Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands for Vacation? Which is Better to Visit?

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Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands for vacation? If you are stuck in this dilemma, you are not alone. Both of these destinations feature unspoiled beaches, lush green landscapes, and an abundance of adventurous activities. Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are true hidden island paradises in the Caribbean, and choosing one between them for vacation is a difficult task.

In this article, we’ve compared Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on a variety of critical factors to help you decide which one to visit for your next vacation. So, which is better for your vacation: Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands?

Puerto Rico is a better option for vacation if you are on a budget and want to explore a variety of outdoor activities. The US Virgin Islands are a better option for vacation if you’re looking for a resort vacation with a romantic, tranquil setting and pristine white sandy beaches.

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Which is Better to Visit?

ParametersPuerto RicoUS Virgin Islands
Cost of a
7-day Trip
$2779 (For a couple)$4089 (For a couple)
Known for✌️Pristine beaches, Spanish culture, Tropical rainforest, Waterfalls, and Numerous outdoor activitiesUnspoiled beaches, Colonial history, Relaxed Vibes, Lush green landscapes, Excellent hiking trails
BeachesWhite sandy beaches with turquoise blue waterUnspoiled, white sandy beaches with turquoise water and tranquil setting
ActivitiesHiking, Kayaking, Ziplining, Mountain biking, Surfing, ATV riding, SnorkelingHiking, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Scuba diving
Popular Tourist AttractionsOld San Juan, El Yunque rainforest, Culebra Island, Bioluminescent Bay, Flamenco beachTrunk bay beach, Virgin Islands National Park, Magen’s Bay beach, Christiansted town, Blackbeard’s Castle
Best Place to StayOld San JuanSt. Thomas

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Beaches?

Obviously, if you are considering Puerto Rico and the US virgin islands for a vacation that means beaches must be the main priority for you. Fortunately, both of these destinations feature some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the Caribbean.

So, if the beaches are a priority for you, it doesn’t matter whether you go to Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands, you will find world-class beaches.

Both Puerto Rico and US virgin islands are known for their beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise-blue waters. When it comes to the US virgin islands, it features about 117 miles long coastline. It has three main islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, each of them has unique vibes with a diverse range of beaches.

Puerto Rico features about 270 miles of a long coastline and nearly 300 beaches. Due to its small size, most of the beaches are easily accessible and it is also easy to go around by car in Puerto Rico.

Another thing that I like about Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is that they both feature a diverse range of beaches that cater to the taste of every kind of visitor. It doesn’t matter if you want lively beaches, secluded beaches, hidden beaches, romantic beaches, or family-friendly beaches, Puerto Rico and the US virgin islands both have a lot of them.

Flamenco beach

Generally, the northern side of Puerto Rico offers the best urban beaches whereas the south side, which is also the Caribbean side of Puerto Rico, features calm beaches. Flamenco beach is without a doubt the best beach in Puerto Rico.

Salomon beach, St. John's island
Salomon beach, St. John’s island

Whereas, US virgin islands are divided into three major islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. St. Thomas is the most commercialized island and hence many of its beaches are a little crowded and lined with hotels and resorts.

St. John's island
A beach on St. John’s island

In fact, the US Virgin Islands are a better choice for those who love resort vacations. Whereas, most of the beaches in St. John are protected and surrounded by lush green landscapes. So, St. John is a better choice for people who love natural, unspoiled beaches.

Winner: Draw

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Flight Cost and Duration✈️

Flight cost and duration are frequently important factors for many people when deciding on a vacation destination. Fortunately, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are relatively close to one another. As a result, there isn’t a significant difference in the flight cost and flight duration.

The average flight price per person (Round Trip) from different cities of the USA to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands using KAYAK.

CityPuerto RicoUS Virgin Islands
New York $381$365
Los Angeles $625$438
 Chicago $281$457

As you can see in the above table, the average round-trip flight price from New York (East Coast) to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is $381 and $365 respectively, while the average round-trip flight price from Chicago (Midwest) to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is $281 and $457 respectively and from Los Angeles (West coast) to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is $625 and $438 respectively.

The US Virgin Islands Islands are located approximately 50 miles east of Puerto Rico, that’s why the flight duration from the USA to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are nearly the same.

Winner: Draw

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Accommodation

Accommodation is usually the biggest concern for many travelers, especially for family vacationers, honeymooners, and budget travelers. It usually takes the biggest chunk of our travel budget. So, let’s see which destination offers better and affordable accommodation.

The following table summarises the average cost of lodging in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

PlacesPuerto RicoUS Virgin Islands
Budget$47$72
Mid-range hotel$111$152
Villas/Luxury rooms$237$327

As shown in the table above, Puerto Rico offers much more affordable accommodation than the US Virgin Islands. Indeed, everything from food to transportation to groceries is nearly 50% more expensive in the US Virgin Islands than in Puerto Rico. So, if you’re on a tight budget, Puerto Rico is unquestionably a better option than the US Virgin Islands.

Now, which are the best places to stay in Puerto Rico and the US virgin islands?

When it comes to the US Virgin Islands, surely, St. Thomas island is the best place to stay. St. Thomas is the most commercialized island and consequently, there are more accommodation options, restaurants, and better transportation systems as compared to St. John and St. Croix.

In the case of Puerto Rico, Old San Juan, which is also known as the cultural and historical center of Puerto Rico, is the most popular and the best place to stay for tourists.

Winner: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Activities

When it comes to activities, it’s difficult to pick between Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. There are numerous things to do in both of these places, but we think Puerto Rico has a significant advantage over the US Virgin Islands in terms of outdoor activities. Puerto Rico has more outdoor activities than the US Virgin Islands, and since it is smaller, it is easy to get around by car.

For shopaholics and party animals, San Juan in Puerto Rico and St.Thomas in US Virgin Islands is must-visit places. Both of these places have good nightlife and excellent shopping scenes.

Old-San-Juan-Puerto-Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

For history and culture buffs, Old San Juan in Puerto Rico is a must-visit place. Old San Juan is the cultural and historical heart of Puerto Rico. This 500-year-old city is the second-oldest in America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Walking through the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, you can see hundreds of sixteenth-century Spanish colonial buildings, as well as numerous forts and castles. It is a fantastic location for history and culture buffs.

St.-Croix-USVI
St. Croix, USVI

In the case of the US Virgin Islands, St. Croix serves as the region’s cultural and historical center. The island of St. Croix is well-known for its colonial history and sugar cane plantations. With over 200 sugar plantations, St. Croix was one of the Caribbean’s leading sugar producers. On St. Croix, you can still visit historic sugar mills, sugar plantation ruins, and iconic historic structures like Fort Christiansvaern and Fort Frederik.

🏖Suggested Read: St Thomas Vs St Croix? Which is BETTER for Vacation?

El-Yunque-Puerto-Rico
El Yunque, Puerto Rico

If you are an adventurer or a nature lover, Puerto Rico is a better option than the US Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico, with its world-famous El Yunque rainforest, which is the only tropical rainforest in the United States, multiple nature reserves, mountainous terrain, numerous waterfalls, and hiking trails, provides endless opportunities for adventure seekers.

Camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, ziplining, mountain biking, cave exploring, and Many other activities are available in Puerto Rico. In the case of the US Virgin Islands, St. John is a haven for adventurers and nature lovers.

St.-John-island-USVI

St. John is the least developed and most laid-back island in the US Virgin Islands, making it a popular destination for nature lovers who visit the US Virgin Islands. More than half of St. John’s land area is designated as a natural park. It is well-known for its outstanding hiking trails, excellent snorkeling spots, and breathtaking views.

Winner: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Food

Both of these destinations are great places for foodies. Puerto Rican cuisine is influenced by many culinary traditions like Spanish, African, and Taino Arawak. If you are going to Puerto Rico don’t forget to taste delicious Puerto Rican dishes like Mofongo, Empanadillas, and Pasteles.

Whereas, US virgin islands is known for its spicy, delicious food. Fish and fungi, Callaloo, and Johnny cake are some of the best dishes in USVI.

Comparison of average Cost of food per day

PlacesPuerto RicoUS Virgin Islands
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant$12$19
Meal for Two
(Mid-range Restaurant)
$52$100
Beer????$2$4
Cappuccino☕️$2.79$5.54

As you can see in the above table, as expected, food is more expensive in the US Virgin Islands than in Puerto Rico. As you can see, food in the USVI is about 50% more expensive than in Puerto Rico. So, Puerto Rico is a better alternative for budget travelers than the USVI.

Winner: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Safety

In terms of safety, regardless of whether you’re on a family vacation, a woman traveler, or a solo traveler, both of these destinations are quite safe for all types of visitors.

Puerto Rico, in particular, is regarded as one of the safest Caribbean islands. It has an exceptionally low crime rate. Locals at both of these destinations are also quite friendly and helpful. However, you should still take basic safety precautions to protect yourself from petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing.

Winner: Draw

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands for a family vacation?

The US Virgin Islands are a better choice for a family vacation than Puerto Rico. It’s unsurprising that US News & World Report ranks the US Virgin Islands as the best Caribbean family holiday destination.

But, that doesn’t mean that Puerto Rico isn’t good for a family vacation. Both Puerto Rico and the US virgin islands are excellent family vacation destinations, but the US virgin islands are more family-friendly due to their laid-back vibes, calm surroundings, and magnificent beaches.

However, family vacations to the US Virgin Islands will cost more than in Puerto Rico. The US Virgin Islands are more expensive than Puerto Rico. Everything in the US Virgin Islands, from food to transportation to lodging, is about 50% more expensive than in Puerto Rico.

Therefore, if your budget is limited, Puerto Rico is unquestionably a better alternative for a family vacation than the US virgin islands.

🏖Suggested read: Cancun vs Puerto Rico for vacation? Which is BETTER for a Vacation?

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands for Honeymoon?

Both of these locations are excellent choices for honeymooners, but ultimately, it comes down to what type of honeymoon vacation you are looking for. If you and your spouse love adventure and wish to pursue outdoor activities, Puerto Rico is unquestionably a better alternative than the US virgin islands.

Puerto Rico offers an abundance of adventure activities. However, if you are a couple seeking a resort vacation with a romantic, tranquil setting and stunning beaches with lush natural surroundings, St. John Island in the US Virgin Islands is a better choice than Puerto Rico.

🏖 Suggested read: Puerto Rico Vs Costa Rica for Vacation? Which is Better for a Vacation?

Hawaii or Bora Bora for Honeymoon?

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands: Best Time to Visit

The months of March to June are ideal for visiting the US Virgin Islands. This is just after the high season, so there will be fewer people, nicer weather, and lower hotel prices in the USVI during this time. The best time to visit Puerto Rico is between April and June. Puerto Rico will have sunny weather and fewer tourists during this time period.

Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands for vacation?

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are both fantastic holiday destinations; eventually, it depends on the type of vacation you want. If you’re looking for gorgeous beaches and an abundance of outdoor activities, Puerto Rico is a better option. If you’re looking for stunning beaches, a resort vacation, romantic settings, and unspoiled natural landscapes, the US Virgin Islands are a better option.

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About the author
Chetan Patil
Hello there, wanderlust. I've been traveling around the world with my friend Aditya for the last three years since finally quitting my job, and life has been a thrilling roller coaster ride so far. Traveling is a spiritual experience for me, not just something I do for fun. Traveling has taught me that "the only certain thing about life is uncertainty." So, embrace uncertainty and make the most out of every moment.

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