Is Puerto Rico safe for travel in 2023? 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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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 COVID-19 vaccine? 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. Plus, some businesses may require proof of vaccination.
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.
Although Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico in September 2022, the impact on travel this fall and winter is minimal. The San Juan Airport was fully operational within just a couple of days after Fiona made landfall. Hotels that were closed opened up quickly as well.
Many of the island's popular attractions are up and running. 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.