cards. However it’s best to have local Belize Dollars we well. You can always exchange in hotels.

Check the updated currency exchange here

Costa Rica

The currency of Costa Rica is called Costa Rican colón and as of now, $1 USD is worth 620 CRC Costa Rican colón. Do not exchange your currency at the airport because you’ll get less than what you’ll get with the city’s exchange.

If you are bringing USD you can use them while traveling around Costa Rica, so no need to exchange them.

Bank or debit cards in an ATM are the recommended way to access your funds while traveling in Costa Rica. Know real-time currency exchange here, USD to CRC.

Belize vs Costa Rica – Which is the Better Vacation?

Both Belize and Costa Rica are beautiful and diverse countries that offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. It can be difficult to say which one is “better” for a vacation, as it really depends on your personal preferences and the type of vacation you are looking for. Here are some things to consider when deciding between Belize and Costa Rica:

Location: Belize is located in Central America, while Costa Rica is located in South America. This may be a factor if you are planning your trip around a specific region or are coming from a specific location.

Climate: Both Belize and Costa Rica have tropical climates with hot and humid weather year-round. However, the rainy seasons in the two countries differ slightly, with the rainy season in Belize lasting from June to October and the rainy season in Costa Rica lasting from May to November. This may be a factor if you are planning your trip around the weather.

Activities: Both Belize and Costa Rica offer a wide range of activities for visitors, including outdoor adventures such as hiking, rafting, and snorkeling, as well as cultural experiences such as visiting ancient ruins and exploring local markets. However, each country has its own unique attractions, such as the Great Blue Hole in Belize and the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

Accommodation: Both Belize and Costa Rica have a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Prices can vary depending on the location and type of accommodation.

Our Verdict

While the trip you need to take should be personalized based on your preferences and needs, for this match, we choose Costa Rica! We love that Costa Rica is such a fully-packed trip! You get beautiful beaches on both sides of the country, and you can experience lots of nature and get some activity in.

Belize is definitely a great contender and unmatched with its amazing diving and snorkeling. If you have time and the chance, visit both!

Let us know which one you ended up choosing, and whatever you choose, be sure to have a blast! Thank you and til our next guide.

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.