You’re set on traveling to an island in the Caribbean but can’t decide between the breathtaking beaches of the Bahamas or the vibrant streets of Puerto Rico. While both islands are excellent choices for a tropical getaway filled with palm trees, aquamarine seas, and fruity drinks, they also offer different vibes, landscapes, and attractions that you’ll want to consider before booking your trip!
The Bahamas is a better vacation if you’re looking for a variety of heavenly beaches, thrilling amusement parks, and spectacular hotels. Puerto Rico is better if you want to travel back in time and explore beautiful historic buildings and towns while enjoying sunny days on the beach.
|Cost of Stay: Weekly (USD)||$1,214 per person||$1,689 per person|
|Transportation||Taxis, publico (shuttle service), public buses, car rentals, Uber, commuter train, ferries and planes (between islands)||Taxis, Jitney (public city bus services), car rentals, ferries and planes (between islands)|
|Notable Attractions||Old San Juan, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Playa Mar Chiquita, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, San Sebastián Street Festival||Bay Street, The Queen’s Staircase, Fort Montagu, Adelaide Village, Junkanoo Street Parade|
|Weather||Hot all year round with a slightly “cooler season” from December to March||Mild to warm weather most of the year with a wetter “summer season”|
|Food and Drink||Puerto Rican cuisine, seafood, international cuisine, numerous restaurants and cafes||Bahamian cuisine, seafood, international cuisine, numerous lounges and bars|
|Activities for Kids||Observatorio de Arecibo, Parque de la Palomas, Museo del Niño, Playa Flamenco, Las Cascadas Water Park||Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park, Pirates of Nassau Wax Museum, Ardastra Gardens|
|Nature Attractions||El Yunque Natural Rainforest, Camuy Caves, Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, Parque Isla Verde, Condado Beach||The Caves, Nassau Botanical Gardens, Lucayan National Park, Dean’s Blue Hole, Pink Sand Beach|
The Bahamas is a scenic country within the Lucayan Archipelago known for having some of the most picturesque beaches and extravagant resorts in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico, while also an island chain, has its own kind of unique charm; it is fondly known as the Island of Enchantment for its many natural wonders, unforgettable historical sites, and delectable culinary dishes that will tantalize your taste buds!
This article will explore these two island getaways in more detail to help you decide which destination will give you the best vacation experience.
Cost of Stay
If you’re on a budget, the best time to visit Puerto Rico is during the long off-season, which runs from May to November. As it’s “storm season,” there is a drastic drop in prices for both airfare and hotels.
One of the great perks about the Island of Enchantment is its diversity of lodging; you can find beachfront luxury resorts located a short walk away from a bargain-priced inn. You’ll have the same access to amazing sandy beaches at a fraction of the cost!
A vacation in the Bahamas, on the other hand, tends to be a bit pricier even when it comes to budget resorts. However, it’s not impossible to find good deals on accommodations if you also try and plan your trip during the offseason. This window of time is between June and November.
Best Affordable Hotels
There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels located in San Juan, the flamboyant capital of Puerto Rico.
If you’re a romantic, The CasaBlanca Hotel in the Historic District of Old San Juan may be the perfect spot to nest. Named after the 1942 classic movie, Casablanca, this boutique-style hotel is a whimsical treat with excellent staff, exotic rooms filled with local artwork, and a rooftop terrace.
Another way to go with accommodation is to stay at one of the many Paradores on the island. Paradores are country inns that are perfect for those travelers who are looking for a more rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience.
We recommend the Casa del Caribe Inn — an authentic Caribbean bed & breakfast that’s in the heart of Condado with a huge wrap-around veranda overlooking a tropical garden. It’s also conveniently near the beach, cozy restaurants, casinos, and shops—prices for this Parador range from $95-170.
Similarly, the Bahamas offers many affordable hotels that vary in style, proximity to the beach, and privacy.
If you’re planning a vacation with children or teenagers, Atlantis Paradise Island will be a big hit! This ocean-themed resort located on Paradise Island, features water slides, river rides, saltwater lagoons, marine habitats, and more!
While both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico will satisfy your appetite for sun-filled days and turquoise water as far as the eye can see, they each have distinct vacation appeal that you should consider before booking your ticket.
Puerto Rico has an amazing biodiverse climate that lends itself to an environment lush with exotic plants and flowers. El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System. It is ideal for those who love to hike, bathe under waterfalls, or just immerse themselves in the refreshment of nature.
If you’re looking for a bit of fun and dancing, you won’t want to miss the San Sebastián Street Festival that takes place every year on January 20th in Old San Juan. And for the art neophyte, who’s looking to get familiar with the local art scene, there’s no shortage of museums to explore.
Though a trip to the Bahamas will have fewer options when it comes to historic buildings, you will be surrounded by a plethora of breathtaking beaches. You can take a romantic stroll along Pink Sand Beach, or go on a snorkeling adventure out on Mermaid Reef, before enjoying a scenic boat tour across the turquoise sea.
Activities for Kids
The Bahamas might have the edge when it comes to amusement parks and spectacular pools. The Aquaventure at Atlantis is a playground of fun and excitement. With a water slide that goes through a clear tunnel submerged in a lagoon filled with sharks and other marine life, a Mayan Temple Pool, and a mile-long river rafting ride, how could they possibly get bored?
Both islands have a variety of museums and outdoor activities for the kids to enjoy while on vacation.
Food and Drink
When it comes to fish and seafood, there is no place like the Bahamas. You can find numerous lounges, bars, and cafes that serve delectable food and cocktails.
Along with the freshest seafood, when you’re in Puerto Rico, a popular dish you’ll want to try is mofongo. It’s a simple dish. Pickled, fried, and mashed plantains are mixed with garlic, pork cracklings, and olive oil; we recommend trying the lobster mofongo at Santaella in San Juan.
The weather on both islands is consistently warm throughout the year, with only minor temperature fluctuations. The wet season in the Caribbean begins in June, so you might experience more rainfall from June-November.
Although tourist areas on both island destinations are generally considered safe, it is important that visitors stay alert. Avoid deserted areas at night, and always be aware of your surroundings and belongings.
Public transportation is the main way to get around in the Bahamas; they have Jitney buses that run frequently and are affordable for tourists. Various towns in Puerto Rico have trolleys offering transportation to key locations. Ridesharing is only common in districts near the capital of San Juan; Uber is the only major rideshare company offering services on the island at this time.
If you’re looking for a Caribbean island getaway with sandy beaches, palm trees, and tropical breezes, you have many options.
While both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico make great vacation destinations, we recommend the Island of Enchantment to those looking to be submersed in rich culture and history. Meanwhile, travelers — especially those with children — may find the Bahamas has more to offer when it comes to amusement parks, luxury hotels, and beaches.