Is Puerto Rico safe? Here’s everything you need to know about travel to Puerto Rico in 2020, including information about hurricane recovery, vaccinations, crime rates, water quality, and more.
EARTHQUAKE UPDATE: A couple of strong quakes have rocked Puerto Rico recently. However, our friends at Discover Puerto Rico report that "Puerto Rico continues to be open for tourism, and the people of Puerto Rico are eager to welcome you to our island. Recent earthquakes impacted the southern coast of our Island only."
Looking for an update from someone on the ground? We encourage you to message one of our local trip planners for advice about traveling to Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in Fall 2017, tragically killing countless American citizens and destroying much of the island’s infrastructure. However, over the past 2 years, Puerto Rico’s tourism, economy, and natural wonders are well on their way to restoration.
As for future storms, keep in mind that your chances of experiencing a hurricane are low. Don’t be dissuaded from seeing all the incredible things Puerto Rico has to offer. Hurricane season is from June to November—and if a storm hits, there will be advance warning.
According to FBI statistics, Puerto Rico has a lower violent crime rate than many US states including California, New York, Washington, and Texas. Plus, according to US News and World Report, San Juan’s crime rate is far below the national average.
Puerto Rico is an American territory. That means that the laws and police departments function as they do in the United States. The FBI reports that Puerto Rico's violent crime rates are low—and serious crimes are most often found in neighborhoods where few travelers venture.
Petty theft—especially pickpocketing—is the most common issue travelers face in Puerto Rico. Stay aware, take normal precautions, and get some helpful safety tips from a local—after all, no one knows a place like the people who live there. Our trip planners in Puerto Rico will design your trip with safety in mind.
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, and Rio Piedras.
And these neighborhoods are generally safe only during the day:
Piñones, Santurce, Parque de las Palomas, La Perla (though this is debated), and Puerta de Tierra.
Looking for more info about ViaHero and what to expect? Feel free to chat with one of our Puerto Rico locals.
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), particularly if you’re visiting Puerto Rico’s more off-the-beaten-path places.
Note: Although there is no current outbreak of Zika in Puerto Rico, you should consult your doctor about precautions (including vaccines) before you make travel plans.
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.
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 easier and really cheap. Transportation to and from the airport is also easy to book in advance.
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.