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Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel in 2021?

ViaHero
Updated March 22, 2021

Is Puerto Rico safe for travel in 2021? This enchanting Caribbean island is a popular destination, so we understand if you have questions. All in all, Puerto Rico is very safe — as long as travelers are aware of a few things. 

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

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

Puerto Rico and the coronavirus

Like any destination, travel to Puerto Rico comes with new risks because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the island has been pretty successful in keeping the virus at bay. 

The island was one of the first jurisdictions to issue a mask mandate. Puerto Rico has also been aggressive in using curfews, closures, and capacity rules to limit community spread. And people are starting to get vaccinated. Vieques and Culebra, two smaller islands of Puerto Rico's coast, are on track to be fully immunized. 

So, what should travelers keep in mind? 

Americans might not need a passport (remember, Puerto Rico is part of the United States) but they will need a few other things to enter. Currently, travelers will need

If you arrive without a test, you'll have to quarantine. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport offers tests for $110. 

Once on the island, locals ask that all visitors follow basic coronavirus precautions. That means wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, following curfew rules, and not consuming alcohol in public.

Travelers acting badly have been a real problem in Puerto Rico. So be chill! Follow local rules. And wear that mask. 

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

Most areas of San Juan are safe

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

Most travelers chose 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.

Locals recommend that these San Juan neighborhoods are safe during the day or night

  • Old San Juan
  • Santurce
  • Parque de las Palomas
  • Condado
  • Miramar
  • Isla Verde
  • Santa Teresita
  • Ocean Park
  • Hato Rey
  • Piñones
  • Rio Piedras

And these neighborhoods are generally safe only during the day:

  • Piñones
  • Santurce
  • Parque de las Palomas
  • La Perla (though this is debatable)
  • Puerta de Tierra.

Currently, San Juan's coronavirus cases are low — there are about 20 new cases per day. Like elsewhere on the island, visitors to San Juan will be asked to respect pandemic rules like wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and respecting curfews in order to keep cases low. 

Local Tip:

Be mindful of where you stay in Puerto Rico. Right now, Old San Juan is only accessible to residents and tourists who are staying there. 

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Enter your travel preferences below and we’ll connect you with a likeminded local in Puerto Rico to help you plan your trip based on your specific interests.

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

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. 

If you 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. 

No special vaccinations are needed

Another reason why traveling to Puerto Rico is so easy is that most Americans probably already have the necessary vaccinations. Not that vaccination — we'll get to that in a second. 

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 and shingles
  • Influenza
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Rabies

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

As for the coronavirus vaccine? There's no rule — at the moment — saying that travelers have to prove that they've been vaccinated against Covid-19. The idea of "vaccine passports" has been floated in several different destinations, however. 

So, be sure to double-check about recent rules. Or, better yet, just ask a local who will know the answer. 

Work with a local to plan your trip.
See a side most people miss.

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. 

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.

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. Make sure you check with a local to see what's safe and which watering holes you should avoid. 

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 can also 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. 

Puerto Rico has largely recovered from Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in Fall 2017, tragically killing American citizens and destroying much of the island’s infrastructure. However, over the past couple of years, Puerto Rico’s tourism, economy, and natural wonders are well on their way to restoration.

With Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery in its final stages, the island's popular attractions have come roaring back. These include:

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.

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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