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Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic | Which One Is Better?

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic | Which One Is Better?

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: A Summary

Puerto Rico offers diverse beaches and vibrant nightlife, making it a great choice for authentic experiences. On the other hand, the Dominican Republic is known for budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts and stunning beaches but may lack the same nightlife variety found in Puerto Rico. Your choice depends on your priorities, whether it’s adventure, budget, or convenience.

If you just can’t decide between Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic, you need to see how these Caribbean islands compare in terms of beaches, hotels, nightlife, cost, and safety. 

We’ll explore the ins and outs of visiting Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in this full comparison guide so you can see which island is better for your trip. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Which One’s Better?

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are both Caribbean island nations with thriving, colorful cultures, gorgeous beaches, and warm, sunny weather. But that’s where the similarities end – these two islands are vastly different and each one offers a distinct experience for travelers!

There are plenty of differences between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in terms of their beaches, accommodations options, nightlife, cost, travel ease, and safety. 

It’s hard to say which island is better to visit without covering their differences and looking at areas where each one wins out over the other. 

We’ll compare Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic for their beaches, hotels and resorts, nightlife, cost, ease of travel, and safety. Which one will come out on top for your upcoming trip? Let’s see where each Caribbean island shines!

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Beaches

Aerial view of Bavaro Beach in the Dominican Republic with parasailing, beach chairs, and blue skies for a Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic comparison

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic/Nick N A/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: Diverse beaches with character, from natural beauty to tourist havens
  • Dominican Republic: Stunning, wide beaches from developed to secluded and natural

If a major reason for your trip is enjoying beautiful beaches, let’s look at how Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic compare in terms of their coast quality. 

Puerto Rico is known for having a diverse range of beaches, from the beautiful white-sand northern shores fitting for a travel brochure to coarse, golden sand on the west and southwest coast. 

Some travelers have compared Puerto Rico’s beaches to those you’ll find in Hawaii – somewhat small and not as wide and expansive as the beaches we see in the continental US and Dominican Republic. 

The Dominican Republic’s beaches are one of the main attractions to the island, with stunning, wide beaches that meet with turquoise waters along the shore. 

You’ll find the best beaches on the eastern coast of the DR around Punta Cana. While they’re highly developed, tourist-y beaches, there’s no denying that they’re some of the most gorgeous in the world. 

If you’re looking for the best beaches in Puerto Rico, head to San Juan’s Ocean Park and nearby Playa Luquillo, Culebra’s Flamenco Beach, and Vieques’ Sun Bay and secluded Playa La Chiva.

The Dominican Republic’s best beaches include the white-sand shores around Punta Cana and Bavaro, Las Terranas’ Punta Bonita and Playa Escondida, and Samana’s Playa Fronton and Playa Madama virgin beaches. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Accommodations

San Juan skyline with hotels and buildings in front of Condado Beach for a Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic comparison article

San Juan skyline at Condado Beach, Puerto Rico/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: No all-inclusive resorts, wide range of hotels for all budgets
  • Dominican Republic: Lots of all-inclusive resorts and cheap hotels

You’ll only find all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. There are no true all-inclusives in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico does have a wider range of accommodations options than the DR with more budget-friendly hotels. 

The Dominican Republic is home to tons of affordable all-inclusive beachfront resorts with onsite restaurants, bars and clubs, water sports facilities, and amenities within the resort property. 

There are plenty of budget-friendly luxe hotels in the Dominican Republic, but outside of secured resort grounds and with lower police presence, these accommodations can be unsafe for tourists to stay in. 

For safety reasons (we’ll visit this in more detail next), the best way to stay in the Dominican Republic is at a secure all-inclusive resort. 

Puerto Rico’s lack of all-inclusive resorts may be due to the fact that it’s a place tourists want to get out and explore fully, with safe cities, tons of restaurants and bars, and attractions within driving distance. 

While you’ll still find excellent hotels in Puerto Rico with add-on drink or meal packages, you won’t find the luxe all-inclusive options including rooms, activities, meals, drinks, and tips in a single price like you will in the DR. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Nightlife

Festival-goers partying and enjoying nightlife in Puerto Rico, where the nightlife is usually better than in the Dominican Republic

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Festival of San Sebastian in January ’16/hillsn_1992/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: Better, varied nightlife outside of resorts
  • Dominican Republic: Tamer nightlife, usually inside resorts

When you compare Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic in terms of nightlife, there’s a clear winner: Puerto Rico.

You’ll find a wider range of bars, clubs, and dance halls in Puerto Rico that aren’t limited to resort-sponsored shows and short discos that are scheduled every night like in the Dominican Republic. 

Don’t be mistaken – the Dominican Republic does have a nightlife scene, and all of the all-inclusive resorts offer some type of evening entertainment, drinks, and dancing. 

But it doesn’t really compare to the authentic nightlife you’ll find in Puerto Rico, where you can bar and club hop without being confined to a single resort with ready-made entertainment options.

Even resort nightlife in Puerto Rico is highly rated, especially in high-quality places like the Marriott Isla Verde or The Water Club.

If you’re looking for a thriving nightlife scene where you can cut loose and party into the wee hours of the morning, Puerto Rico is the better choice.

If you want tame nightlife that doesn’t go too late into the evening, options in the Dominican Republic resorts will be perfect. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Cost

Empty tropical swimming pool at a luxury resort overlooking thatched huts and palm trees on a beautiful day for a Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic cost comparison

Pool at a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic/Valentin Valkov/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: Cheaper flights, similar food/drink prices as DR
  • Dominican Republic: Cheaper accommodations and activities

Puerto Rico costs more to visit than the Dominican Republic in general. It’s possible to find great deals on accommodations in Puerto Rico, but you’ll find amazingly cheap prices at Dominican Republic resorts and attractions.

The cost of accommodations in Puerto Rico is about $139/night on average, according to Budget Your Trip. You’ll find hotels and guesthouses closer to the $60-$80 range in some areas. 

The cost of accommodations in the Dominican Republic is about $86/night, or 4,848 RD, on average. All-inclusive resorts are usually much higher, around $200-$600/night, but you can find options as low as $100/night in Boca Chica. 

Round trip flights can be as low as $50 to San Juan, Puerto Rico or $59 to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. These cheap flight deals don’t come around often, however. 

On average, you’ll pay much more than that to fly, though. Current flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico were in the $130 range and round trip flights to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic were in the $230 range. 

Food and drink is similarly priced in Puerto Rico than in the Dominican Republic.

Meals cost around $16/day per person in Puerto Rico and about $15/day per person (857 RD) in the Dominican Republic. Alcoholic drinks cost around $15/day in Puerto Rico and about $10/day in the DR. 

Activities are cheaper in the Dominican Republic than Puerto Rico. For example, a full-day snorkeling trip costs about $30 in the DR, but the same type of trip costs about $100 in Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Travel

San Juan coast along the Paseo de la Princesa shows a place you may see after landing at San Juan airport for a travel comparison between Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic

Paseo de la Princesa, San Juan, Puerto Rico/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: No passport needed for U.S. citizens
  • Dominican Republic: Passport and $10 tourist card required

Visiting Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic will affect how you travel and what steps are required for a visit. As a U.S. territory, you don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico, but you will to go to the Dominican Republic. 

For this reason, Americans often find it simpler to plan a visit to Puerto Rico over the Dominican Republic. It’s treated just like traveling to another state within the country, making travel here as easy as crossing state lines. 

But if you have a valid U.S. passport, traveling to the Dominican Republic isn’t difficult. 

U.S. citizens don’t need a tourist visa to visit the Dominican Republic for less than 30 days – just a passport. You will be charged a $10 tourist card fee good for 30 days that’s worked into your airfare when visiting the DR. 

Make sure you have your travel documentation ready before you start planning a trip to the Dominican Republic.

While it’s not uncommon for travelers to hop from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic via plane while visiting the Caribbean, you will need a valid U.S. passport to travel from Puerto Rico to the DR. Without one, you’ll be denied entry to the DR. 

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Safety

Private resort beach in Punta Cana at sunrise with beach chairs and thatched umbrellas for a safety comparison of Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic resort beach/Bruno Ismael Silva Alves/Shutterstock

  • Puerto Rico: Top 5 safest Caribbean islands
  • Dominican Republic: 3rd highest crime rate in the Caribbean

Puerto Rico is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean. It’s unlikely to experience violent crime here, but pickpocketing and robbery can be concerns.

Be aware that taxi scams, rental car scams, and false guides looking to scam you for money are not uncommon in Puerto Rico, especially in tourist areas. 

Staying alert, securing your valuables and belongings, using verified transportation and guides, and avoiding ostentatious displays of wealth can help keep you safe in Puerto Rico. 

The Dominican Republic has one of the highest crime rates in the Caribbean (3rd highest) and a level 2 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State with sexual assault, armed robbery, and homicide being more common.

It may seem unsafe to visit at first. But the Dominican Republic’s many resorts are much safer than the bad neighborhoods and areas where these violent crimes usually occur.

To stay safe in the Dominican Republic, stick to your resort property and make use of the all-inclusive amenities offered without having to leave the property.

If you do leave the resort, don’t travel alone, with valuables, or at night. Stay in populous areas with a fully-charged phone and emergency numbers on hand. 

Things to Consider

Colorful houses on the La Perla coast of Old San Juan Puerto Rico at sunset for a piece comparing Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

La Perla Coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico/Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

There are a few other considerations to keep in mind as you make your pick between Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic. Here are a few tips to consider!

  • Consider drinking water safety. The CDC says it’s safe to drink the water in Puerto Rico, where the water safety standards are similar to those in the US. Unfortunately, the standards aren’t as stringent in the Dominican Republic and the CDC recommends avoiding drinking tap or well water and any drinks/ice made with tap or well water. It’s best to drink bottled water only in the DR. 
  • There may be language barriers. In Puerto Rico, Spanish and English are the official languages, so most US travelers won’t deal with language barriers, especially in tourist areas and hotels. In the Dominican Republic, Spanish and Haitian Creole are the main languages spoken and language barriers can be an issue for US travelers who only speak English. Resort employees may speak English in the DR, but it’s best to know essential Spanish phrases before traveling here.
  • Know the best time of year to visit. Both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are best when you visit between December and April. It’s the peak season when the weather is mild, dry, and there are tons of activities and festivals going on. From April/May to November, when these islands experience the rainy season, you can find cheaper prices and smaller crowds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Aerial view of Gozalandia Waterfall in San Sebastián Puerto Rico surrounded by lush greenery

Gozalandia Waterfall, San Sebastián, Puerto Rico/Photo Spirit/Shutterstock

You probably have a few more questions about Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic – what the differences are, which country has a better economy, and which one is truly cheaper to visit.

Check out the FAQs to learn more!

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

It’s usually cheaper to go to the Dominican Republic, where you’ll stay in all-inclusive resorts that include the price of your room, meals, drinks, entertainment, and activities.

In Puerto Rico, the cost of hotels, food, and entertainment is a little cheaper than what you’ll find in the US, but still more expensive than the Dominican Republic without the all-inclusive discounts.

What is the difference between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico?

The Dominican Republic is cheaper to visit, packed with all-inclusive resorts, and known for wide, white sand beaches that look like a postcard. People come here to relax on the beach and enjoy the amenities offered at the resort.

Puerto Rico is full of variety and adventure, a wide range of hotels at all price points, better nightlife, and (travelers say) better food at a higher cost. People come here to explore the island, have outdoor adventures, and experience the authentic Puerto Rican culture.

Is the Dominican Republic richer than Puerto Rico?

No, the Dominican Republic isn’t richer than Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s GDP (gross domestic product) is 106.5 billion, while the Dominican Republic’s GDP is 94.2 billion. Average incomes are higher in Puerto Rico than the Dominican Republic, too.

Who has a better economy, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic?

Puerto Rico has a better economy than the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico’s GDP (106.5 billion) is higher than the Dominican Republic’s GDP (94.2 billion) by about 12.3 billion dollars.

Why is it so cheap to go to Puerto Rico?

It’s cheap to go to Puerto Rico because the flight is shorter than many international flights (about 2.5 hours from Miami) and US citizens don’t need a passport or tourist visa to enter the country.

The cost of food, accommodations, and entertainment in Puerto Rico is a little lower than in the US and many international destinations, too.

Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic: Which Is Better?

When it’s all said and done, Puerto Rico offers more variety, authenticity, and adventure, but at a higher price than the Dominican Republic without the ubiquitous all-inclusive resorts. 

The Dominican Republic is cheaper to visit (though flights are usually pricier than Puerto Rico) and the all-inclusive resort experiences can feel a bit monotonous – not ideal for adventurous travelers who want to experience a country in its authenticity. 

In Puerto Rico, you can rent a car and explore the entire island for a huge variety of activities, hotels, restaurants, and bars while feeling safe outside the confines of your hotel.

Your hotel may just be the place you sleep at night in Puerto Rico, with most of your activity happening out on the island during the day. 

In the Dominican Republic, you’ll be somewhat limited in how much you can explore and experience because it’s not as safe outside of the confines of the all-inclusive resorts. 

If a wide range of authentic experiences, nice beaches, and good food is important to you, head to Puerto Rico. For luxe, all-inclusive resort experiences, big white sand beaches, and convenience is essential, the Dominican Republic may be a better fit.