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Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic: What is Better to Visit?

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic: What is Better to Visit?

Are the cold winter days making you feel blue and ready for a change? Are you planning to take a vacation somewhere warm and tropical? If so, two of the best destinations where you can enjoy some sunshine and sandy beaches are Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

However, you likely only have enough funds and vacation time to pick only one of these two places to visit. As such, you need to pick the best destination based on your preferences and needs. 

In this complete guide, you will learn about each of these locations including the best attractions, how safe each place is, the costs associated with traveling there, and the different lodging options for each destination. 

Keep reading to learn whether Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic is better to visit.

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic: Where Should You Go? 

There are numerous factors you’ll want to consider when choosing to vacation in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

For example, what kind of beaches would you like to visit? In Puerto Rico, you can expect more friendly and social beaches in the city of San Juan

However, since I personally don’t like crowded beaches, I went to the quieter Flamenco Beach, which has white sands and teal-colored waves. Puerto Rico also has a variety of beaches including black and golden sands as well as tight coves.

The Dominican Republic, however, has mostly white-sand beaches and warm temperatures year-round. Best of all, this region has 1,000 miles of beaches and coasts to choose from.

I mostly wanted to visit Playa Boca Chica because I wanted to see the coral reef and take a swim in calm ocean waters.

If you like more variety in your beaches, then Puerto Rico may be a great place to visit. Yet, the white sandy beaches and coral reefs of the Dominican Republic have plenty of their own appeal.

See Related: Warm Places to Visit in the U During Winter

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Vacation

If you’re looking to book a stay in Puerto Rico, I’d recommend any of the following lodgings:

The prices tend to range from around $1,500 to $3,000 for a two-week stay. You can also choose a vacation rental in Puerto Rico such as a beach house right in front of the ocean.

On the other hand, if you’d like to check out some lodging options in the Dominican Republic, take a peek at the list below.

The costs of these lodgings range from as little as around $500 for a two-week stay to as much as $5,000 at an all-inclusive resort.

Furthermore, you may want to consider staying at a beach-front apartment in the Dominican Republic.

What is a Puerto Rico Vacation?

Town By Sea and Skyline

A Puerto Rican vacation is one of lively nights out and tip top tourist activities. It’s a popular excursion for Americans seeking a little Latin experience, but don’t want to stray too far from home.

Americans don’t need a passport, and most of the locals speak English, but Puerto Rican culture is quite the departure from the mainland, which can be found in the incredible cuisine.

Let’s talk food!

Puerto Rican food is a combination of Spanish and Asian influences. San Juan, for instance, is known for trendy food and tasty meals from food trucks.

Innovations from celebrity chefs and constantly evolving restaurants are mainstays in Puerto Rico. 

One popular dish is known as mofongo, made with fried plantains mashed with pork skin and garlic, and can be served with seafood, or meat with sauces. Rice and beans are common choices as well. Pork tamales wrapped in banana leaves are also tasty and popular in Puerto Rico.

You won’t regret going to Puerto Rico just for the delicious food and up-and-coming restaurants. Before you decide, however, you may want to consider the cuisine in the Dominican Republic. 

What is a Dominican Republic Vacation?

Island with White Sand and Clear Ocean Water

A Dominican Republic vacation is for anyone obsessed with beach life. The Dominican Republic is a beach bum’s tropical paradise, known for it’s incredible weather and stunning architecture.

It’s a grand destination for anyone looking to kick back and relax, explore nature, or learn about a fascinating new culture. It’s also a great destination to live like a king or queen on a relatively small budget!

When considering taking a vacation in the Dominican Republic, get ready to have some delicious seafood, plantains, white rice, and beans. Braised meats are also a popular choice at this destination.

The Dominican Republic also has Spanish influences along with African cooking styles.

You’ll also enjoy the desserts, coffees, and hot chocolates in this region. If you choose to stay at all-inclusive resorts, then you may have your choice of buffet foods or more gourmet options at first-class restaurants. 

The bakeries, bars, and cafes throughout the Dominican Republic also have a French and Italian feel, as many immigrants from these nations have settled down in this tropical paradise.

So, if you’re vacationing in the Dominican Republic, go out and try any of the impressive restaurants here. You won’t regret it!

See Related: Virginia Beach vs Ocean City: What’s the Difference

What’s the Difference Between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic?

One of the biggest differences between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic is its safety. Most parts of Puerto Rico are safe, while the Dominican Republic typically has a few more hazards to keep in mind.

As safe as Puerto Rico generally is, if you’re traveling in the Puerto Rican capital city of San Juan, you should stay vigilant. This city has a population of about 500,000 residents and includes a few crime-ridden neighborhoods. 

In the Dominican Republic, the best way to remain safe is to stay at an all-inclusive resort. These resorts tend to have strong security features and staff handling the front gates. To avoid petty theft, you should still use the hotel safes.

If you’re traveling in Santo Domingo, you should keep your belongings close to your person. Otherwise, there is a slightly higher risk of getting robbed.

Sosua near Cabarete is also a place to avoid, as it can be dangerous for those traveling alone or for couples and small families.

As such, it may be better to stay in Puerto Rico if you’re looking to visit multiple cities. However, if you mostly want to stay at a resort the entire time, the Dominican Republic should be a safe place to stay as well.

How Are These Two Destinations Similar?

Two words; Spanish influence.

One similarity between the two locations is the type of food available. Both Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine has Spanish influences. The architecture too is highly influenced by the Spanish.

The most obvious of all these influences is the language; Spanish. The official language of both nations is Spanish (although Puerto Rico has English as its second official language).

Spanish influence aside, both regions are also located in the Caribbean and have plenty of beautiful beaches and coasts for visitors to enjoy.

The political stability between the two locations is also rather similar, if slightly more volatile in the Dominican Republic.

The warm climates of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are about the same throughout the year, and unfortunately, the weather can be savage in hurricane season. Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Both places also have a strong tourist industry, so you should have plenty to do wherever you choose to visit!

Which Travel Destination is Better Between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic?

There are still many more factors to consider before deciding to vacation in either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

Before you can decide whether Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic is better, you should consider the costs, the amount of paperwork required to enter either location, the food at each place, and the nightlife or attractions available.

For example, while I’ve found that the street food vendors in Puerto Rico tend to serve tastier options, the dollar will go further in the Dominican.

However, while costs may be lower, US citizens will need to get a passport before traveling to the Dominican Republic from the United States. Puerto Rico, however, is a US territory, so you can just use your driver’s license or state ID.

Furthermore, the nightlife in Puerto Rico is more lively and generally safer.

With greater poverty and crime in the Dominican Republic, you’ll need to be extra careful at night. Nonetheless, there are more beautiful beaches to check out in the Dominican Republic than in Puerto Rico.

When deciding which destination is better for you, It all depends on what you value the most.

What’s Better About Puerto Rico?

Fort with Coastline, Ocean, and Skyline View

It is easier to travel to Puerto Rico and stay there as long as you like when you are a US citizen. This is because this region is a US territory. As a foreign, sovereign nation, The Dominican Republic requires a visa if you want to stay longer than 30 days and a passport to enter.

I found the food better in Puerto Rico as well. The fruits and vegetables were delicious while the street food was also of higher quality. The restaurants were also clean and provided incredible dining options. 

I also found the attractions and nightlife in Puerto Rico more fun and amazing as compared to the Dominican. The city of San Juan has gorgeous architecture to check out as well. 

What’s Better About the Dominican Republic?

Scenic Town and Skyline

The main attraction of the Dominican Republic is its many miles of coastline.

For me, the gorgeous white-sand beaches and the pristine ocean waters of the Dominican are a better choice than those in Puerto Rico – which is saying something since Puerto Rico has a beach that glows in the dark!

While I did enjoy the beaches of Puerto Rico, I had more fun and found the coast of the Dominican more attractive. Nonetheless, watersports are common in both destinations.

Other positives when vacationing in the Dominican Republic are its architecture and attractions. Old Santo Domingo, where you can find the First Cathedral of the Americas (Catedral Primada de las Americas), is a beautiful part of the nation’s capital that you can spend days exploring.

The cafe scene here is off the chain, with many eateries offering traditional fare such as mangú, fried cheese, eggs and salami, for breakfast.

It’s also worth noting that all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican tend to be cheaper to stay at than the hotels available in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic Travel Costs

On average, the travel cost of staying at a hotel in Puerto Rico is about $111 per day. The lodging costs are greater during the peak of the tourist season and lower during the rainy season. 

While the average costs of lodging are about $151 per day in the Dominican Republic, this price tends to involve all-inclusive packages at resorts.

As such, all food and entertainment are included in the price. Therefore, the costs for visiting the Dominican Republic tend to be lower than in Puerto Rico. 

Travel costs by plane or by cruise tend to be similar between the two locations.

See Related: Proven Ways to Save Money for Travel

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic Attractions

In Puerto Rico, I got to choose various guided tours to see its many attractions. A few of these tours are listed below.

Two of the best places I visited in Puerto Rico were the San Juan Cathedral and the El Morro Fort. In the Dominican Republic, I enjoyed seeing the nature reserve at Lake Enriquillo.

I also loved the tours available in the Dominican Republic. Some of the fun guided tours I tried out were:

Puerto Rico Pros and Cons

Skyline, Sailing Boat, and Sunset

There are tons of pros you’ll find when visiting Puerto Rico, such as the warm climate and the many fun activities to do. You’ll find some cons as well, such as its more pricey cost of living.

Below, I have put together two lists showing the pros and cons of vacationing in Puerto Rico. Check it out!

Pros

The pros of visiting and staying in Puerto Rico are:

  • Consistently warm climate and tropical environment
  • The rich history of Old San Juan including its impressive architecture
  • The amazing guided tours for both land and water-based day trips
  • The watersports available on the coasts, such as jet skiing and snorkeling
  • The warm and calming beaches for sunbathing
  • The restaurants, bars, and rich food culture 
  • Easy travel to this region for Americans without a US passport
  • Amazing nightlife and lively nightclubs 
  • More residents speak English

At the end of the day, you won’t regret visiting Puerto Rico due to its many positives!

Cons

Yet, there are some cons when it comes to vacationing in Puerto Rico. These negatives include: 

  • Rainy weather that can end your fun beach day (4 to 6 inches of rain falling per month in the summer and early fall)
  • Greater likelihood of hurricanes between May and October
  • Higher cost of living where a vacation is likely to cost more overall as compared to all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic
  • Very expensive prices to enter Puerto Rican dance clubs 
  • The smaller number of beaches as compared to the Dominican

See Related: Best Spring Break Vacations for Families

Dominican Republic Pros and Cons

Pool with Ocean, Palm Trees, and Skyline View

The Dominican Republic has plenty of great things to do and see. The pros of the Dominican range from its many beautiful beaches to more affordable packages at all-inclusive resorts.

There are still several negatives you may find when vacationing in the Dominican Republic, such as safety issues.

Keep reading to learn about all the pros and cons of staying in the Dominican Republic.

Pros

When I visited the Dominican Republic and stayed at a resort, I found plenty of positives. Some of these pros include:

  • Most beautiful beaches found worldwide 
  • Fun sports available in its clear ocean waters
  • More affordable lodging options and all-inclusive resorts as compared to Puerto Rico
  • Very warm climates ranging from the high 70s to 90° F
  • Vibrant history in Santa Domingo with gorgeous buildings
  • The impressive nature reserve at Lake Enriquillo
  • Incredible exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art
  • The amazing golf course at Playa Dorado 

I surely loved all of the advantages of vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Cons

Nonetheless, there are certain cons about a Dominican vacation, such as:

  • The rainy season from April to October greatly impacts the northern regions 
  • Southern beaches pick up about 57 inches of rain per year
  • The higher rates of crime and lack of safety in its cities as compared to Puerto Rico
  • The quality of food is not as great as in Puerto Rico, especially from street food vendors
  • The region requires passports to visit and a visa if staying for longer than 30 days

Bottom Line: Is Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico Better?

Since I prefer to visit a safer location where I can roam around and enjoy great nightlife, then I suppose Puerto Rico may be a better choice, especially since both places have great beaches.

However, if you love the idea of lodging at an all-inclusive resort, visiting lots of beautiful sandy beaches, and spending less on your entire stay, then you will find the Dominican Republic the perfect place to vacation.

Nonetheless, both places are excellent choices for relaxing on a beach. When choosing a destination, consider what’s most important to you. 

See Related: Hidden Gems in the Caribbean Sea (You Can’t Miss This!)

Who Should Go to Puerto Rico (and Why)?

People Waking in Vibrant Street

Puerto Rico is a great place for individuals, couples, and small families who are looking to visit various parts of the region and take day trips to learn about the history of this destination. This is due to the overall safety of Puerto Rico.

Furthermore, this is an excellent place to visit if you like taking adventures and pursuing watersports. There are plenty of beaches where you can go jet skiing, kayaking, or snorkeling.

If you love Spanish food, such as rice and beans, as well as tasty meals from food trucks, then Puerto Rico is also a great vacation destination.

See Related: Bora Bora vs the Maldives

Who Should Go to the Dominican Republic (and Why)?

Monument Facing the Sea

One of the reasons I visited the Dominican Republic is due to my interest in all-inclusive resorts.

Those who prefer to stay in one location and have all restaurants available right at their fingertips would benefit from staying at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic.

This is an excellent choice for older adults who aren’t looking for adventures but would prefer to sunbathe at a beach. Nonetheless, there are lots of watersports to choose from and many beautiful beaches to visit at this destination.

Those on a more limited budget may also enjoy the affordable packages in the Dominican. 

Now, all you need to do is consider the pros and cons of each location and book a trip to your favorite destination!

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