Not sure whether to vacation in Puerto Rico or Cancun? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Puerto Rico is an island that’s 3,425 square miles long, whereas Cancun is a city in Mexico that’s 13 miles long.

To put it briefly, Puerto Rico is an ideal destination for those seeking an adventure that would like to explore national parks, historic sites, kayak in bioluminescent bays, and more.

Cancun, on the other hand, is best suited for party-goers looking to relax on the beach, enjoy authentic Mexican food, visit ancient Mayan ruins, and participate in their festive nightlife scene.

But, which is the best spot for a vacation?

Keep reading to find out the key differences between Puerto Rico and Cancun so that you can decide where to go for your next trip! 

We’ll cover the cost, climate, cuisine, nightlife, safety, and more. 

Puerto Rico vs Cancun: A Brief Overview


Puerto Rico



Mountainous terrain with white-sandy beaches, caves, rain forests, and deserts

Long white-sanded beaches with coral reefs 


A week’s trip for two costs an average of $3,048.

A week’s trip for two in Cancun costs an average of $2,024.


The average temperature ranges from 72°F to 88°F. 

The average temperature ranges from 75°F to 85°F.


Traditional Puerto Rican food (mofongo, arroz con dulce, fried plantains, coconut pudding) and fresh seafood

Authentic Mexican food (tamales, shrimp ceviche, tacos al pastor) and fine-dining seafood

Tourist Attractions

Bioluminescent Bay, Old San Juan, El Yunque National Forest, San Juan National Historic Site

Dolphin Beach, Chickén Itzá Mayan Ruins, Xcaret Theme Park, Turtle Beach


Lively nightclubs and street parties along Old San Juan 

Very lively nightclubs and fiestas

puerto rico
Photo by: Zixi Zhou

Puerto Rico At A Glance

Puerto Rico is a vibrant and beautiful Caribbean island that is full of history, culture, and natural beauty. 

Puerto Rico boasts a warm tropical climate year-round, with temperatures ranging from 72°F to 89°F throughout the year.

The landscape of Puerto Rico is diverse, offering everything from pristine beaches, to lush rainforests and stunning mountain ranges. 

You can stay in the capital city of San Juan and have access to plenty of beautiful beaches, historical sites, rainforests, museums, and more. 

If you’re looking for an adventure, you can book a rainforest tour at El Yunque National Forest, which is an emerald-green rainforest that features waterfalls and mossy cliffs. 

If you’d like to get a glimpse into Puerto Rico’s rich cultural history, head over to San Juan’s historical site to view historical landmarks including the San Juan gate, San Felipe del Morro castle, and Castillo San Cristobal.

You’ll only have to pay $10 admission for every person over 16, and children under 16 can enter for free. 

San Juan Historical Site
Photo by: Stephanie Klepacki

San Juan is home to many beautiful beaches like El Escambron. However, the best beaches are located on the East side of Puerto Rico, in Culebra.

If you’re looking to relax on a white-sandy beach, Flamenco Beach is one of the most popular picturesque beaches on the island.

While you’re staying in Culebra, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go snorkeling, diving, and swimming. One spot you won’t want to miss is Tamarindo beach where you’ll be able to snorkel with sea turtles. 

If you’re looking to get the full experience of Puerto Rico, visiting the island of Vieques is a must. You can take a 30-minute flight from San Juan to Vieques in a small plane to stay there for the day. 

In Vieques, you can go horseback riding, snorkel with turtles, or go kayaking at night to view the magnificent bioluminescent bay! 

There are also historical sites, wildlife refuges, beautiful beaches, ice cream shops, and wild horses on the island so it’s the perfect place to spend a day. 

The cuisine of Puerto Rico is a unique blend of Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican cuisine. Puerto Rico is known for their fried plantains, and coconut pudding (tembleque). 

Similar to Cancun, Puerto Rico has an extremely vibrant nightlife. Puerto Rico is known for having a lively nightlife district in Old San Juan.

If you’re looking for a fun night out, there are nightclubs, rooftop lounges, and even street parties on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.

Overall, Puerto Rico offers an incredible destination with something for everyone, from adventure seekers to those looking for a luxurious and relaxing getaway in the heart of the Caribbean.

Puerto rico
Photo by: Rafael Lopez


Like Cancun, Puerto Rico has many beautiful beaches and opportunities for snorkeling and water activities.

One of their most stunning beaches is Flamenco Beach, located in Culebra. It has white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters making it perfect for swimming.

In the capital of San Juan, Escambron and Candado Beach are two popular beaches that are great for swimming as well.

Top Tourist Attractions In Puerto Rico

  • Old San Juan
  • Castillo San Cristobal
  • Guajataca Tunnel
  • Cueva del Indio (Caves)
  • El Yunque National Forest
  • Toro Verde Adventure Park
  • Bioluminescent Bay In Vieques
san juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo by: Molly Champion)


Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate throughout the year, and the average temperature ranges from 72°F to 88°F throughout the year. 


The official language of Puerto Rico is Spanish, which is spoken by the majority of the population. However, roughly half of the population speaks English as well. 


Since Puerto Rico is considered a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico uses the same currency as the mainland United States (USD).

Puerto Rican cuisine

Puerto Rican cuisine can be thought of as a blend of Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican cuisine. 

Some of the most popular dishes you must try if you visit are empanadas, fried plantains, mashed plantains (mofongo), and pasteles.

Pasteles are a similar dish to tamales but they’re made out of a plantain and taro root dough, rather than corn flour.

They’re stuffed with chicken or pork and wrapped in banana leaves so anyone who loves tamales will enjoy them.

For dessert, make sure to try “Tembleque”, a delicious coconut pudding, or fried sweet plantains (amarillos).

Puerto Rico’s Nightlife

Puerto Rico has a very lively and festive nightlife scene, especially on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.

You’ll find street parties, rooftop lounges, bars, and some of the best nightclubs in Old San Juan. 

Here are some of the best events and nightclubs to attend in Puerto Rico. 

  • La Placita de Santurce
  • Brava Nightclub
  • Club Kronos
  • Oceano
  • Mist Rooftop Bar + Kitchen
  • Level Rooftop
  • Di Zucchero


Both Puerto Rico and Cancun are generally very safe for travelers. Puerto Rico is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and Cancun is one of the safest cities in Mexico.

But, always take the right steps to protect yourself and your belongings. 

Photo by: Carlos Huchim

Cancun At A Glance

Cancun is a city that’s located in Southeast Mexico in the Caribbean Sea. Unlike Puerto Rico which is an island, Cancun is only 13 miles long.

Cancun has a tropical climate and is known for its white-sand beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, luxurious resorts, and lively nightlife.

If you’re looking to relax on the beach, Playa Delfines or “Dolphin Beach” is one of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun.

It has picture-perfect powdery white sand beaches and clear, turquoise waters making it great for swimming. 

If you’re seeking an adventure, you can explore four different ancient Mayan ruins (San Miguelito, El Rey, El Meco, Yamil Lu’um). These ruins are located in the Hotel Zone of Cancun so you can access them relatively easily by taking a taxi. 

A place you won’t want to miss when visiting Cancun is Isla Mujeres, a small island located about 13km from the coast of Cancun.

In Isla Mujeres, you’ll get the chance to snorkel, scuba dive, and even swim with whale sharks!  

If you have young ones, Cancun has plenty of kid-friendly amusement parks, water parks, and museums. 

If you love authentic Mexican food, Cancun is the vacation spot for you. You’ll be able to try some of the best empanadas, tamales, tacos al pastor, and shrimp ceviche you’ve ever had.

There is also a variety of fine-dining seafood restaurants alongside the shores.

If you’re looking to party, Cancun has one of the most lively nightlife scenes in the world.

The Coco Bongo Nightclub is a famous venue that features acrobats, live performances, and DJs every night starting at 11:30 PM, and it stays open til 3:30 AM the next morning!

All in all, Cancun is an excellent vacation spot for those looking to relax on the beach, stay at a luxurious resort, enjoy delicious food, and party all night.

Tourist Attractions In Cancun

The tourist attractions in Cancun include many archaeological sites, historical landmarks, and museums.

There are sailing trips to Isla Mujeres for those looking to snorkel with turtles and explore coral reefs.

Here are some of the most note-worthy tourist attractions worth visiting in Cancun.

  • Boat Tours To Isla Mujeres
  • Excursions to Cenotes And Mayan Ruins
  • Playa Delphines (Dolphin Beach)
  • Xcaret Park
  • Interactive aquarium Cancun
  • El rey Archaeological zone
  • Coco Bongo Nightclub
mayan ruins cancun
Photo by: Christina Abken


Cancun has a tropical climate with warm temperatures and slight humidity all year. The average temperature ranges between 75°F to 85°F.

Cancun has a wet season from May to October, with more frequent rainfall and the possibility of hurricanes. 


Similar to Puerto Rico, the primary language spoken in Cancun is Spanish. However, around 90% of the population speaks English as well. 


If you travel to Cancun, you’ll have to convert currency to the Mexican peso.

Although US Dollars are widely accepted around Cancun, you should convert dollars to pesos for taxis, tips, and for paying in downtown Cancun. 

Cancun Cuisine

If you love Mexican food, Cancun is the place for you. Cancun has tons of authentic Mexican restaurants, as well as fine-dining seafood restaurants located near the beach.

Shrimp ceviche, sopa de lima, tacos al pastor, and tamales s are all must-try authentic Mexican foods if you plan on visiting Cancun.

For dessert, make sure to try out an authentic vanilla concha or churro!

Cancun’s Nightlife

Cancun and Puerto Rico are both known for their exciting nightlife and club scenes.

Located along Kukulcan Boulevard in Cancun, you’ll find some of the hottest nightclubs including spots like Coco Bongo.

The Coco Bongo Nightclub’s is a popular nightclub that starts at 10:30PM and features acrobats, live performances, and DJ’s up to 2:30AM!  

Is Cancun safe?

Cancun is one of the most popular tourist spots in Mexico and it’s very safe for travellers. The safest areas in Cancun are in the Hotel Zone, and it is still relatively safe in the downtown areas. 

FAQs: Puerto Rico Vs Cancun

When’s the best time to visit each place?

The best time to visit both Puerto Rico and Cancun is from December to April, when the weather is dry and mild. However, this is the high season, so you can expect larger crowds.

If you’re looking for the cheapest prices, between August and November is when the hotel prices drop for flights. 

Is Puerto Rico or Cancun better for couples?

Puerto Rico and Cancun are both incredible vacation destinations for couples.

Although Cancun is much smaller than Puerto Rico, there are plenty of luxurious resorts, fine-dining options, and picturesque beaches to relax at.

Puerto Rico is better for couples going on a longer vacation trip since there’s a greater diversity of tourist attractions, are more areas to explore in general.

Is Puerto Rico or Cancun cheaper for vacation?

A week’s trip for two in Puerto costs an average of $3,048, whereas a week’s trip for two in Cancun costs an average of $2,024

Is Puerto Rico or Cancun more family-friendly?

Cancun is family-friendly and has theme parks, Captain Hook’s pirate dinner cruise, opportunities to swim with dolphins, and more.

Puerto Rico also offers plenty of activities for families including waterparks, ziplining, museums, snorkeling with turtles, and kayaking in the bioluminescent bay.

Our Final Thoughts: Which is better?

Puerto Rico and Cancun are two excellent vacation spots that have beautiful beaches, delicious food, and festive nightlife. 

Cancun is the best destination for those looking to relax on the beach, savor authentic Mexican cuisine, visit ancient Mayan ruins, and party in one of the most exciting nightlife scenes. 

Puerto Rico is the ideal vacation spot for those looking to explore national forests, visit magnificent historical sites, kayak in bioluminescent bays, or party on the streets of Old San Juan. 

Regardless of which place you choose, you’ll be left with incredible photos and memories.

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