Are you wondering which Caribbean island is better for a family vacation with kids? The answer is…both! The Bahamas and Puerto Rico both offer beaches, scenery, warm weather, adventure activities, food, and culture.
Both destinations offer plenty of activities and attractions for kids as well. So when comparing the Bahamas vs. Puerto Rico, how do you decide which one to choose?
There are many different islands, and each one is different in many ways. So, before you decide on an island for your family’s vacation, think about what your family prefers.
Take into account your children’s interests. Are you looking for something laid back or a full-on adventure? Are your kids younger or older? The answers to these questions will play a role in which is a better fit for your family.
Here’s a breakdown of what each destination has to offer families with kids:
- Best Time to Go
- Where to Stay
- Everything to See and Do: Can’t-Miss Experiences
- What to Eat
- Cost of Each Trip
Best Time to Go
Weather is an important factor when considering when to travel to either location. Hurricane season goes from June 1 to November 30 every year. This is a great time to visit Puerto Rico, as many tourists avoid the area during this time.
You can view up-to-date information on hurricane season at the National Hurricane Center website.
Fall is the best time to go to the Bahamas if you’re traveling with kids and on a budget. It’s right before the peak season, which is mid-December through mid-April.
During peak season, the weather is at its absolute best, but you’re also likely to see an increase in prices for hotel rooms and flights. The peak season is when the most regattas and celebrations take place, so this may be considered a pro for some families when planning their trip.
The Bahamas is known to have fairly consistent warm weather year-round. The trade winds help to keep the temperature mild, and it rarely gets too cold or hot.
The shoulder season in the Bahamas is mid-April to June, low season is July through November. During these months, you can catch great deals on flights and hotels, but the weather will be pleasant and slightly cooler than summertime.
Puerto Rico is a fantastic choice during most months of the year. July and August can be extremely hot and humid, with tropical rainstorms that jump up to 9″ on an average day. Puerto Rico also has similar weather patterns to the Bahamas with warm temperatures year-round.
If you want to travel to Puerto Rico, it’s best to do so during the off-season. This way, you’ll be sure to get a place to stay and won’t have to deal with too many crowds while sightseeing.
If you want to visit popular tourist destinations, try going during their shoulder seasons. This is from May to November when the crowds are smaller and the prices are cheaper.
The high season for travel in Puerto Rico is in the winter months between mid-December through April. It is best to avoid going during these times as it will be the most expensive, crowded and busy.
Flying from the US into either island is fairly affordable with many direct flights to San Juan and Nassau from major US cities.
The main airport in the Bahamas is located on New Providence Island and is known as the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). You’ll have the following transportation options to choose from:
- Public buses
- Ride-shares (Uber & Lyft)
- Car rentals
- Inter-island flights and ferries
In Puerto Rico, you will find that flights from most major international cities land in the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). The main transportation options are:
- Public buses
- Car rentals
- Ride-shares (Uber)
- Urban train (The Tren Urbano)
- Inter-island flights and ferries
Where to Stay
All in all, your family will have access to a wide range of Bahamas and Puerto Rico accommodations that can suit any budget.
No matter what you choose, you will find many kid-friendly amenities onsite so the whole family can enjoy their time together.
Bonus: Many resorts in the Bahamas are all-inclusive, so you will have access to many onsite dining options.
All-Inclusive Luxury Resorts:
When choosing between the Bahamas vs. Puerto Rico, consider the following options for the most renowned and luxurious resorts:
Mid-Range Resort Properties:
If you’re looking for a balance between comfort and affordability, then look no further than these highly recommended mid-range picks:
Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach is great for families looking for an all-inclusive resort hotel in the Bahamas. It’s located on its own island and is surrounded by white sandy beaches and warm water lagoons.
Affordable Guest Houses:
Lastly, if your budget is tight or you want to allocate it to traveling or tourist attractions, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas both offer plenty of affordable guest houses.
In the Bahamas, Comfort Suites Paradise Island is an affordable option, with free access to the Atlantis resort facilities and walking distance of Paradise beach.
In Puerto Rico, you can find affordable guesthouses with a private beach and fewer amenities like the Villa Montaña Guest House, or Hyatt Place San Juan if you want a lively scene at the pool for the kids.\
Everything to See and Do: Can’t-Miss Experiences
Both islands offer plenty of ways for you and your family to explore the outdoors. These will most likely be the deciding factor for your family when deciding between the Bahamas vs. Puerto Rico. Here are some of the things you can’t miss on your vacations to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
Your kids will enjoy every minute of their time in the Bahamas. Check out some of these can’t-miss experiences:
- See the famous swimming pigs via powerboat at Big Major Cay in Adelaide Village
- Swim with nurse sharks at Compass Cay
- Pet a stingray and see the starfish at Stocking Island
- Snorkel in underwater caves at Thunderball Grotto
- Visit blow hole beach at Blow Hole Cay
- Feed the Rock Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay
- Take the water taxi to eat fresh conch at Stocking Island
- Learn to scuba dive by taking the Resort course and check out the Andros Barrier Coral Reef
- Discover an immersive cultural experience at Junkanoo World Museum & Arts Centre
- Taste fish any way you want it at the Fish Fry vendors at Arawak Cay
- Visit Blue Holes National Park in Andros – Captain Bill’s being the most popular
- Witness the marching flamingos at Nassau’s Ardastra Gardens
- Walk the Queen’s Staircase, or “66 steps” located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau
- Visit the last fully working, intact original lighthouse in the Bahamas – Elbow Reef Lighthouse at Elbow Cay
- Stroll the shores of Pink Sands Beach in Harbour Island and take in the beauty of this unique spot
- Swim with dolphins at Salt Cay on Blue Lagoon Island
- Get the adrenaline going by riding the water slides at Paradise Island Water Park
- Check out the wild landscape and caverns of Lucayan National Park with some of the longest and largest underwater caves.
- Explore the interactive pirate exhibits and the history of pirates at the Pirates of Nassau
- If your family wants to enjoy water sports like surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and more while on vacation in the Bahamas, you can visit popular beaches like Cable Beach as they offer all of these fun activities!
Looking for history, culture, and some thrilling adventures? Check out these can’t miss activities with your kids:
- Witness the blue glow of the dinoflagellates at Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay
- Stroll the cobblestone streets to experience the history, culture, and architecture of Old San Juan
- Explore and learn the history of Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan
- Spend the day sunbathing and swimming at the most beautiful beach in Puerto Rico at Flamenco Beach
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Castillo San Cristóbal to learn how this fort defended San Juan
- Visit the Museo de las Américas at Cuartel de Ballajá
- Take a guided walking tour of the lush gardens and inside of the governor’s house at La Fortaleza
- Go hiking in El Yunque National Forest, followed by a swim in a fantastic waterfall pool
- Climb the spiral staircase at the Yokahu Observation Tower for the amazing views
- Learn and practice canyoneering, rock climbing, rappelling, and ziplining in Caguas
- Go horseback riding through the forest to a beach at Luquillo
- Feel the excitement of an ATV/four-wheeler ride at Hacienda Carabalí
- Book a private mini-speed boat tour to go island-hopping with Kayaking Puerto Rico
- Go ziplining at Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park
- Go museum hopping and check out Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, and Museo de Arte y Diseño de Miramar
- Feast on the best foods at the food trucks and stalls in Lote 23 or Miramar Food Truck Park
- Fly a kite in front of Castillo San Felipe del Morro
- Go swimming surrounded by the volcanic rock at Aviones beach
- The Carolina Children’s Museum is a great place for kids of all ages.
- Splash around at the waterpark at Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park
- Take a walking tour of the coffee hacienda and learn about Puerto Rico’s coffee history
- Take a scuba diving lesson with Scuba Dogs
What to Eat
Craving something that is unique to each location? Let’s go over how the Bahamas and Puerto Rico compare when it comes to each island’s delicacies.
If you would like to try conch, this will be found all around the Bahamian islands in many different dishes. Conch is actually pronounced ‘konk’ and can be eaten in salads, added to conch fritters, or just enjoyed by itself!
If seafood is what you desire most, look no further than the Bahamas for your wish. Fish is always available on menus, but you can also check out conch, crab, lobster, shrimp, and more.
If you want to try something new and exciting, why not try some of the Bahamian dishes that are available at local restaurants? Some of the most popular dishes include Stew Fish, Johnnycakes, Baked Crab and Souse.
There are outdoor eateries in Guavate that specialize in slow-roasted pork. Some popular ones are El Rancho Original, Lechonera El Mojito, Lechonera Los Pinos, and Lechonera Los Amigos.
Street food in Piñones includes fritters from plantain, fresh fish, oysters, and a lot of seasoning. You can also buy cold coconut water, drink it from the coconut itself, or try the crabmeat alcapurrias and bacalaítos (codfish fritters).
Cost of Each Trip
There are a lot of factors that can determine how much your family would pay for their vacation. The number of people going, age of the kids, when you travel, how many activities you take part in, where you stay, and whether it’s all-inclusive or not.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation to the Caribbean that’s not too expensive, Puerto Rico is the way to go. You get beautiful scenery, great food, plenty of activities, and your kids will love it!
If you’re looking for someplace that has more beaches and is easier on the wallet, your best bet would be to travel to the Bahamas.
There are many resorts where you can relax on white-sand beaches and be surrounded by crystal clear water. You will also gain access to many activity options, like snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.
The only drawback is that the Bahamas tends to be more expensive than Puerto Rico. Although some resorts offer affordable rates, be aware that the costs of food and entertainment can add up quickly. This could mean that your total vacation budget is more than you had hoped for.
Both the Bahamas and Puerto Rico are relatively safe, but there are some precautions you should take in either location.
When you’re visiting Puerto Rico, keep your cell phone and wallet close to you on the plane ride over. When you land, pay attention to your surroundings as there have been some incidents of robberies near hotels, so use caution if you need to walk from an airport.
In Puerto Rico, be sure to watch your stuff. Theft is a very common occurrence and happens when people’s attention is diverted toward something else.
In the Bahamas, when visiting the islands of Andros or Abaco, it’s best to keep an eye on your things while enjoying any of the water activities as there have been incidents where some people’s belongings were taken.
This also goes for some areas in Nassau like Cable Beach and Cabbage Beach, as well as some parts of Grand Bahama Island, such as Port Lucaya and Garden City.
Whether you are visiting Puerto Rico for family-friendly activities or the Bahamas, you will find plenty of ways to enjoy yourself. You can visit one of the many local attractions where your family can learn about the history and culture of the destination.
You can also explore fun local attractions which highlight the natural beauty and history of the destination. If your family prefers to enjoy water sports, you can head out on a boat tour or book the kids in for some snorkeling, scuba diving, and more!
When choosing between the Bahamas vs. Puerto Rico, each offer many unique activities available for your family’s preferences and budget.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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