Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic: Which Is A Better Vacation Destination? (2024)

Are you planning a vacation in the Caribbean but need help deciding between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic? 

Both destinations have their unique charm, but which one is better?

I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years, so I can help you make your decision.

In this article, I will help you decide whether you should vacation in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic:

Is Puerto Rico better than the Dominican Republic?
Is it cheaper to go to the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico?
Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico safety — which is safer?
Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico beaches — which has better beaches?
Which is better for families with kids?
Which has more fun and unique activities?
Frequently Asked Questions


Is Puerto Rico better than the Dominican Republic?

Suppose you’re looking for a vacation to unwind and learn about history.

image of a hand fist
Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic are close geographically, but have a few differences that would impact your vacation depending on what you are searching for.

Puerto Rico is the perfect destination for you.

The island’s capital, San Juan, boasts a charming old town with colorful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. 

image of pastel painted buildings
San Juan, Puerto Rico is a vibrant city with colorful colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, and a rich history.

Spend your days exploring the city’s museums, trying the local cuisine, and taking leisurely walks through the picturesque streets.

Puerto Rico also offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking in the El Yunque National Forest, surfing in Rincón, and kayaking in the bioluminescent bays.

The island’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Caribbean, with crystal-clear waters and soft white sand.

image of surfing
Rincón, Puerto Rico is a world-renowned surfing destination with consistent waves and warm waters that attract surfers from all over the world.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort experience with plenty of nightlife, the Dominican Republic may be a better fit. 

The country has a reputation for its lively atmosphere, with plenty of bars, clubs, and casinos.

image of Caribbean resort Bavaro
Bavaro Resort is a popular all-inclusive resort located on the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, offering guests a range of activities and amenities for a relaxing vacation.

Punta Cana is a popular tourist destination with its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts.

The Dominican Republic also offers opportunities for adventure, such as ziplining, horseback riding, and deep-sea fishing. 

image of Samana peninsula
Samana Peninsula is a stunning and secluded region in the Dominican Republic, known for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and whale watching.

You can explore the country’s natural beauty by visiting places like the Samana Peninsula or the Jarabacoa Mountains.

Read more about what Puerto Rico has to offer in our guide to the 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.


Is it cheaper to go to the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico?

When planning a vacation, the traveling cost is an essential factor to consider.

For budget-conscious people, the Dominican Republic may be a more affordable option than Puerto Rico. 

image of an aerial view of a Marina
Generally, the Dominican Republic is considered to be more affordable than Puerto Rico, offering budget-friendly accommodations, food, and activities for travelers.

The country is home to a wide range of all-inclusive resorts offering reasonably priced food, drinks, and entertainment. 

These resorts are often located in popular tourist destinations like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, which offer stunning beaches and various activities.

image of beaches of Puerto Plata Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, historical landmarks, and outdoor adventure opportunities.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico has a more diverse range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious hotels. 

While high-end hotels can be quite expensive, plenty of affordable options are available for travelers on a tight budget. 

In addition, Puerto Rico offers various unique experiences not found in the Dominican Republic, such as exploring the bioluminescent bays or hiking through the El Yunque National Forest.

image of an adventurous tourist hiking
Hiking through El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, is filled with stunning waterfalls and a diverse array of flora and fauna.

Regarding food and drinks, the Dominican Republic has a wide range of local street food options that are both delicious and affordable. 

From empanadas to plantains, travelers can enjoy the local cuisine without breaking the bank. 

In contrast, Puerto Rico offers more upscale dining options that can be pretty expensive.

However, the island is also known for its delicious street food, like the famous mofongo and alcapurrias, found at local food trucks and stands throughout the island.

image of Mofongo, Puerto Rican Dish
Mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made from mashed plantains and various fillings, is a flavorful and satisfying staple of the island’s cuisine.

Overall, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico offer unique experiences for travelers, and the choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preferences and budget.

For more help with budgeting your trip, check out our article where we answer the question How Much Does It Cost To Travel To Puerto Rico?


Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico safety — which is safer?

 In recent years, the Dominican Republic has significantly improved its safety measures, particularly in tourist areas. 

image of police car
Police presence is common in Puerto Rico.

The government has increased police presence in popular tourist destinations and implemented new security protocols to ensure the safety of visitors. 

Despite these improvements, tourists should still exercise caution, particularly when traveling outside of popular tourist areas.

One of the most significant safety concerns for travelers to the Dominican Republic is petty crime, such as theft and pickpocketing. 

image of stealing wallet
Petty theft is an ongoing concern in Dominican Republic.

Tourists should be vigilant and monitor their belongings at all times, particularly in crowded areas like markets and public transportation.

In Puerto Rico, tourists should also remain vigilant and take precautions to ensure safety. 

While the island has a lower crime rate than the Dominican Republic, it is not immune to crime. 

Visitors should be cautious when walking alone at night, particularly in unlit areas or unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Another safety concern for travelers to Puerto Rico is the risk of natural disasters, particularly hurricanes. 

image of electrical lines after Hurricane Maria
Electrical lines in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The island has experienced several devastating hurricanes recently, resulting in widespread damage and power outages. Tourists should be aware of the hurricane season, which typically runs from June to November, and take necessary precautions if traveling.

Overall, while Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have made efforts to improve their safety measures, travelers should always exercise caution and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety while on vacation.

Read more about it in our Safety Guide To Puerto Rico.


Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico beaches — which has better beaches? 

The Dominican Republic is famous for its long white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. 

Punta Cana, Bavaro, and Playa Rincon are some of the most popular beaches in the country, attracting visitors from around the world with their gleaming white sands and turquoise waters. 

image of luxury beach in the Dominican Republic
Beaches in Dominican Republic at the resorts are well groomed and picture perfect.

These beaches offer a range of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, and jet skiing, making them perfect for adventure seekers.

Below is a video of the top 10 best beaches in the Dominican Republic:

In contrast, Puerto Rico has a more diverse beach, from sandy beaches to rocky coves and turquoise waters.

Flamenco Beach, Isla Verde Beach, and Luquillo Beach are some of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico. 

Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico, is a breathtakingly beautiful and secluded destination with crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs.

While the island is smaller than the Dominican Republic, it offers some of the most enchanting beaches in the world, with a mix of natural beauty and vibrant culture. 

The island is also known for surfing, particularly on the western coast, where waves can reach up to 20 feet high.

Both destinations have their own unique offerings when it comes to their beaches. 

Below is a video of the top 10 best beaches in Puerto Rico:

However, Puerto Rico is considered to have better beaches.

The Dominican Republic has a wider range of all-inclusive resorts and long white sandy beaches, making it a popular choice for those seeking a relaxing beach vacation. 

Puerto Rico offers a more diverse range of beach experiences, with a mix of natural beauty and vibrant culture, making it a great destination for adventure seekers and those looking to explore beyond the beach.

Check out our 30 Best Beaches In Puerto Rico article to get more excited about visiting Puerto Rico!


Which is better for families with kids? 

In Puerto Rico, families with kids can enjoy various water activities, such as snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. 

The island’s many beaches have calm waters perfect for younger children.

Families can also tour the Camuy River Cave Park, home to underground caves and rivers.

image of Las Cascadas Waterpark's aerial view
Las Cascadas Waterpark in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico is a great place for kids to spend the day.

The Dominican Republic also has plenty of beaches perfect for families with kids, such as Bavaro Beach and Punta Cana Beach. Families can also visit the Dolphin Explorer Park to swim with dolphins or explore the country’s beautiful reefs on a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion. 

Below is a video of someone swimming with the dolphins in the Dominican Republic:

The country’s many water parks, such as the Sirenis Aquagames Punta Cana and the Coco Bongo Aquapark, are popular with families.

In addition to their many activities and attractions, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer a range of family-friendly accommodations. 

Many resorts in both destinations offer all-inclusive packages, including meals, drinks, and activities for adults and children. These resorts often have kids’ clubs and babysitting services, allowing parents to relax and enjoy their vacation while their children are entertained.

image of El Conquistador hotel
El Conquistador hotel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico is a family friendly destination with a water park and private island for guests to enjoy.

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer plenty of family-friendly activities and accommodations, making them great destinations for families with kids.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventure-filled trip, both destinations have something to offer families of all ages.

Read more in our guide to the 17 Best Things To Do With Kids In Puerto Rico.


Which has more fun and unique activities? 

Visitors to Puerto Rico can explore the island’s rich history and culture by taking a tour of the historic city of Old San Juan.

The city is home to several historic landmarks, including the historic fortress of El Morro and the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. 

image of Castillo de El Morro
Castillo de El Morro is a fortress located in Old San Juan that offers daily tour options to visitors.

Visitors can also stroll through the city’s colorful streets, stopping at local cafes and shops to sample traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and purchase souvenirs.

In the Dominican Republic, visitors can explore the country’s rich colonial history by visiting Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World. 

image of cityscape of Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is a vibrant and historic destination with a mix of colonial architecture, modern amenities, and a thriving cultural scene.

The city is home to several historic landmarks, including the Alcazar de Colón, once the home of Christopher Columbus’ son.

Visitors can also explore the country’s beautiful national parks, such as Parque Nacional del Este and Parque Nacional Los Haitises.

image of Colonial fort in Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
The Alcazar de Colón, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former residence of Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego, is a must-visit attraction in Santo Domingo for its impressive architecture, historical significance, and valuable art collection.

Both destinations offer plenty of opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Puerto Rico is home to several luxurious spas, such as the Waldorf Astoria Spa and the Ritz-Carlton Spa, which offer a range of treatments and services, including massages, facials, and body treatments.

Check out this video showcasing the best things to do in Puerto Rico:

The Dominican Republic is home to several all-inclusive resorts that offer spa services and private beaches, pools, and cabanas.

Regarding shopping, both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have plenty to offer.

In Puerto Rico, visitors can shop for locally made crafts and souvenirs at the Plaza Las Américas, the largest shopping center in the Caribbean. 

The Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful amber jewelry, found at the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata.

Overall, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer travelers a wide range of fun and unique activities. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or culture, both destinations have something to offer.

While you are planning your trip, check out the 30 Best Hotels In Puerto Rico.


FAQ section:

Which is easier to get to from the United States?

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are easily accessible from the United States. But Puerto Rico is more straightforward because it's a US territory, meaning US citizens do not need a passport to travel to the island. Several direct flights are from major US cities to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Which is easier to get around?

When it comes to getting around, Puerto Rico is generally easier to navigate than the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico has a well-developed road network; most signs are in English and Spanish.


Final thoughts

Puerto Rico is a US territory, which means that it has a more Americanized feel to it. It is a melting pot of cultures with Spanish, African, and American influences. 

On the other hand, the Dominican Republic is known for its all-inclusive resorts, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife.

Suppose you want a more Americanized experience with a mix of culture, history, and adventure. In that case, Puerto Rico may be the better choice.

Suppose you want an all-inclusive resort experience with beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. In that case, the Dominican Republic may be the better choice.

I recommend checking out our How To Spend A Week In Puerto Rico article for a guide on how to maximize your trip to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic: Which Is A Better Vacation Destination? (2024)
Article by

Miguel Concepcion

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.

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