Are you in a dilemma in deciding between Hawaii vs Puerto Rico for your next vacation? Despite the two islands being worlds apart, they almost have similar activities and facilities that create remarkable experiences. This makes it difficult for any traveler to choose the best destination.
From natural beauty and stunning beaches to rich cultural experiences and cuisine, Puerto Rico and Hawaii have something to offer for your dream vacation. I will take you through things to do, each Island’s pros and cons, safety, geographical location, historical sites, and cultural experiences, so you can make a clear decision! Let’s dive into the details!
Puerto Rico and Hawaii are famous for their lush rainforests, varied ecosystems, and rich cultural legacy. However, the historical backgrounds and geographical locations say they are entirely distinct realms.
- Hawaii: It is known for its lush landscapes, pristine sandy beaches such as Waikiki Beach, tropical weather, and unique Polynesian culture. Furthermore, Hawaii consists of 137 islands, which makes it a perfect destination for those seeking world-class surf sports and a more laid-back island lifestyle.
- Puerto Rico: Conversely, Puerto Rico offers a fusion of Caribbean and Spanish impacts, a dynamic nightlife, bioluminescent bays, unspoiled beaches, a rich history, and a thriving cultural scene. Additionally, this Island comprises 143 small islands, islets, and cays.
Nonetheless, there’s a deeper layer to explore. Keep reading to unveil concealed treasures, insider perspectives, and an intricate exploration of what separates these islands.
Check out the comparison between Hawaii vs. Puerto Rico in the table provided:
WHICH IS BETTER
Low crime rate
High crime rate
Cost of living
North Pacific Ocean
Northeastern Caribbean Sea
Best time to visit
Different colored sands
Turquoise waters and white sand beaches
Pros and Cons of Visiting Hawaii
The splendor of Hawaii is renowned. A tropical paradise that attracts travelers from across the globe, it has captured intellects and won affections for centuries. However, Hawaii encounters several problems, too, such as excessive tourists and hot lava, which are typically not everyone’s favorites.
Here are some of the pros and cons that you should know before visiting Hawaii:
Advantages of Touring Hawaii
The idea of paradise in Hawaii is rarely as magnificent as the real thing. Here are some of the advantages of visiting Hawaii that will leave you wanting more vacations to this area:
- Beautiful scenery: Thanks to Hawaii’s various micro-environments comprising rainforests, mountains, stunning beaches, arid regions, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, an assortment exists in Hawaii’s scenic allure that creates an idyllic setting for your vacation.
- The climate is pure bliss: Upon visiting Hawaii, you will enjoy relatively mild climate conditions that it experiences year-round, with an average annual temperature of around 80 degrees.
- Outdoor recreation: You will never lack something to do during your leisure time. You can go snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and surfing on a Hawaiian island’s beautiful beaches. Furthermore, if you are not after water sports, opt for hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
- Educational opportunities: The State of Hawaii is ranked the first among other states to initiate programs of after-school care for students in public schools. The program enables students to have ample time to study.
- Many shopping centers: Hawaii provides numerous shopping centers where you can take home some Hawaiian products. If you are seeking fresh produce and fruit juices, numerous indigenous farmer’s markets are found across the Hawaiian islands. You will also discover many upscale boutiques and stores if you are pursuing something fancy.
- Safety: Irrespective of the time of year, akin to any metropolis worldwide, Hawaii experiences its share of criminal activity. Nevertheless, the incidence of criminal incidents remains minimal when considered as a whole. Therefore, you will have no worries about your belongings.
Drawbacks of Visiting Hawaii
Check out some of the disadvantages of touring Hawaii:
- High cost of living: In Hawaii, almost everything has to be shipped from other places, which requires a tax shipping fee. This makes living costs extremely high, and the tourists must spend more money.
- The islands get it last: Another downside to visiting an island amid the ocean is the pace at which technological advancements and modern appliances evolve. Especially when you depart from the Big Island, a significant portion of the rest of the Hawaiian islands lags by at least 2-3 years compared to most of the United States.
- Lack of seasons: Every advantage has its corresponding disadvantage, right? Well, the agreeable year-round weather guarantees you won’t encounter winter seasons in Hawaii, regardless of the time of year you visit.
- Peak season overcrowding: Hawaii welcomes many visitors during peak seasons. This leads to crowded beaches, congested hiking trails, and long queues at well-liked sights.
Pros and Cons of Visiting Puerto Rico
When most people think of a romantic destination for vacation, they frequently imagine a tropical island with white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. One of the prime locations to discover such idyllic settings is here in Puerto Rico.
However, every place is flawed, and Puerto Rico has its share of drawbacks, such as high crime rates and natural disasters. Here are some of the pros and cons of visiting Puerto Rico.
Pros of Touring Puerto Rico
Here are some of the advantages of exploring Puerto Rico:
- Warm weather throughout the year: Puerto Rico basks in warm weather. In July, its average temperature is 16 degrees Celsius; in January (the hottest month), it reaches 26 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it provides an appealing escape from cold weather for retirees and digital nomads.
- The natural beauty of the islands: Puerto Rico is made up of the main Caribbean Island and several smaller islands, all boasting beautiful sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and natural landmarks such as verdant mountains and El Yunque National Forest. The natural beauty of Puerto Rico is one of its biggest draws for tourists and residents alike.
- Rich cultural heritage: Puerto Rico’s dynamic culture arises from a mix of the native Taínos, the Spanish, and the African influences. It offers top-notch traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and lively music. Additionally, the presence of Old San Juan on the west coast of Puerto Rico encompasses three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, showcasing a history of over five centuries.
- High-quality life: Puerto Rico provides a quality life compared to its neighboring nations. The Island boasts a relatively modest cost of daily expenses and abundant conveniences and facilities at your disposal.
Cons of visiting Puerto Rico
I will not narrow you to only the advantages of visiting Puerto Rico; here are some of the challenges you may experience:
- Slower movements: The pace people move in this city may worry you. The relaxed attitude involves peddlers and pedestrians not leaving behind those with cars. People from the United States can easily get frustrated with this type of movement as they are used to moving faster.
- Hurricane season: Puerto Rico experiences hurricane season despite its location in the Caribbean. This season is mostly experienced between June and November. This was one of the most dangerous storms, which caused severe damage to the properties and lives of many people in Puerto Rico island.
- Mosquitos and sand fleas: Though beautiful, Puerto Rican beaches have several mosquitoes and flies, especially at night. As you visit the city, especially around the beaches, ensure you have the spray to lower the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes.
- High crime rates and thefts: Although the standard of living in Puerto Rico is very high, there are still other issues like a high crime rate and high murder cases. San Juan is well known as the most dangerous American city, leading in murder cases.
Are Hawaii and Puerto Rico Part of the United States?
Indeed, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are integral to the United States, but they hold distinct political designations. Let us look at how each Island became part of the United States.
Hawaii is a United States State
Hawaii attained statehood as the 50th state in the United States on August 21, 1959. In its capacity as a state, Hawaii enjoys complete representation in the U.S. Congress, with two Senators and two Representatives.
Puerto Rico is a United States Territory
It came under the possession of the United States from Spain after the completion of the Spanish-American War in 1898. As a territory, Puerto Rico lacks voting representation in the U.S. Congress.
The residents of Puerto Rico hold United States citizenship, yet they can only participate in presidential elections if they dwell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
Puerto Rico Beaches vs Hawaii Beaches
Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii offer remarkable beaches and crystal-clear waters. Hawaii’s beaches are celebrated for their stunning beauty and variety. From the famous Waikiki Beach to the breathtaking Na Pali Coast of Kauai, a beach suits every taste.
Puerto Rico also features a sense of pristine beaches, from the beautiful beaches of Isla Verde in San Juan to the coastlines of Flamenco Beach. Here are some of the beaches in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Beaches in Puerto Rico
Discover some of the beaches in Puerto Rico:
- Culebra Beach: It is roughly 20 miles from the coast of Puerto Rico. There is a white, shining sandy beach at Flamenco Beach where you can snorkel with manta rays and sea turtles.
- Escambron Beach-Old San Juan: Escambron Beach stands as a beautiful beach with serene waters and excellent opportunities for snorkeling. You will find all the amenities, including public bathrooms and showers, vigilant lifeguards, options to grab snacks, and dining nearby.
- Aguadilla Beach: This beach is located on the north shore of Puerto Rico. In the summer, the vibrant ambiance at Crash Boat Beach. To those seeking snorkeling, scuba diving, or partaking in an exhilarating round of beach volleyball.
- Ocean Park Beach: Ocean Park Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico, offers a more laid-back vibe and receives fewer than nearby Isla Verde and Condado Beach. This beach is best for relaxation, especially for an intimate romantic getaway.
Beaches in Hawaii
Here are some beaches in Hawaii island:
- Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui: Situated in the northwest of Maui Island, Kapalua Bay Beach is renowned for its excellence as a superb snorkeling and kayaking destination. Palm trees envelop the sandy beach and boast clear turquoise waters suitable for sunbathing, swimming, and observing its profusion of marine creatures, including sea turtles.
- Waikiki Beach: As one globally acclaimed beach, Waikiki greets more than four million tourists annually. The Duke Kahanamoku statue extends a hospitable invitation to Waikiki, establishing it as a premier destination in Hawaiʻi for mastering the art of surfing or canoeing, courtesy of its modest yet enduring wave patterns.
- Mauna Kea Beach, Hawaii Island: This Big Island beach spans over a quarter of a mile, framed by lush vegetation, featuring beautiful white sand. The family-friendly bay encompasses a sheltered area with tranquil, shallow waters measuring under 10 feet deep, and it’s also a well-liked spot for aquatic activities in deeper waters.
Hawaii, Puerto Rico: Types of Nature
When it comes to nature in Hawaii or Puerto Rico, you will experience amazing nature lovers. Though the nature may not be the same, both the islands have interesting geological phenomena and unique flora and fauna to discover.
Type of nature in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is renowned for its three lively bioluminescent bays:
- Mosquito Bay;
- Laguna Grande;
- La Parguera.
Excursions on illuminated boats are in high demand, enabling guests to swim alongside luminescent dinoflagellates under the nighttime heavens.
Types of Nature in Hawaii
Hawaii consists of 137 distinct islands, forming a multifaceted landscape. These islands feature active volcanoes, verdant rainforests, and an abundance of over 20,000 species, encouraging travelers to explore.
You have a broad array of natural wonders to discover in the Hawaiian archipelago:
- It’s the luxuriant wilderness encompassing Maui’s Hana Highway;
- The Big Island’s ebony volcanic formations;
- The towering precipices along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast;
- Oahu’s reminiscent Koʻolau Mountain Range.
Things To Do in Hawaii
Hawaii island boasts a wide range of activities to offer to its visitors. From hiking and snorkeling to cultural activities, there is something for every individual touring Hawaii. Here are some of the things to do in Hawaii:
- Hiking: Hawaii is truly a haven for hiking enthusiasts. Exploring Hawaiian trails offers tourists a nice view of the active volcanoes, verdant valleys, cascading waterfalls, secluded beaches, coastal cliffs, and enchanting natural pools.
- Snorkeling: Another enjoyable activity in Hawaii is snorkeling. Tour the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands for any of your holidays, for yourself, family, or even pals. You will enjoy seeing the beauty of Hawaiian marine life while on a snorkeling vessel.
- Whale Watching: You will get excited during your Pacific Islands tour by experiencing whale watching, one of the most enjoyable activities in Hawaii. Whale watching leaves an indelible mark in your brain as you observe the magnificent whales’ motion as they journey to Hawaiian waters.
- Cultural Attractions: Explore some of Hawaii’s cultural and historical sites and get introduced to some customs and social life from diverse indigenous Polynesian societies. Pearl Harbor is one of the destinations to explore the culture of Hawaii.
Things To Do in Puerto Rico
Discover some of the things to do in Puerto Rico:
- Surfing surfaces: Rincón in Puerto Rico is recognized worldwide as one of the best surfing spots. Recently, Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, earned the distinction of becoming the Caribbean’s inaugural World Surfing Reserve.
- Snorkeling home: Vieques, an additional island located on the coast of the mainland of Puerto Rico, provides tourists with exceptional snorkeling opportunities and serves as the location of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.
- Explore the Old San Juan: Viejo San Juan boasts an array of top attractions, such as Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal, safeguarding the fortified city of San Juan. Furthermore, Old San Juan teems with sidewalk merchants and restaurants ready to satisfy your appetite.
- Hike in El Yunque National Forest: The El Yunque National Forest stands as the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System. It is the most cherished place for tourists who enjoy hiking. Even if you are not inclined toward nature, you can venture approximately 30 miles to the east of San Juan to visit.
Historical Sites and Cultural Experience: Hawaii vs Puerto Rico
Hawaii and Puerto Rico each possess rich cultural histories, manifesting in their traditions, artistic, and culinary options.
The native Hawaii’s big island culture has deep connections to the islands, and you can attend hula performances, enjoy the traditional feasts, and explore historic sites. Some of the historical sites in Hawaii include:
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial;
- Iolani Palace;
- USS Arizona Memorial;
- Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site on the North Shore of Oʻahu.
Puerto Rico offers a fusion of Spanish, African, and native impacts. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring exquisitely preserved architecture that traces back to the 16th century. Some of the cultural experiences in Puerto Rico include music, dance, and festivals that deliver a lively and dynamic cultural immersion. Here are examples of the historical sites in Puerto Rico:
- El Morro in Old San Juan;
- Porta Coeli in San German;
- Fortin de San Gerónimo de Boquerón.
Food and Drink Puerto Rico vs Hawaii
Both Hawaii and Puerto Rico have almost the same food and drink options. Let’s discover in detail!
Through perpetual creativity and ongoing change, Puerto Rican cuisine has become a genuine haven for food enthusiasts. From seaside kiosks to upscale dining, the local chefs reinvent those cherished family recipes, thus nurturing the community and visitors through food. Some of the Puerto Rican food and drinks include:
- Arroz con gandules.
Hawaiian gastronomy also underscores the mixture of traditional Hawaiian ingredients with the culinary techniques of Japan, China, the Philippines, Polynesia, Portugal, and, naturally, the United States. Some of the food and drinks you will find in Hawaii include:
- Tropical fruits include bananas, coconut, mangoes, apples, and strawberries;
- Fish and other seafood;
- Blue Hawaii;
- Mai Tais.
Resorts in Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii
Both Hawaii and Puerto Rico resorts offer high-end luxurious accommodations, remarkable scenery, and diverse amenities.
Hawaii’s resorts are famous for their large grounds, top-notch amenities, and beautiful ambiance, especially those on the Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. Examples of Hawaiian resorts include:
- Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea;
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa;
- Hilton Waikoloa Village.
On the other hand, Puerto Rico resorts feature an expansive range of amenities, consisting of allure of Caribbean vibe. The majority of resorts in Puerto Rico are situated close to San Juan, the existing capital of Puerto Rico, which boasts a rich history and dynamic nightlife experience. Some of the resorts in mainland Puerto Rico include:
- St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort;
- Dorado Beach;
- Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
Climate: Hawaii vs Puerto Rico
The climate in Puerto Rico can be categorized into three seasons: arid, rainy, and hurricane.
- The rainy phase: This season extends from April to November.
- The dry season: The dry phase takes over from December to March.
- The hurricane season: It starts from June to November.
Hawaii experiences a dual-season climate, dry and wet.
- The wet season: This season transpires from November to March.
- The dry season: This arid season prevails from April to October.
The Best Time to Visit Hawaii vs Puerto Rico
Contemplating the timing of your visit is nearly as critical as selecting the destination. The least desirable situation is to cancel your trip because of a tropical storm. You can visit Puerto Rico during any time of the year except in hurricane season – June to November.
For comparison, Hawaii proves to be a fantastic year-round destination:
- While the wet season might entail increased precipitation, most rainfall happens during the evening and in brief episodes.
- Furthermore, if one part of the island experiences rain, it’s common to find bright sunshine in another region you’re exploring.
Accessibility Hawaii vs Puerto Rico
The Hawaiian Islands are prepared to receive tourists from around the globe, and they are an easily reachable destination for all types of travelers:
- You can reach them by sea or via air, and that pretty much covers it. Both modes of Transportation are acceptable.
- Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu is Hawaii’s primary international airport for all tourists.
In comparison, Puerto Rico is readily reachable for individuals traveling from the contiguous United States:
- Being a U.S. territory means that flights from the mainland are classified as domestic, leading to reduced travel durations and frequently more cost-effective airfares.
- Moreover, Puerto Rico’s proximity to the Caribbean area positions it as a favored stop on Caribbean cruises.
Puerto Rico vs Hawaii: Traveling With Kids & Safety
Puerto Rico and Hawaii are fantastic destinations to travel with kids, providing diverse, family-friendly fun and unique activities for explorers to relish. Your kids will have a memorable hiking and immersive cultural and laid-back experience in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, respectively.
Both Hawaii and Puerto Rico have distinct challenges in terms of safety. In general, Hawaii tends to be more safer than Puerto Rico. Areas like San Juan, Puerto Rica, have higher crime rates than any other place; therefore, walking in groups and taking care of belongings is advisable to avoid theft.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
You will never lack somewhere to relax during your vacation in Hawaii or Puerto Rico. Both islands offer budget-friendly and luxury accommodation that suits your pocket. Here are some of the best affordable and luxury accommodations in Hawaii and Puerto Rico:
Check out some of the best budget and luxury accommodations in Hawaii:
Best Budget Accommodation
Don’t cancel your trip to Hawaii because of expenses. Here are some of the affordable places to stay if you are on a low budget:
- Kauai Marriot Resort: The Kauai Marriot Resort, located on Kauai Island, is a stunning beachfront establishment ideal for enjoying Garden Isle’s beauty. The accommodations are spacious and have all the fundamental features of some exquisite high-end hotels.
- Vive Hotel Waikiki: Situated just three blocks from renowned Waikiki Beach, Vive serves as a sanctuary within this vibrant Hawaiian city. Some of the facilities include kimono-style bathrobes, in-room tablets for effortless access to the hotel services, complimentary morning meals, and free Wi-Fi.
- Kona Seaside Hotel- Big Island: Kona Seaside is a premium spot with stunning views of the crystal-clear waters of Kailua Bay. This establishment is a great option for economical travelers and provides a rewarding experience at an affordable rate.
Discover some of the best luxury accommodations in Hawaii:
- The Ritz-Carlton Residences: The Ritz-Carlton Residences has the highest infinity pool in Waikiki, complete with exclusive cabanas that provide dining options. Select from various options, including single bedrooms with panoramic ocean views and apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms, featuring fully equipped kitchens and spacious living areas.
- Montage Kapalua Bay: Montage is a more compact, distinct retreat within the expansive Kapalua hotel complex. It’s positioned along a rugged, rocky stretch of the shoreline, presenting a range of accommodations, including one-four-bedroom suites with lounging sections, well-equipped kitchens, and laundry areas that cater perfectly to families.
Discover some of the best budget and luxury accommodations in Puerto Rico:
Best Budget Accommodation
To secure a chic hotel room, you don’t have to splurge in Puerto Rico. A modest budget can still provide options for a trendy hostel, a beachfront getaway, or a hip boutique hotel. Here are the top affordable lodging choices in Puerto Rico:
- The Dreamcatcher: This Ocean Park lodging facility is the Island’s sole meatless establishment, offering daily organic vegetarian breakfast and brunch options, including vegan and gluten-free choices.
- Coral Princess Hotel: An oasis of tranquility within the heart of the city, Coral Princess Hotel is mere steps from the sun-kissed shores of Condado Beach. You’ll adore the potted greenery, and the accommodations boast a contemporary aesthetic, featuring refreshing tiled flooring and bathrooms adorned with marble.
Best Luxury Accommodations
Prepare to be indulged and treated with the utmost regal treatment upon your arrival at Puerto Rico’s luxury accommodations:
- St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort: Nestled in an ideal location within a former coconut plantation, just a half-hour from the airport, this resort on the East Coast seamlessly blends the commonplace with the exceptional. Each guest’s experience is meticulously tailored to be entirely distinct and one-of-a-kind.
- Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve: Exuding an unparalleled sense of elite distinction, this luxurious five-star hotel boasts well-established greenery and captivating ocean vistas across its premises. Every one of the hotel’s 115 rooms capitalizes on its prime location, featuring expansive sliding glass doors that open to the ocean, providing proximity to the beach.
Puerto Rico vs Hawaii: Cost of Visiting
Despite Puerto Rico being a Caribbean island, it is more budget-friendly than Hawaii. The average cost per person in Puerto Rico is as follows:
Average daily cost:
For comparison, Hawaii is more costly than Puerto Rico. The comfort you choose will determine how much to spend in Hawaii. Here is the average cost for one person in Hawaii:
Average daily cost:
Is Puerto Rico or Hawaii better for vacation?
In general, Hawaii is much better than Puerto Rico for a vacation. This is because Hawaii offers numerous attractions and outdoor activities on each of its main islands, addressing the diverse preferences of vacationers.
Is Puerto Rico hotter than Hawaii?
Overall, Puerto Rico is hotter and more humid than Hawaii.
Is Puerto Rico a luxury destination?
Yes, Puerto Rico is a luxury destination. Here is where top-tier luxury meets tropical elegance. Experience a real vacation at an award-winning, five-star hotel or resort in the essence of the Caribbean.
Why did so many Puerto Ricans go to Hawaii?
Many Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawaii because the sugar industry in Puerto Rico was profoundly impacted by two hurricanes in 1899. These calamities led to a global scarcity of sugar and a substantial surge in demand for this commodity from Hawaii.
Choosing between Hawaii vs Puerto Rico adventure ultimately depends on your personal or family preferences. Both destinations offer beautiful beaches, intriguing cultures, and entertaining pursuits suitable for travelers of all ages.
Hawaii is an excellent selection if you’re after a luxurious tropical haven with awe-inspiring scenery, distinctive Polynesian culture, and a relaxed atmosphere. Nonetheless, if you’re in pursuit of a more economical alternative with a range of encounters, a deep historical backdrop, lively cultural elements, and the infusion of Caribbean and Spanish influences, opt for Puerto Rico.
If you find this guide helpful, share it with your fellow travelers so they can clearly compare the two islands for better vacation planning.