Should you visit Belize City or Santa Elena?
Should I visit Belize City or Santa Elena? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
Belize City is the largest city in Belize. It was once the capital of the country, but due to massive hurricane damage in 1961, the country decided to relocate it capital. With a population of 57,000 people, Belize City is located right at the mouth of the Haulover Creek.
This gorgeous tropical city experiences a monsoon climate – meaning there are warm and humid conditions throughout the course of the year. There is a wet season from May to January, so plan for a little bit of rain in that time.
Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.
In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.
Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.
Which city is cheaper, Santa Elena or Belize City?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Belize City is $70, while the average daily cost in Santa Elena is $59. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Belize City and Santa Elena in more detail.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $78 in Belize City For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
For a normal double-occupancy room in Santa Elena, $70 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Santa Elena, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $35, such as in a hostel.
While meal prices in Belize City can vary, the average travelers spends about $22 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in Belize City should cost around $8.80 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Belize City is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
Santa Elena food costs typically run travelers around $15 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
Belize City $22
Santa Elena $15
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Belize City
For Belize City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Private Mayan Cooking and Tasting Experience in Cayo:
See and Taste Belize Cave Tubing and Food Tour:
Belize Cultural Food Tour Altun Ha Ruin Included:
Mestizo Food Tour (Rum & Ruin Included):
Belize City's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $4.64 per person, per day on transportation in Belize City.
Santa Elena's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $7.09 per person, per day on transportation in Santa Elena.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Belize City
Also for Belize City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Helicopter Transfer to Grand Caribe Heliport, Ambergris Caye:
Private Arrival Transfer: Belize International Airport to San Ignacio Hotels:
Private Transfer: Belize Airports or Water Taxi Terminal to Hotel in San Ignacio:
Belize: Belize City to/from Placencia/Hopkins Transfer:
Belize Travelcation Airport Shuttle & Transfers:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena
Also for Santa Elena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Samara:
One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio:
Is it cheaper to fly into Belize City or Santa Elena?
Prices for flights to both Santa Elena and Belize City change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Belize City can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $23 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Santa Elena can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $19 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Belize City
For Belize City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
4-Day Aktun Tunichil Muknal and Lamanai City Tour:
5-Day Belize Sea and Land Adventure:
7-Night Tour Including The Orchid Garden Eco-Village Lodge and Ambergris Caye:
9-Day Tour Including Tikal Islander and Ambergris Caye:
All Day Reef fishing tour with lunch from Belize City:
Altun Ha & Belize City Tour from Caye Caulker:
Altun Ha Cave Tubing and Zip line Tours from Belize City:
Altun Ha City v.i.v Tour:
Altun Ha Maya & Belize City Adventure:
Altun Ha Mayan Ruins and River Wallace and Manatee Watch Tour:
Altun Ha Mayan Site tour from Belize City:
Altun Ha and Belize City Tour from San Pedro:
Tours and Activities in Santa Elena
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.
100% Adventure Park Combo: Zipline, Superman, and Mega Tarzan Tour in Monteverde:
Canopy Tour Plus Night Walk:
Canopy Tour Plus Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest:
Canopy plus Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Ceibal Day Tour from Flores:
Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Crocodile Tour on the Tarcoles River from Monteverde:
El Mirador Helicopter Tour:
Guatemala Birding Tour at Tikal and Uaxactún National Park:
Horseback Riding Tour Plus Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Horseback Riding Tour in Monteverde:
Horseback Riding Tour in Monteverde Plus Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest:
Typically, people visiting Belize City spend on average $9.58 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Santa Elena, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $3.97.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Belize City and Santa Elena, we can see that Belize City is more expensive. And not only is Santa Elena much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Elena would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Elena and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Belize City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Belize City than you might in Santa Elena.
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