Puerto Rico is a combination of exoticism and comfort. Plus, if it’s your first time traveling outside of the US, Puerto Rico is an easy destination. For new travelers and families, it’s an effortless trip.
And what about Mexico? Well, it’s difficult to say. Because… where would you even start? The colorful culture that is home to Mexico is full of exciting experiences, culture, gastronomy, and beaches. It’s a paradise for savvy travelers and anyone looking for a vacation where boredom isn’t found.
Choosing between Puerto Rico and Mexico is harder than it seems, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. That’s what this guide is for, and by the end of it, you’ll know exactly which is better for you.
Sunshine, beaches, mountains, lush forests, and even black sand. There’s a perfectly good explanation for why Puerto Rico draws so many visitors every year.
Puerto Rico is safe, convenient, accessible, and beautiful in so many ways. Natural beauty doesn’t even begin to describe one of its most famous nature reserves: El Yunque.
And who would ever think that Puerto Rico offers more than just luxury hotels, villas, and high-rise hotels? Because they’re nothing compared to the 13 Paradores found all over the island. These family-owned hotels are just one of the many things that tourists love about Puerto Rico. And that’s not all. There’s even more variety in Puerto Rico.
You can lounge on the beach, hike through the rainforest, explore the mountainous regions, and visit a coffee plantation. Then, just before the day ends, you can kayak at any of the three bioluminescent bays.
Even Puerto Rico’s vast cuisine selection is superb. If that’s still not enough to convince you, wait till you meet the locals. They’re friendly, helpful, and hospitable to tourists.
So, what else is there? The next sections should tell you more about what you’ll be able to experience in Puerto Rico.
What Makes Puerto Rico Unique?
Easy Access to Other Caribbean Islands
If you’re up for an adventure, you can take the ferry from Puerto Rico and visit the Dominican Republic. But if it’s a change of pace and panoramic landscapes you’re after, you can ask the ferry to take you to Haiti instead.
How is this possible? Mainly because Puerto Rico isn’t just an island. It’s actually an archipelago, meaning Puerto Rico as a whole is a group of islands. There are 100 small islands surrounding Puerto Rico, and you can reach these islands either by…
The Dominican Republic and Haiti are great options but may be too far to travel for some in a day. Don’t worry, though. Your options are massive. And one of the most popular islands to visit are Culebra and Vieques.
Culebra is where you’ll find serene, secluded, and laid-back beaches, with Flamenco beach being the most popular. Melones beach is perfect for snorkeling adventures. And Tortuga beach if you want peace or a kayak experience alongside sea turtles.
Vieques is an island full of unique beach experiences. And one of the most unique is Playa Negra, also known for its black sand. Media Luna and Sun Bay are some of the most gorgeous beaches you’ll find in Vieques. Aside from beaches, there’s also Mosquito Bay, it’s the brightest bioluminescent bay on this Earth.
Wait – because this isn’t even the full list of islands to explore yet. La Parguera is another island close by to Puerto Rico and a haven for anyone interested in water sports activities. There are more than 30 cays in La Parguera, most of which are shallow and feature light- and deep-blue waters.
For bird-watching, hiking, and a historical tour all rolled into one day, you can visit Caja de Muertos. Gilligan’s Island for a weekend trip with the family, snorkeling, and just pure fun under the sun. And Isla de Mona if you prefer to spend the day at a remote beach with local wildlife just minding their own business.
Isla de Mona is also known as the Galapagos of the Caribbean because of its natural environment. The beaches here are also beautiful, by the way. And if you happen to be in Puerto Rico during peak season, consider Isla de Mona as the perfect getaway from crowds.
Overall, there’s so much to do around Puerto Rico, and you’d be surprised just how much more you can do in the towns. Which also leads to the next unique thing about this archipelago…
Forests, Mountains, Caves, Waterfalls, and More
Puerto Rico is so diverse, forests and nature parks are only one side of Puerto Rico. And to think, the El Yunque National Forest is already home to 200+ wildlife species, 25 waterfalls, and several hiking trails.
Puerto Rico’s mountainous region – la Cordillera Central – also offers a day’s worth of adventure:
- Enjoy the gastronomy at restaurants Tio Pepe, Las Garzas, and Casa Bavaria
- Visit Hacienda Tres Angeles, a coffee hacienda with stunning mountain views
- Go on one of the longest zip lines in the world at Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park
- Rappel at Canon San Cristobal in the day and camping at Toro Negro as the day ends
- Do a cave-tubing tour at Tanama River full of waterways and subterranean chambers
After you’ve done all that, you still have several outdoor activities to keep you active for weeks to come, like:
- Cave exploration
- Horseback riding
- Cycling and mountain biking
- Hiking on Puerto Rico’s off-the-beaten paths
Take it in guys. The sheer number of activities available to tourists is fascinating. And note this doesn’t even include Puerto Rico’s nightlife, water sports, museums, and historical excursions.
While you’re digesting all this info, there’s one more unique quality worth mentioning about Puerto Rico. And it’s none other than…
Puerto Rico’s Cuisine Is Unlike Any Other
Saying Puerto Rican food is unique is one way to describe the gastronomy found in Puerto Rico. True, there is a wide range of cuisines offered in the city. But if it’s comfort food you’re looking for, be on the lookout for traditional Puerto Rican dishes, which are made to leave an impression on your tongue.
The heart of Puerto Rican dishes comes from plantain, which is also known as cooking banana. Are they bananas then? Not quite. The reason why they bear the name “cooking banana” is because of how they’re used in the kitchen.
One of the best examples of Puerto Rican comfort food at its finest is the mofongo. Typically served as a side dish, mofongo is deep-fried plantain pieces then mashed together with…
- Pork crackling
- Salt-cured pork
After it’s mashed, other recipes call for more flavor by stuffing meat inside. This can either be seafood, octopus, crab meat, skirt steak, vegetables, or stewed chicken.
Another noteworthy traditional dish found commonly in Puerto Rico is lechon asado. How is it prepared? By marinating the whole pig in adobo, which is a blend of oregano, garlic, vinegar, pepper, and water. After the marinade has seeped deep into the meat, it’s roasted for several hours over a coal fire until the skin turns crispy.
Overall, Puerto Rican food is a culinary gem that tourists would surely enjoy and one that foodies will love. Be sure to try these other local dishes found only in Puerto Rico:
- Arroz y habichuelas
- Arroz con gandules
- Tostones and amarillos
- Desserts – tembleque, flan, coquito, arroz con dulce
Experience Puerto Rican Hospitality by Staying at Any Paradores
Lush rainforests, stunning nature parks, great beaches, and beautiful landscapes. Puerto Rico is without a doubt nature’s paradise. But if there’s one thing that makes visiting all the more worth it, it’s staying at Paradores.
These small-scale resorts are similar to country inns. In Puerto Rico, Paradores are known for their affordable rates and Puerto Rican hospitality, also termed as boricua. Paradores are also known for their alluring surroundings and cozy amenities. This makes them perfect for family travels or even when traveling with friends. In fact, these small inns of Puerto Rican paradise have become a famous choice for destination weddings.
Combined with panoramic views of the city and hospitality unlike any other, tourists will feel at home staying at any Paradores. Some of the best include Combate Beach and Villas Sotomayor.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Mexico?” Ask anyone in the room and you’ll get all sorts of answers. Tacos. Tequila. Mariachi bands. Religious. Chocolate. Beaches. Ruins. Mayans. Art. Bullfighting. Wrestling. Day of the Dead (ever seen Disney’s Coco?).
Despite the different answers, they all give the same universal message:
Mexico boasts a rich culture that has spread throughout the world. Whether it’s in the form of art, food, alcohol, history, architecture, and so on.
All this should tell you one thing: a vacation in Mexico is a decision brimming with so much to explore and experience.
From cultural centers and ancient ruins to incredible cuisine and white-sand beaches, the better question to ask is…
Why shouldn’t you visit Mexico? And quite frankly, it’s a destination that’s always worth visiting. But for any traveler, it ultimately depends on what you’re craving for on your next vacation trip.
If you’re looking for something interesting to look forward to, Mexico just might check all the boxes. But before you make your decision, read on for what makes Mexico unique from the rest.
What Makes Mexico Unique?
You Won’t Run Out of Sights to See
Anyone can easily come up with a list of the 35 best things to do in Mexico, and that wouldn’t even scratch the surface. Mexico is home to one of the most awe-inspiring mountains, canyons, volcanoes, and colorful towns.
Looking for a cheat sheet? It would probably be longer than two months’ worth of groceries. But, here’s a tiny glimpse of all the sights to see in Mexico:
- Hierve el Agua
- Copper Canyon
- El Chiflon waterfall
- Chapultepec Castle
- Ancient Mayan ruins
- The Yucatan Peninsula
- San Cristobal de las Casas
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
- Popocatepetl Volcano (El Popo)
Note that these places aren’t just appreciating the view, taking a few photos, and that’s it. There are several activities to do at each of these places.
For instance, Hierve el Agua is a man-made pool created by a mineral-rich spring you can swim in. The waters are refreshingly cool. Plus, while swimming, you get a stunning waterfall view.
At Copper Canyon, you can go zip-lining and hike on a few trails surrounded by raw natural beauty. One of the main highlights of visiting Copper Canyon is walking along an old suspension bridge. For an adrenaline-pumping experience, Copper Canyon is perfect.
Visiting Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve allows you to explore the jungle ecosystem in Mexico. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. And if that’s not enough, you can also swim through Sian Ka’an’s lagoons. No – scratch that. Not swim. Rather, you’d float effortlessly along the lagoon’s waters.
The Sumidero Canyon is also a great sightseeing spot, but it also includes a two-hour river cruise to see the towering canyon walls. What’s more, the canyon is home to crocodiles, ocelots, and spider monkeys. You might spot a few crocs while on the river cruise.
Mexico is full of natural beauty, sightseeing wonders, and breathtaking attractions. Combined with all the activities you can do at each spot, how could it not be worth visiting?
Mexican Food, Tequila, and Chocolate
You know what all three have in common? Their birthplaces are all in Mexico – yes, even chocolate! You might think it was the Mayans who invented chocolate, but the origins of chocolate go a little further back. At that time, chocolate was mainly used as a ceremonial drink – very much the same one used in cacao ceremonies.
While you’re in Mexico, you can learn all about the deep history of chocolate, how it’s made, and even make your own. Of course, part of the learning experience includes being able to sample chocolate varieties. And what could be more exciting than trying this famous dessert in its very birthplace?
Mexican food should also come as no surprise while you’re exploring Mexico. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, mole, and more Mexican food. Sure, you’ve tried Mexican food everywhere. But it’s totally different when you’re having it in the home court.
Sink your teeth into authentic Mexican dishes and you’ll notice the clear difference and gap from what you’ve had back home. And of course, tequila. Not only will you be able to enjoy it all throughout the city, but you’ll also get to visit where it’s grown. This includes the entire distillation process, and of course, again… free tequila samples!
Mexico Is Full of Unique Activities and Experiences
As if cage diving with great white sharks wasn’t unique and heart-racing enough. Mexico isn’t just the place to see great white sharks up close. Unique experiences are all over the city. One example is enjoying a nice dinner inside an illuminated cave in Alux restaurant, located in Playa del Carmen.
Did you know? You can even ride the Tequila Express train where you can listen to great mariachi music while sampling tequila. After boarding one of the coolest train rides in the world, head to the Sonora Market. Here, you’ll find a witch market. As in the broom-riding pointy hat witches kind of witch market.
You can buy medicinal herbs, voodoo dolls, potions, and items related to witch magic and occult. There are even love potions in the witch market. Have someone in mind you’re planning to use it on?
Moving on, there’s also an underwater museum in Cancun. For something on the “wild side,” you can also eat mezcal worms or fungus known as huitlacoche. Take your pick.
From here, you can take a refreshing bath at any of the thousand cenotes in Mexico. Cenotes are basically underground caves with permanent water. Think of them as sinkholes formed from the collapse of limestone bedrock ceilings. Thanks to rain and currents of underground rivers, you get permanent water.
But what makes sinkholes unique isn’t just how they’re formed. Back in the age of the Mayans, cenotes were used as places of sacrifice and also believed to be entrances to the underworld.
Swimming in an underworld portal that is also a human sacrificial chamber? Cool.
At the end of the day, there are so many unique experiences and places around Mexico. Even Izumal – the famous “Yellow City” – is a unique beauty of its own. And as far as unique experiences go, this last one might convince you to even stay longer in Mexico:
Mexico Has Some of the Most Beautiful Beaches
Many visit Mexico for its ancient ruins, gastronomy, and sightseeing adventures. But did you know? Mexico’s coastline measures close to 6,214 miles (10,000 km), meaning when it comes to beach options, you’ll find plenty all over the country.
And for some of the best, one worth mentioning is Playa Norte. Not only is it a haven for snorkeling, but its crystal clear waters and white, powdery sand have made it a popular spot for tourists. Thanks to its shallow warm waters, Playa Norte is also perfectly safe for kids to swim in. Additionally, you’ll find the largest concentration of whale sharks around the island.
Playa Los Cerritos, located in Baja California Sur, is yet another beautiful beach in Mexico and one of the safest swimming spots. Beachcombing is a popular activity, and you’ll find a lot of families enjoy spending their time here. If you’re looking for great surfing, you’ll also find it in Playa Los Cerritos.
Playa Mazunte boasts a quiet coastline and attracts more surfers than it does tourists. Several seafood shacks are dotted around the area. So, even if you don’t visit Playa Mazunte for a swim, you have other options. Whether it’s sipping a cold beer or margarita at any of the seafood shacks or simply enjoying a delicious seafood entree.
For something more unique, visit Isla Espiritu Santo, also located in Baja California Sur. Here, you’ll find red rocks, white sand, and exotic wildlife. One of the best parts of swimming in Isla Espiritu Santo? Being able to swim with a colony of sea lions. And thanks to Isla Espiritu Santo’s gorgeous coastline, it’s also one of the best places to go for an afternoon picnic.
If you’re looking for a change of pace or want to take a break from mountains and canyons, you can count on having a pleasant time at any of Mexico’s beaches.
Should I Go to Mexico or Puerto Rico?
Both Puerto Rico and Mexico are great destinations overall. What makes it tough to choose between the two is that both offer everything any traveler could hope for.
When it comes to beaches, Mexico offers more options for tourists since it’s also much bigger. Surfing is top-notch in both destinations and you can’t go wrong with either if you want a beach with a great view or simply relax.
Food-wise, it’s a tie. Mexican food is outstanding, and Puerto Rican food is a culinary gem that tourists would love. From tacos and burritos to frituras and lechon asado, you’ll enjoy the wide range of culinary options in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Activities, excursions, and tours are also fantastic in both destinations. Puerto Rico offers cave explorations, hiking through scenic mountains, stunning waterfalls, and more. Even simply going on a coffee plantation tour is exciting and fun-filled for the whole family to enjoy.
And if that’s not enough, you can explore hundreds of small islands around Puerto Rico, which all offer unique experiences.
Mexico is also just as family-friendly and diverse when it comes to what activities you can do around the city. Tequila Express trains, chocolate-making classes, jaw-dropping canyons, and awe-inspiring lagoons. These only make up the tip of the iceberg.
Want unique experiences? Visit a witch market and buy voodoo or love potions. Or better yet, dine in a romantic cave. And for the whole family, go exploring in an underwater museum.
At the end of the day, Puerto Rico is a better choice if you’re looking for an easygoing vacation. For travelers who haven’t been to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico may be the best choice for you. Plus, US citizens don’t need a passport or visa to enter Puerto Rico, being an overseas territory of the US.
Mexico is a better choice for savvy travelers. If you’ve already visited the Caribbean and want something a little different but still have a lot of activities to do, Mexico is perfect. Travelers looking for more unique experiences and heart-racing excursions will also love Mexico.
What Do Mexico and Puerto Rico Have in Common?
What Mexico and Puerto Rico have in common is they both share the same language. In both countries, Spanish is the official language.
Is Puerto Rico or Mexico Safer?
Both Puerto Rico and Mexico are safe destinations. Regardless of how safe a destination may be, it’s still crucial to exercise caution no matter where you’re traveling to.
For instance, walking alone in poorly lit areas at night is never a good decision. Asking locals for tips and suggestions is also a great way to learn more about how to keep yourself safe. Refraining from wearing flashy jewelry or bringing large amounts of cash on hand is common travel sense.
One good tip to remember is to look confident even when visiting downtown or rural areas. If you look puzzled, lost, or confused, this makes you an easy target.
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico Crime Rate
According to Numbeo, the crime rate in Puerto Rico is 61.94/100, while Mexico’s crime rate is 53.67/100. The majority of crimes that happen in both destinations are related to drug deals, corruption, and bribery.
Another common crime is theft, which usually happens if you leave your valuables unattended. Again, this is common travel sense and can easily be avoided by exercising caution. Just as you would back home, trust your gut and don’t be so gullible around strangers.
Is Puerto Rico Cheaper Than Mexico?
Mexico is cheaper to visit, but costs can quickly add up if you’re doing a lot of excursions and tours. Plus, staying at an all-inclusive resort will undoubtedly cost more. Just because Mexico is cheaper to visit, it doesn’t mean Puerto Rico is expensive.
You can travel to Puerto Rico for a reasonable cost and find price-friendly lodging, food, transportation, and so on. For example, eating at tourist restaurants whether in Mexico or Puerto Rico is a lot more expensive. Choosing restaurants where locals eat is always a cheaper option and a great way to experience culinary authenticity.
You can even eat street food to save on costs. A good tip to remember is if a food stall has a long line, it usually means the food is good and safe to eat. The same goes for restaurants in both Puerto Rico and Mexico. If you see a lot of locals dine at the restaurant, that’s a good sign as well.
Is Puerto Rico Poorer or Richer Than Mexico?
Previous GDP data might suggest that Puerto Rico is poorer than Mexico. But at the same time, both are very different countries when it comes to the economy. With Mexico being the larger country and having more resources, it’s easy to believe that Mexico is richer, on the surface.
However, data is a more accurate way of determining how “rich” or “poor” a country is. And even then, data isn’t enough to guarantee a country’s economic growth over the next five or ten years.
That said, both Puerto Rico and Mexico currently have a rising GDP trend. This means both countries are growing and flourishing. This also means there’s good economic growth happening in both countries.
According to 2022 GDP data, Puerto Rico’s GDP is 109.20 USD billion, while Mexico’s is 1,319 USD billion.
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico Beaches
If you’re looking for great surfing, both Puerto Rico and Mexico offer fantastic beaches. Between the two, though, Mexico has a longer coastline. That said, this doesn’t matter if you’re after water sports activities, a beach to relax or lounge on, or surfing.
Both Puerto Rico and Mexico have picturesque beaches as well and there are a few in Puerto Rico that stand out. For example, the black-sand beach at Vieques is something you won’t find on the beaches of Mexico.
Similarly, Mexico has unique beaches of its own, like Playa del Amor found in Nayarit, and Isla Espiritu Santo, found in Baja California Sur. At Isla Espiritu Santo, you’ll find red rocks and even get to swim with sea lions.
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico Resorts
Puerto Rico and Mexico have beautiful resorts and also offer luxury options perfect for a paradise getaway. But if there’s one difference between the two, you’ll find more all-inclusive resorts in Mexico than in Puerto Rico. Some are also bigger than those found in Puerto Rico.
Then again, Mexico spans a wider area of land, so there is essentially more room to build and develop resorts in the area.
Overall, if you’re looking for more all-inclusive resort options, Mexico may be the better choice.
Puerto Rico also offers all-inclusive options. However, the main difference is that you have more variety in Puerto Rico. Aside from all-inclusive resorts and hotels, you can go for Paradores. These are some of the most affordable. Plus, think of them as smaller hotels but with resort-like value.
For travelers who want a truly luxurious stay, Mexico has several options and has in fact won several awards. Some worth mentioning include the following:
- One&Only Palmilla
- NIZUC Resort & Spa
- Zadun, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
Is Puerto Rico in Mexico?
Puerto Rico is not in Mexico, and nor is it part of Mexico. Puerto Rico is a United States territory, located in the Caribbean. It’s also an island in the Antilles archipelago which lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Mexico, on the other hand, is located in Central America.
Is Puerto Rico Owned by Mexico?
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and has been since 1898, so it belongs to the United States of America.
Is Mexico Near Puerto Rico?
Mexico is far from Puerto Rico, considering they’re also both located in different locations. Essentially, the distance between Central America and the Caribbean is 755 miles (1,215 km).
Where is Mexico and Puerto Rico?
Mexico is located in Central America, while Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean. The total area of Mexico is 758, 449.43 sq miles (1,964,375 sq km), while Puerto Rico spans a total of 3,424 sq miles (8,870 sq km).
Puerto Rico to Mexico Distance
The distance between Puerto Rico and Mexico is 2,155.8 miles (3,469 km). If you travel in a straight line from one destination to the other, it would take about 5 hours and 8 minutes in total.
Do Mexico and Puerto Rico Speak the Same Language?
The official language in Mexico and Puerto Rico is Spanish. However, there are differences between Mexican Spanish and Puerto Rican Spanish. For example, the Spanish word “China” in Mexico refers to the country. In Puerto Rico, “China” can also mean orange.
Think of the Spanish differences between Puerto Rico and Mexico the same as American English and British English.
What Came First – Mexico or Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico came before Mexico. Christopher Columbus first discovered Puerto Rico along with the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1493. This was during Columbus’ second voyage to the Antilles. Mexico was discovered much later, a few decades after America was discovered.
The Spanish first landed in Mexico in 1521. In fact, the Yucatan Peninsula, a part of Central Mexico, was discovered four years before in 1517.
Fun fact: Norsemen actually landed in Mexico back in the 10th century, according to experts and several theories.
Can You Fly From Mexico to Puerto Rico?
You can fly from Mexico to Puerto Rico, however, there are no direct flights between the two locations. The fastest way to get from Mexico to Puerto Rico is indeed via plane but takes 7 hours and has one stopover, best case scenario.
Mexico to Puerto Rico Flights
Several airlines offer flights from Mexico to Puerto Rico, such as Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines. However, there are no airlines that offer direct flights between both destinations. On average, expect at least one or two stopovers.
Mexico to Puerto Rico Flight Time
In ideal circumstances, the flight time from Mexico to Puerto Rico only takes five hours. This would be the case if you could fly directly from Mexico City International to the Luis Munoz Marin International airport.
The shortest flight time from Mexico to Puerto Rico, including a stopover, is seven or eight hours. Worst case, flight times from Mexico to Puerto could take between 11 to 23 hours.
What Do You Need to Fly From Mexico to Puerto Rico?
If you’re flying to Puerto Rico, US citizens don’t need a passport since it’s a United States territory. Put simply, you can travel hassle-free when visiting Puerto Rico. All you need to do is get your luggage from baggage claim, book an Uber or taxi, and you’re all set.
In contrast, flying to Mexico means you’ll have to undergo customs before claiming your luggage. This means tourists visiting Mexico, including US citizens, have to present a valid passport upon arrival. Also, visitors must fill out a declaration form and present it when they arrive in Mexico together with their passport.