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

Do you need help picking whether to visit Puerto Rico or Jamaica for vacation?

From cost to safety to the activities available, it can be challenging to determine which location best fits you and your travel companions. 

In this article, we’ll compare two famous destinations in the Caribbean: Puerto Rico and Jamaica. 

By examining the cost, safety, beaches, family-friendliness, and activities available in each location, we hope to help you make an informed decision about your next vacation.

Is Puerto Rico better than Jamaica?
Is it cheaper to go to Jamaica or Puerto Rico?
Jamaica vs Puerto Rico safety – which is safer? 
Jamaica vs Puerto Rico beaches – which has better beaches? 
Which is better for families with kids? 
Which has more fun and unique activities? 


Is Puerto Rico better than Jamaica?

It’s difficult to compare the two as Puerto Rico and Jamaica offer unique experiences and have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Puerto Rico is a US territory that offers a blend of Caribbean and American cultures. It boasts beautiful beaches, a rich history, and vibrant nightlife.

image of San Juan PR
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico is the most popular area for tourism in Puerto Rico.

Additionally, being a US territory means having a stable economy and reliable infrastructure.

On the other hand, Jamaica is an independent island nation known for its reggae music, stunning natural beauty, and laid-back vibe.

image of Montego Bay in Jamaica
Montego Bay in Jamaica is known for being one of the friendliest places in the world.

It has a strong cultural identity, a rich history, and a reputation for being one of the friendliest places in the world.

Puerto Rico has a few things that Jamaica doesn’t.

Firstly, Puerto Rico is a US territory, which means it has a modern infrastructure and a relatively stable economy. 

Additionally, Puerto Rico has the El Yunque National Forest, a lush, sprawling rainforest with hiking trails and waterfalls — something Jamaica doesn’t have in the same way.

image of La Mina Falls in El Yunque
La Mina Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the El Yunque National Forest, offering a refreshing swimming spot for visitors.

Puerto Rico is also known for its picturesque beaches with palm trees and historical landmarks such as the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

image of Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico is a 16th-century fortress, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While Jamaica has unique attractions, such as reggae music and a laid-back vibe, it has a different infrastructure and natural beauty than Puerto Rico.

image of white river Jamaica
White River, Jamaica showcases the undeveloped beauty you can find on the island.

Ultimately, both destinations offer unique experiences and have their own strengths and weaknesses.

It comes down to personal preferences when deciding between them.

If you are leaning towards Puerto Rico, check out our guide to the 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.


Is it cheaper to go to Jamaica or Puerto Rico?

When considering the cost of travel, Puerto Rico and Jamaica are two relatively similar destinations. 

Both locations offer a range of accommodation options that cater to different budgets, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to high-end luxury resorts.

image of Montego Bay in Jamaica
Montego Bay in Jamaica is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.

The cost of food and activities in both places can vary widely depending on where you go and what you choose to do. 

However, one advantage that Puerto Rico has over Jamaica is its accessibility.

Because it is a U.S. territory, flights to Puerto Rico are often cheaper and more frequent than flights to Jamaica.

image of Old San Juan
The historic streets of Old San Juan are lined with blue cobblestone and colorful buildings.

This can make it a more accessible destination for travelers who are on a budget or who are looking for a more affordable travel option. 

Moreover, Puerto Rico is well-connected with the U.S. mainland, so travelers can take advantage of the extensive network of flights and airlines that serve the region, making it easy to get to and from the island. 

Below is a video of a travel and budget guide to visiting Puerto Rico:

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico offers a stable political and economic environment, which can reassure travelers concerned about safety and security.


Jamaica vs Puerto Rico safety – which is safer? 

When it comes to safety concerns, Puerto Rico and Jamaica have their own unique challenges. 

Puerto Rico has a reputation for being a safer destination than Jamaica, with a decreasing crime rate in recent years.

However, visitors should still exercise caution, especially when traveling alone or in urban areas at night. Tourists should also be aware of petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft.

Here’s a video that discusses whether it is safe for tourists to visit Puerto Rico:

On the other hand, Jamaica has a higher crime rate than Puerto Rico, and visitors should be vigilant when traveling there. The U.S. Department of State advises travelers to exercise increased caution due to crime and to avoid certain areas altogether.

Tourists should also be cautious of scams and street harassment, especially in touristy areas.

Here’s a video of what to know before going to Jamaica:

In addition to crime, both destinations are prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, causing widespread damage and loss of life.

The island has since worked to rebuild and improve infrastructure. However, visitors should still be aware of the potential for natural disasters.

Similarly, Jamaica is also susceptible to hurricanes and other severe weather events. Visitors should stay informed about weather conditions during their stay and follow the advice of local authorities in case of an emergency.

While both destinations have their share of safety concerns, tourists can take measures to minimize risks and enjoy a safe and memorable trip.

Read more in our article Is Puerto Rico Safe For Tourists?


Jamaica vs Puerto Rico beaches – which has better beaches?

Puerto Rico’s beaches offer a range of tourist activities, including water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing. 

Some beaches, like Luquillo Beach, are also great for families with children, as they have calm waters and shallow areas for kids to play safely.

image of Flamenco Beach
Flamenco Beach located on Culebra, Puerto Rico, has been voted one of the worlds most beautiful beaches many years in a row.

Puerto Rico also has several secluded beaches that are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway.

Jamaica’s beaches offer a different experience, with a vibrant party atmosphere and various activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving. 

Seven Mile Beach, in particular, is known for its nightlife and beach parties.

imaage of Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica is known for being a party hot spot. 

Doctor’s Cave Beach, on the other hand, offers a more relaxing and laid-back vibe, perfect for those looking to unwind.

While both destinations have stunning beaches to offer, it’s important to note that some of the beaches in Jamaica can be more difficult to access, especially if you’re staying in a more remote area. 

Visitors may need to take a boat or hike to reach more secluded beaches. However, this can be an excellent opportunity to explore Jamaica’s natural beauty and experience the island’s rugged terrain.

Below is a video of the best beaches in Jamaica:

Overall, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach vacation or a romantic getaway, both Puerto Rico and Jamaica offer a wide range of beaches to suit every taste.

With crystal-clear water, soft white sand, and various activities, visitors are sure to have an unforgettable beach vacation in either destination.

For more accessible to access and award-winning beaches, Puerto Rico is your destination. For an adventurous beach experience, head to Jamaica.

You can read our guide on Best Beaches in Puerto Rico.


Which is better for families with kids? 

Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest is an excellent place for families to explore and learn about the island’s unique flora and fauna.

image of a jungle trail in El Yunque
Hiking through El Yunque is fun and safe for kids.

The forest has several hiking trails suitable for children, educational exhibits, and programs.

Below is a video of someone with their kids exploring El Yunque:

Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques is another popular attraction for families.

The bay is home to millions of bioluminescent organisms that light up the water at night, creating a magical and unforgettable experience for children and adults alike.

image of kayakers in Mosquito Bay
Your children will love kayaking through the glowing waters of Mosquito Bay.

Coqui Water Park, located in Fajardo, is also an excellent family option.

The park has several water slides and pools, a lazy river, and other fun activities.

image of Coqui Water Park
Coqui Water Park located on Puerto Rico’s east coast in Fajardo is an excellent day trip for kids.

Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls is a must-visit for families.

The waterfall is one of Jamaica’s most famous attractions.

It is surrounded by lush vegetation and pools of water for children to swim in.

image of Dunn's River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls, Jamacia.

Mystic Mountain is another popular family attraction in Jamaica, with zip lining, bobsledding, and a scenic chairlift ride through the rainforest.

image of Mystic Mountain in Jamaica
Mystic Mountain is a great place to have a fun day in Jamaica with your kids.

Jamaican culture is also very family-oriented, and visitors will find that children are welcome at most restaurants and attractions.

In fact, many hotels and resorts in Jamaica have dedicated kids’ clubs and programs to keep children entertained and engaged during their stay.

Overall, whether you’re looking to explore the natural beauty of Puerto Rico or the exciting attractions of Jamaica, both destinations offer plenty of options for families with children. 

From hiking trails and water parks to cultural experiences and beautiful beaches, visitors will surely have a memorable and fun-filled family vacation.

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


Which has more fun and unique activities? 

Puerto Rico’s zip-line tours are popular, allowing visitors to soar through the rainforest canopy and take in the stunning views from above.

image of people doing zipline
Ziplining in the forest of Puerto Rico is a very popular activity.

Learn more by checking our article on Best Zipline Adventure Parks and Tours in Puerto Rico.

Kayaking in the bioluminescent bay is another unique experience.

image of kayakers in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico
Vieques, Puerto Rico is home to the brightest bio bay in the entire world.

Visitors can paddle through the glowing waters and witness the natural phenomenon up close.

Salsa dancing lessons are a great way to experience the island’s vibrant culture and music scene.

image of Museum of Art of Puerto Rico
Museum of Art in Puerto Rico satisfies visitors curiosity about historic and modern art culture on the island.

At the same time, the museums and art galleries offer a glimpse into Puerto Rico’s history and creative expression.

The island’s food scene is also not to be missed, with a wide variety of delicious dishes influenced by Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno cultures.

image of mofongo
Mofungo is one of the most popular dishes in Puerto Rico.

Jamaica’s activities are just as diverse and exciting.

image of dolphins
Swim with dolphins in Jamaica.

Swimming with dolphins is a memorable experience that allows visitors to get up close and personal with these friendly creatures.

The Blue Mountains offer hiking and scenic views of the island.

A reggae music tour is excellent for learning about Jamaica’s rich musical heritage.

image of Blue Mountains in Jamaica
Blue Mountains in Jamaica offer a place to get away for lovers of remote travel.

Visitors can also sample the island’s famous jerk chicken and another local cuisine, often served with rice, peas, plantains, and other traditional side dishes.

A rum distillery tour is a must-do for those interested in the history and production of Jamaican rum, which is a key component in many island cocktails.

You can explore Jamaicas relationship with rum at the Appleton Estate Distillery.

Overall, Puerto Rico and Jamaica offer a wide range of fun and unique activities for visitors.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, or a delicious meal, both destinations have something for everyone.


FAQ section

Which is easier to get to from the United States?

Puerto Rico is much easier to get to from the United States than Jamaica. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and a popular destination for American tourists, so there are many direct flights from most major cities in the U.S. Jamaica is an island nation located off the coast of Cuba, so more direct flights are needed. It may take longer to get there from the U.S.

Which is easier to get around?

Puerto Rico is easier to get around than Jamaica. Puerto Rico is a relatively small island; most cities and attractions are accessible by car or public transportation. Jamaica is larger and more spread out, so getting around can be more difficult, especially if you stay in a more remote area.


Final thoughts

Ultimately, whether to visit Puerto Rico or Jamaica depends on personal preference. Both destinations offer a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. 

Puerto Rico may be a better fit for travelers who prefer a more Americanized experience. In comparison, Jamaica may be a better fit for those who want to immerse themselves in Caribbean culture. 

Considering Puerto Rico as your next vacation spot?

Check out our How Much Does it Cost to Go to Puerto Rico for Vacation guide!

Puerto Rico vs Jamaica: 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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