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

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

Is the weather at home making you want to jump on a plane and jet off to someplace sunny and warm? Then Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic are just what you’re searching for. Head to these beautiful Caribbean countries for tropical vibes, unbelievable blue waters, and sand between your toes… but which is the perfect getaway?

This comprehensive guide will get you sorted for the ultimate Caribbean vacation. Not sure which one you should choose, Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

We’ll review the top attractions, places, safety tips, and budget breakdowns, so whichever destination you choose will be perfect. Let’s plan your dream tropical getaway.

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic

About Puerto Rico

Town By Sea and Skyline

Puerto Rico is a gem of the Caribbean, just bursting with culture and excitement. Should you want to get that Latin experience without taking a long trip, it’s just east of the Dominican Republic. 

And even better, since it’s a U.S. territory, you don’t need a passport if you’re coming from the United States – plus, most locals speak English, so there are no language barriers.

It’s the ultimate hassle-free vacation spot for Americans looking to escape their busy lives for a little Latin experience. Need help booking flights? Check out cheap flights here.

Puerto Rico sure knows how to tantalize the taste buds. With a tasteful blend of Spanish and Asian influences, you’ll never find anything quite like this fusion. 

Take San Juan, the country’s capital, for example – their trendy restaurants and food trucks are the talk of the town. And with famous chefs and innovative eateries sprouting up all over the island, you’d be missing out if you didn’t check out this foodie paradise.

Puerto Rico not only has yummy food, but it’s also a super exciting place for nature lovers. It’s got rainforests, including the famous El Yunque National Forest, mountains, national parks, and waterfalls to explore. And did somebody mention bioluminescent bays? 

Yes, indeed- there’s no way you’re missing out on that fun. For adrenaline seekers, there are loads of outdoor activities to pick from – like hiking trails, zip-lining, or kayaking in the sparkling blue waters of Mosquito Bay. 

Ready for a more peaceful retreat? Take a boat to Culebra and Vieques islands – no better place for award-winning white sandy beaches. You’ll find glorious nature, isolation, and nothing but relaxing vibes. Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island ⁠— or if you’re ready to party, Playa Boca Chica on the mainland is where it’s at. Travelers from miles around flock here for fantastic beach fun in Puerto Rico.

Read more about the best things to do in Puerto Rico to make the most of your visit and vacation.

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

About the Dominican Republic

Island with White Sand and Clear Ocean Water

A Dominican Republic vacation is the perfect way to indulge all your beach-loving interests. The country has some of the best weather in the world, abundant natural beauty, protected nature reserves, and cultural hotspots to explore.

Should you seek a relaxing getaway, this is undoubtedly it, and the most well-known destinations are Punta Cana or Santo Domingo. And if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – the country has plenty of inexpensive spots to stay while enjoying all this tropical paradise provides.

Punta Cana is the place to be in the Dominican Republic. It’s on the eastern coast and has some of the most stunning beaches ever – seriously, you have got to check them out.

But if you’re searching for a distinct choice, why not explore Puerto Plata? On the northern part of D.R. – fantastic beauty and an incredible past. Plus, a gorgeous colonial old town with cobblestone lanes is so romantic you won’t believe your eyes.

What makes the Dominican Republic so exciting compared to other Caribbean destinations is its fantastic mix of cultures and influences. Its history has African Spanish & Taino components, contributing to an amazingly dynamic culture. You can hear it in their music and feel it with their dance – plus, the food is out of this world.

During a Dominican Republic vacation, the people’s and culture’s warmth will captivate you. Renowned for their warm hospitality, Dominicans will give you an extraordinary experience that will leave a mark – they’ll make it so you feel right at home. And make sure to visit prepared by having the best international travel insurance.

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Accommodations

Pool and building of Hotel Lucía Beach
Hotel Lucía Beach / Booking.com

Should you want to book a stay in Puerto Rico, I’d recommend any of the following lodgings:

The prices 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 in front of the ocean. Alternatively, if you’d like to check out some lodging options in the Dominican Republic, 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. Moreover, you may want to consider staying at a beach-front apartment in the Dominican Republic.

See Related: Virginia Beach vs. Ocean City

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Travel Costs

On average, if you’re looking to stay at an upscale hotel in Puerto Rico, it’ll likely cost you around $111 daily. But if you’re visiting during the peak of tourist season, don’t be shocked by higher lodging costs. And, if you want to head there during the rainy season, the prices lower a bit.

For those thinking about heading to the Dominican Republic, remember that, on average, lodgings can range from $151 per day, and prices typically involve all-inclusive packages you won’t find anywhere else.

Everything you need to have a great time – food and entertainment – is all included in the price. That means if you visit the Dominican Republic, it’s usually cheaper than visiting Puerto Rico. And whether you’re flying in or taking a cruise, your travel costs will be about the same.

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Safety

Street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
cogito ergo imago / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

When comparing the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, safety is one of the main areas that come into play. Puerto Rico is typically safe, but keep your eyes peeled if you’re adventuring in San Juan.

This lively capital city has half a million people and some neighborhoods that could present an increased risk. As always – stay alert but enjoy all the beauty it presents. 

But if you explore Old San Juan, there is no need to worry—it’s the ultimate place to go. Old San Juan is a welcoming neighborhood within Metro San Juan that will give you a fantastic experience. Not only is it one of the safest places on the Island, but it’s also incredibly tourist-friendly.

The shop owners and locals are warm and welcoming here—and always up for a striking conversation with visitors. Plus, Puerto Rico, in general, has made huge strides towards embracing its LGBTQIA community; it’s known as being one of the most accepting Caribbean Islands—with San Juan at its bright center.

The Dominican Republic is also so inviting and welcoming – most trips to the country are unforgettable experiences. But be careful – unfortunately, there’s a high crime rate, including pickpocketing, bag snatching, violent crimes like armed robberies and sexual assaults, and murder.

Yikes! That’s why the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 warning for visitors starting on February 1, 2023; take extra precautions now if you plan to visit this destination soon.

Make sure to do your research on both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico first. Ask local authorities whether it’s a good time to visit, and then stay up-to-date with any travel warnings from your local government. For extra safety, don’t forget to register with your embassy or consulate back home – they can give you excellent advice plus help you out in an emergency.

When it comes to getting around, licensed taxis and fantastic ride-sharing services like RentalCars.com are the way to go. Just make sure to keep a close eye on your personal belongings in busy areas or when you’re sightseeing – and don’t flash any wealth that might get the wrong kind of attention.

Unpredictable things can happen anywhere, so get the right travel insurance coverage. You’ll be glad you did when SafetyWing and TravelInsurance.com rescue you.

They offer exceptional policies that protect you from medical emergencies, trip interruptions, and other crazy, unforeseen events. Plus, it’s a great way to feel secure during your travels, knowing you’ve got some financial back-up just in case.

See Related: Most Popular Tourist Destinations

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Culture

View of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and the ocean
John Scofield / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic? Talk about the rich culture and varied influences – there’s no place quite like them near the Caribbean Sea. History, tradition, all-around gorgeousness – it’s the epitome of uniqueness.

Plus, they’ve got that wonderful touch of Spanish heritage mixed in for good measure. When searching for unforgettable holiday experiences, these two gems must be on your list.

Spanish colonization has left a massive imprint on the culture of both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Christopher Columbus is undeniably an integral part of their history – he landed in the Caribbean during his epic voyage in 1492. You can easily recognize how much of an impact Spain had: from language & cuisine to architecture – every detail speaks for itself.

Language is an incredibly dynamic manifestation of this influence. Spanish is the official language in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic – it serves as your key to unlocking the local culture, and you’ll be able to chat with the warm and welcoming residents in no time.

Although English is considered a second language in Puerto Rico, Spanish remains firmly at the forefront. These regions have a fantastic architectural heritage—all thanks to their Spanish roots.

Just think — the iconic fortresses like San Felipe del Morro are visible reminders of how much of an impact Spanish history has had.

Over in the Dominican Republic, it’s even more spectacular. The Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage site with amazingly preserved colonial buildings – you can hardly believe they’re almost 500 years old.

Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic stand side-by-side in terms of political stability— they both may have had moments of turmoil. Still, over time, they’ve become solid powerhouses for tourism. People love to travel there; visitors can participate in fun activities and see unique attractions. Super cool!

But don’t forget Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic faced an uphill battle regarding natural disasters, especially during hurricane season. In 2017 alone, Hurricane Maria devastated these islands in a way that’s hard to imagine—but they bounced back swiftly and are now working hard to rebuild and welcome people from different corners of the world all over again. Talk about resilience!

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Wrapping Up

Panorama of La Perla slum in old San Juan, Puerto Rico
christian / Adobe Stock

When deciding between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for your next vacation – there are many factors to consider. You have to think about which destination is more affordable and what kind of paperwork is required for entry if you’ll enjoy the cuisine or nightlife scene available at each place – it’s a lot of work deciding which destination will suit you best.

The food in Puerto Rico is so delicious, and it won’t cost you as much. But tell me a secret: the Dominican Republic has even better prices – so take your wallet and explore.

One catch: If you’re eager to head to the Dominican Republic from the U.S., ensure your passport is up-to-date. Whereas if you’re in Puerto Rico – because it’s a U.S. territory, all you have to do is show your driver’s license or state I.D., and off you go.

What’s more, the nightlife in Puerto Rico is popping with energy and safety. But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to catch gorgeous beaches, peek at a stunning coral reef; the Dominican Republic should be your go-to.

Keep a sharp eye out for trouble since poverty and crime are more common in the Dominican Republic, unlike Puerto Rico. But ultimately, it comes down to what matters most to you when deciding which destination will make for an unbeatably fantastic getaway.

See Related: Proven Ways to Save Money for Travel

Who Should Go to Puerto Rico (and Why)

People Waking in Vibrant Street

Puerto Rico is my kind of place. It’s excellent for individuals, couples, and small families who want to explore all the region’s destinations without worrying about their safety. Plus, since the island is so safe, you can take day trips to learn more about its rich history.

If thrill-seeking is your thing and you’re down for watery fun, then a Puerto Rican adventure should be the next stop on your travel list. You can experience it here- hit up some beaches for jet skiing, kayaking, or snorkeling.

If food is indispensable to your holiday experience, they have all the Spanish rice and bean dishes you could ask for and plenty of great food trucks. Trust us when we say Puerto Rico has something special in store for everyone.

See Related: Bora Bora vs the Maldives

Who Should Go to the Dominican Republic (and Why)

Monument Facing the Sea

The Dominican Republic was my ultimate paradise because I love all-inclusive resorts where the fun never has to stop. All my food and drinks were ready whenever I felt like it – it didn’t get much better.

Anyone who likes the convenience of having everything in one place would be crazy not to check out this Caribbean country. If you love golf, the Dominican is the place for you, as there is an excellent selection of golf courses in the Dominican Republic.

It is a splendid decision for those older adults who’d rather bathe in the sun than go on an adventure. All sorts of watersports are available, and there are many beautiful beaches to see at this prime spot. So prepare your sunscreen and swimming trunks.

For those who enjoy affordable packages, there are budget-friendly options in the Dominican. How about scanning over the pros and cons, then taking off and book your next vacation? Now, that sounds like a plan.

Bottom Line: Is the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico Better?

Beach in Las Galeras Dominican republic
Jakob Fischer / Shutterstock

You must love that trip-planning struggle where you can’t decide between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It’s like, which should I choose – stunning beaches or a wealth of fun nights out?

Well, let me help you all – if you want to lounge on golden sand all day, the Dominican Republic is your go-to spot. Not to mention, most of those resorts are crazy good value.

But if dancing and exploring ’til long after dark sounds like a plan, then Puerto Rico will be more up your street. Plus, it’s safer than other places, so yay for extra peace of mind.

When it’s time to pick a vacation destination, you can’t go wrong with Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic – both places are guaranteed epic. Think about what matters most to your squad or family, and enjoy whatever experience you choose. It will be worth it, no matter where you end up.

See Related: Hidden Gems in the Caribbean Sea

FAQ

Is English widely spoken in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic?

Yes, English is spoken all over Puerto Rico and used in the Dominican Republic – but to a lesser extent. Most locals are bilingual, with Spanish as their first language, which means they can easily communicate using both languages.

When you’re out and about in the Dominican Republic, you’ll usually find English being spoken in popular touristy areas, hotels, and by those working in the tourism industry – although if you venture away from there, proficiency will lower, so make sure to brush up on a few phrases before you head out.

Which destination offers the best nightlife, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic?

The type of nightlife you enjoy is totally up to you. Puerto Rico is fantastic if you’re into wild and crazy fun, with plenty of bars, clubs, and jammin’ music venues.

But if chill’s more your scene, check out the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana or Santo Domingo? Either way, you’ll be livin’ it up beachside among parties and casinos galore.

Are there any specific requirements for U.S. travelers visiting Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic?

Are you visiting Puerto Rico from the U.S.? Lucky you! What could be better than a trip to paradise without extra planning or requirements? Just dust off your U.S. driver’s license, and off you go. But if the Dominican Republic beckons, don’t forget your passport – make sure it has at least six months left of validity before you leave.

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