Puerto Rico vs. Puerto Vallarta

Embarking on a journey to the sun-kissed shores, travelers often find themselves torn between two enchanting destinations—Puerto Rico and Puerto Vallarta. Both promising unique cultural experiences, vibrant cuisines, and captivating landscapes, it can be difficult to choose where to spend your beach getaway.

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Which is Better? Puerto Rico vs. Puerto Vallarta?

Both destinations have charming cities, beautiful natural surroundings, and fun outdoor activities. But if you want a classic tropical getaway with white-sand beaches and laid-back island living, Puerto Rico is for you. It’s also a US territory, so it’s easy for citizens to travel there without needing a passport. However, Puerto Vallarta is a good choice if you love wild beaches and rugged natural landscapes.

If you’re still undecided – fear not! This detailed guide will explain everything you need to know about traveling to Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Rico!

Location and Weather

Puerto Rico vs. Puerto Vallarta

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to wake up to ocean views that stretch into the horizon, or stroll through old town streets lined with vibrant history? Whether you’re a tourist seeking adventure or a local looking for a weekend getaway, understanding the unique climates and settings of different destinations can greatly enhance your travel style.

Puerto Vallarta, often referred to by its airport code PVR, is a gem on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sierra Madre Mountains on the other, this destination boasts beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and dramatic mountain views, capturing the essence of natural beauty. The weather here is sunny nearly year-round. Though the rainy season spans from June to October, mornings typically shine bright, with potential showers cooling off the evenings.

Temperature-wise, summer months can reach the high 80s or low 90s (Fahrenheit), while winter offers a more temperate climate in the mid-70s. Puerto Vallarta is a perfect spot for those planning their next trip during November, as it marks the start of the dry season.

Switching to a different part of North America, Puerto Rico lies in the Caribbean and serves as an unincorporated territory of the United States. This means U.S. citizens can visit without a passport, making it an accessible luxury resort destination for many. The island, with over 140 islands and cays, experiences a tropical rainforest climate. Here, temperatures are consistently warm, hovering in the 80s, and occasionally peaking in the 90s during summer, with slightly cooler weather in the 70s and low 80s during winter.

Both locations are prone to hurricanes, particularly from August to October, with Puerto Rico facing a slightly higher risk due to its position in the North Atlantic Basin. However, hurricanes are rare, typically impacting these areas once every several years, ensuring that both Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Rico remain best places for sun-seekers nearly all year round.

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When planning a spring break getaway or a tranquil retreat, the choice of beach towns like Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Rico offers a diverse array of sand, atmosphere, and natural surroundings that cater to different travel styles and price ranges.

Imagine a beach that epitomizes the Caribbean islands — that’s Puerto Rico for you. With over 270 miles of coastline, this destination is a paradise boasting nearly 300 beaches. These shores are celebrated for their pristine white sands, crystal clear blue waters, and vibrant coral reefs that draw both locals and tourists alike. Notable spots like Cabo Rojo and Rincon provide idyllic settings for sunbathing and water sports, while islands such as Cayo Icacos and Culebra offer secluded havens, making them some of the best places for those seeking tranquility or a romantic backdrop for weddings.

On the other side, Puerto Vallarta presents a different kind of beach experience. While you won’t find the typical Caribbean sandy beaches here, the gorgeous beaches around this part of Mexico’s Pacific Coast are embraced for their lush, rugged natural beauty. Los Muertos Beach, near the bustling Zona Romantica, is a vibrant hub of activity, where the boardwalk teems with life, offering ample opportunities to savor street food like birria tacos or shop for souvenirs.

For a more secluded spot, head south to Conchas Chinas, where the beaches may be more rocky but equally mesmerizing. Here, the Pacific waters, though rough and colder in winter, make it an ideal spot for surfing enthusiasts, especially during the best time in September when the waves are just right.

Both destinations ensure a breathtaking oceanfront experience, whether you’re looking to relax in a hammock under swaying palms in Puerto Rico or catch the perfect wave in Puerto Vallarta.

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Attractions and Activities

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If you’re craving a bit of fun and adventure, then you can’t go wrong with Puerto Vallarta or Puerto Rico. Both places cater to nature lovers, thrill seekers, and sports enthusiasts.

For example, here are a couple of fun things to do in Puerto Rico:

  • Walking through tunnels at Camuy River Cave Park
  • Wandering the San Felipe del Morro Castle
  • Scuba Diving at the Culebra National Wildlife Reserve
  • Hiking through Rio Abajo State Forest
  • Ziplining in Toro Verde Adventure Park
  • Surfing in Rincon
  • Kayaking in Bioluminescent Bays
  • Snorkeling in Mosquito Bay

And if you’re going to the Puerto Vallarta area, then you can look forward to the following activities:

  • Scuba Diving Los Arcos
  • Watching the sunset from the Malecon
  • Hiking Up to Mirador de la Cruz
  • Taking a walking tour or food tour in Zona Romantico
  • Visiting the Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe
  • Ziplining the Superman – the longest zipline in Mexico!
  • Whale watching from December to March
  • Golfing at the Vista Vallara Golf Club

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Finding accommodation in Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Rico isn’t hard. From budget-friendly hostels to luxury beachfront getaways, both places have plenty of lodging options to fit every style and budget.

Puerto Rico is a relatively large island, which can make it difficult to choose where to base yourself for your trip. If you want history and city life, choose old San Juan. If you want to be close to nature and adventure activities, head to Rio Grande. And if you want sun and surf, then book something in Isla Verde, Fajardo, or Cabo Rojo.

However, there aren’t any all-inclusive resorts on the island. If you’re hoping to have a relaxing vacation where food and activities are included in your nightly rate, then you’re better off going to Puerto Vallarta.

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Mexican and Puerto Rican food may use similar ingredients, but their cuisine is very different (although both are equally tasty!).

The food in Puerto Rico is a fusion of cultures, drawing influences from Spanish, African, and Caribbean dishes. While you’re here, make sure to try Arroz con Gandules (rice, pork, and pigeon peas), Mofongo (smashed green plantains with crispy pork skin), and Bacalaitos (salted cod fish fritters).

Puerto Vallarta primarily serves Mexican food. However, they also have some great seafood, especially if you love grilled fish, lobster, and ceviche! I can also recommend trying some local specialties of the Jalisco region, like Birria (stewed meat) and Pozole (soup with hominy).


When it comes to nightlife, both destinations offer exciting experiences for those seeking a bit of evening fun.

In Puerto Vallarta, most of the livelier bars and nightclubs are located in the city center or Romantic Zone. I would also suggest starting your evening along the Malecon, a paved walkway that runs along the beach. Here, you’ll find lots of street performers as well as live music venues, beachfront bars, and cocktail lounges.

Going out in Puerto Rico is also a fun experience. The bigger clubs and bars are located in the city of San Juan, while the smaller towns of Rincon and Ponce are more laid-back. Of course, you can find tons of beachfront bars and restaurants scattered around the island as well.

Travel Costs

Making travel arrangements also means taking costs into account. Generally speaking, Puerto Vallarta tends to be a bit cheaper than Puerto Rico. While food prices are relatively similar, accommodation and excursions are more affordable in Mexico than they are in the Caribbean.

To show you what I mean, here’s a quick breakdown of what things cost:


  • Mid-range hotel: $50 – $100 a night
  • Luxury hotel or all-inclusive: $200 – $400 a night
  • Meal at local restaurant: $5 – $10
  • High-end meal: $30 – $50
  • Cocktail: $5 – $10
  • Local beer: $2 – $4
  • Snorkeling Trip: $40 – $60
  • Zip Line Tour: $35 – $50
  • Food Tour: $40 – $60

Puerto Rico:

  • Mid-range hotel: $100 – $150 a night
  • Luxury hotel or all-inclusive: $200 – $400 a night
  • Meal at local restaurant: $5 – $10
  • High-end meal: $30 – $50
  • Cocktail: $7 – $12
  • Local beer: $3 – $5
  • Snorkeling Trip: $60 – $80
  • Zip Line Tour: $60 – $90
  • Rainforest Kayaking Tour: $110 – $150

As you can see, there are so many great reasons to visit Puerto Rico and Puerto Vallarta. It’s hard to say which one is better, as they both offer different experiences depending on what you’re looking for.

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