Puerto Rico vs. the Dominican Republic: which vacation spot is best for you?

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are journey juggernauts, providing an explosion of various experiences for each sort of traveler. However now the (seemingly) unimaginable query: which one do you select to your subsequent trip?

The Dominican Republic is an out of doors wonderland replete with high-octane actions like kitesurfing and whitewater rafting, and it’s additionally some of the traditionally vital areas within the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico could also be smaller, nevertheless it’s a cultural powerhouse and residential to a few of the most enchanting seashores on the planet. This is determine which to choose. 

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Which vacation spot is healthier for foodies?

The cuisines of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic share many widespread threads, with some vital exceptions. 

Strive mangú and sancocho within the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic’s delicacies makes for good consuming irrespective of the time of day. Replenish on golden mangos, completely cooked eggs and fried white cheese and mangú (mashed plantains) within the morning. For lunch, dig into la bandera, a mouthwatering combo of rice, beans and tender stewed rooster.

Take pleasure in a steaming bowl of sancocho – seven-meat stew – for dinner and wash it down with a refreshing Presidente beer. Don’t miss the Dominican-style arepa, a dense corn cake baked in a dutch oven over coals and served by the slice – select between candy or savory variations. On the lookout for the most well liked new eating places within the nation? Head straight to Santo Domingo, the capital, to see what native cooks are cooking up. 

Restaurant-hop by way of the Guavate area to strive lechón asado © Brandon Rosenblum / Getty Pictures

In San Juan, a neighborhood meals motion is remodeling the eating scene

Puerto Rico’s culinary scene, alternatively, options treats like alcapurrias (plantain fritters stuffed with spice meat), bacalaitos (fried codfish fritters) and empanadas (meat- or cheese-filled turnovers) to fulfill snack cravings, whereas heartier fare like mofongo (mashed garlicky plantain with pork or seafood) and pastelón (floor beef and cheese casserole layered with sliced plantains) sticks to your ribs.

San Juan’s hottest bars for cool cocktails and tropical nights

Carnivores will delight within the Ruta del Lechón, a street journey by way of the Guavate area; restaurant-hop and take a look at lechón asado, slow-roasted pork that can go away you questioning the legitimacy of each different barbecue you’ve ever had.

The capital metropolis of San Juan can also be dwelling to an thrilling native meals motion, with restaurateurs creating favorites into trendy fusions and high-end delicacies. 

Winner: Puerto Rico comes out on high right here. Due to its cornucopia of island-specific dishes and the ingenious culinary vitality coming from San Juan, foodies will weep with pleasure – or at the least go away actually, actually full. 

Which vacation spot is healthier for journey?

On the subject of out of doors journey, each the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico hold even essentially the most adrenaline-seeking vacationers from getting stressed.

A man jumps off a cliff into a large pool below in a forest in Puerto Rico.
From mountains, rainforests to canyons, Puerto Rico numerous panorama presents a great deal of journey © Cavan Pictures / Getty Pictures

Waterfall looking, browsing and bioluminescent mild exhibits in Puerto Rico

To not be outdone, Puerto Rico is a lush eco-escape full with mountains, rainforests, surf breaks and canyons, plus of essentially the most beautiful rainforests within the area – El Yunque – and a few of the brightest bioluminescent bays on the planet. 

If you happen to’re heading west from San Juan, go waterfall looking and cave exploring within the hills of the Arecibo area. Wave shredders: journey west till the land runs out at Rincón, Puerto Rico’s premiere surf vacation spot. Browsing season runs from December to April and attracts professionals from all around the world. 

Within the east you’ll discover El Yunque, a rainforest that receives 120 inches of rain a 12 months and protects lots of of distinctive plant and animal species. Nonetheless need extra? Seize a ship (or puddle jumper) to the island of Vieques for a spectacular pure mild present at Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent physique of water that can spark the surprise of your inside little one. 

The Dominican Republic has biodiversity and journey choices galore

One of the biodiverse nations in the whole Caribbean, dwelling to 9 totally different ecoregions together with rainforests, mangroves, mountain ranges and even grasslands and savannahs, the DR’s mountainous inside and beachy periphery spoil journey vacationers with choices.

Head to the Central Highlands for forest hikes, towering waterfalls and the one whitewater rafting within the Caribbean – plus a break from the tropical warmth. 

The north coast is the windsurfing capital of the Americas, and even inexperienced persons can catch a wave on a kiteboard. Transfer east to the scenic Samaná Peninsula to kayak by way of the mangroves of the otherworldly Los Haitises Nationwide Park or embark on a whale-watching tour.

And don’t neglect the southwest – cross by way of the nation’s deserts to reach at Pedernales Peninsula for top-tier wildlife watching.

Winner: Consider us after we say it is a TOUGH name. In the long run, we’ll give it to the DR by a hair due to its variety of actions (and ecosystems).

Which vacation spot is healthier for historical past?

Each the DR and Puerto Rico sit on the crossroads of Indigenous and colonial historical past within the Americas. These within the historic significance of those locations will discover the whole lot from petroglyphs to colonial structure – reminders of an advanced previous that continues to affect the area right this moment. 

Introducing the Dominican Republic

Study Taíno tradition within the DR

Like all Caribbean nations, the Dominican Republic has an in depth Indigenous historical past. Excursions of the Los Haitises Nationwide Park cease off at a collection of caves utilized by the Taíno as ceremonial websites, and right here you’ll be able to see carvings and pictographs as vivid as once they have been first drawn. 

If you happen to’re on the lookout for a extra conventional museum expertise, try Museo Taíno Maguá or the Centro León, one of many nation’s most revered artwork and historical past museums. 

As Spain’s first settlement within the Americas, Santo Domingo is basically an open-air museum itself – the well-preserved Colonial Metropolis is aesthetically hanging, and strolling excursions by way of this space ship an on-the-ground perspective of the cultural and financial influence of the Spanish authorities through the colonial period.

People walking toward the Museo de las Américas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a towering, three-story facade with rows of arches
Don’t miss the Museo de las Américas in San Juan, which explores the historical past of colonization and slavery on the island © William Silver / Shutterstock

Discover Puerto Rico’s Afro-Caribbean roots

If you wish to study Indigenous historical past in Puerto Rico, you might have a lot of alternatives to take action. Head to the Cueva del Indio in Arecibo to see some of the vital Taíno websites on the island, or journey south to the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes in Ponce, some of the necessary archeological websites within the Caribbean and a standing testomony to pre-Taíno cultures. 

Don’t miss the Museo de las Américas in San Juan, which explores the historical past of colonization and slavery on the island; the Museo de Historia de Caguas additionally delves into the island’s Creole id on the island, beginning with its Indigenous peoples. 

The 5 greatest museums in San Juan 

San Juan’s candy-colored historic district is a deal with for these considering historic structure, and the town’s forts – San Felipe del Morro Fort and Castillo de San Cristobal – are compelling visits for anybody savvy in army historical past.

Winner: If you wish to study extra about Indigenous and Afro-Caribbean roots, go for Puerto Rico. If you happen to’re considering colonial structure, Santo Domingo (and the DR by proxy) takes the crown – the Colonial Metropolis is a Unesco World Heritage Web site for a purpose. 

A woman splashes water on a beach in the Dominican Republic. She holding a snorkel mask in her right hand.
The Dominican Republic’s beautiful seashores have attracted guests from all around the globe © Fotostorm/Getty Pictures

Which vacation spot is healthier for seashores?

Caribbean seashores are among the many most stunning on the planet, and the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico actually ship the products. 

Take pleasure in selection within the Dominican Republic

The DR presents a various set of sands – seaside hopping yields distinct experiences at every cove and shoreline. Although fairly developed, Punta Cana and Bávaro entice vacationers from all over the world with their gleaming white sands and turquoise waters, whereas the seashores alongside the northeastern aspect of the island – like these in Las Terrenas and Samaná – provide heat golden shores, a deep emerald ocean and the final word relaxed vibes. 

The very best time to go to the Dominican Republic 

On the lookout for a bit journey? Head to the southwest for the distant, rugged dream that’s Bahía de las Águilas; solely accessible by boat, the journey to this seaside options rocky cliff strains and the wind in your hair.

Young men playing ball games on the beach in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is stuffed with great seashores to get pleasure from © Getty Pictures / Picture Supply

Discover an excellent match in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico exhibits off with regards to seashores too. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a full of life city seaside, don’t skip Ocean Park in San Juan or Playa Luquillo – each embrace a convivial environment. If peace and quiet are extra your jam, forged away to Culebra and Vieques. 

Culebra’s legendary Flamenco Seashore is a pristine stretch of clear, calm water that elicits a state of bliss. Solar Bay is a well-liked sandy crescent on Vieques (although tame by San Juan requirements), and the right place to munch on sugarcane beneath swaying palms; if you happen to actually wish to get off the crushed path, head into the Vieques Nationwide Wildlife Refuge and make a beeline for Playa La Chiva. Right here it’s simply you, the peaceable sound of the waves and the wild horses.

Winner: Don’t make us select – the seashores in each locales are just too stunning to choose a favourite. We name this a tie.