Belize vs. Panama

Central America is not the top choice for most people when it comes to the perfect vacation destination. However, this underappreciated destination is home to some of the best tourist places. Belize and Panama are two standout locations in Central America for unique and memorable vacations. Both destinations boast a tropical adventure for anyone who looks beyond the usual destinations.
Belize vs. Panama

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If an undiscovered gem is one that you’re after, Belize will charm you instantly. Vibrant colors, a tranquil atmosphere, and welcoming people are what you can expect from this country. This place is the perfect mix of nature and adventure. With so much to explore, Belize will give a different meaning to what you perceive as the best vacation ever.

Panama is a small country, but it is rich in breathtaking views and colorful culture. Everything you can ever imagine in the adventure of a lifetime can be found inside this narrow country. The best part of Panama is that it’s very much unexplored compared to its neighboring countries. You’ll find something new and exciting on your visit.


Belize is known as “Mother Nature’s best-kept secret,” and it’s for good reason. Belize is one of the world’s last unspoiled vacation destinations. It’s a breath of fresh air. Belize may be located inside underrated Central America, but it’s oozing with the Caribbean energy.

In Belize, you can find everything that nature has to offer. You’ll never run out of things to look in awe at, whether they’re jungles, beaches, caves, or waterfalls. All that packed in a small country tucked away between Mexico and Guatemala.

If you’re someone who wants to go against the tide, Belize is the best destination for you. It will impress with its unconventional beauty and charm. It may not be the most popular destination, but it will be able to wow just as much as the popular ones, if not more.

What Makes Belize Unique?

Best Snorkeling and Diving

Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, and it will take your breath away. The barrier reef runs the entire length of the country. It’s like the barrier reef was made solely for Belize. Of all the barrier reefs in the world, the one in Belize is by far the most mind-blowing.

The barrier reef, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once considered endangered. Because Belize has banned oil-exploration practices, it’s now off the endangered list. It’s teeming with awe-inspiring corals and exotic marine life.

Because of such a beautiful protected barrier reef in Belize, you can expect snorkeling and diving to be unique adventures in the country. In Belize, you will be able to see so much marine wildlife, much more than you expect to see. From manatees to stingrays to seahorses, they are all in Belize. There’s no doubt that Belize is one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in the whole world.

The Only Jaguar Preserve in the World

The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve is the only jaguar preserve you can find in the whole world, and it’s in Belize!

There are many types of cats, like jaguars and pumas, that are indigenous to Central America and Belize only. All of these beloved great cats can be found in a sanctuary in Belize. The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve cover 150 square miles (388.5 square kilometers) of Belize. All this area is a pristine tropical forest.

In this jaguar preserve, you will not only be welcomed by the beautiful wildlife. It’s also rich in natural beauty, adventure, and even culture. Just going to the jaguar preserve will leave you in awe of how naturally beautiful the place is. You can even immerse yourself in this beauty by doing different activities such as hiking, river tubing, and many more.

It’s not only the adventure that will take your breath away. In the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve, you will also be able to see the Chucil Baluum. The Chucil Baluum is a minor Mayan ceremonial site inside the preserve.

There’s truly so much to see inside this sanctuary. People go inside to see the great cats of Belize, but they will leave with so much more experience and memories.

Unbelievable Attractions

Not a lot of people know that Belize can stand on its own as a vacation destination. Most of the time, Belize is overlooked or just added as part of a Caribbean trip. However, if you truly immerse yourself in what it has to offer, you will realize that it is definitely one of the best destinations in the whole world.

Belize is home to much natural beauty. Your eyes will be more than satisfied, and you will leave Belize with unforgettable sights and memories. Here are some attractions and locations that should not be missed in Belize:

The Great Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole of Belize is the largest sea hole in the whole world. It’s so massive that it can be seen from outer space. And this wonderful attraction is in Belize. This iconic attraction is one of the best diving spots in the whole world.

This world-class Belizian attraction is well-loved by scuba divers and snorkelers. Regardless if you’re new or an expert, you can expect to enjoy the Great Blue Hole. It’s filled with a wide variety of marine life species, from fish to wonderful coral formations.

This sea hole goes 500 feet (152.4 meters) deep. The only way to get to the bottom part of the hole is by using a mini-submarine.

Hopkins Village

If you’re after a warm and friendly atmosphere, the Hopkins Village on the mainland of Belize is the right place for you. The Hopkins Village is a small village on the coast of the Stann Creek District. It is considered the cultural center of the Garifuna population of Belize.

Since it is considered the friendliest village in Belize, you can expect to be welcomed with overwhelming hospitality. In the village, you can experience the local culture for yourself. There’s a rustic beach vibe, paired with endless restaurants and shops that you can choose from.

Hopkins Village also hosts events and festivals annually. One famous festival is the Mango Fest which happens every summer in honor of the beloved tropical fruit.


A tranquil and charming village may just be something you need to unwind. Belize has that for you. Placencia is a seaside village in Belize that started out as a serene fishing village. Now, it’s home to many luxurious resorts and world-renowned restaurants. Despite the changes in Placencia, it still retains its tranquility and charm.

In Placencia, you can also find the Placencia Peninsula, which is a must-explore location in Belize. Despite the quiet atmosphere, there’s plenty to discover in Placencia Peninsula. You can snorkel and see the wide variety of marine wildlife. Fly Fishing is also a very popular activity in this place.

If you’re more of the land type of person, there are also hiking trails for you to explore. Placencia is filled with as much forest and wildlife on land as there is underwater.

Half Moon Caye

Half Moon Caye is a picture-perfect destination in Belize. With its white-sand beaches and unbelievably clear waters, there’s nothing more that you can ask for. However, it offers more than just a beautiful sight to look at.

Half Moon Caye is a sanctuary. It preserves ecosystems, and it is home to some endangered species. Whether it’s on land or underwater, Half Moon Caye does not fail to impress anyone who dares explore it.

You will not have an idle moment in Half Moon Caye because there’s so much to explore that will take your breath away. There are endless sights to see, so even if you visit this location twice or thrice, you will still find something new to enjoy.

Cayo District

Belize’s Wild West. That’s what the Cayo District is known for. The Cayo District of Belize boasts some of the most scenic attractions in the whole country. Locals know that there’s a lot to be proud of in this area.

The Cayo District is the largest district in Belize. It is filled with waterfalls, jungles, and cave systems that will surely pique anyone’s interest. However, the Cayo District is also home to a bustling city that’s teeming with life.

What’s great about the Cayo District is that it has the best of both worlds. If you want to retreat from the buzz of everyday life, there’s a place in Cayo District where you can unwind and just bask in nature. However, if you want to be met by a friendly and warm atmosphere, you’re more than welcome to go to the district’s capital city.

Mayan Ruins

When you go to Belize, you will see Mayan Ruins all over the country. Belize was once a Mayan heartland, so it’s now filled with so many Mayan historical and archaeological sites. Of all the nations with Mayan sites, Belize has the most because it’s the heart of ancient Mayan civilization.

A trip to Belize will not be complete without visiting at least one of these Maya Ruins. Here are some of the best Mayan Ruins to visit:


The Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich are some of the least accessible Mayan Ruins in Belize. However, it’s worth all the trouble of getting there. The only way you can see the Xunantunich is by riding a hand-cranked cable ferry. It’s already an adventure!

In Xunantunich, you can find “El Castillo,” or The Castle, which experts believed to be a shrine for the ruling family of the Mayans. El Castillo is the second largest building in Belize, so you can expect a breathtaking view once you’ve climbed to the top of it.


Inside the Chiquibui Forest of Belize, you can find the most important Mayan Ruins of them all: the Caracol. Caracol used to be a Mayan city that housed more than a hundred thousand people.

Due to being abandoned for a long time, most of Caracol has already lost its footprint, but tourists and visitors still have a lot to work with. There’s a lot of space and structures to explore.

Caracol also boasts the Sky Palace, also known as Canna. It’s the tallest ruin in Belize, and the best part about it is that it’s possible to climb to its top. Once on top of the Sky Palace, soak up the view because you’re seeing so much of Belize, like a proper ruler.


The ruins of Cerros are breathtaking because they’re exactly along the coast. Imagine looking at Mayan Ruins with a serene ocean background. The structure definitely stands out and makes for a good photograph.

Many structures in Cerros have been submerged due to the rising sea levels; however, there’s still so much to see that will amaze anyone.

El Pilar

If you’re the type who wants to explore the ones that haven’t been explored much, then head over to the ruins of El Pilar. It’s the Mayan ruins of Belize that haven’t been seen by many visitors. It’s not one of the famous ruins because it’s still in the early stages of excavation. However, it’s just as interesting and breathtaking as the other Mayan ruins in Belize.

What sets El Pilar aside from other ruins is that it’s not only an archaeological site it’s also a developing preservation area. You don’t only get to enjoy the structure in El Pilar, but you can also go about and explore the natural attractions it offers through a hike.

Overflowing Culture

Belize is a melting pot of different cultures, which makes it more exciting than you would expect. With all the vibrant culture in Belize, it’s easy to get lost in its uniqueness.

Belize is a small country, but it’s surprisingly filled with many traditions and cultures. Some of these cultures are East Indian, Creole, Garifuna, and Mayan. Each of these groups had its own traditions, art, and music that all merged into the beautiful culture that Belize now has.

When you step into Belize, you will be taken away by its vibrant culture, which is evident wherever you go. The food you taste is as unique as the mix of cultures there. The music and art you hear and see are mixed and colorful. The culture of Belize is something that you should see and experience in person. It will leave you feeling awed and fulfilled.

Belizian Food To Die For

Because Belizian culture is a mixture of different cultures, you can expect the food to be as unique as the culture. Each group that went to Belize had its own cuisine, which in turn became part of the fusion that is Belizian cuisine. The mixture of spices, cooking styles, and techniques makes Belizian cuisine quirky and flavorful. They’re something that will awaken your taste buds.

The most popular dishes of Belize are rooted in Mexican and Mayan dishes, but you will also encounter Caribbean dishes. The classic rice and beans should not be missed. Other dishes to look forward to in Belize are the tender stew chicken, tamales, and ceviche, among others.

Restaurants in Belize have a wide range of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables for their customers. You know that when you’re in Belize, you have many options, and all of them will be more than satisfying for your taste buds.


The country of Panama is Central America’s home to rich history and culture. It’s well known for its Panama Canal, which plays a big role in global trade. However, beyond the vibrant culture and the famous Canal, you can find more eclectic and unique things that will make your stay memorable.

Panama, with its small size, is surprisingly packed with history, culture, and everything else that makes a country well and alive. When you visit Panama, you will see an untouched natural beauty. There are all the tropical beaches, wildlife, and attractions waiting for you to explore. It’s truly an emerging destination for vacations because it radiates with life and color.

People come to Panama not expecting a lot, but when they leave, they will always bring a part of Panama with them. This destination always leaves a mark on its visitors.

What Makes Panama Unique?

Caribbean and Pacific in One

One of the best things about Panama, and one that truly makes it stand out, is that it has access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It’s easy to hop from one side to the other, which makes the overall experience unique. It’s recommended that you start your day in the Pacific and end it in the Caribbean.

Because you have access to both the Pacific and Caribbean, you have more beautiful beaches to see. You will get the best of both worlds. Here are some of the best Caribbean and Pacific beaches to visit in Belize:

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is the perfect representation of the Caribbean in Belize. It’s a full strip of islands by the Caribbean Sea that is also home to a tropical rainforest. The vibe in Bocas del Toro is laid back and relaxing. Compared to other Caribbean locations, this place is underdeveloped and barely populous.

You can enjoy a good snorkeling and diving experience in Bocas del Toro. If you’re not the kind to want to get under the water, you can enjoy the beautiful nature that the landscape has to offer. The nightlife is also lively with a warm atmosphere from the locals.

Playa Venao

Jungle and ocean in one. That’s what Playa Venao is all about. It’s a picture-perfect town that gives you a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. The biggest draw of this place is that there’s not a big crowd, so you can enjoy many locations as if you’re the only one there. Playa Venao boasts black-sand beaches and a unique surfing experience for anyone who dares to try and enjoy.

Despite being not as crowded as other places in Belize, it is quickly growing as a tourist destination because it’s the perfect spot for surfing. However, it doesn’t end there. You can snorkel, dive, and watch whales, too.

Coiba Island

Coiba Island or Coiba Marine Park is a marine reserve in the Pacific part of Panama. It used to be a limited location, wherein most of the park was not allowed to be visited. This is so that the area’s natural resources remain untouched. Today, it boasts some of the best biodiversity in the whole world. One look at Coiba Island will take your breath away.

The marine wildlife in Coiba Island is unmatched. It’s one of the best diving locations in the world, where you’ll be met with stingrays, whales, and sharks. However, there’s also plenty of hiking experience to be done in the area if you’re not into the marine wildlife.

Santa Catalina

It’s a small and underdeveloped village without many tourists, but Santa Catalina is world-renowned. It is known as one of the best surfing destinations for both beginners and experts. It’s the place to be if you want to experience the best surf of your life.

In Santa Catalina, you will see some breathtaking black-sand beaches with powerful waves to truly bring the adrenaline out. There are beaches in Santa Catalina with relatively smaller waves for those looking to just start out and enjoy.

Panama Canal

If a country has one of the world’s seven wonders in it, it says a lot about the good experiences you can get from that country. Panama is most known for its legendary Canal; the Panama Canal.

The Canal was built between the years 1904 and 1914 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It’s world-renowned because it’s a 48-mile (77.25 km) waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The Canal has helped greatly in the development of the country’s economy.

A great way to experience the Panama Canal for yourself is by visiting the Miraflores visitor center. There you will be able to find a theater that shows a film featuring Mr. Canales. The film will run you through the history of the Panama Canal, from how it started to how it’s doing now.

Other than the theater in Miraflores, you can also enjoy some boat tours that cross the Canal.

The Sun Is Everywhere

In the whole world, there’s no place like Panama. This is because it’s only in Panama where you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset from different ends without going to different places.

In Panama, you can watch the sunrise on the Pacific Ocean, and watch the sunset on the Atlantic Ocean from the same spot. You can’t say this event happens a lot in the other parts of the world. This is one of the most unforgettable magic that Panama has to offer. The sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking and exotic and are something that will be in your memory forever.

If you’re in Panama, you should not miss watching the sunrise and sunset from one place. It’s magical when you’re witnessing it in person.

Enthralling Biodiversity

Paradise. That’s one word to quickly describe what Panama is. Central America is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, so you can expect Panama to be one, too. Panama is gifted with some exotic species of animals and plants, as well as some of the most diverse wildlife out there.

The country connects both Central and South America. Because of this placement of Panama, it’s covered so much with rainforest, from mountain forests to wetlands. In Panama, you will find more than 10,000 species of plants, over 200 mammals, and more than 900 indigenous bird species.

Because of the biodiversity of Panama, they aim to protect their land. With more than 10 national parks, there’s a lot for someone to explore. You will be in awe of the beauty of nature that Panama has to offer. Simply seeing the animals, plants, and landscapes of Panama will bring a smile to your face.

Playground for Adventure

We now all know that nature blessed Panama with so many beautiful landscapes, animals, and plants. With so much that Panama has to offer, it’s easy to believe that adventure awaits you in this country.

There is so much you can do in Panama that you will not find yourself idling. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to relax, but in a country as beautiful as Panama, you want to explore every corner with every second you have.

Here are some of the can’t-miss adventures in Panama:

Follow the Lost Waterfalls Trail

Hiking is one of the most common activities in Panama. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s a trail for you to follow. However, one of the best trails in Panama is the Lost Waterfalls Trail.

The Lost Waterfalls Trail, also known as Las Tres Cascadas (The Three Waterfalls), is a moderate hike in western Panama. The trail brings you through a forest that has three magnificent waterfalls. Depende on how many of these three waterfalls you want to see, your hike can take anywhere from one hour to four hours.

On your Lost Waterfalls hike, you will have the chance to see some of the beautiful wildlife of Panama. Sometimes, quetzals and monkeys will be visible on the trail.

Be Awed by Biomuseo

If you look at Panama’s natural and biodiversity history, you will know that it really changed the world. Because of the significance of Panama, it strives to protect its lands and environment. If you want to learn more about the biodiversity of Panama and the efforts that it gives, make sure to visit the Biomuseo.

The Biomuseo is a colorful and geometric museum in Panama. It offers interactive and child-friendly displays all about Panama. In Biomuseo, there are 8 galleries, each showcasing something unique and breathtaking about Panama. The galleries range from topics about how Panama was formed to all the information about the animals in the country.

Biomuseo isn’t just an indoor experience. It also has outdoor spaces for tourists and locals to enjoy. Seeing everything about Panama in a single place is a unique kind of adventure.

Experience Calle Uruguay

If the kind of adventure you seek is social and done during the night, Panama has exactly what you’re looking for. For a taste of the vibrant nightlife of Panama, don’t forget to take a trip down Calle Uruguay.

If you’re looking for the best after-hours parties and bars in Panama, Calle Uruguay is the place to be. It doesn’t become alive until after 10 PM, but once it’s up and about, the energy is intoxicating. In Calle Uruguay, there is a wide variety of activities and experiences that you can have, depending on what you’re looking for.

However, regardless of what you want to do, you can expect to find the best pubs and karaoke bars there. And it should not be forgotten that there’s endless dancing involved!

Watch the Whales

If you plan to visit Panama anywhere around July to October, you can expect to see the humpback whales. These whales journey from the Antarctic up to the Pacific. They end up on the Coiba Island of Panama to give birth. Watching the whales is an incredible experience that you should not miss.

However, it’s not only the humpback whales that you can enjoy watching in Panama. Other species that you can spot are dolphins and pilot whales.

Rich History and Culture

Panama is known as a famous country that connects the world. However, this isn’t only because of the famous Panama Canal. Panama is a melting pot of cultures. It’s a crossroads for humanity. Many different cultures and tribes have come to Panama, bringing their own mark on the country.

Modern-day Panama is a mosaic of many different cultures and traditions. If there’s a country that truly says diversity, it’s Panama. Here are some of the highlights of Panama’s history and culture:

Two Independence Days

Unlike any other country, Panama has two independence days. These independence days are celebrated in the same month: November. One independence day is celebrated on November 28, which is Panama’s independence from Spain in 1821. On the other hand, they also celebrate independence day on November 3, which is Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.

Vibrant Music

Because of the crossroads nature of Panama’s culture, the overall vibe of the country is vibrant. Panama has roots in Spanish, North American, Afro Caribbean, and indigenous cultures. You will see all these colorful cultures with a visit to Panama. It can clearly be seen in the traditions, arts, and mostly music.

A big part of Panama’s culture is its music. A trip to Panama means that you will be surrounded by the vibrant music of Panama. The music of Panama is a combination of other styles such as salsa, congo, and cumbia. The mixture of music styles creates a lively and sparkling music scene that anyone can enjoy.

Indigenous Tribes

Panama has seven indigenous tribes, which all contribute to its vibrant and rich culture. These seven indigenous tribes are the Ngäbe, the Buglé, the Guna, the Emberá, the Wounaan, the Bri Bri, and the Naso Tjërdi.

You may immerse yourselves in the many different indigenous tribes of Panama. On the banks of the Chagres River is where you will find most of them. You may ride up the river in the canoe and immerse yourself in their cultures.

These indigenous tribes have their own food, traditions, and dances that anyone will enjoy. A look at these tribes will give you a better glimpse of what shaped Panama to be what it is now.

Chivas Parrandenas

Panama is also all about the parties and nightlife. If you want to get a unique experience of partying while still indulging in the culture of Panama, try going to a Chivas Parrandenas.

The Chivas Parranderas are party buses in Panama. These are remodeled buses that have guides, delicious rum, and a band inside. If you want to experience how fun and electric Panama can be, don’t miss out on one of these party buses!

Which Is Better – Panama or Belize?

Panama and Belize are two of the best undiscovered gems of Central America. Both offer a unique experience that you can’t find elsewhere in the world. Each country stands out for a good reason, and they bring a different experience. What you will find in Belize, you cannot find in Panama, and vice versa.

However, between the two countries, Panama has more things to explore and more sights that you will not be able to get out of your mind. Panama is a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and pleasure.

If there’s something you want in a vacation paradise, Panama has it. The beautiful sights, diverse wildlife, and rich and colorful culture of Panama are enough to give you the best vacation of your life.

This doesn’t mean, though, that Belize can’t be as good as Panama. Belize has some of the best “nature’s wonders” and some that you will not find anywhere else in the world. Paired with interested Mayan Ruins, it’s hard not to appreciate Belize as a hidden wonder of the world.

Both destinations offer a unique view of the world. It all depends now on which experience you want to have and which sights you want to see. What’s even better, why not visit both destinations to get a truly great perspective of the world and nature? These destinations are nature’s best, and it will be hard to miss one of the two.


Is Belize Safer Than Panama?

Between Panama and Belize, Panama wins this round. Panama is known to be one of the safest places in Central America. During your travels, you don’t have to worry about being robbed or lost. People are very warm and friendly and will be more than happy to guide you. In Panama, you will be carefree.

This doesn’t mean that Belize is not safe for travel. There are hardly any crimes against tourists in Belize. However, Panama is safer.

It should be remembered, though, that regardless of how safe your destination is, you should still be careful. If you want to ensure that you will have the best time, be prepared and cautious.

Is Panama Cheaper Than Belize?

Both Belize and Panama are relatively cheap destinations to have a vacation in. Whether you decide to go to Belize or Panama, you will be spending almost the same amount.

However, in general, Panama has a cheaper cost of living, but only by a small margin. Despite that, Belize can be more affordable to travel to because it’s a smaller country compared to Panama. There’s more to explore in Panama, so you can expect to spend more there.

Is Belize in Panama?

Belize is not in Panama. Both destinations are independent countries that can be found in Central America. These two countries are not the same, and one is not inside another. They have similarities, but their differences are significant that it’s easy to tell them apart. There is also a considerable distance between the two countries despite both being in Central America.

How Do You Get From Belize to Panama?

The great thing about Belize and Panama is that there are so many options for traveling from one place to the other. If you plan to visit both destinations, you won’t have to worry about your transportation options. They’re both very accessible.

To get from Belize to Panama, you have at least 4 options: drive, ride the bus, ride the ferry, or fly on a plane.

The fastest way to get from Belize to Panama is by riding a plane. You can also ride the ferry and then the bus. Although that way is slower, it is so much cheaper. Of course, you also have the option to drive your own car, which is the most affordable option of all if you have your own vehicle.

Can You Fly From Belize to Panama?

Yes, there are flights going from Belize to Panama. It’s also the fastest but most expensive way to go from Belize to Panama.

When it comes to the flights, you have many options, although most are indirect flights. Direct flights from Belize to Panama happen only at least once a week.

How Long Is the Flight From Panama to Belize?

A direct flight from Panama to Belize can take up approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. Some flights will take longer, taking up to almost 5 hours.

Can You Drive From Belize to Panama?

Yes. Driving from Belize to Panama is one of the cheapest ways to travel from one place to the other. However, if you don’t plan to take up a whole day and a half to drive, it’s not the best route to go.

Driving from Belize to Panama can take you up to 35 hours. The driving distance is 1,452 miles (2,337 kilometers).