What’s a Better Tropical Vacation – Puerto Rico or Hawaii

If you’re in the mood for a tropical getaway, few destinations can rival the allure of Puerto Rico and Hawaii. These two stunning locations offer abundant natural beauty, vibrant culture, and exciting activities catering to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re a beach lover, an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or a foodie, both Puerto Rico and Hawaii have something unique to offer. But which one is the better choice for your dream vacation? Let’s dive into the details and compare these two paradises to help you decide.

Update about the Maui Fires: At Coleman Concierge, we believe that tourism has the power to do good when applied correctly. That’s why we considered the pros and cons with the release of this article and checked with local authorities about the situation on the ground.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority posted this on the latest (Aug 21, 2023) Maui Tourism Update – “‘No one can travel to West Maui right now. We will share when that is possible again. Only returning residents and authorized emergency relief workers should come here now. But all of the other areas of Maui… and the rest of Hawaiʻi are safe,’ Governor Green said. ‘When you come, you will support our local economy and help speed the recovery of the people that are suffering right now.’” Based on the official update, we believe responsible tourism is a way to provide much-needed support to the recovery effort in Maui.

The Islands

Hawaii - vector map
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island (Hawaii Island), Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Each island has its distinct character, offering travelers a diverse range of experiences. Oahu is known for its bustling city life, historic sites like Pearl Harbor, and the famous Waikiki Beach. Maui boasts stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and the picturesque Road to Hana. Kauai is an adventurer’s paradise with its rugged landscapes and the stunning Waimea Canyon. The Big Island impresses with its active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and astronomy centers.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico is a single Caribbean island that offers a rich blend of Spanish, African, and Taíno cultures. The island is divided into several regions, each with its unique charm. San Juan, the capital, showcases its colonial past with historical forts and architecture. The west coast is famous for its surfing spots, while the east coast offers calmer waters and beautiful beaches. The central mountains provide hiking and eco-tourism opportunities, while the south offers vibrant nightlife and music.


Puerto Rico cruise port
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Accessibility plays a crucial role in planning any vacation. For most travelers, getting to Hawaii involves a long-haul flight, especially if you’re coming from the continental United States or Europe. However, once you arrive, you can easily hop between the Hawaiian islands through short domestic flights or ferries.

In contrast, Puerto Rico is more accessible for travelers coming from the mainland United States. Since it’s a U.S. territory, flights from the mainland are considered domestic, resulting in shorter travel times and often more affordable airfare. Additionally, Puerto Rico is closer to the Caribbean region, making it a preferred destination for Caribbean cruises.

Cost Considerations

Aerial of Ala Wai Boat Harbor Hawaii
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Vacation expenses can make or break your plans. Generally, Hawaii tends to be more expensive than Puerto Rico in terms of accommodation, dining, and activities. The cost of living in Hawaii is high due to its isolated location, reliance on imports, and strong tourist demand. On the other hand, Puerto Rico offers more affordable options, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious travelers.

Climate and Weather

El Conquistador Resort Fajardo Puerto Rico-92
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii enjoy pleasant tropical climates year-round, making them ideal destinations for sun-seekers. However, there are some differences to consider. Hawaii’s weather can vary significantly between its different islands due to their unique topography. For instance, the island’s eastern (windward) sides receive more rainfall, while the western (leeward) sides are drier. The summer months tend to be warmer, while winters can bring rain and cooler temperatures.

In Puerto Rico, the weather is generally more consistent throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C). The island does experience a rainy season from April to November, but this shouldn’t deter you from planning your visit, as rain showers are typically short-lived.

Beaches and Natural Beauty

Hawaiian Beach
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When it comes to beaches, both destinations offer stunning coastal landscapes and crystal-clear waters. Hawaii’s beaches are renowned for their beauty and diversity. From the iconic Waikiki Beach to the dramatic Na Pali Coast of Kauai, there’s a beach for every preference.

Similarly, Puerto Rico boasts an array of breathtaking beaches, from the bustling beaches of Isla Verde in San Juan to the secluded shores of Flamenco Beach in Culebra. Puerto Rico also offers unique bioluminescent bays, where the water glows with an otherworldly blue light, creating an unforgettable experience.

Activities and Adventure

Man kitesurfing
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If you’re seeking adventure, both Puerto Rico and Hawaii have you covered. Hawaii is synonymous with surfing, and avid surfers flock to the islands to catch some of the best waves in the world. Hawaii is also a haven for hikers, with its many trails offering jaw-dropping views of lush valleys and volcanic landscapes.

Puerto Rico offers its fair share of thrilling activities too. You can explore El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, with hiking trails leading to cascading waterfalls. For water sports enthusiasts, Puerto Rico provides excellent snorkeling, diving, and even kitesurfing opportunities.

Cultural Experience and History

Three Strong Men Juggling Fire in Hawaii - Fire Dancers
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Hawaii and Puerto Rico both have rich cultural histories, evident in their traditions, arts, and cuisines. Hawaii’s indigenous Hawaiian culture is deeply rooted in the islands, and you can experience it through hula performances, luaus, and visits to historic sites.

As a U.S. territory with a colonial past, Puerto Rico offers a blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences. Old San Juan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautifully preserved architecture dating back to the 16th century. The island’s music, dance, and festivals provide a lively and vibrant cultural experience.


El Conquistador Resort Fajardo Puerto Rico-97
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Ultimately, the choice between Puerto Rico and Hawaii depends on what you’re looking for in your tropical vacation. Hawaii’s diverse landscapes, unique island experiences, and rich Polynesian culture make it an exceptional destination for those willing to venture further and spend a bit more.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico’s accessibility, affordability, and blend of cultures offer an equally captivating experience for travelers seeking a taste of the Caribbean with a touch of American influence. Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed to make unforgettable memories in these tropical paradises.

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El Conquistador Hotel Pool
Photo Credit: El Conquistador Hotel.

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Couple on Sunny Beach
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Anse Lazio beach at Praslin island, Seychelles
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Before going on any trip, it’s a good idea to check the travel advisories for your intended destination and schedule to receive updates, as conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time.

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