Bahamas vs Puerto Rico: An Honest Comparison to Help You Decide!

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Last updated on March 9, 2023 by Wandering our World

Are you dreaming of palm trees, sunny beaches, and clear blue waters? Or are you looking forward to diving into the sea and swimming with a colorful school of reef fish? You can expect all of that, and more, in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

Yet while both islands offer you a tropical beach holiday with breathtaking scenery, they also provide very different holidays.

For example the Bahamas, which is a cluster of 700 stunning coral islands in the Caribbean Sea, is likely the better choice if you’re looking for that classic laidback beach vacation.

It’s very touristy, but that’s because the Bahamas has some of the best beaches in the world and some of the best all-inclusive resorts too.

Puerto Rico has its own charm too, and is known as the Island of Enchantment thanks to its natural scenery, cultural and historical sites, and tasty cuisine. This is a destination perfect for those who want to do more than just sit on the beach, such as rainforest trekking or exploring fascinating cities.

However that’s just the beginning when it comes to how the Bahamas and Puerto Rico differ!

That’s where we can help. As we know both destinations well, we compare them below showing you which has better beaches, food, activities, which is better for honeymoons, families and lots more. All so you can make the right decision!

CONTENTS:

  1. Which Is Easier To Get To?
  2. Which Is Easier To Get Around?
  3. Which Has The Better Beaches?
  4. Which Is Best for Diving & Snorkeling?
  5. Which Has Better Food?
  6. Which Has Better Instagrammable Spots?
  7. Which Is Better For A Honeymoon?
  8. Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  9. Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?
  10. Which Is Cheaper?
  11. Which Is The Better Choice?
An infographic pitting the Bahamas vs Puerto Rico and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

Which Is Easier To Get To?

Traveling to the Bahamas or Puerto Rico is fairly easy and affordable.

The Bahamas is easily accessible by air or sea. The capital of Nassau is a good starting point as international flights land there. 

Many major airlines fly directly to Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport from cities in the US, so finding a flight should not be an issue. But if you want to experience the sea, you can get to Nassau on a cruise ship as well.  

It’s a similar case with Puerto Rico. San Juan Cruise Port receives millions of visitors every year, as do the two international airports in Puerto Rico.

Several airlines operate flights from major cities in the US, Canada, Europe, and the UK.

For both destinations, if you’re traveling from Australia, flights are usually with a layover in the US or another country. 

Amazing views of Rose Island Bahamas Beach
iStock.com/Jackson Roberts

Which Is Easier To Get Around?

In the Bahamas, getting around by car is very convenient.

Rental cars are available in Nassau and on other islands, allowing you the freedom to move around at your pace.

However, keep in mind that on the smaller islands the roads are often unpaved, so driving might be challenging. It is best to always check conditions before heading out. 

Public buses are also cheap and convenient, especially on New Providence Island. 

Traveling between islands is possible by air or sea as well. Domestic airlines, such as the national carrier BahamasAir, operate flights between the islands, so flying may save you time.

On the other hand, if you want a bit more adventure, you can go by sea. After all, many islands are only accessible by boat or ferry anyway. 

Emerald water idyllic beach at Nassau, The Bahamas in a sunny day.
iStock.com/poladamonte

In Puerto Rico, driving around in a rental car is your best bet. That’ll let you explore and experience the beautiful scenery, cities & forests at your own pace.

However taxis and rideshares are available and useful if you’re not venturing too far from San Juan.

Public transport in Puerto Rico is not that great, though. The San Juan metropolitan area is well served by buses, but their routes and timings are not always consistent or reliable. 

Puerto Rico forest hills
iStock.com/dennisvdw

Which Has The Better Beaches?

Now how do we compare the beaches of two beautiful Caribbean island destinations? It’s a tough ask!

So let’s just stack both up against each other, check out what both have to offer, and see who fares better.

Although spoiler alert, if your main priority are gorgeous beaches, then the Bahamas will likely be the best choice for you as we’ll explain below.

Pink sand, crystal clear water, tender surf, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
iStock.com/eyfoto

Bahamas: The Beaches

The beaches in the Bahamas are some of the most beautiful in the world, and are known for their colorful coral reefs, turquoise waters, and white or pink sand. Yes, pink sand!

The Pink Sand Beach lies at Harbor Island on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean. This unique sandy beach gets its pink color from foraminifera, a type of microscopic coral insect that has bright pink or red shells. Just imagine the photos you’ll get to take!

Of course the Bahamas is not short on white sand beaches either, and you can find some of the best beaches on the planet throughout this nation.

Coco Plum Beach in the northeast of Great Exuma is a popular one which is also known for great shell collecting during low tides. But if you prefer a more lively atmosphere, go for Cable Beach, located on New Providence Island. 

For a more secluded and quieter location, Gold Rock Beach on Grand Bahama Island is ideal. This sandy beach has crystal-clear water that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

But probably the most famous beach in the Bahamas is Pig Beach. There you’ll find a population of pigs swimming in the waters on Exuma’s Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island.

No one quite knows how the pigs got there. Still they have become a popular tourist attraction, and make for some fun and memorable vacation photos! 

All in all, the Bahamas is full of world-class beaches which are arguably more beautiful than the ones on Puerto Rico. However, with the Bahamas being such a big tourist destination, the popular beaches can be very busy and developed. So that’s worth keeping in mind.

Pigs swimming in the sea in Exuma
iStock.com/shalamov

Puerto Rico: The Beaches

Puerto Rico has a beach for every mood, be it romantic and private, serene and secluded, or lively and party-central.

For both lovebirds and family holidaymakers, Flamenco, Playa Buye, and Sun Bay are popular beaches, with their crystal-clear waters and white sands. Take a stroll along the shore, have an afternoon picnic, or just watch the sun go down over the horizon.

While adventure lovers will find beaches like Tortuga, Domes, and Poza Del Obispo great to indulge in a number of sports. At those beaches you can go hiking, surfing, and even diving or snorkeling to discover all kinds of amazing underwater marine life.

But in general, the beaches in Puerto Rico are less tourist orientated. Some feel rugged and wild, and you’ll certainly find less all-inclusive beach resorts on the island compared to the Bahamas. But that’s all part of Puerto Rico’s charm.

Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
iStock.com/Javier_Art_Photography

Which Is Best For Diving & Snorkeling? 

Which has the best diving spots partly depends on the level of the diver and the kind of marine life they want to see.

Ultimately, both destinations are popular among divers and offer unique and diverse diving and snorkeling experiences.

However the Bahamas may just be the better destination due to its famous shark diving, the gorgeous Andros Barrier Reef, and the fact it has many more places to dive and snorkel than Puerto Rico. 

Amazing views of Rose Island Bahamas Beach
iStock.com/Jackson Roberts

Bahamas: Diving & Snorkeling

Fancy swimming with some sharks? Then add Tiger Beach to your itinerary.

Located some 20 miles off the West Coast of Grand Bahama Island is the exact spot where you can scuba-dive and meet with several species of shark. Tiger Beach is one of the few places in the world where you can actually do this (with a reputably company of course).

While you might need a diving or open water certification (check with the diving company beforehand), this experience is nonetheless exhilarating!

Another popular spot is Compass Cay, a private island in the Outer Exumas. Here you can mingle with nurse sharks, a calm shark species that are beautiful to watch when gliding around under the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas. 

The Bahamas is also home to some stunning underwater cave systems, such as the Thundervall Grotto, situated west of Staniel Cay. This cave system is popular for diving, snorkeling, and wading. A visit will give you the opportunity to explore the undersea ecosystem and see a variety of marine life. 

Other popular diving spots that offer sights of the amazing undersea topography, coral reefs, and marine life are the Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole near Andros Island, Shark Wall, a diving spot near New Providence Island for all kinds of sharks, and Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a protected area and a great diving spot.

girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool.
iStock.com/Bicho_Raro

Puerto Rico: Diving & Snorkeling

Puerto Rico is all about beautiful beaches, clear waters, and rich marine life.

The coastal town of La Parguera offers a variety of diving spots to explore including many coral reefs, shipwrecks, and underwater caves. You can see a wide variety of marine life there such as sea turtles, barracudas, and plenty of tropical fish.

Similarly Mona Island, a marine reserve located west of Puerto Rico, also offers great diving spots. Divers can explore the island’s underwater caves and shipwrecks.

If you want to check out some of the best underwater cave systems though, head to El Portal, a dive spot on the west coast of Puerto Rico. This is a great spot for cave diving and cavern diving. Another place is Desecho Island, offering similar sights and activities along with wall diving.

Puerto Rico is also home to some sunken shipwrecks that are worth exploring. For example, El Morro, a dive site in San Juan, is home to the shipwreck of a former US Navy ship. It is an excellent spot for wreck-diving and night-diving.

Happy family - mother, kid in snorkeling mask dive underwater, explore tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool. Travel active lifestyle, beach adventure, swimming activity on summer holiday with child.
iStock.com/B Raro

Which Has Better Food?

Bahamas: Food

The cuisine of both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico are known for their use of fresh, local ingredients, seafood, and bold flavors.

Bahamian cuisine is influenced by a mix of different cultures, including African, Caribbean, and American, while Puerto Rican cuisine is a vibrant and flavorful blend of Spanish, African, and American influences.

Being an island nation, the Bahamas’ cuisine was always going to be seafood-centric. In particular the islanders are known for their use of conch, a type of sea snail.

Conch is a staple in many traditional dishes and is often used in salads, stews, and fritters. Other popular seafood dishes include grilled snapper and Bahamian-style fish chowder.

The national dish, known as “Bahamian Peas n Rice”, a simple dish made from peas, onions, and garlic served with steamed meats, is a must-have. 

Bahamian conch salad
iStock.com/shalamov

Puerto Rico: Food

Puerto Rican cuisine is known for its use of mild spices, seafood, and plantains. Plantains are a staple and are incorporated into many dishes, such as the popular Tostones (deep-fried plantain), Mofongo (plantains with seafood or meat), and the national dish Arroz Con Gandules, an aromatic rice meal.

As in the Bahamas, seafood is also featured dominantly in Puerto Rican cuisine. Dishes like Bacalaitos (cod fritters), Empanadillas (seafood stuffed pastries) and Ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice) are quite popular. 

Other than these traditional dishes, a wide variety of international cuisine can also be found in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, since both are big tourist destinations.

Colorful image of city centre of San Juan with large Puerto Rican flag above the street. Blue and pink buildings in the street. Sunny day. Red and white stripes, white star and blue colored national flag of Puerto Rico.
iStock.com/Napa74

Which Has Better Instagrammable Spots?                   

From pink sand beaches and undersea sculptures, to rainforests and cobblestone streets, there’s plenty to see and capture in both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.  

The best memoirs of any vacation are the photos you take – and post on Instagram of course!. So which destination has more unique and picturesque spots for the ‘gram? Well, with swimming pigs and the world’s best beaches, the Bahamas seems the obvious choice, but Puerto Rico has rainforest and bioluminescence!

However, so you can make up your own mind, here’s some of the best places to take photos in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

Rainforest view in Puerto Rico
iStock.com/demerzerl21

The Bahamas  

The capital city of Nassau offers a mix of colonial-era architecture and colorful buildings, such as the famous pink-hued Government House.

But speaking of pink hues, the Pink Sand Beach we mentioned before is a pretty Instagrammable spot!

Back to the capital and The Queen’s Staircase, a major landmark in Nassau, is another unique attraction for photography. Also known as the 66 steps, the staircase is made from solid limestone rock. 

Another one is the Glass Window Bridge, a 30-foot wide strip of rocky ‘road’ that connects the North Island to the South Island. At this place, you can actually see the separation of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bight of Eleuthera on either side of the road. It’s a breathtaking sight!

Sunken underwater wreckages and sculptures are popular dive sites and photography targets too. In the Bahamas, there are a few great sites like this in particular.

In particular, the Pablo Escobar Plane Wreck Dive Site is the perfect place to get your viral Instagram shot. The wreckage is actually the plane of famous criminal kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Then there is Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater sculpture. Located just off the coast of Nassau, the sculpture was made to encourage local coral growth. 

Another stunning and famous underwater sculpture in the Bahamas is The Musician. This is a mermaid and piano sculpture ‘hidden’ undersea in Rudder Cut Cay for snorkelers and divers to discover. The piano even plays soft classical music! 

And of course for those who don’t want to venture too far under the sea, the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas will always be a popular pic.

A woman paddleboarding around the wreckage of a plane that landed in the water off of Norman's Cay in 1980.
iStock.com/Spend Life Traveling

Puerto Rico 

Puerto Rico has its fair share of beautiful photography spots and places too.

For example, the historic city of Old San Juan is full of old-world charm. It features Spanish colonial architecture and colorful buildings lining cobblestone streets – ideal for some great photos.

The historic city of Ponce also has many sights to capture on your camera. Known as the Pearl of the South, Ponce has a mix of colonial-era architecture and monuments.

Then there’s Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, a Spanish fort perched on a cliffside, which offers some stunning views of the surrounding areas.

Or head to the picturesque Fortaleza Street, a historic street shaded with many colorful floating umbrellas – a treat for Instagrammers!

On top of that, nature photographers will absolutely love a trip to the El Yunque National Forest. This tropical rainforest has tons of hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, and natural pools. The lush scenery is a treat for the eyes!

Lastly, the famous bioluminescent bays of Mosquito Bay (the brightest and best known), Laguna Grande, and La Parguera are really out of this world. The characteristic blue hues there are made by organisms known as phytoplankton that create a bright blue and glittering effect in the waters at night. This scientific phenomenon is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for photographers!

Bioluminescence in water
iStock.com/RugliG

Which Is Better For A Honeymoon?

Couples who prefer a relaxing and luxurious vibe should pick the Bahamas for their honeymoon.

With beautiful white sand beaches and extravagant all-inclusive resorts, the Bahamas is understandably a popular honeymoon destination. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, such as swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Puerto Rico offers long stretches of white sandy beaches, including some secluded spots, as well. But it’s a little more rough and ready than the Bahamas, and is probably better suited to more adventurous couples.

Water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving, and activities like hiking and zip lining makes Puerto Rico a good destination for those who want a fun and active honeymoon. 

Ultimately, the choice between both destinations depends on your preferences. For a more traditional honeymoon, the Bahamas would be better, while for a more active experience, Puerto Rico may be the better choice. 

Happy, young couple in white summer clothes enjoying their vacation on a tropical beach
iStock.com/SHansche

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Bahamas

Budget: Pineapple Fields Resort Eleuthera is worth checking out if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway that still has fun activities like parasailing or jet skiing on your doorstep.

Located on the stunning Eleuthera Island, there’s an outdoor pool here, free WiFi and the beach is just a a short walk away. Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is a short distance from Pineapple Fields, and Governor’s Harbour is just 4 kilometres away too. And all of that at a budget Bahamas price. See photos and rates!

Luxury: The gorgeous French Leave Resort has all the facilities you’d want and world-class service, but it’s the stunning sea views and outdoor infinity pool that really makes this resort worth staying at.

Located directly on a pristine beach, you’ll be treated to some of the best sunsets in the Bahamas when staying here. It’s luxury and romantic all rolled into one. See photos and rates!

Happy couple in infinity pool
iStock.com/grinvalds

Puerto Rico

Budget: Situated on 35 acres of land, including 5 kilometers of pristine and secluded beaches, Villa Montaña Beach Resort is located in the northwest of Puerto Rico and is fantastic value of money considering what you get.

The resort features two swimming pools, one restaurant, and a spa service. Activities like diving, surfing, and snorkeling are available to guests during their stay too. See photos and rates here!

Luxury: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a luxurious beachfront resort that features an on-site golf course, a fitness center, and excellent views across the azure Caribbean Sea.

The rooms are gorgeous and some even feature an en-suite plunge pool and stunning ocean views. The property also has four on-site restaurants and a luxurious on-site spa. It’s an incredible place to stay. See photos and rates here!

Couple enjoying beach vacation holidays at tropical resort with swimming pool and coconut palm trees near the coast with beautiful landscape at sunset, honeymoon destination
iStock.com/NicoElNino

Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?

So which Caribbean island is better for a family vacation? The correct answer is…both! Beaches, scenery, warm weather, adventure activities, food, and culture – you name it – all are available in both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

So how do you choose between the two? Consider your family’s preferences. Are you looking to relax by the beach or indulge in an adventure-filled outing? Do you have young children or teenagers? 

In Puerto Rico, you will have lovely beaches, great food, and plenty of activities and water sports. It’s probably more suited for active kids though, and happens to be more affordable for families too.

Places like the Toro Verde Adventure Park are excellent for families too, as are other attractions like the blue-hued bioluminescent bays, hiking in El Yunque National Forest, horseback riding, and zip lining.

In contrast, the Bahamas tends to be a bit more expensive for a family vacation, although you will still find a ton of things to do and there’s many resorts that have dedicated kids clubs – that’s especially good if you have younger children.

The Bahamas also has more beaches and beautiful islands to explore, such as Blue Lagoon Island, where you can see dolphins and sea lions.

A family walks hand in hand down a tropical paradise beach during sunset
iStock.com/SHansche

Which Is Cheaper?  

Simply put, the Bahamas tends to be more expensive than Puerto Rico. The Bahamas is a small island nation, so the cost of goods and services is higher. Plus as it’s very popular with tourists, that has also driven costs up.

You can also more easily find a range of affordable accommodation options in Puerto Rico. In contrast, in the Bahamas you’ll find that all-inclusive resorts are the norm. 

Another factor is the time of the year you’re traveling in. If you’re visiting between June to November, you’ll find most places have reduced prices, especially in the Bahamas.

A tourist woman in a white summer dress and holding a drink walks along a tropical beach with turquoise sea and palm trees
iStock.com/SHansche

Which Has Better Weather?

With both the Bahamas and Puerto being typical island destinations in the Caribbean, you can expect tropical weather that ranges between warm and hot. 

December to April in the Bahamas is the ideal time to visit. There are fewer showers of rain than usual and the weather is beach-perfect. This is the best time for those living in colder countries to plan a winter escape.  

The same December-April period is ideal for a getaway in Puerto Rico too. The only catch is that these months are peak tourism season.

It’s important to note that the Caribbean region experiences hurricanes. So if you’re planning to go between June and November – which is hurricane season – make sure you are aware of contingency measures at your accommodation and look out for storm warnings. 

Swimming pigs of Exumas
iStock.com/shalamov

Bahamas vs Puerto Rico: Which Is The Better Choice?

Ultimately the choice between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico depends on what kind of vacation you’re looking for and what you want to experience.

If you like beautiful beaches, luxury hotels, and amusement parks, the Bahamas will be perfect for you. But if you want a more diverse experience with a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, then Puerto Rico should be your next holiday destination. 

On top of that, for a more budget-friendly vacation, Puerto Rico will be best. But for a more luxurious experience, then the Bahamas will be hard to beat. 

Whichever island destination you choose, you’re sure to make tons of memories. Have fun!

Author

  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.