St Thomas or Puerto Rico: Which is Best for a Vacation?

Want to enjoy a vacation in the Caribbean? Yes, it could be confusing to choose where to go. Especially between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. 

There are so many things to do in both places it’s just confusing. Don’t worry if you are confused. We’re here to help you figure out your vacation destination. 

So, which is actually better, St. Thomas or Puerto Rico? 

St. Thomas is better for beaches and duty-free shopping, while Puerto Rico offers more in terms of history and culture. Both locations have natural attractions, but El Yunque National Forest is unique to Puerto Rico. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking to get out of your vacation.

Let’s dive in. 

Quick Comparison

Comparing Puerto Rico and St. Thomas is like comparing gulf shores and panama city beach.

Let’s have a look at the key differences at a glance. Note that the mentioned factors are based on solo traveling. You can have an estimation of couple and family traveling costs from the solo traveling costs.

But going as a couple or a group may reduce lodging and transportation costs. 

ParametersPuerto RicoSt. Thomas
Average cost of a 7 Day on a Budget Trip$886-$1,955$1,359-$3,968
Accommodation Per Night(2-3 star hotels)$57 to $76$95 to $175
Flight (Economy)$313 to $780$411 to $850
Transportation$33 to $71$54 to $160
Food (per day)$31$43
Activities Hiking, Kayaking, Ziplining, Mountain biking, Surfing, ATV riding, Snorkeling, site seeingPaddle boating, Kayaking, Scuba diving, site seeing, snorkeling, ziplining
AttractionsOld San Juan, El Yunque rainforest, Culebra Island, Bioluminescent Bay, Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, ST. John Ferry,Coral World

You can easily get an idea regarding both the places from this. Now let’s jump into the detailed head-to-head analysis. 


The flight expense and the duration of the flight depend on where you’re departing from.

The average economy flight cost to arrive in Puerto Rico will be around $313 to $780.Flight cost to St. Thomas is a  bit more expensive. To arrive at St. Thomas you’re gonna have to spend on average $411 to $850. 

All international flights arrive at San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. The most common Airlines to travel there are JetBlue, Spirit, and American Airlines.

Here we look at flight durations from different locations in the U.S

  • New York to San Juan: 3h 44m
  • Dallas to San Juan: 5h 10 minutes
  • Los Angeles to San Juan: 8hours 10m

Now for St. Thomas, the most frequent airlines are American Airlines, Spirit, and United Airlines. 

Here we look at flight durations from different locations in the U.S

  • New York to St. Thomas: 4h 1m
  • Dallas to St. Thomas: 5h 41m
  • Los Angeles to St. Thomas: 9h 17m 


The cost of accommodation depends on where you’re lodging. 

Let’s have a look.

Puerto Rico

The cost of accommodation in Puerto Rico is about $57 to $76 per night. It is on average in 2-3 star hotels. 

A more budget-friendly option will cost you around  $40 to $45 for 1-star hotels. And for a luxury stay at 4-5 star hotels, it’s around $102 to $205 per night.  

Here is the list of some places to stay in Puerto Rico:

Luxury HotelsMid-range hotels/hostelsBudget Hotels/hostels
Hotel Riu Vistamar Riosol HotelConturce Hostel
Apartamentos EdénServatur Terrazamar Suite & Sun SuiteHostel H1 Miramar
Hotel AltamadoresMarina EliteHotel Nuevo Méjico

St. Thomas

On the other hand, the cost of accommodation in St. Thomas is a little more expensive.

Here the approximate cost for 2-3 star hotels is $95 to $175 per night. For 1-star hotels, it’s $78 to $88 per night. And for luxury 4-5 star hotels, it’s $200 to $402 per night. 

Here is the list of some places to stay in

Luxury Hotels Mid-Range HotelsBudget Hotels
Two Sandals – A Boutique HotelWindward Passage HotelMidtown Guest House
Secret Harbor Beach ResortLindbergh Bay Hotel and VillasGalleon House Hotel
Marriott’s Frenchman’s CoveHilltop Villas at Bluebeard’s Castle by Capital VacationsSunset Gardens Guesthouse

Do You Want a Guide?

It’s recommended to have a guide if you are site seeing. There are many natural and historical sites in both places. A good tour guide can make your tour even more enjoyable. 

Puerto Rico

The average cost of a guide in Puerto Rico per hour is $11.42. Plus you have to tip them. So, it’s quite expensive. Hence, make sure to choose a worthy guide. 

Most Travel Agencies will provide tour guides. But Rafael of Pr4less Tours Adventure is one of the best tour guides there. Travelers from across the world praise him for his helpful nature. That goes beyond tour guiding. 

St. Thomas

Tour guides in St. Thomas are a little more expensive than in Puerto Rico.

St. Thomas CarribaConnect has a good name. They’ll charge you $750 for 6 hours for up to 10  people per vehicle. You need to pay an additional $75 for every additional passenger. 

Do You Want to Take the Charge of Your Whole Trip?

In case you don’t want a guide here are our recommendations. You can take charge of your trip if you go through it. 

So, let’s have a look. 


You’ll not be disappointed with the food in both places. 

Both the places offer cheap to expensive food. And there are some foods you must try in both places. 

Puerto Rico

The estimated average cost of meals in Puerto Rico is $31. Lunch in Puerto Rico should cost roughly $12 per person while dining out.

Here are some of the most popular food items in Puerto Rico:

  • Tostones
  • Arroz Con Gandules
  • Alcapurrias
  • Empanadillas
  • Mofongo
  • Pernil

St. Thomas

The approximate cost of meals in St. Thomas is $43 per day.  Lunch in Saint Thomas should cost roughly $17 per person while dining out. 

Here are some of the most popular food items in St. Thomas:

  • Fungi
  • Johnny Cakes
  • Bull Foot Soup
  • Kallaloo Soup
  • Pate
  • Conch
  • Lobster


Fortunately, you’ll find a lot of transportation for traveling in both places. 

You can choose the type of transportation that you find comfortable. And depending on that your transportation cost will incur. 

Puerto Rico

The average cost of transportation in Puerto Rico is $33 to $71 per day. But that depends on your mode of travel. 

Source: edition.cnn

Car Rental could be the most convenient method to enjoy the island at your pleasure. companies including Avis, Enterprise, and Budget operate there.

You may be able to call a cab. But that depends on your location. The majority of cabs don’t take credit cards. Hence you should carry enough cash with you.

If you’re traveling inside the San Juan metro area, public buses are another option. Public buses travel along well-traveled routes across the city and nearby areas.

Besides you can catch a ferry or a boat to travel in the water bodies. 

St. Thomas

The average cost of transportation in St. Thomas is $54 to $160 per day. But that depends on your mode of travel. 

Source: travelawaits

Rental cars are a good option here too. You’ll find car rental services near Cyril E. King Airport. SUV, Compact, minivan, full-size, jeep are common rental cars in St. Thomas.

The “dollar ride” is a public transportation/taxi hybrid. It’s used to move about St. Thomas. The $1 trip is a popular option for islanders who want to use public transportation.

VITRAN is the name of the Virgin Islands public transportation system in St. Thomas. The bus ticket is $1. 

Besides you can catch a ferry or a boat to travel in the water bodies in St. Thomas too.


You’ll get tons of activities in both places. 

One thing is certain you’ll not be bored in either of the places. 


You’ll get to experience some fun things in both places. 

You can experience many outdoor activities in Puerto Rico.  Such as camping, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, snorkeling, ziplining, cave exploration, etc.

Similarly, St. Thomas also offers such activities. Such as Paddle boating, Kayaking, Scuba diving, site seeing, snorkeling, ziplining, etc. 

Places to Go

Both the places are natural paradises. You can quench your thirst for nature if you travel to any of these. 

There are so many places to visit in Puerto Rico. From serene beaches to forest hikes. From historical sites to the cave heights. You’ll get everything here. 

Notable beaches here are Bioluminescent Bay, Flamenco beach, Luquillo Beach, etc. History enthusiasts can enjoy Old San Juan, Ponce’s Historic City Center, and El Morro Fort. You can visit Culebra and Cayo Icacos Island. Take a peek at the Rio Camuy Caves. 

And many more! There’s just so much to do here. 

Likewise, St. Thomas also hosts numerous visiting places. You can enjoy beaches like Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, and Honeymoon Beach. Visit historical Thomas Synagogue, Mountain Top, and Blackbeard’s Castle. 

You won’t find canyons like Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon here. But the serene natural beauty makes up for it. 

You can also visit ST. John Ferry, Coral World, Ocean Park, and Paradise Point. 

In short, you’ll have plenty of places to visit in both the Islands. 


After you’ve finished wandering about in the daytime you would also want good nightlife. 

The nightlife throughout Puerto Rico is very energetic. But San Juan is exceptionally energetic and joyful every week of the year. Singing, dancing, and chilling is just a regular thing every night. You can enjoy the most unique Bioluminescent Bay at night. 

And of course, you can also enjoy groovy bars, nightclubs and at night too! 

Similarly, Nightlife is very lively in St. Thomas as well. You can enjoy music, dance, nightclubs, and casinos here too!

Final Verdict 

The final decision really depends on your taste. Unlike choosing between routes like 101 and 5 for LA to San Francisco, choosing an island for your perfect getaway is much tougher.

You’ll get to take in a whole range of activities in both places. But Puerto Rico offers different kinds of adventure on different terrains. 

St. Thomas also offers a lot of places to visit. Like beaches, mountain tops, and historical sites. Much like Puerto Rico. 

But most considerably you should consider the cost of both the places. You’ll find Puerto Rico a little cheaper in terms of food, accommodation, transportation, etc. 


Is Puerto Rico bigger than St. Thomas?

Yes, Puerto Rico is bigger than St. Thomas. The Virgin Islands cover an area of around 1,910 square kilometers. Puerto Rico covers an area of approximately 9,104 square kilometers. This makes Puerto Rico 377 percent larger than the Virgin Islands. The population of Puerto Rico is also larger. 

Do you need a passport to enter Puerto Rico or St. Thomas?

Yes, you need a passport to enter Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Except you don’t need a passport if you are a United States citizen or a permanent resident. Apart from this exception, you’ll need a passport to visit these two places. Both the Islands are administered by the United States.

Is it allowed to drink on the beaches of Puerto Rico? 

Yes, it is permitted to drink on the beaches of Puerto Rico. You can carry your own cooler with drinks. You can enjoy the serenity of the beach with a cold sip of your beer. No one will bother you. But make sure you are sober. If you get too drunk and cause trouble you could be sent home. 


Hopefully by now you can decide between St Thomas or Puerto Rico. 

A bonus tip for you is that you should carry a first aid kit with you while traveling. 

That’ll be all from our side. Hope you enjoy your vacation!

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