When newlyweds (or not-yet-weds) are busy planning the getaway of their dreams, the first step is usually to choose a destination, which can seem overwhelming with the number of options available. For honeymooners looking to satisfy the need for a post-wedding reprieve in tropical paradise, both Costa Rica and Belize fit the bill perfectly, which might make it hard to decide between the two. So who wins? Read on to unveil (pun intended) a little more about each destination before you make your decision!
Diving & Snorkeling
Costa Rica: ★☆☆☆☆
Though there are a few snorkeling sites along each coast in Costa Rica, avid divers or snorkelers will be disappointed. Visibility is generally pretty poor, and the variety and accessibility of undersea wildlife in this area is not great. It’s still fun to go out on a snorkeling trip if you keep your expectations in check, but the more amazing wildlife in Costa Rica is found on land.
On the other hand, Belize snorkeling and diving is fantastic. Belize has one of the longest barrier reefs in the world, second only to Australia. It runs nearly the entire length of the country, 309 kilometers (192 miles), and features hundreds of snorkel and dive sites along the reef, in addition to others located on nearby cayes and offshore atolls. Under the waves, lives a magical community of abundant sea life and colorful corals, welcoming divers and snorkelers of all levels, with sharks, rays, seahorses, dolphins, morays, sea turtles, and hundreds of species of brightly colored tropical fish.
Both Costa Rica and Belize have great options for romantic accommodations, at a range of different price points. Honeymooners willing to shell out can get a private in-room plunge pool or a private Jacuzzi for an extra dose of luxe, or those on a budget can check into a detached thatched-roof cabana for a rustic and relaxed stay. Either way, our recommendation is to spend a couple of days at a remote jungle lodge, or beachfront resort on a deserted stretch of sand, to up the romance factor, unplug from your phone and laptop, and reconnect with one another.
Costa Rica: ☆☆☆☆☆
Costa Rica is not known for its historic sites.
Belize is in the Maya heartland, with a wealth of rich history hidden in its jungle-cloaked interior. From sprawling Mayan ruins to ancient ceremonial caves, there is enough here to keep any history buff busy for days. Due to cruise tourism, the most visited Maya site in Belize is Altun Ha, but there are better and less crowded ruins further inland – we’d recommend Lamanai, Caracol, Xunantunich, and for a thrilling subterranean adventure, the ceremonial caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal.
Costa Rica: ★★★★★
Though both Belize and Costa Rica have great adventure activities, Costa Rica has a wider variety of adventure tours available in more locations throughout the country (both inland and in coastal regions), so Costa Rica wins this category. However, both have adventures that are appropriate for a variety of comfort zones. You don’t have to be a hardcore mountain climber to get your adrenaline pumping here!
Costa Rica is well-known as an adventure destination, with most of the country’s most thrilling adventure excursions focused in and around Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, and the highlands. Still, almost anywhere you go, you’re not far from a thrill. Honeymooners craving a burst of adrenaline can hike jungle trails, cloud forests and volcanoes, go whitewater rafting or kayaking, ride horses or ATVs, or get a bird’s eye view on a zip line, canyoning or waterfall rappelling adventure.
In Belize, caving is a popular adventure activity that comes in many flavors – tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and spelunking through ceremonial caves. For those that want to stay above ground, hike beautiful trails through nature reserves, explore on horseback or ATV, take flight in a helicopter, whiz down a zip line, or go kite surfing. Out on the water, there are even more options.
Costa Rica: ★★★★☆
Costa Rica’s wildlife is unparalleled, with a wide range of terrestrial and birdlife visible throughout the country, particularly in lowland rainforest and cloud forested regions, including the Osa Peninsula, Tortuguero, Monteverde, Arenal, and the South Caribbean Coast. For honeymooners seeking a wildlife experience like no other, the Osa Peninsula – called “the most biologically intense place on earth” by National Geographic – is a must visit. In the unspoiled jungles of the peninsula, visitors can spot toucans, scarlet macaws, tapirs, three species of monkeys, red eyed tree frogs, sloths, and hundreds of other exotic animal species. In terms of biodiversity, Tortuguero is a close second, and boat cruises along the canals afford for spectacular wildlife viewing with no hiking required. Monteverde is known mainly for birds and amphibians, and Arenal and the South Caribbean Coast each offer a good cross-section of critters waiting to be discovered. Check out our top-selling Costa Rica Nature & Wildlife Honeymoon, or the luxurious Costa Rica Luxury Nature Escape.
Below the waves, Belize’s wildlife is far superior. Divers and snorkelers can hope to spot sea turtles, hundreds of species of colorful fish, nurse sharks, whale sharks (who come to dine on reef spawn between March and June), eagle and manta rays, stingrays, dolphins, and lionfish (which are an invasive non-native species and a serious threat to the ecosystem).
Costa Rica: ★★★★★
Neither Costa Rica nor Belize have the type of long, wide white sands that Caribbean islands are known for, but Costa Rica does have some truly stunning beaches. Some are quiet protected coves with white sand and calm turquoise water, while others are several kilometers long, often nearly deserted and fairly wild. With hundreds of beaches to check out along two long coastlines, there is something for every beachgoer in Costa Rica. Read more in our Costa Rica beach guide.
Beaches in Belize are nice and scenic, usually white sand with small waves and a fair bit of sea grass in the water. It’s a good sign for sea life and diving, but can mean that snorkeling may not be readily available right off the beach.
Costa Rica: ★★★☆☆
There are tasty choices in both places. Local Costa Rica’s cuisine is very Central American – rice & beans (called gallo pinto), ceviche tamales, olla de carne (beef stew served with rice, beans and salad) and the commonly eaten plato del dia or casado which typically includes meat, fried cheese, salad, rice and beans, and fried plantain.
Belize’s cuisine is infused with the influences of the many cultures that call this beautiful country home – Criole, Garifuna, Maya, and Mestizo – resulting in some seriously good eats! Think aromatic curries, coconut infused dishes, ceviche, fresh seafood, and more. If your honeymoon dates are flexible, try to time your visit with lobster season, which opens June 15th and closes February 15th each year. Read more on Belizean cuisine.
Costa Rica: ★★★☆☆
English is widely spoken in Costa Rica, though the official language is Spanish. More remote, less touristy destinations in Costa Rica will have fewer English speakers than the tourist hubs, though most hotel staff and tour guides speak English.
The official language of Belize is English, so it's perfect for North American and British honeymooners.
For honeymooners looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, both countries have a few great options. In Costa Rica there are a few beach towns that qualify – the surfer towns of Tamarindo and Santa Teresa in the northwestern corner of the country, Dominical on the Central Pacific, and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean. Each has a long list of bars and restaurants, some with chilled out vibes and live music, and others with pulsing reggaeton, where you can dance the night away. In articles online and forums, Jacó often comes up as a rowdy party town, but we’ve left it off of our list on purpose. Jacó is geared toward bachelor parties, known for prostitution and drugs, and generally a seedier experience than other locales in Costa Rica.
Similarly, in Belize there are a smattering of beach towns with great nightlife. San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular spots, and nearby luxury accommodation options makes it an ideal choice for honeymooners, while Caye Caulker caters more to backpackers and a younger crowd, and Placencia, located on the mainland, features a long line of beachfront bars and restaurants where you can dance the night away.
Belize vs. Costa Rica Honeymoon Price
Belize and Costa Rica are both affordable compared to other adventure and beach destinations like St. Lucia and Hawaii. They offer the same warm tropical waters, luxury accommodation options, high-quality dining and romantic couples' experiences as more expensive destinations, but with Central America's cheaper, more accessible pricing, both Belize and Costa Rica can offer an unforgettable honeymoon getaway without breaking the budget. Depending on the type of trip you're after, a honeymoon to Belize or Costa Rica could start as low as USD $900 total for a seven-night trip, excluding flights.
A more mid-range honeymoon in either destination will cost in the range of $3,000-3,500, while a more luxurious honeymoon with high-end accommodations (honeymoon suites, private plunge pools), activities, and romantic extras starts at around $4,500 in Costa Rica or $5,000 in Belize.
So, when it's Belize vs. Costa Rica, which destination is the right one for your honeymoon? The answer, as with most other things is it depends.
Both countries are amazing. Belize has better diving, snorkeling and water activities, great food, and the added attraction of the Mayan heartland. Costa Rica is stronger in terms of wildlife, beaches and has a more developed infrastructure for inland adventure activities. We know you’ll love the destination you choose! Take a look at our most popular Belize honeymoon packages, and our best-selling Costa Rica honeymoon packages.