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!
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:
And these neighborhoods are generally safe only during the day:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.