ViaHero · January 11, 2019
Is it safe to travel to Puerto Rico in 2019? The simple answer: absolutely. Here’s everything you need to know about safety in Puerto Rico, including information about hurricane recovery, vaccinations, crime rates, water quality, and more. And if you have any questions after reading, feel free to message us directly.
Want to explore Puerto Rico differently? Have a local plan your trip.
Crime-wise, Puerto Rico is safer than many US states
According to FBI statistics on violent crime, Puerto Rico is safer than many US states including California, New York, Washington, and Texas. Plus, San Juan’s crime rate is far below the national average.
- Puerto Rico is a US territory. The laws are the same, the police departments are the same, and the issues they face are the same. It’s not the Wild West here,
The most common issue is petty theft
Petty theft—especially pickpocketing—is the most common issue travelers face in Puerto Rico. That said, it’s easily avoided by staying aware, taking the same precautions you would anywhere else, and getting some helpful tips from a local.
- There was a spike in crime right after the hurricane (resources were scarce and people were desperate), but it’s since decreased. And speaking of the hurricane…
Puerto Rico has largely recovered from Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in fall 2017, tragically killing countless American citizens and destroying much of the island’s infrastructure. However, since then, Puerto Rico has made an almost-miraculous recovery—even more impressive given the well-documented issues with federal relief efforts.
- Today, much of the island (including nearly anywhere a traveler would likely go) has recovered from the ordeal.
- The quaint capital of San Juan, the fabled beaches, the dozens of coffee and sugarcane plantations, and all sorts of other attractions are back to normal.
- As of November 18, El Yunque rainforest is still recovering from the
storm,but has several areas open for visitors.
Note: When you book a trip with ViaHero, 70% of the trip planning cost goes directly to the Puerto Rican local planning your trip. Short of donating to charity, spending tourism dollars in Puerto Rico is one of the easiest ways to help the people of the island.
But remember: your chance of seeing a hurricane is virtually zero
We know the thought of getting caught in a hurricane is scary, but the odds of it happening with no advance warning are almost nonexistent. Don’t be dissuaded from seeing all the incredible things Puerto Rico has to offer.
Most areas of San Juan are perfectly safe, but stay street smart
Like any other major city, San Juan is home to both nice and not-so-nice areas. It’s safe to visit almost every neighborhood during the day, but at night certain places can get a bit sketchy (usually because of drug-related issues). Here’s a handy guide:
- Neighborhoods to visit: Old San Juan, Santurce, Parque de las Palomas, Condado, Miramar, Isla Verde, Santa Teresita, Ocean Park, Hato Rey, Piñones, and Rio Piedras.
- Neighborhoods to avoid: Piñones (at night), Santurce (at night), Parque de las Palomas (at night), La Perla (though this is hotly debated), and Puerta de Tierra (at night).
- Remember: just as on the mainland, public housing blocks can be less than savory. Be on the lookout for these—they’re large, concrete, and the locals call them
- We know this list is a bit confusing—for more clarification, message us directly or reach out to a Puerto Rican local for more information on the best neighborhoods to galavant through.
You don’t need any special vaccinations
Another reason to visit Puerto Rico: you probably have all your necessary vaccinations already. The CDC only recommends getting the Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccines (if you don’t already have them) if you’re planning on going far off the beaten track.
Note: Zika still exists in Puerto Rico. If Zika may be an issue for you, you should consult your doctor before making travel arrangements.
The water quality is generally good
Again, Puerto Rico is a US territory, so theoretically the water quality is just as good as on the mainland. The water in San Juan, for instance, is excellent. However, trust in the water quality has decreased significantly since the storm (and even before)—so if you have a soft stomach you might be better off drinking bottled if you're going off the beaten path (though the government would likely disagree). A good tip: cities have good water. The countryside: ask a local before you fill your Nalgene.
Note: Again, we had no problem at all drinking the tap water in San Juan.
Taxis are hit-and-miss, but you can always use Uber
As in any other major city, taxis can be a bit hit-and-miss in San Juan (and Puerto Rico in general). If you do decide to take a cab, just make sure there’s a meter and that you’ve negotiated your rate in advance so you don’t get ripped off. Or, you can just take an Uber! It's way
English is widely spoken
If you run into any issues, don’t worry about a language gap—English is the official second language of Puerto Rico, and is widely spoken (especially by authorities). It’s one of the big reasons Puerto Rico is a great travel destination for mainland Americans.
So, is Puerto Rico safe for travel? Absolutely. Just use the same common sense you would in any other city and you’ll be fine. But if you want a little extra comfort or to really see PR like a local, feel free to have one of our local trip planners make you a personalized guidebook and itinerary—they’ll also be on hand with 24-hour phone support and all the local tips you could ever need.
Ready to head off on your Puerto Rico holiday? Get in touch with a local to plan your trip! Before you fly, be sure to check out these other articles and send us a message if you have any questions at all!