In this Puerto Rico tourism update, we cover everything you need to know about travel to the Island of Enchantment. Below, we discuss the impact of recent hurricanes and why tourism is important for the island's recovery from both natural disasters and the COVID pandemic. We outline the current COVID rules (spoiler: there are almost none). We discuss the LGBTQIA+ safety situation (Puerto Rico is very welcoming). Plus, we lay out recommendations on what time of year is best to visit. 2024 is an incredible time to plan a trip to Puerto Rico and we’re here to help.
For Americans, Puerto Rico is an easy and relatively safe place to visit. And travel feels much like it did pre-pandemic.
Here's the latest:
There are no vaccine or testing requirements for Americans, although the CDC does recommend the COVID vaccine before travel.
Masks are recommended on public transportation (including airports) but are not required. It’s still a good idea to pack masks and your vaccination card, just in case.
You can always check in with a local to get an on-the-ground perspective of what life is like in Puerto Rico right now.
Don’t the news from the 2022 hurricane season discourage you from traveling to Puerto Rico. The resilient islands bounced back quickly, especially in tourist areas, after Hurricane Fiona hit in September 2022. 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. At this point, most traveler-favorite activities are back to normal. Locals in Puerto Rico know all the details and can tailor your itinerary to make sure you get to see the best of Puerto Rico and help you support local recovery by visiting off-the-beaten-path, independently-owned places.
Hurricane Irma and Maria recovery are ongoing as well, but the remaining damage from the 2017 storms isn't obvious in tourist areas. Emergency repairs have been made, but long-term infrastructure upgrades and repairs are incomplete at present.
As Puerto Rico — and the rest of the world — begins to recover from the COVID pandemic, tourism dollars are more important than ever. Even more so in Puerto Rico since it has been hit by several hurricanes in recent years.
The CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, Brad Dean, noted that tourism makes up 10% of Puerto Rico's GDP. Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, he said: "The people of Puerto Rico have shown great resiliency...they are writing the textbook on how to use tourism to fuel economic recovery."
Tourism post-Hurricane Maria helped the island recover. Now, tourism can help Puerto Rico recover from the pandemic and Hurricane Fiona.
That's especially true if you spend your tourism dollars at local businesses and skip the touristy chains. (The local places are usually more fun, anyway.)
The good news is that tourism is increasing. In response to that demand, airlines are increasing their flights to the islands and tourist-focused businesses are thriving. For travelers, this makes reservations key - don’t miss out on something you want to do because you didn’t reserve in advance! You can still be spontaneous and enjoy lazy beach days in between your must-do activities.
Plus, going to Puerto Rico means you're in for a real adventure—whether that means exploring old forts in San Juan, surfing in Rincon, sipping piña coladas in Ponce, or enjoying the white sands of Playa Flamenco.
All in all, Puerto Rico can offer a wonderful respite from the daily grind. And as the island recovers from the pandemic, your tourism dollars can make a positive impact.
Work with a local to plan your trip to Puerto Rico.
Are piña coladas on your Puerto Rico bucket list? Get a free sample at Barranchina in San Juan. They claim to have invented the drink!
Ready for a cruise vacation? Puerto Rico’s ports are ready to welcome you. Most cruises in the region dock for one day on the island and offer similar shore excursions across cruise lines. If you want to get off the beaten path, ask a local Hero to plan your day for you. With a custom itinerary from a local, you can feel comfortable navigating Old San Juan at your own pace, venturing out to the beach, and opening doors to restaurants that aren't on the standard cruiser’s itinerary.
Generally, yes. Puerto Rico is known as one of the safest Caribbean destinations for queer travel. The LGBTQ+ community is protected by hate crimes laws, gay marriage is allowed, and trans people can change their legal gender.
There’s a vibrant gay scene in Puerto Rico, especially San Juan. Some of the top drag artists in the world are from Puerto Rico and there are plenty of places to catch a drag show. Winter Pride Fest takes place each December and Pride Puerto Rico is usually in May or June.
The best time to visit Puerto Rico depends on your preferences. But we can give you guidance on the weather, things to do, and other factors that might influence your decision.
Summer (July-September) - It’s hot, humid, and rainy, but July and August are popular anyway. Hurricane season begins in June and stretches into the fall, and hurricanes are most likely to hit in September. Because it’s the wet season, there are great deals to be found on hotels and more.
Fall (October - early December) - It’s still wet and it’s still hurricane season until the end of November. However, fall is an appealing time to visit for celebrations including patron saints days, Rincón Surfing Festival, Calle Loíza Culinary Fest, and Jayuya Indigenous Festival.
Winter (December - March) - With average temperatures ranging from 70 - 83 degrees Fahrenheit and low rainfall, many consider this the best weather season in Puerto Rico. It’s high season for tourism because that balmy weather is a big draw for those of us wishing to escape cold, snowy days. Celebrations abound in winter including Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), Carnaval, Semana Santa, and Christmas.
Spring (April - June) - Warmer and rainier than winter, but cooler and drier than summer, spring can be a nice time to visit. The spring flowers are gorgeous, winter crowds are gone, and while the rainy season technically begins in April it isn’t in full swing yet. It’s also harvest time for coconut, mango, shrimp, and oysters.
Ready to vacation in Puerto Rico? Chat with a local who can create a custom itinerary based on your interests and budget.