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Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are overseas dependents of the United States of America.

Therefore, US Citizens do not require passports to visit these destinations as well as the official currency remains the US dollar just as the mainland.

In this article, we provide an extensive review of both islands to help you determine which is suitable for your next Caribbean vacation experience.

As a general rule, Puerto Rico is ideal for travelers interested in kitesurfing and a vibrant nightlife atmosphere. Alternatively, the US Virgin Islands are suitable for visitors seeking a more laid back destination with white sand beaches with turquoise waters.

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 US Virgin Islands: Which Destination Is Bigger

Puerto Rico is the larger of the two destinations being 3,515 square miles while US Virgin Islands is 133 square miles.

Both territories are archipelagos with Puerto Rico consisting of 143 islands, cays and islets.

The US Virgin Island consists of four major islands being St Croix, St Thomas, St John and Water Island and about 50 smaller islets and cays.

Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Does The Language Differ?

Despite both being overseas territories of the USA, the official language in each of these destinations differ.

The official language of the US Virgin Islands is English the language spoken in 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. 

Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Which Destination Is Better For Island Hopping

The US Virgin Islands presents greater opportunities for island hopping than Puerto Rico.

St Thomas is the location with the greatest options for visiting the other Virgin Islands as as well as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) via ferry services.

Kindly note that US citizens require a passport for entry into the BVI.

Ferry service from Puerto Rico is limited to select days each week from San Juan to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Which Island Is Better For Shopping

If duty free shopping is a main item on your vacation agenda, St Thomas is the destination to consider.

Each visitor to St Thomas including children is allowed $1600 each of duty free purchases back into the USA.

Brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Little Switzerland, Diamonds International and Bebe have a presence on the island.

Yacht Haven Grande is a premium waterfront development which features a marina where a number of high end retail operations are situated.

Likewise, the mall of San Juan is the best location for high end and luxury shopping in Puerto Rico.

There are several upscale brands such as Armani Exchange, Coach, Versace, Carolina Herrera and Bulgari.

US citizens can bring up to US$800 worth of items from Puerto Rico to the mainland.

Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Which Destination Has Better Beaches

The answer for this category truly depends on what you require as a visitor.

For those in search of white sand beaches with turquoise waters, the US Virgin Islands is the better destination.

Magens Bay Beach is a spectacular one mile stretch of white sand with turquoise waters which is the most popular beach on the island of St Thomas.

It is located in the Northern region and is perfect for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Trunk Bay Beach is the most iconic beach on the island of St John and is usually what you will see in photographs for the US Virgin islands.

Furthermore, for an amazing snorkeling experience St John is the ideal place to visit in the US Virgin Islands.

Waterlemon cay, Maho Bay and Trunk Bay are some of the ideal places in St John to explore for a superior snorkeling experience.

Alternatively, if you are passionate about kitesurfing Puerto Rico is the better destination.

Isla Verde on the island has the perfect wind conditions that supports beginner to advanced skill kiteboarders.

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

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

Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Which Destination Has Better Nightlife

Puerto Rico has the better nightlife of the two destinations and is perfect for individuals looking to party.

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, Club Kronos, and La Factoria for awesome entertainment.

On the other hand, the US Virgin Islands are ideal for persons seeking a more laid back destination.

Most of the commercial activity and by extension entertainment is concentrated on the island of St Thomas.

Red Hook, Frenchtown and Haven Sight are the top regions to consider for nightlife in St Thomas.

 Puerto Rico Vs US Virgin Islands: Activities To Try In Both Destinations

Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, Puerto Rico- this historic landmark was built between the 16th and 18th centuries in San Juan.

The El Morro fort was a strategic point in the World Wars and hence an important part of American history.

Tide Pools- St Croix, USVI- these natural pools are located on the northern area of the island.

Access is restricted to hiking or use of a powerful vehicle.  Nevertheless, once you arrive the experience will be unforgettable.

St Thomas Synagogue, St Thomas, USVI- this landmark is the second oldest in the United States today.

Constructed in the year 1833, the synagogue is a perfect place for reflection and prayer while on vacation.

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Puerto Rico is ideal for persons seeking a destination with a Spanish flair with many historical landmarks and a lively nightlife environment. On the other hand, the US Virgin Islands are perfect for visitors who want to island hop to the British Virgin Islands.

Need More Information?

We trust that the above article was informative as you plan your Caribbean escape of a lifetime.

Feel free to continue browsing our website for more content on Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Caribbean using the search bar located on the above page.

The following articles linked below may also be useful to you.

Puerto Rico Vs St Thomas (Which Vacation Is Better)

Puerto Rico Vs Aruba (Which Vacation Is Better)

Puerto Rico Vs Jamaica (Which Vacation Is Better)



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