Is Puerto Rico Safe? A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

Puerto Rico, a beautiful island located in the Caribbean and known for its rich culture, incredible beaches, and vibrant nightlife, has become an increasingly popular vacation destination. Travelers who are considering a trip to Puerto Rico may wonder about the safety of the island, given its history of natural disasters and concerns about crime in certain areas. In this article, we will explore the safety aspects of traveling to Puerto Rico and provide tips for enjoying the island as a visitor.

In general, Puerto Rico is a safe place to visit. The island has largely recovered from the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017, and has a lower crime rate than many mainland US cities source. However, there are some risks associated with certain areas, such as dark, empty streets in Old San Juan and high-crime neighborhoods around Santurce source. By choosing the right neighborhoods to stay in and exercising caution while exploring the island, visitors can make the most of their Puerto Rican adventure without compromising their safety.

General Safety in Puerto Rico

Crime Rate

Puerto Rico is considered relatively safe, with a lower crime rate than many mainland US cities 1. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of petty crimes such as theft and pickpocketing. In particular, choosing the right neighborhood to stay in can significantly improve your safety. Some areas, such as Cayey, Caguas, have been declared safer than about 71% of other U.S. cities, making them ideal places to visit 2.

It’s important to note that most drug trafficking and gang-related crimes do not tend to affect travelers directly, but being aware of these issues can still be beneficial for overall safety 3.

Natural Disasters

While Puerto Rico is a beautiful Caribbean island, it is also prone to certain natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Hurricane Maria in 2017 caused significant damage, but the island has since recovered and is now considered safe for tourists 4. To mitigate risks associated with natural disasters, ensure you stay informed about the local weather and follow any advice provided by emergency services.

Earthquakes are another potential risk to be aware of when traveling to Puerto Rico. Although they are generally rare, it’s important to familiarize yourself with earthquake safety measures and be prepared to react if an earthquake occurs during your stay.

Public Health

In terms of public health, the main concern when visiting Puerto Rico is the presence of mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as Zika virus, Dengue fever, and Chikungunya. To protect yourself, use mosquito repellent and wear clothing that covers your skin, especially in rural areas where mosquito populations tend to be higher.

Along the island’s beaches, watch out for jellyfish, sea urchins, and riptides, all of which can pose risks to swimmers. If you’re unsure about the safety of a particular beach, consult local lifeguards or other authorities.

When it comes to more general health concerns, Puerto Rico is well equipped with hospitals and medical facilities, making it a relatively safe destination in terms of public health. However, travelers should still take standard precautions, such as ensuring they have up-to-date vaccinations and travel insurance.

San Juan Safety

Neighborhood Guide

San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico, comprises various neighborhoods, each with its specific character and safety level. Some prominent neighborhoods include:

  • Old San Juan: Rich in culture and history with a vibrant, picturesque scene.
  • Condado: Upscale neighborhood with modern hotels, fine dining, and high-end shopping.
  • Isla Verde: Popular coastal area for tourists with luxurious hotels, beaches, and nightlife.
  • Miramar: Residential area known for its architectural beauty and a convenient location.
  • Santurce: An artsy, urban area with galleries, street art, and trendy restaurants.
  • Puerta de Tierra: Situated between Old San Juan and Condado, offering diverse recreational activities.
  • Ocean Park: Family-friendly beach neighborhood with a laid-back vibe.
  • Louis Lloren Torres: Public housing area not frequented by tourists.

Some areas, like La Perla and Caserio Ponce, are considered more dangerous and should be avoided by tourists.

Tourist Areas

Tourist areas such as Old San Juan and Condado are generally safe. However, it’s essential to be cautious while visiting popular tourist spots such as Parque de la Palomas and Santruce. Be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant.

Safety Precautions

While visiting San Juan, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Stay within tourist areas and avoid residential areas, especially at night.
  • Keep your belongings secure and close to you.
  • Practice situational awareness and maintain caution when interacting with strangers.
  • Monitor weather conditions during your trip, as hurricane season can affect travel plans.
  • Use reputable transportation services and avoid accepting rides from strangers.

Following these precautions will help ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience when exploring San Juan’s diverse neighborhoods.

Transportation Safety

Public Transportation

Public transportation in Puerto Rico is generally considered safe for locals and tourists alike. However, it’s essential to remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Buses and trains are the primary modes of public transportation on the island, but their availability may be limited, especially in rural areas.

When using public transportation, practice the following safety tips:

  • Keep your belongings secure and be aware of pickpockets.
  • Avoid traveling late at night when buses and trains are less frequent.
  • Learn some basic Spanish phrases to help you navigate the system.


Taxis in Puerto Rico are safe, regulated, and widely available, particularly in touristy areas. When using taxis, always opt for official taxis that are white and carry the “Taxi Turístico” logo. Avoid accepting rides from unmarked vehicles or drivers without proper identification to ensure your safety.

Keep these tips in mind when using taxis:

  • Agree on a fare before getting in the taxi to avoid misunderstandings.
  • If possible, ask your hotel or accommodation to call a taxi for you or use a ride-hailing app like Uber.
  • Avoid sharing taxis with strangers.

Driving in Puerto Rico

Driving in Puerto Rico can be challenging due to heavy traffic, aggressive drivers, and local driving customs. However, it is considered generally safe if you take necessary precautions. Be aware that road signs are in Spanish, so it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of Spanish road terms.

Here are some guidelines to follow when driving in Puerto Rico:

  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • Be aware of narrow roads and frequent blind curves, especially in rural areas.
  • Buckle up and use appropriate child restraint systems.
  • Avoid driving at night when roads are less visible and poorly lit in some areas.
  • Comply with local speed limits and rules of the road.

By following these safety tips and remaining vigilant, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable trip to Puerto Rico.

Health and Well-being

Food and Water Safety

When visiting Puerto Rico, it’s important to prioritize food and water safety. Stick to consuming bottled or purified water and avoid drinking tap water as it may not be safe for consumption. Hydration is essential, especially when exposed to the sun – remember to drink ample water and replenish lost salts.

In terms of food, make sure to eat at reputable establishments and avoid consuming food from street vendors, as this may pose potential risks to your health. Knowing some basic Spanish phrases can be helpful when seeking information on food preparation or ingredients.

Safety Precautions in Puerto Rico
Drink bottled or purified water
Eat at reputable establishments
Learn basic Spanish phrases for food

Insect and Sun Protection

Protecting yourself from insects and the sun is crucial in maintaining your health while in Puerto Rico. Use insect repellent with a significant amount of DEET to keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay, as they can transmit diseases. In addition to bug spray, wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats can provide further protection from insects.

Sun protection is equally important – wear sunscreen with high SPF and reapply as needed throughout the day. Donning hats and seeking shade whenever possible can help prevent sunburns and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.

– Insect and Sun Protection Measures
Use insect repellent with DEET
Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats
Apply high SPF sunscreen

During your visit, be aware of potentially hazardous situations, such as swimming at unattended beaches with no lifeguards. Familiarize yourself with the available emergency services and necessary contact information, including COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable stay in Puerto Rico.

Advice for Different Types of Travelers

Solo Travelers

Solo travelers should be cautious and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety in Puerto Rico. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, is common, so keep your belongings secure at all times. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or displaying valuable possessions that might attract unwanted attention. Stay in well-populated areas, especially at night, and be aware of your surroundings.

Female Travelers

Puerto Rico is generally safe for female travelers, but it’s essential to take extra measures to stay secure. Dress modestly and avoid traveling alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. Stick to well-known tourist spots and use reputable transportation services. Trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel uncomfortable or threatened.


Families can have an enjoyable and safe vacation in Puerto Rico by taking some sensible precautions. Choose family-friendly accommodation and activities, and research areas to visit beforehand. Keep an eye on your belongings, particularly travel documents, and secure them carefully. Consider taking out travel insurance to cover any unexpected incidents that may arise.


Traveling in groups can provide increased safety and support in Puerto Rico. Stay together, particularly in crowded areas where pickpocketing is more likely. Ensure everyone in the group is aware of emergency contacts and designated meeting points in case of separation.

  • Avoid risky areas and heed travel advisories
  • Be cautious when exploring off-the-beaten-path locations
  • Use reputable tour companies and transportation

By following these guidelines, different types of travelers can experience a fun and safe trip in Puerto Rico.

Exploring Outside of San Juan

Dorado and Luquillo

Dorado, a charming town located on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, is known for its luxurious resorts and beautiful beaches. Tourists visiting Dorado can enjoy various water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The town also features world-class golf courses and a peaceful atmosphere, making it a popular destination for tourists.

Luquillo, another coastal town, is situated in the northeast part of Puerto Rico. This picturesque town boasts some of the island’s most stunning beaches, and adventure-seekers will appreciate the nearby El Yunque National Forest. Luquillo is also famous for its “kioskos,” which are small food vendors offering delicious local cuisine.

Mountains and Remote Areas

Puerto Rico is home to a diverse landscape that includes magnificent mountain ranges, rainforests, and remote areas rich in natural beauty. The Cordillera Central is the island’s main mountain range and offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, birdwatching, and exploring waterfalls.

One of the most iconic places for outdoor activities is El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System. This lush and green park covers 28,000 acres, with numerous trails for hikers to explore its unique flora and fauna.

In terms of safety, these quieter areas in the island generally have lower crime rates and are safer than urban environments. However, visitors should take regular safety precautions, such as:

  • Staying on well-traveled routes and avoiding isolated areas
  • Keeping valuables secure and out of sight
  • Using a local guide when exploring unfamiliar territory

By following these simple steps, tourists can safely enjoy Puerto Rico’s stunning natural beauty and abundant outdoor activities while exploring outside of San Juan.

Safety Tips for a Enjoyable Trip

Puerto Rico is a beautiful destination with sandy beaches and vibrant culture. However, like any other place, it is essential to consider safety concerns to make the most of your trip. Here are some key safety tips to help you enjoy your time in Puerto Rico.

Travel Insurance

One of the best ways to protect yourself against unforeseen expenses, medical emergencies, or issues related to unforeseen travel disruptions is by purchasing relevant travel insurance before departing.

  • Make sure to select coverage suited for your specific needs and destinations.
  • Ensure that the policy you choose will cover the activities you plan to engage in, such as water sports or hiking.
  • Read the fine print and understand what is excluded from coverage.


Staying connected and informed can help you stay safe throughout your journey. Consider the following communication tips:

  • Learn basic Spanish phrases: Although many Puerto Ricans speak English, knowing some basic Spanish will make it easier to communicate with locals and get assistance if needed.
  • Share your itinerary: Inform friends or family of your travel plans and keep them updated on your whereabouts.
  • Local emergency numbers: Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers, including 911 for emergency services in Puerto Rico.

Beach and Ocean Safety

Puerto Rico’s stunning coastline attracts tourists, swimmers, snorkelers, and surfers alike. Make the most of your beach experience while staying safe:

  • Apply waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin.
  • Follow lifeguard and beach warning signs.
  • Be aware of the potential for rip currents and don’t swim too far from the shoreline.
  • Avoid leaving personal belongings unattended or bring them with you in a waterproof bag.

Additional Safety Tips

Besides these general guidelines, there are several other considerations to bear in mind during your trip:

  • Gun crime: While Puerto Rico has a higher gun crime rate than some other Caribbean islands, tourists are rarely targeted. Stick to well-traveled areas and avoid known gang territories.
  • Pickpocketing: Common in tourist areas, minimize risk by not flaunting valuable items and keeping your belongings secure.
  • Backpackers: As a budget traveler, be aware that choices for accommodations may put you in less safe areas. Research each location and pay attention to reviews.

Following these tips will help you stay safe and secure during your trip to Puerto Rico, allowing you to fully enjoy the many wonders it has to offer.


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