We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Key West or San Juan???

Michigan
8 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Key West or San Juan???

I posted this topic on the San Juan forum yesterday, and decided to follow up with a post on the Key West forum today:

My wife, 2 sons (18 & 20 ys) and I are planning a vacation for the first week of March, but can't decide between San Juan PR and Key West FL. We have never been to either city, and wonder which would be best for us. My wife and I are not seeking "high adventure"...we're happy walking a beach, window shopping, eating at local pubs. The boys will probably want to do some snorkeling, parasailing. We would really appreciate an honest comparison of these two vacation spots... pros & cons, similarities & differences. We don't plan to rent a car...and we're more inclined to seek out a budget hotel vs. high end resort. Thanks in advance for your help!

Key Colony Beach...
Destination Expert
for Florida Keys
Level Contributor
7,641 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Key West or San Juan???

Let me guess.

The San Juan forum said to go there, the Key West forum will say to go to Key West.

If you want long walks on a beach - You won't find it on Key West.

Rolla, Missouri
Level Contributor
3,124 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Key West or San Juan???

i will never go to PR again. pick key west or st. augistine in florida: in these times especially. if you want to walk or bike a beach - nothing beats hilton head.

Memphis, TN
Level Contributor
5,100 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Key West or San Juan???

Old Town San Juan is fascinating to visit, but only during the day. It's not safe at night. Remember, PR is much like a 3rd world country, poverty is real, and crime is high. So if you choose PR, take the necessary precautions. The beach resorts off Condado and Isla Verde are nice and certainly better beached than in Key West, and there is a lot of history in San Juan. Hard to say which you would enjoy more, bit I think you and your boys will be bored to tears after a few days in San Juan. Now if you rent a car and go touring on PR, you can find a lot to see and do. But remember if you do drive there, 3rd world driving rules apply (i.e. there are no rules), and car jackings are common.

Key West is much more laid back, has low crime, has a lot to keep everyone occupied for a week, although the beaches can't compare to PR. Personally I'd choose Key West, but it all really depends on what you want to see and do.

Rolla, Missouri
Level Contributor
3,124 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Key West or San Juan???

sorry, hilton head may be chilly in march. i would not leave the states for PR. maybe for St. Lucia, but not PR.

Michigan
8 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Key West or San Juan???

Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. Not sure yet what we'll end up doing, but all this info helps.

Saint James City...
Destination Expert
for San Pedro
Level Contributor
15,486 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Key West or San Juan???

I would agree with everyone else. I've spent limited time in San Juan, but it wouldn't be my choice to spend a week. It's a long flight. You can find much better beach destinations in the Caribean or Mexico.

If beach is a top priority, I wouldn't come to Key West either. Although I love Key West, I don't go there for the beach.

Rochester, NY
Level Contributor
191 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Key West or San Juan???

My opinion is that it depends on your flexibility to rent a car and get out. I've visited KW 12-15 times and used to live in PR.

If you really want a place where you won't need a car, then for me, Key West would be the choice. There are some nice beaches there to walk. Not sugary, sandy beaches, but Smathers is fine for walking and Fort Zach is one of our favorites.

San Juan and Puerto Rico in general, I respecfully disagree, is not dangerous. Day or night. Crime in San Juan is in isolated areas just like any large city, but certainly not in Old San Juan. Do you need to exercise common sense? Of course. But if you stick to the tourist areas...Condado, Isla Verde, Old San Juan.... you'll be as safe as anywhere in KW. If you are looking for trouble, you'll find it anywhere. I do agree that if you visit PR you should get out and explore, there is so much to the island. Everything from rainforest to desert. Also, when you travel to Puerto Rico you never leave the US. Travel to PR is slightly more complicated than travel to Minneapolis. Except weather probably won't be an issue. Driving there is an adventure, car-jackings are not an issue unless you go to the bad areas. And by the way, you'd have to go looking for bad areas, you won't stumble into them by mistake.

I've spent a lot of time in both places and love them both. KW is different from SJ is different from Rincon is different from El Yunque. One similarity is that the people are kind, wonderful, in both places. Look into both and I think you can be sure you'll be happy with either. But please, don't be afraid of Puerto Rico.

Have a blast.

Rochester, NY
Level Contributor
191 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Key West or San Juan???

My opinion is that it depends on your flexibility to rent a car and get out. I've visited KW 12-15 times and used to live in PR.

If you really want a place where you won't need a car, then for me, Key West would be the choice. There are some nice beaches there to walk. Not sugary, sandy beaches, but Smathers is fine for walking and Fort Zach is one of our favorites.

San Juan and Puerto Rico in general, I respecfully disagree, is not dangerous. Day or night. Crime in San Juan is in isolated areas just like any large city, but certainly not in Old San Juan. Do you need to exercise common sense? Of course. But if you stick to the tourist areas...Condado, Isla Verde, Old San Juan.... you'll be as safe as anywhere in KW. If you are looking for trouble, you'll find it anywhere. I do agree that if you visit PR you should get out and explore, there is so much to the island. Everything from rainforest to desert. Also, when you travel to Puerto Rico you never leave the US. Travel to PR is slightly more complicated than travel to Minneapolis. Except weather probably won't be an issue. Driving there is an adventure, car-jackings are not an issue unless you go to the bad areas. And by the way, you'd have to go looking for bad areas, you won't stumble into them by mistake.

I've spent a lot of time in both places and love them both. KW is different from SJ is different from Rincon is different from El Yunque. One similarity is that the people are kind, wonderful, in both places. Look into both and I think you can be sure you'll be happy with either. But please, don't be afraid of Puerto Rico.

Have a blast.

Edited: 12 January 2010, 04:42
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
4,655 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Key West or San Juan???

I've fantasized about going to PR for the warm water and great surfing. I get a surf report every week and many times they will have waves when most everything else on the East coast is flat.

But I would only go to stay in a very nice, exclusive type of resort.

In Key West you can be thrifty, and still walk around all day and night AND drink the water.

Everything you're looking for can be found in Key West, except for the long walks on the beach, but there are great walks through the neighborhoods where you'll get to see some amazing houses, an above ground cemetery and there's window shopping galore! Be sure to check the displays at Fast Buck Freddies!

mohrsville
Level Contributor
1,486 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Key West or San Juan???

TanMan, from your post KW may be exactly what you are looking for.