Costa Rica and Puerto Rico are both popular vacation getaways, so which is better?
Whether you’re looking to learn more about Costa Rica’s many species of animals or to learn about the Spanish colonial architecture of Puerto Rico, there’s a lot to consider.
In this article, I’ll help you decide which destination you should choose for your next vacation.
– Costa Rica vs Puerto Rico safety — which is safer?
– Costa Rica vs Puerto Rico beaches — which has better beaches?
– Which is better for families with kids?
– Which has more fun and unique activities?
– Which is cheaper to vacation to?
– Which is easier to get to from the United States?
– Which is easier to get around?
– Other frequently asked questions
Costa Rica is considered one of the safest destinations in Central America.
Puerto Rico is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean.
They are very similar in what safety risks they have, but with Puerto Rico being a United States territory, it’s a bit more developed.
Both Puerto Rico and Costa Rica have issues with petty crimes like pickpocketing and mugging, as well as large crimes involving gang violence and drug trafficking.
Gang violence very rarely affects tourists.
That being said, in Costa Rica you’re more likely to have a run-in with trouble, and you would have a harder time getting yourself out of it, for a few reasons.
Firstly, Costa Rica has fewer English speakers.
In Costa Rican urban and tourist areas you’ll find English speakers, but outside these areas, it’s more likely that everyone will speak Spanish.
Asking for help or explaining that you’re lost is more difficult if you don’t know the language.
Spanish is the primary language in Puerto Rico as well, but many more people are bilingual, meaning there’s almost always someone you can ask for help, even in rural areas.
Speaking of rural areas, Costa Rica is less reliable when it comes to cell coverage.
International service isn’t always included in your cell phone plan, whereas in Puerto Rico, you can bring your United States phone without purchasing an international plan and almost always have service.
Both destinations are prone to natural disasters and have long rainy seasons.
Costa Rica is less likely to be impacted by a hurricane, but is home to 8 active volcanoes, and can receive up to 14 inches of rain per month in the wet season.
Puerto Rico has no volcanoes, and usually receives about 4 inches of rain per month in the wet season.
When it comes to drinking water, Puerto Rico is safer as well.
Puerto Rico is held to the same water standards as the mainland United States, so you can almost always drink tap water.
Costa Rica is much less reliable, and it’s recommended that you drink bottled water.
For a simple Caribbean vacation, Puerto Rican beaches are a more popular choice.
Puerto Rican beaches are smaller and more commercial, and closer to cities and towns, where you can find lifeguards, showers, parking, beachside resorts, restaurants, bars, and clubs.
There are remote and “untouched” beaches in Puerto Rico as well, but you don’t have to travel for hours to get to them or need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to visit.
Costa Rican beaches are more rugged, remote, and preserved, with vast, wild coastlines that may take you a while to travel to with very few lifeguards!
For smaller children especially, Puerto Rico is a better destination.
There are also more beaches in Puerto Rico with showers, lockers, and lifeguards, making it easier for a family’s day out.
Costa Rica has activities for families, but they’re more suitable for older children, couples, and solo travelers, like hiking and adventuring, and the beaches are less commercial.
For traveling with kids, Puerto Rico is a bit easier because you don’t need to get passports or go through customs.
Check out the video below of a family traveling to Puerto Rico:
Overall, Puerto Rico has a better range of fun and unique activities.
Costa Rica is a destination for enjoying rugged nature, hiking in the forest and mountains, and outdoor adventuring.
After a day in Puerto Rico hiking in El Yunque or snorkeling at the beach, you can go out to enjoy the city’s many clubs and restaurants or plan a whole day of wandering and enjoying museums and historic sites.
For more details on all you can experience, take a look at our articles 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.
This is a tricky question because there are a few things to consider.
Puerto Rico is a domestic flight when traveling from the United States, you can save money on flight prices and not purchasing passports.
In Costa Rica, prices for accommodations and food may be cheaper.
Puerto Rico is regulated by the United States government, so your accommodations may feel more familiar.
While your dollar may go farther in Costa Rica, it may come with more amenities and peace of mind in Puerto Rico.
We have a more in-depth breakdown of the cost of a vacation to Puerto Rico in our article How Much Does It Cost To Go To Puerto Rico For Vacation.
When traveling from the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is easier to get to.
Flight times vary based on where in the United States you’re traveling from.
Puerto Rico is a domestic flight you don’t need a passport, and you don’t need to go through customs to enter the island.
Phones and United States currency will work as they are used in Puerto Rico as well, so no converting your dollars or purchasing an international phone plan needed.
Puerto Rico is generally easier to travel around.
It’s recommended that you rent a car in both locations, but driving in Costa Rica presents more challenges.
Costa Rica has a less developed road infrastructure, meaning that some destinations need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access.
Rental car insurance in Costa Rica is also very complicated and can cost you a lot if you’re not careful about it.
In Puerto Rico, rental cars are very easy to come by. There are rental car services outside of the airports and the roads are better maintained.
Road trips are popular vacation plans because you can drive around the entire island in less than a day, and from north to south in just a few hours.
Uber and taxis work to get to most parts of the island, but become more difficult to find as you venture away from metro areas like San Juan and Ponce, and into the central island areas.
Costa Rica’s urban areas and attractions are more spread out.
In Puerto Rico, it is very easy to get from one town to the next by car.
Costa Rica is cheaper, but you get more value in Puerto Rico. Flights to Puerto Rico from the mainland United States are generally less expensive, with no passports required.
Puerto Rico is more developed and commercialized in its beaches, resorts, tours, and other experiences. There are more English speakers, and PR uses United States currency and cell phone services.
Puerto Rico and Costa Rica both have great options for surfing, but if you’re looking for well-known surf spots or your first surf lesson, Puerto Rico is the place to be.
If you’re new to backpacking, Costa Rica might be a very large undertaking. Puerto Rico is a great place to start as you can adventure into the rainforest while still feeling safe about being able to stay at a hostel near a familiar amenities.
Puerto Rico is a strong contender instead of Costa Rica for your next vacation.
Puerto Rico and Costa Rica share a lot of similarities, but Puerto Rico comes out on top as an easy, affordable, and fun Caribbean getaway. Plus, Puerto Rico is home to the world’s brightest Bioluminescent Bay.
Writer at PuertoRico.com. Growing up in New York and spending my summers in Puerto Rico, I have always loved writing, travel, and animals. I began my career as a travel writer, and after many different jobs in media, I have settled back into what I love most. I enjoy the beach, exploring the island with my family, and coffee!About the author