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Puerto Rico and Jamaica are extraordinary Caribbean vacation spots and truly a visitor will have a momentous and unforgettable experience at any of these destinations.

In this article, we provide an in depth assessment into these two islands to help you determine which one is right for you.

As a general rule, Puerto Rico is suitable for visitors who love Spanish culture, unique cuisine and a vibrant nightlife atmosphere. Alternatively, Jamaica is perfect for persons seeking to relax on white sand beaches with turquoise waters and individuals who love jerk foods.

Read on for more information about these two spectacular Caribbean islands. This article was written by a Caribbean national familiar with both destinations.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Which Island Is Bigger

Known as the home of the famous track and field champion Usain Bolt, Jamaica is the bigger of the two destinations but only marginally.

It is 4,244 square miles while Puerto Rico is 3,515 square miles.

The blue mountain peak is the highest point of elevation In Jamaica at 7,402 feet and the population according to was 2,986,543 at the time of writing.

On the other hand, Cerro de Punta is the highest point of elevation in Puerto Rico which stands at 4,390 feet.

The population is also lower at 2,724,063 according to the same source above.

Puerto Rico is an archipelago that consists of 143 islands, cays and islets whereas the island of Jamaica is one single landmass.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Does The Currency Differ?

As an overseas dependency of the United States of America (USA), the US dollar is the official currency of Puerto Rico.

Contrastingly, Jamaica has its own currency which is the Jamaican dollar. The Bank of Jamaica which is the central bank is responsible for the island’s monetary policy.

Nonetheless, US dollars are widely accepted around the island.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Entry Requirements

Puerto Rico is an overseas territory and as such no passports are required for entry by US citizens.

Persons from outside the USA need to get the proper US visa for entry as Mainland USA.

On the other hand, US citizens must present a passport on entry and leaving Jamaica.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica: Does The Language Differ?

Despite being a US overseas territory, the official language of Puerto Rico is Spanish.

This is due to the fact that the island was previously an overseas province of Spain.

As a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the USA.  

Jamaica was previously a colony of Britain and maintained English as its official language when it gained independence in August 1962.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Does The Cuisine Differ?

Both islands are perfect destinations for foodies.

There are some meals that are similar across the two places such as tropical fruit juices and rice & peas.

However, both islands have signature meals that are unique and distinctive.

Jerk food is prepared in other Caribbean islands but the Jamaica cuisine in this area is extraordinary.

Festivals are served as a staple with many meals. This is a dumpling made with flour that is fried.

If you want to make this at home, there is packet festival mix which you can buy at local Jamaican supermarkets.

If you love jerk food, The Portland Jerk Festival is an event that you should consider which is held annually, the first weekend in July.

On the other hand, the national dish of Puerto Rico is rice with pigeon peas or arroz con gandules which is a common West Indian dish served in many countries.

Nevertheless, mofongo is a popular staple meal served on the island. Green plantain is the star ingredient in this meal.

If you love plantain, October is the perfect month to visit Puerto Rico for fiesta de platano which is celebrated in the community of Corozal.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Better Beaches

If your main motivation for your Caribbean adventure is enjoying white sand beaches, then Jamaica is the better destination.

The best beach in Jamaica is the beautiful seven mile beach in Negril. It is known for having silky white sand and turquoise waters.

This beach has calm and shallow waters which is perfect several water sporting activities.

Some of the things to do at seven mile beach include jet skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

There are various amenities such as life guards, security guards, souvenir shops and restaurants in the vicinity.

Likewise, Puerto Rico also has lovely beaches with Flamenco beach being one of the best on the island.

This location is gorgeous and calm waters which make it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

There are many amenities at this beach which includes camping area, changing rooms, bathrooms and life guards.

When visiting the beaches in Puerto Rico, pay attention to signs and warnings as at times there are undercurrents in the waters.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Better Nightlife

Both islands have bubbling and vibrant nightlife atmosphere but Puerto Rico is our pick between these two destinations.

There are venues that you can explore both in Old San Juan and also outside of the main city.

La Placita de Santurce is a popular nightlife spot to meet locals on the island, to eat, relax and salsa dance in San Juan.

This area is a market during the day but transforms into an entertainment hot spot at nights.

Other venues to explore outside the city are El Boricua and Le Central Bar for entertainment.

There are also numerous nightclub and entertainment spots throughout Jamaica especially in the major cities of Kingston and Montego Bay.

Two great locations to explore for entertainment include Kingston Dub Club and The Jungle.

In terms of activities that you can enjoy at nights, both islands have bioluminescent bays.

There are two bioluminescent bays being mosquito bay in Vieques and La Parguera in Lajas in Puerto Rico.

Likewise, Luminous Lagoon located in Falmouth is the site of the bioluminescent bay in Jamaica.

Visitors usually get the option to swim and also enjoy this amazing natural wonder.

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica- Activities & Things To Try On The Islands

Visit Pinones, Puerto Rico – this activity is perfect for foodies and beach lovers and is a community located about 15 minutes from San Juan.

In this area, there are numerous food stalls all in a row where you can enjoy authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, drinks and music.

The best beach in this area is La Posita which is known for its calm and clear waters which makes it ideal for children.

Explore Cayo Icacos, Puerto Rico– take a day trip to the largest cays located off the Northern region of Puerto Rico.

This small island is popular for a weekend getaway with turquoise waters and amazing beaches.

This island is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and relaxation.

Rafting Martha Brae, Jamaica- located in the town of Falmouth, this adventure is situated about 20 miles from Montego Bay and the tour takes approximately one hour.

The rafting village is a six acre property that features picnic site, gifts shops, swimming pool and other amenities.

Explore Devon House, Jamaica– this mansion is gorgeous and was the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel.

It is one of the historic landmarks on the island.  

Today, the property is used to host a range of events and features several restaurants, one of the most popular being the Devon House Bakery.

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Puerto Rico is suitable for visitors who love a vibrant nightlife atmosphere as well as relaxing on small and remote cays. Alternatively, Jamaica is perfect for persons seeking to relax on white sand beaches with turquoise waters and individuals who want to raft Martha Brae river.

Need More Information?

We trust that you found the above information insightful as you plan your upcoming Caribbean vacation.

Feel free to continue browsing our website for more content on Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

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