US Virgin Islands vs. Puerto Rico

The Caribbean is home to the best vacation destinations in the whole world. The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are two of the must-see locations in the Caribbean. They both offer stunning and untouched beaches and a wide array of activities for tourists. However, one has the authentic Latin flare that you’ll want to come back to, and the other has an intense atmosphere that you shouldn’t miss.
US Virgin Islands vs. Puerto Rico

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The US Virgin Islands is an exotic group of islands in the Caribbean. It consists of 50 islets, all brimming with excitement and a friendly atmosphere. With three main islands that each offer a unique experience, you will never be at a loss for adventure and beauty. If you want a tropical paradise, the US Virgin Islands will take your breath away.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico is charming. It has an authentic Latin culture that will make your experience more fun-filled and memorable. Puerto Rico is filled with beautiful views and a warm and bustling atmosphere, but its real charm is its rich and colorful history and culture.

US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands is a part of the Caribbean but is a United States territory. This means that United States citizens can enjoy this destination without having to worry about their passport or VISA. This is why it’s called “America’s Caribbean Paradise.”

The US Virgin Islands is home to three principal islands, each offering something different. You can explore St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. With so much to see and experience, you will never have an idle time in the US Virgin Islands.

Clean, breathtaking, and rich. These are three words that perfectly describe what the US Virgin Islands is all about. The culture and history of the islands are enough to draw you in. However, the beautiful sceneries and endless adventures are what will make you want to stay for as long as you can.

This place is truly paradise, welcoming visitors throughout the year. There’s no off-season, and there’s never a time when you have nothing to do.

What Makes US Virgin Islands Unique?

World-Class Beaches

It’s no doubt that one of the biggest reasons why someone would go to the US Virgin Islands is to experience its world-class beaches. Some of the beaches in the US Virgin Islands are considered the best in the whole Caribbean.

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It’s fortunate that the US Virgin Islands has such a diverse and captivating set of beaches. There are long stretches of white-sand beaches paired with crystal clear waters and lush mountains. The beauty that each of the US Virgin Islands beaches possesses is awe-inspiring and almost unreal. They are all charming in their own unique ways.

Here are four of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands:

Trunk Bay Beach

Trunk Bay is one of the most popular and iconic spots in the whole US Virgin Islands. Some say it’s even one of the best in the whole Caribbean.

Coconut trees and clear blue waters perfectly complement this quarter-mile stretch of sands so soft you feel like you’re on heaven on Earth. It’s the picture-perfect tropical paradise of anyone’s dreams.

Because this beach is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, you can expect the beach to be well-maintained. It feels almost untouched. You can even find a self-guided underwater snorkeling trail. There, you can find information on all the coral formations and marine life it protects.

Hull Bay Beach

Amongst locals, Hull Bay Beach is one of the favorites. Although it’s not as popular as nearby beaches, it’s known as St. Thomas’ best surfing spot. This is also why it’s best for individuals and families looking for a calm and tranquil place to relax in. The beach also boasts calm waters and lines of sea grape trees.

Although not many people go to Hull Bay Beach, it’s still filled with many attractions and activities to do. It’s even one of the best locations to go night snorkeling.

Sandy Point Beach

Three miles (4.8 kilometers) of bright white sand and turquoise waters is what will greet you in Sandy Point Beach. It’s St. Croix’s and the US Virgin Islands’ longest beach.

As part of the Sandy Point Wildlife Preserve, it’s a key nesting area for endangered leatherback turtles. It’s usually closed during the turtle nesting season, from March to August. Visiting this breathtaking place shows you just how beautiful nature can be when it’s taken care of and untouched.

Jack’s Bay Beach

Jack’s Bay Beach is one of the most protected areas in the US Virgin Islands. It’s also mainly because it’s not too easy to get to the destination. The only way you can get to the beautiful Jack’s Bay Beach is by boat or foot.

Jack’s Bay Beach is protected by the nature conservancy. It’s home to Green Turtle and Hawksbill nests. More than that, it houses coral reefs that have hundreds of different species of fish.

Ideal Weather Year-Round

The US Virgin Islands does not really have an off-season. The weather in this destination is almost always perfect for a beach trip. The US Virgin Islands is an ideal destination regardless of when you plan to visit because it has steady temperatures all year round. You can enjoy endless activities regardless if you go there during summer or spring.

Even though any time throughout the year is a good place to visit, the best times to go to the US Virgin Islands are from April to June. This is because, during this time, the weather is consistently mild with little to no rainfall.

Rich Cultural Legacy

The US Virgin Islands boasts a rich history and culture that continues to live on today. The culture is very rich because seven different nations have left their legacies on these islands. All these various nations have influenced the US Virgin Islands’ rich culture, history, music, art, and architecture.

There are many parts of the US Virgin Islands wherein you can immerse in this rich cultural legacy. Most of the attractions that feature the rich history of the island can be found in St. Croix.

Here are some of the notable historical and cultural attractions in the US Virgin Islands:

St. Croix Heritage Trail

The St. Croix Heritage Trail is a self-guided tour wherein you’ll be able to visit and immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and culture. Many of St. Croix’s major historical sites, like the Whim Plantation Museum and St. George Village Botanical Gardens, are part of this route. There are also plenty of sugar-mill ruins, churches, and picturesque views, among others.

Estate Whim Museum

The Estate Whim Museum is greatly known for its colonial-era Great House. However, beyond that, it’s the only sugar plantation museum in the whole Virgin Islands. Visitors will experience walking back in time in this unique and historical attraction.

The museum tour was created to describe plantation economics to visitors. They also get an understanding of what life was like for those who lived and worked on sugar plantations back then.

Fort Frederik

The Danish built Fort Frederik in the 18th century to protect St. Croix from invasions. European powers and pirates are among the most common reasons why the fort came to be.

Fort Frederik gained the status of National Landmark in 1997. This is because it took part in two significant historical events that led to the end of slavery in the Virgin Islands.

Endless Fun Activities

If you talk to anyone who has ever been to the US Virgin Islands, they will tell you that there’s an abundance of things to do. You will never run out of activities to try. The adventure that this destination offers is one of the main reasons why people crowd the US Virgin Islands.

When it comes to exciting water activities, the US Virgin Islands’ offerings are world class. You can dive and discover multitudes of marine life. You can also sail, snorkel, and kayak, among others. Regardless of whether you’re new to these water activities or not, there’s something for you to explore in the US Virgin Islands.

However, it’s not only the water activities that are abundant in this destination. The US Virgin Islands doesn’t only boast lush and attractive landscapes. There’s also a generous amount of land activities such as ecotours, hiking, and biking. All these, you can do while looking up at breathtaking sceneries, like you’re in a cinematic film.

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Puerto Rico

A mix of old and new. That is what Puerto Rico is all about. It’s known as the Island of Enchantment and the Heart and Soul of the Caribbean. When you see what Puerto Rico has to offer, it’s easy to understand why people call it those names.

Puerto Rico is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. Everyone knows about Puerto Rico. It’s small in size, but it’s able to charm the hearts of thousands of travelers every year. Rich history, diverse landscapes, and endless adventure are all packed into this paradise.

Whether you’re looking for relaxation or thrilling adventures, you’ll find it in Puerto Rico. It’s teeming with culture, excitement, and everything you can want in a tropical paradise.

What Makes Puerto Rico Unique?

Endless Natural Wonders

Although Puerto Rico is a relatively small island, it’s filled with diverse landscapes and natural wonders. From forests, to mountains, to caves, you will find every kind of beauty that nature has to offer. When you get to Puerto Rico, you know that you’ll never get bored because wherever you set foot in, you will be welcomed with breathtaking sights.

Here are some of the most breathtaking attractions in Puerto Rico:

Guanica Dry Forest

The Guanica Dry Forest is one of the largest dry forests in the whole world. This is also Puerto Rico’s most dry land. It’s barely touched by rainfall throughout the year. It’s located in the Southwest part of Puerto Rico, overlooking the calming Guanica Bay.

The Guanica Dry Forest is home to hundreds of plant species as well as an overwhelming number of bird, reptilian, and amphibian species. Because of the dramatic scenery and rich flora and fauna, the Guanica Dry Forest is labeled a United Nations biosphere reserve.

El Yunque

There’s nothing better than El Yunque if you want to truly immerse in and be part of nature. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest Service, and it’s teeming with beautiful sights and plenty of things to do.

El Yunque has many trails that visitors can hike in to truly see more of what nature has to offer. Beyond hiking, it’s also possible to bathe in the natural pools while admiring different waterfalls. You can simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery around you at El Yunque.

San Cristobal Canyon

The San Cristobal Canyon is one of the best natural wonders in Puerto Rico. It’s not easy to get to San Cristobal Canyon, but the planning and travel are definitely worth it.

In the San Cristobal Canyon, you will be met with rock walls that come from rivers. There are even beautiful waterfalls to pair.

This topographical phenomenon is one of the most significant in the Caribbean. It is the result of tectonic movements that caused the rise of the terrestrial crust in this almost 6-mile (9.65 kilometers) stretch.

Perfect Warm Weather

There is plenty of blue skies and sunshine in Puerto Rico. Because of the perfectly warm weather all throughout the year, Puerto Rico is a great destination for people looking for a place for winter. There are moderate temperatures year-round, a classic Caribbean climate.

A trip to Puerto Rico becomes worry-free because there’s no rainfall or uncomfortable weather to think about.

Best Beaches in the World

In Puerto Rico, there is a beach for every type of individual. You can expect a lot of clear blue water and powdery white sand in Puerto Rico. There’s so much that for many people, it’s hard to choose which ones to explore.

Here are some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico:

Playa Pelicano

Playa Pelicano can be found in the Southern part of Puerto Rico, where most of the top beaches can be found. If you’re looking for a beach that’s the perfect definition of relaxation and winding down, Playa Pelicano is the place to be.

There are pavilions and some facilities in the area, but beyond the few necessities, you’ll have to bring what you need. That is the charm of Playa Pelicano. It feels like a completely untouched beach where you can connect with nature.

Luquillo Beach

Luquillo Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico. This is because of the traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and seafood that lines the whole beach. Beyond the delicious offerings that the beach has to offer, it’s a popular place because of where it’s situated, right next to El Yunque.

This beach is also a family favorite because of the shallow and warm waters, with palm trees surrounding the area. The overall atmosphere in Luquillo Beach is laid-back.

Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach is not to be missed. It was once rated as one of the top 10 best beaches in the world, and for a good reason!

Flamenco Beach is a great beach location for both individuals, groups, and families. The crystal clear waters are consistently at a safe low tide. Despite that, it’s a great beach for snorkeling.

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The whole stretch of Flamenco Beach is lined with coconut palms and picnic areas. However, what makes Flamenco Beach truly iconic is the military tank that can be seen in everyone’s photographs when they visit here.

Rich History to Unfold

Puerto Rico has long and old Spanish roots that can be felt up to this day. Puerto Rico has one of the most abundant cultural and historical heritages of all places in the Caribbean. There are so many cultural things to see in Puerto Rico that it will feel like you’ll never have enough time to completely immerse in each one.

Here are some historical sites in Puerto Rico:

Old San Juan

Old San Juan is the most visited place in Puerto Rico. A walk through the streets of Old San Juan will give you the feeling of walking back in history. It’s an almost untouched and very well-kept part of the capital city of Puerto Rico.

A trip to Puerto Rico is never complete without stepping foot in Old San Juan. Here, you can find many historic buildings that played big roles in the development of the culture and history of Puerto Rico.

Fuerte San Felipe del Morro

The Fuerte San Felipe del Morro is one of the few landmarks that truly showcases and represents Puerto Rico’s legacy. In its almost 500-year history, it served as an important military outpost for Spain and the United States. Now, it greets cruise ships in and out of Puerto Rico.

Bioluminescent Bays

Puerto Rico definitely offers a surreal and eco-friendly experience through its bioluminescent bays. There is a limited number of bioluminescent bays in the whole world, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them. The three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico are Laguna Grande, Mosquito Bay, and La Bahia Fosforescente.

These glowing bays are truly a magical experience especially since it’s not everywhere in the world where you can encounter them. The Mosquito bay in Puerto Rico is even declared as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the whole world.

Which Is Better – Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands?

The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are two of the best and most popular Caribbean destinations. They have a similar appeal, both brimming with a rich history and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Both destinations are home to thrilling adventures, but there’s one better option for every kind of individual.

However, when it comes to the overall experience, Puerto Rico is by far a better option. This is especially if you’re looking to immerse yourself in more nature, culture, and history.

The US Virgin Islands is perfect for anyone interested in a lively and energetic atmosphere. The US Virgin Islands is always buzzing with life and activity.

With an interesting history and culture that anyone would want to know more about, there’s no boring minute in a US Virgin Islands vacation.

The US Virgin Islands offers its visitors a lot. It’s overflowing with life, history, culture, music, and beautiful sceneries. If you’re looking for one of the most alive places in the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands is the place to be.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico is very much like the US Virgin Islands. It’s filled with as much life, culture, and history, but it offers more in terms of nature.

Puerto Rico draws people in because of its beautiful and breathtaking sceneries that are hard to find anywhere else in the world. It gets people’s hearts because of the beautiful and buzzing culture and flares that it owns.

If you truly immerse in Puerto Rico, you’ll know that it’s the perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, and beauty.

When it comes to choosing which is better, it all depends on the kind of atmosphere and experience you want. They’re similar but the experience you’ll get is different. The better question really is, which destination should you visit first?

FAQ

Which Is Safer – Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands?

Both the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are safe islands to visit, regardless of whether you’re traveling in groups or alone. However, Puerto Rico is recognized as one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. It has a low crime rate compared to other Caribbean locations.

It’s vital to remember that even though both destinations are relatively safe, there’s nothing wrong with putting in extra effort in being safe. Theft and pickpocketing, although rare, may still happen. That is why it’s important to keep yourself and your belongings safe through preventive measures.

Is US Virgin Islands Cheaper or More Expensive Than Puerto Rico?

The US Virgin Islands is a more expensive destination than Puerto Rico. Everything in the US Virgin Islands is more expensive by up to 50% compared to those in Puerto Rico.

However, you should still consider where in the US Virgin Islands you’re going to spend most of your time in. There are islands that are cheaper than the others. The US Virgin Islands is more expensive because there are not a lot of large businesses and most of the islands are protected areas.

Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands for Family Vacation

Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are great destinations for family vacations. Both locations sport calm beaches and a laid-back vibe. However, the US Virgin Islands is named as one of the top destinations for family vacations.

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Although Puerto Rico has its fair share of family-friendly attractions and locations, the US Virgin Islands is home to a more calming vibe. Because many of its islands are protected areas, the overall feel of the US Virgin Islands is calm and untouched. The laid-back atmosphere is more evident in the US Virgin Islands.

Is Puerto Rico Part of the US Virgin Islands?

Many people mistake Puerto Rico as part of the US Virgin Islands, but it’s not. The only reason many people think this is because both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean. They are not too far from each other, so it can be easy to mistake them for being in the same location.

How Far Is Puerto Rico From US Virgin Islands?

The US Virgin Islands is not too far from Puerto Rico. In fact, the US Virgin Islands is only 111.22 miles (179 kilometers) east of Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands are directly to the east of Puerto Rico.

Can You See the US Virgin Islands From Puerto Rico?

Although Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are beside each other, you cannot see the US Virgin Islands from Puerto Rico and vice versa. However, the US Virgin Islands is easily accessible from Puerto Rico.

Can You Get to US Virgin Islands From Puerto Rico?

Yes, you can get from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands. In fact, there is more than one way to get from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands. You can either take a plane or a ferry, depending on which island in the US Virgin Islands you plan to go to.

How Do You Get From Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands?

There are two ways to get from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands. You can take either a plane ride or a ferry ride.

For plane rides, there are two options. Both flights don’t take more than an hour to get to the US Virgin Islands from Puerto Rico. It only depends on where you’d prefer to land in the US Virgin Islands.

There’s also a ferry ride available that goes from the US Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico. You can go from either St. John or St. Thomas to Puerto Rico and vice versa.

Puerto Rico to US Virgin Islands Flight

There are two flights available from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands.

You can either take a flight from Puerto Rico to Charlotte Amalie, which will take only 46 minutes. This flight is the fastest flight from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands. Most of the time, this flight is also cheaper than the other option.

On the other hand, you can take a plane ride from Puerto Rico to Christiansted, which will take 58 minutes.

Is There a Ferry From Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands?

There is a ferry going from the US Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico. You can take either a one-way or a round-trip ferry ride from St. John to Puerto Rico, which will cost you $100 and $125, respectively. This trip will take no more than 2 hours.

There is also a ferry ride that goes from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico with the same price and travel time.

How Far Is Puerto Rico From US Virgin Islands by Boat?

The distance from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands (particularly St. Thomas) is around 111.56 miles (179.5 kilometers). It’s 96.88 nautical miles.

When taking a boat or ferry from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas), the travel time will be around 2 hours.

Can You Drive From Puerto Rico to US Virgin Islands?

No. It’s not possible to drive from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands. The only available transportation between the two islands is a plane ride and a ferry ride.

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