Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer an explosive variety of experiences for all travelers. Be it a romantic beach date, exploring cultural ruins, hiking through vast landscapes, or a food trip adventure.
The Dominican Republic is an outdoor destination that will never leave travelers feeling bored during their, stay. While Puerto Rico also has a large bowl of outdoor activities with charming beaches and cultural sites to pair.
It’s safe to say both destinations suit active travelers. But at the same time, beach lovers, tree huggers, and those looking for a privy place to rest and think will find it in either destination.
So, which destination suits your vacation needs better? Before you decide, here’s a rundown of what Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have to offer vacationers.
Puerto Rico can easily be thought of as a nature’s paradise. It has rainforests, mountain ranges, national parks, waterfalls, and even bioluminescent bays.
Nicknamed the Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico’s mountainous and jungle landscape emanates a charm that’s hard to resist. For the outdoor traveler, you’ll find just about any activity here to keep you from getting restless.
In fact, Puerto Rico’s charm extends beyond jungles, hiking trails, and adrenaline-filled activities. For the easygoing traveler, you’ll find a variety of low-key experiences. From cultural explorations at El Morro to kayaking in the sparkling blue, bioluminescent waters of Mosquito Bay.
At the heart of Puerto Rico is San Juan, a cultural hub of Spanish architecture and historical forts. Exploring the area is a must for every first-time visitor. Throughout the day, you can admire San Juan’s cultural scene and grab a taste of the town’s many enjoyable cafes and restaurants.
And once you’ve had a taste of what San Juan’s like during the day, wait till nightfall when its nightlife electrifies your party bones.
Up for something more relaxing? Grab a boat to the islands of Culebra and Vieques for their award-winning beaches. There, you’ll find stunning natural beauty, secluded spaces, and laid-back experiences all around.
Altogether, there are more than a hundred reasons to visit Puerto Rico. From its exciting jungle topography and tranquil beaches to the adorning town of San Juan, this island is truly enchanting.
What Makes Puerto Rico Unique?
It Has Six Unique Regions That Offer a World of Possibilities
In Puerto Rico, you’re spoon-fed with possibility. Be it north, south, east, or west. Every region boasts its own personality. From lush nonchalant beach escapes to thrilling outdoor activities.
So, what’s in store for travelers in each of these regions? Here’s a quick sneak peek:
North of Puerto Rico, you’ll discover one of the largest underground cave systems in the world: Rio Camuy Cave Park. For thrill-seekers, spending a day at Rio Camuy is worth every minute. But if cave explorations aren’t your kind of vibe, there’s always Mar Chiquita – a stunning beach in the town of Manati.
Just a little further from the town of Manati is a place that calls to shopaholics most. The town of Barceloneta is popular for its Puerto Rico Premium Outlets store. There, you’ll find a wide collection of designer and branded outlet stores perfect for a shopping spree day.
South of Puerto Rico offers a few beaches worth lounging in, but it’s not the main attraction. Really, Puerto Rico’s southern region is all about culture and history, combined with a gastronomic treat.
Here, you’ll discover one of PR’s oldest towns: Coamo, which is also known as the city of thermal waters. A major highlight in the southern region is Ponce, home to museums, historical landmarks, and cultural vibrancy. No traveler can refuse the charm and bright, colorful vibes of Ponce.
Last but not least, the town of Salinas is a place bursting with gastronomic eateries and a ton of local cuisine. Make sure to check out El Roble for its fresh seafood and iconic culinary restaurants. Just before heading back, don’t miss out on the Hot Springs of Coamo for a relaxing afternoon.
Puerto Rico’s western region combines its serene beach ambiance with adventurous landscapes. Hiking, surfing, sightseeing, and unwinding are all possible activities available to tourists here.
For hikers, visit the Guanica State Forest. Isabela, Rincon, and Aguadilla will suit surfers the most – both beginner and advanced. Playuela for a peaceful day at the beach. Los Morillos Lighthouse and Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge for sightseeing. And the grand finale – La Parguera.
At first, you might think it’s a simple fishing village. But close by is the town of Lajas where you’ll find one of the five bioluminescent bays in the world.
East is where you’ll find many of Puerto Rico’s highlights. Some of these include the El Yunque National Forest, Laguna Grande, Playa Escondido beach, and the Carabali Rainforest Park. In fact, you’ll find several golf courses in PR’s eastern region.
At El Yunque, outdoor and nature lovers will feel at home, thanks to its several waterfalls, hiking trails, and panoramic views. For the outdoor junkie, Carabali Rainforest Park has it all, from ATV and zip-lining to horseback riding along the beach.
Sun worshippers will feel at perfect ease at beaches like Playa Escondido, Balneario La Monserrate, and Cayo Icacos. Up for a truly awe-inspiring experience of natural scenery? Head to Laguna Grande, another one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays.
A Cornucopia of Outdoor Adventures
Puerto Rico stands proud and tall for being a premiere destination when it comes to outdoor adventures. As one of the most stunning rainforests in the world, El Yunque is the pride and joy of Puerto Rico’s eco-lush landscape.
This rainforest alone is home to hundreds of unique wildlife and plant species, making it a nature lover’s haven. But what else is there to do in El Yunque? As many locals would say, you can go waterfall hunting and, of course, hiking.
There’s no doubt El Yunque is home to several hiking trails. But did you know? There are 20+ waterfalls in this rainforest alone. For the truly adventurous souls, waterfall hunting sounds just as adrenaline-stimulating as skydiving.
Looking for soft adventure? You can visit all three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, with the one on the island of Vieques as the most beautiful.
Head west of Puerto Rico and you’ll find ruins, cave explorations, and even cave-tubing excursions. In the Arecibo region, it’s worth exploring Cueva del Indio, a cave surrounded by cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Still not enough adventure for you? In that case, travel to the Central Mountains region of Puerto Rico. The mountainous landscape at la Cordillera Central is massive and definitely worth showing off.
From enchanting caves to glorious mountain ranges, the Central Mountains has natural scenery you can’t miss. Around the area, you’ll also find two major stops particularly ideal for active travelers. These include the Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park and Tanama River.
At Toro Verde, families can ride one of the longest zip lines in the entire world. Then, make your way to Tanama River for an exciting cave-tubing tour.
And before nightfall hits, don’t miss your chance to do a local visit at Hacienda Tres Angeles. It’s a working coffee hacienda where you can explore the facility and taste fresh samples of locally grown coffee.
And of course, PR’s cornucopia of outdoor adventures wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Rincon. The town is a popular hub for surf breakers and wave shredders. December to April is the best time to visit since it’s Puerto Rico’s surfing season. Isabela and Aguadilla are also prime surf spots.
Enchanting and World-Renowned Beaches
If you thought Puerto Rico’s jungle and mountainous landscape were charming, wait till you see its beaches. Looking for the cream of the crop? Head to the islands of Culebra and Vieques. Think of these islands as Puerto Rico’s best well-kept secret.
Just how beautiful is it, you might wonder?
Put it this way. One of the beaches in Culebra, Flamenco Beach, was named the second most beautiful in the world by Discovery Channel. But wait, it gets even better.
On the island of Vieques are not only stunning beaches but also the brightest bioluminescent bay on the planet. Mosquito Bay is a bioluminescent bay that holds the Guinness World Record stamp.
Now, as for beaches, Sun Bay in Vieques will leave you in astonishment. And for something on the unique side, Playa Negra will greet you with its volcanic black sand that’s as soft as baby powder.
In Culebra, Flamenco beach is the undisputed champion, but it’s not the only beach worth visiting. Because after all, Culebra is an island home to several of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. Playa Tamarindo and Playa Carlos Rosario are famous for their reefs and are prime spots for snorkeling.
Playa Tortuga is another jaw-dropping beach in Culebra ideal for travelers looking to get away from it all. Spending about three or four days on the islands of Culebra and Vieques is perfect for first-time visitors. But for beach lovers, one week is perhaps the standard.
Now, the islands of Culebra and Vieques are just an inkling of the many enchanting islands in Puerto Rico. And if your vacation calls for beach time the most, be sure to check out these other beaches:
- Jobos in Isabela
- Montones in Isabela
- Isla Verde in Carolina
- Cayo Icacos in Fajardo
- Crash Boat in Aguadilla
- Cayo Aurora in Guanica
- Pelicano Beach in Ponce
- El Escambron in San Juan
- Combate beach in Cabo Rojo
Beautiful, Vibrant, and Energetic Culture
Festivals, century-old traditions, Spanish architecture, and colorful street murals. Puerto Rico is more than simply famous for its biodiversity and beach scenes. At the center of it all lies San Juan – a town that signifies Puerto Rico’s deep-rooted cultural history.
Walking around San Juan is truly mesmerizing. And the culture is vibrant and lively you’ll find it even just by seeing the bright and colorful houses all lined up along the town. As you head deeper into the town, you’ll find several contemporary art galleries and museums.
Along the walls, there are colorful, painted murals, giving tourists the perfect photo opportunity. For artists, these walls alone are enough to spark inspiration and creativity in a passion project.
While in San Juan, save your energy for what comes in the evening by recharging your batteries at any of the cafes. Several of the restaurants and food stalls in San Juan also serve local delicacies to die for.
Come nightfall, San Juan is a town full of energy to last you till the wee hours of the morning. The nightlife in Puerto Rico is not to be missed. And if you love to dance and sing, you’ll fit right in with the locals. Because after all, music and dance are two of the most popular ways Puerto Ricans express themselves.
Overall, Puerto Rico’s culture is as bright of a gem as its beaches and jungles. Surely, you wouldn’t want to miss a dance along to spicy salsa music or a romantic acoustic evening to charming decima music.
The Dominican Republic is an outdoor wonderland, offering travelers an adrenaline rush be it land or sea. With rainforests, mountain ranges, and savannahs, it’s one of the most biodiverse countries.
What’s more, travelers can choose from a wide variety of outdoor experiences. From jungle forest hikes and waterfall hunting to whitewater rafting and beach lounging.
But while many may think the Dominican Republic is exclusive to active junkies, think again. Because it’s no secret that the country attracts millions for its sparkling white sands and mesmerizing turquoise waters.
Just look towards Samana and Las Terrenas – islands with beaches that speak the ultimate relaxed vibes for any beach lover.
And for the grand finale – the food. Who would have thought the rugged nature of the Dominican Republic could satisfy your gastronomic palate. But sure enough, it does exceed expectations, whether you’re ordering from an upscale bistro or a humble food stall.
No matter the time of the day, you’re in for a culinary treat in DR. Whether it’s perfectly cooked eggs with cheese in the morning or a seven-meat stew bowl for dinner.
Looking for more? To learn more about DR’s biodiverse offerings, scroll down to the next sections.
What Makes Dominican Republic Unique?
The Mother Lode of Rip-Roaring Adventures
The air in the Dominican Republic feels similar to the wild, outdoor ambiance found in Puerto Rico. DR is home to 27 waterfalls, natural pools, cloud-scraping mountains, and a variety of water sports activities. Easily defined as an adventure playground, the Dominican Republic is no place to visit simply for relaxing and lounging.
Ripping through water canyons on a water raft is just one of the many stimulating activities here. For the adrenaline junkies, sign up for a tour in Puerto Plata. From start to finish, it’s a water assault of adventure, ranging from jungle climbs to plunging in natural pools fed by waterfall torrents.
After you’ve had a taste of Puerto Plata’s water adventure, make your way to the Samana Treetop Zipline course. A zip line experience at this rainforest park will surely make anyone’s trip to the Dominican Republic worth it.
Traveling with kids? There’s a plethora of things to do as a family. For starters, you can swim with sea lions and dolphins at Ocean World Adventure Park. Next, go paintballing or zorbing at the Bavaro Adventure Park. And finally, don’t miss out on go-karting at the Fun City Action Park.
Last but not least, a trip to the Dominican Republic wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Pedernales Peninsula. Boasting cloud forests, sublime beaches, and lagoons, this place is a must-do for families, couples, and solo travelers. Plus, the Pedernales Peninsula is most known for its top-tier bird-watching and wildlife-watching.
All in all, the Dominican Republic is an outdoor location that travelers will never feel bored in. Traveling to this country feels like an all-out adventure buffet of excursions and amazing sightseeing.
The Leader of Caribbean All-Inclusive Resorts
The Dominican Republic may not have as many all-inclusive resorts compared to other destinations, but…
There’s no mistaking that it arguably has one of the best world-class all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. Not to mention, not all of its resorts are made exclusive to luxury travelers. Even budget-conscious travelers will find the best bang for their buck at several of the Dominican Republic’s resorts.
Where would you find most of them? In none other than Punta Cana.
Visiting the Dominican Republic is synonymous with indulging in its all-inclusive resorts, and here’s why. First off, all the inclusive resorts have something for every traveler.
Traveling with kids? Several resorts offer a 24-hour babysitting service for free. Plus, there are numerous waterparks and attractions in the area to keep all the kids entertained.
Now, if you prefer a quiet vacation with a mix of adult nightlife in between, there are resorts with casinos and nightclubs. For a romantic stay, you can book a cozy, luxurious hotel or villa with spa services at your beck and call.
As a matter of fact, most of the villas in the resorts come with their own private swimming pool and jacuzzi. Lastly, there are a few resorts that offer exclusive access to golf courses and the yacht marina. It’s perfect for vacationers in need of leisurely activities like golfing and sailing.
And of course, many of the resorts in the DR also have dozens of water sports activities to help you stay active.
Whatever your accommodation needs are, you’ll find them in the Dominican Republic’s resorts. Be it for nightlife, entertainment, family, beach, luxury, or water sports needs, DR has it all.
A Great Place to Spend With Family
Safe crystal clear waters are the true hallmark of families traveling to the Dominican Republic. Worried about sea reptiles and jellyfish? Well, the Dominican Republic sees none of that, making it perfect for the little ones to safely swim in.
Another great reason to visit DR with the family? Whale watching. From December to March every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate to DR’s waters. Book a tour, hop on a boat, and enjoy the majestic sights of whales splashing and clapping in midair.
If you’re traveling with older kids, all the more reason you should visit the Dominican Republic. You can wade in natural pools, slide through towering waterfalls, and hike in cloud forests. But forest hikes and whitewater rafting are only a fraction of the family-friendly activities you can do in DR.
There’s still windsurfing, wildlife watching, kiteboarding, cave exploring, scuba diving, and more. Overall, water sports obsessives and adventurous explorers will undoubtedly love DR’s diverse landscape.
Pick any beach in the Dominican Republic and the sunburn will be worth it. That being said, you might as well bring a boatload of sunblock because you’re guaranteed to spend hours at DR’s beaches.
From calm oases to party beach coastlines, there’s a beach in the Dominican Republic that will please you. Some of the most popular are Playa Grande, Playa Los Mino, Playa Los Patos, and Playa Coson. The Bavaro beaches found in Punta Cana are also some of the most exquisite and alluring.
In the Dominican Republic, you’ll find every shade of blue in its waters. Even the sand is radiating. For the most part, the Dominican Republic’s beaches are a tropical wonderland full of idyllic scenes and views.
Whether you’re a sunseeker or not, visiting any of the Dominican Republic’s beaches might as well turn you into one. For more beach picks to lose yourself in, and apart from those mentioned, be sure to visit these too:
- Kite Beach
- Playa Rincon
- Caya Levantado
- Playa Dominicus
- Playa Boca Chica
- Bahia de Las Aguilas
Is Puerto Rico Better Than Dominican Republic?
It’s really a tough call between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Both offer grand sights and experiences that make any trip worth the spend.
Whether it’s adventure or beaches you’re after, you can’t go wrong with either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. The same holds true for family-friendly activities or if you’re looking for natural scenery and secluded escapes.
But in the end, there are a few important distinctions worth noting.
For one, Puerto Rico’s culinary scene is more imaginative and creative, offering tourists better culinary energy.
In the battle of which destination is better for adventure, the Dominican Republic is the better choice. But only by a small margin due to its massive diversity of activities. And when it comes to beaches, both are astounding winners in their own regard.
So, it’s pretty clear that active travelers and beach lovers will have no problem with either destination. However, Puerto Rico has more beaches and islands to explore than the Dominican Republic.
If you’re more interested in staying at an all-inclusive resort and want to find more bang for your buck, DR is the better choice. But if you don’t mind the additional splurge and want a richer cultural experience, Puerto Rico takes the cake.
All in all, if your priorities lean more towards outdoor activities and beaches, you should visit both at least once. Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer inland and water activities in abundance. But if island-hopping is your kind of vacation, Puerto Rico might be a better destination to start with.
Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic – Size
The Dominican Republic has a total area size of 18,791.6 sq miles (48,670 km). Whereas Puerto Rico is approximately 3,515.1 sq miles (9,104 sq km). This means the Dominican Republic is 5.5x larger than Puerto Rico.
Is Puerto Rico Safer Than Dominican Republic?
Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are similar when it comes to safety and even crime rates. For the most part, petty theft does occur in both destinations, but it’s nothing you should be too worried about.
What’s most important is you aren’t wandering in sketchy or dark areas at night. While there are a few undesirable neighborhoods, these are far from the main capital or the city itself. In the Dominican Republic, there’s excellent security within the resort grounds. And generally, the vicinity in which all resorts are situated is considered a safe area.
Similarly, Puerto Rico is also just as safe. The majority of its towns, including the main capital San Juan, are deemed safe for tourists. All in all, the safest areas to visit in Puerto Rico include the following:
- Cabo Rojo
- Palmas Del Mar
As for the Dominican Republic, the safest places are:
- Punta Cana
- Puerto Plata
- Santo Domingo
Rest assured, traveling to either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic is safe, even with kids. That being said, tourists should always exercise caution. Especially if you plan on staying out late or when drinking at any of the clubs in the area.
At best, you should keep your personal belongings and belongings in your hotel room safe. Wearing any flashy jewelry or accessories is not a wise decision, so bear these in mind when traveling to any city.
Crime Rate in Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic
According to the data in Numbeo, both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have similar crime rates. Puerto Rico’s current crime rate is 61.81/100, while Dominican Republic’s crime rate is 61.49/100.
However, the data also includes the types of crimes you’ll see most often in both destinations. And in that regard, the crime in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic mostly leans toward petty theft. In addition, crimes related to corruption and bribery are also among the highest.
This also means that you won’t find violent crime happening in either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. And if it does, this usually happens in rural areas far from the city or tourist spots. Petty theft may include things like pickpocketing and a small chance of mugging if you wander into poorly lit areas at night.
For instance, should you decide to go drinking till the wee hours of the morning, do it responsibly. And if possible, it’s best to choose areas within the resort’s vicinity. Why? Mainly because the security is tighter in these areas, making it safer should you get drunk or pass out.
Overall, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are safe to visit for families and even solo travelers. But as always, it pays to be alert and attentive to your surroundings.
Living in Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
When it comes to living in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, cost plays a significant role. And between the two, the Dominican Republic sees more wallet-friendly prices. In other words, living in the Dominican Republic is more affordable than in Puerto Rico.
Take note, though. Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are affordable countries. But when you compare Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic, DR is about 40% more affordable.
Both destinations offer warm-weather year-round so if you’re looking for a tropical climate, either is a great choice. The locals are also friendly in both destinations, so getting around shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Now, if you prefer to live in a place that offers an abundance of activities, either would also be a great pick. If beaches and natural beauty are also at the top of your list, you can’t go wrong with either one.
That being said, Puerto Rico sees a higher average monthly salary than the Dominican Republic. Plus, if you’re from the US, there’s no need for a travel visa.
Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, there’s also no shift in the currency. In the Dominican Republic, getting a travel visa isn’t difficult, but the convenience in Puerto Rico is undeniably better. For instance, entering the Dominican Republic with a tourist card is easy to do. But if you have plans to retire, there are a few requirements to fulfill for this to happen.
Finally, Puerto Rico has better healthcare quality than the Dominican Republic. On that note, safety can be a concern in both countries. Although both are generally safe places to visit, there are a few areas that are dangerous.
In the Dominican Republic, the safest area to live in is Punta Cana. Whereas for Puerto Rico, Palmas del Mar is the safest place to retire. San Juan is also generally safe in Puerto Rico.
Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico Economy
Puerto Rico’s GDP is a lot higher than the Dominican Republic’s GDP. This means the economy in Puerto Rico is better than in the Dominican Republic. Another way of looking at it is that Puerto Rico is able to generate more money as a whole compared to the Dominican Republic.
The data also confirms that Puerto Rico’s economy is indeed richer. As of 2022, the current GDP of Puerto Rico is expected to reach USD 109 billion. Whereas the Dominican Republic’s current GDP is estimated to reach about USD 88 billion. Put simply, Puerto Rico’s economy is 19% richer than the Dominican Republic’s.
It’s also worth noting that the average salaries in both destinations are vastly different, according to Numbeo. In Puerto Rico, the average estimated monthly salary is USD 1,713. While in the Dominican Republic, the average estimated monthly salary is 20,560 DOP (USD 380.74).
Is Puerto Rico Poorer or Richer Than Dominican Republic?
With regard to the GDP data, Puerto Rico is richer than the Dominican Republic. Since Puerto Rico’s GDP per capita is a lot higher, it also follows that Puerto Rico’s economy is richer. That being said, both have seen a quick-rising GDP in recent years. Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic’s economies have both grown phenomenally over the last decade.
Cost of Living in Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
In general, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is cheaper than in Puerto Rico. The data from both Numbeo and My Life Elsewhere share similar rates when it comes to the cost of living in both destinations.
For instance, the rent per month for a 1-bedroom apartment close to the city center costs USD 817 in Puerto Rico. Whereas in the Dominican Republic, it costs almost 40% cheaper – 26,940 Dominican pesos or DOP (USD 498.90 at 54 DOP a dollar).
Similarly, renting a 1-bedroom apartment outside of the city center in Puerto Rico costs USD 523. While in the Dominican Republic, it only costs 14,624.82 DOP (USD 270.83).
Even the utility cost in the Dominican Republic is far cheaper. On average, monthly utility expenses in the Dominican Republic can cost as much as 3,672 DOP (USD 68). In Puerto Rico, it’s about 3x more expensive – USD 225 per month. Note that this doesn’t include Internet fees yet. This only makes up electricity, heating, water, and cooling.
Transportation-wise, rates in the Dominican Republic range from 35.10 to 324 DOP (USD 0.65 to 6). This refers to local transportation and taxis. As for Puerto Rico, transport expenses usually start at USD 1.50 and can go as high as USD 27.50.
Last but not least, when it comes to meals and groceries, the Dominican Republic is more price-friendly too. Both destinations offer budget-friendly, midrange, and upscale restaurants. In addition, you’ll also find several fast-food chains in either destination.
For a budget-friendly restaurant in Puerto Rico, a meal for two typically goes for about USD 12. In the Dominican Republic, the average price would be 350 DOP (USD 6.48). As for midrange restaurants, a meal for two in the Dominican Republic costs 2,077 DOP (USD 38.46), while in Puerto Rico, it costs USD 60.
Surprisingly though, beer, coffee, and most beverages cost the same in either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. As for groceries, expect the Dominican Republic to be at least 40% cheaper than Puerto Rico.
Altogether, the result is clear. It’s cheaper to live in the Dominican Republic than in Puerto Rico. However, despite the price difference, Puerto Rico is still more affordable than most destinations.