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Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel in 2024?

Updated November 29, 2023

Is Puerto Rico safe for travel in 2024? This enchanting Caribbean destination is very popular, so we understand if you have questions. All in all, Puerto Rico is very safe, in fact, it’s one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean and safer than many regions in the US.

But no place is perfectly safe. So, we asked our local trip planners to weigh in on safety in Puerto Rico. Here are their best tips!

Looking for more insider info on safety in Puerto Rico? Work with a local for on-the-ground access as you plan your trip. Learn more.

Most areas of San Juan are safe

San Juan is an incredible place to visit | sjdents0/Pixabay

Most travelers choose to visit San Juan, which is an excellent choice. Puerto Rico's biggest city is bustling, beautiful, and full of incredible things to do.

So, is San Juan safe to visit? Here's what locals say you need to know about staying safe in San Juan: 

Most neighborhoods in San Juan are safe during the day, but at night certain places can get a bit sketchy.

These San Juan neighborhoods are generally safe day or night

  • Old San Juan

  • Condado

  • Miramar

  • Isla Verde

  • Santa Teresita

  • Ocean Park

  • Hato Rey

  • Rio Piedras

And these neighborhoods are generally safe only during the day:

  • Piñones

  • Santurce

  • Parque de las Palomas

  • Puerta de Tierra

What to know about crime in Puerto Rico

When it comes to crime in Puerto Rico, there are a few things travelers should know. 

First of all, the most common crime committed against travelers is petty theft or pickpocketing. Locals suggest keeping an eye on your belongings at all times to avoid this — especially when you're enjoying one of Puerto Rico's beaches

There are also a few common scams to be aware of:

  • Taxi scams: only get in officially licensed taxis and make sure the meter is on so you’re charged the correct amount. 

  • Fake guides: locals are typically friendly, but you may encounter someone pretending to be a helpful new friend or tour guide, but they really just want to take you to businesses where they will get paid commission for your purchases. 

  • Rental car scams: check for inflated toll pass fees, fees for things like cleaning the sand out of your car, and other hidden charges before paying.

Overall, locals suggest following basic safety guidelines. Don't walk alone at night. Know which neighborhoods to avoid. Try not to flash expensive belongings or jewelry. 

As for serious crimes? It's true — Puerto Rico has had a historically high homicide rate. However, this has decreased in recent years and most homicides are related to gang activity. You’re just as safe here as you are in most US cities.

If you still feel anxious about crime in Puerto Rico, reach out to a local to get their perspective on life on the island. They can share their best safety practices and advice. 

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Necessary vaccinations

Another reason why traveling to Puerto Rico is so easy is that most Americans probably already have the necessary vaccinations. 

If you're going to Puerto Rico, then the CDC recommends getting the following vaccines if you don't already have them:

  • Hepatitis A and B

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)

  • Typhoid

  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)

  • Chickenpox

  • Shingles

  • Influenza

  • COVID-19

  • Polio

  • Rabies

Some of these are especially recommended if you're hoping to get off the beaten path in Puerto Rico and explore. 

American travelers do not have to prove that they've been vaccinated against Covid-19. However, the CDC does recommend that travelers get vaccinated before visiting Puerto Rico. 

Local Tip:

In addition to getting up-to-date with vaccines, make sure to protect yourself against illnesses transmitted via mosquito bites, including Dengue Fever and Zika. Use a good quality bug spray and apply it frequently. 

The water quality is generally good

There are some things travelers should know about water in Puerto Rico | ulleo/Pixabay

Many people in Puerto Rico opt to buy bottled water, however, the EPA has reported that the island's water quality is generally good. Rural areas (about 3% of the island) have issues with water availability. However, in cities like San Juan you should be fine drinking tap water. But it’s never a bad idea to double-check with your hotel when you arrive. 

You can always buy bottled water to allay any concerns. Or, better yet, invest in a reusable water bottle with a filter. Doing so is a great way to travel in a sustainable way.

Local Tip:

Still on the theme of water, but for swimming not drinking, locals note that there is also some risk to taking a dip in Puerto Rico — and you'll definitely be tempted, given the island's waterfalls and rainforest pools, not to mention the gorgeous beaches. Make sure you check with a local to see what's safe and which watering holes you should avoid. At the beach, be careful of riptides (swim parallel to the shore if you get caught in one) and jellyfish. 

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What to know about transportation in Puerto Rico

If you decide to take a cab in Puerto Rico, be sure you're taking a licensed cab (they're white with a lit sign on the roof). Once you're in, check that there's a meter. Locals suggest also double-checking the rate with the driver so you don't get ripped off. 

Alternatively, you could take an Uber. This is a good option if your Spanish isn't very good or you want to be able to track your travel on your phone. Plus, you can book an Uber from the airport in advance. 

Languages spoken in Puerto Rico

English is the official second language of Puerto Rico and is widely spoken (especially by authorities). So if you run into any trouble, it shouldn't be hard to get help. This is one of the big reasons why Puerto Rico is a great travel destination for mainland Americans.

That being said, it can be helpful to know some Spanish. A few basic phrases (hello, thank you, etc) can really go a long way with locals in Puerto Rico. Plus, you'll feel more confident navigating the island. 

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Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

Don't Worry Too Much About Hurricanes

While some parts of Puerto Rico are still recovering from hurricanes Irma (2017), Maria (2017), and Fiona (2022), the impact on travelers is minimal at this point and tourist dollars help support the local economic recovery.

As for future storms, keep in mind that your chances of experiencing a hurricane are low. Hurricane season is from June to November—and if a storm hits, there will be advance warning. September is usually the worst month of the season. If you choose to travel during hurricane season, make sure your reservations are changeable without fees, and keep an eye on the weather as your departure date approaches. 

Puerto Rico and COVID-19

For Americans, Puerto Rico is an easy and relatively safe place to visit. And travel feels much like it did pre-pandemic. 

So, what should travelers keep in mind? 

There are no vaccine or testing requirements for Americans, although the CDC does recommend the COVID vaccine before travel. 

Masks are recommended on public transportation (including airports) but are not required. It’s still a good idea to pack masks and your vaccination card, just in case.

Local Tip:

If you're nervous about crowds, explore the island beyond San Juan. There are so many hidden gems in Puerto Rico and unique activities for adventurous travelers.

Still have questions about travel to Puerto Rico?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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