Is Puerto Rico Safe For Travel In 2022? 12 Things You Should Know

Is it safe to travel to Puerto Rico as a tourist? The short answer is yes!

Puerto Rico has a lower crime rate than most metropolitan cities in the US. You may have seen scary news articles about violence between gangs or damaging hurricanes — yikes! But you don’t need to be afraid. 

I have been visiting the island for over 20 years and I have never personally felt unsafe.

In this article I will cover everything that you need to know about safety in Puerto Rico:

Is Puerto Rico safe for tourists?
Is Puerto Rico safe to live in?
12 things that you should know about safely traveling in Puerto Rico
Is Puerto Rico safe for female travelers?
Is Puerto Rico safe for LGBTQIA+ travelers?
Is Puerto Rico safe for disabled travelers?
Is Puerto Rico safe for families?
Is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone?
What is the most dangerous city in Puerto Rico?
Other frequently asked questions

 

Is Puerto Rico safe for tourists? 

Yes! Puerto Rico is very safe, in fact, it’s one of the safest Caribbean islands to travel to. 

Like any other place you visit, as long as you keep an eye on yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings, you’ll have a great trip.

image of tourists in Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Tourists playing with their dog in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.

Pickpocketing is the biggest threat to tourists. While you might hear about the statistics for homicides, a vast majority of the violence in Puerto Rico is between gang members, and not between citizens and tourists. 

During your time on the island, as long as you stay away from drugs, guns, and don’t go looking for trouble, you’ll be okay.

Take an extra second to lock up your belongings before you leave your rental. Tuck any valuables you have into a non-visible location while you’re out, especially if you’re leaving your bag in the sand while you go for a swim.

 

Is Puerto Rico safe to live in?

Yes, it’s safe to live in Puerto Rico. 

image of a colorful apartment building in San Juan
Colorful building in San Juan.

A long-term visit, much like visiting Florida, has little to no risk for you. When planning your trip, take time to consider the hurricane season. 

Hurricane season in Puerto Rico is from June to November, with September being the most intense month.

Puerto Rico experiences fewer hurricanes than the other Caribbean islands, although that doesn’t mean they’re less impactful.

Be sure to check the weather and the date when planning your visit and you’ll be okay!

 

Below are 12 things that you should know about safely traveling in Puerto Rico:

1. Riptides The current can be very strong, and often there aren’t lifeguards. Be sure to swim parallel to the shore, not against the current, if you’re caught in a riptide.

Watch the signs and flags at the beach!

Riptide warning.

2. Drinking Water Puerto Rico is held to the same standards as the mainland United States when it comes to potable water, so the water here is safe to drink.

Coco Frio (cold coconut water).

3. Mosquitos Mosquitoes have caused Zika outbreaks on the island, so be sure to cover up in long, loose, cotton clothes when hiking, and use bug repellent when you can’t cover up.

4. Watch the Weather It rains almost every day here, sometimes even when the forecast says it won’t!

Make sure you keep an eye on the sky, and maybe pack a poncho. 

El Yunque, Puerto Rico, during a rainstorm.

5. Learn Some Spanish You will meet a lot of bilingual people in Puerto Rico, but Spanish is still the first language.

You shouldn’t always assume who you’re talking to speaks English. It goes a long way to know basic phrases.

Abierto means open in Spanish.

6. Jellyfish and Sea Urchins When snorkeling and surfing especially, be wary of jellyfish and sea urchins on and around coral reefs.

Getting stung is usually just annoying, but if you feel nauseous, dizzy, or have trouble breathing, go to the doctor ASAP! 

image of man snorkeling Culebrita
Snorkeling off the coast of Culebrita, Puerto Rico.

7. 911 Works If you find yourself in an emergency situation, call 911 as you would in the United States. 

8. Heat Advisories During the summer months in Puerto Rico, the temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees, sometimes reaching as high as 111 degrees. The humidity is 75% on average.

Exhaustion, dehydration, and sun poisoning are real risks, especially when spending days at the beach, or when hiking.

Check advisories, use sunscreen regularly, drink plenty of water (especially if you’re drinking alcohol). 

image of cabo rojo arch
A sunny hiking spot in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

9. Snakes There are only ten types of snakes in Puerto Rico, most of which you will not encounter unless you’re turning things over in the forest.

Only one of them is venomous, the Puerto Rican Racer, but it’s only known to be in Toro Negro State Forest, and sometimes El Yunque National Forest.

It’s not lethal, so you have little to worry about.

image of a small cascade in El Yunque.
Small cascade in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico.

10. Public Transportation In metropolitan areas like San Juan you can take Ubers and taxis, and there is a commuter metro, the Tren Urbano.

It is very difficult to use public transportation in Puerto Rico outside of San Juan. One of the best cross-island buses, or guaguas, is the Linea Sultana. Call them to schedule low-cost transportation from San Juan to Rincón, Aguadilla, and Mayagüez.

image of dorado road
Driving along the coastline, Dorado, Puerto Rico.

Aside from a few services, outside of San Juan, you will be hard-pressed to find a reliable, cost-efficient taxi service.

Uber is almost nonexistent. There is no train or bus system, taxis can be hard to contact.

You’re better off renting a car if possible. Always ask for an estimate before your taxi ride. If you’re staying at a rental, the easiest way to find a taxi is to ask the host.

11. Driving Driving on the island can be challenging, but also enjoyable if you know what to expect.

Typically, drivers use their signals less often than in the mainland United States, and most of the signs are in Spanish. 

image of narrow street in old san juan with tall trees
Narrow street parking in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In the country, the roads are often unpredictable, and narrow, and can be right along sheer drop-offs.

GPS systems don’t always work on the island, and many destinations may not be listed.

Make sure to learn a few Spanish phrases to ask for directions, or even call the destination ahead of time to be sure where you’re going. 

12. Alcohol The drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18. In Puerto Rico, it’s illegal to drink alcohol in public.

If you are outside an area that has been zoned for drinking alcohol, you can’t have an open beverage.

Typically if you are found with an open alcoholic beverage in public you will be fined, so keep your alcohol at your rental, restaurant, or bar, and you’ll be okay.

 

Is Puerto Rico safe for female travelers? 

Puerto Rico is definitely safe for female travelers. 

I’ve met solo female travelers and backpackers, as well as women traveling in pairs and groups, and they’ve always shared good experiences on the island. 

image of a female traveler in Puerto Rico
Female traveler in Puerto Rico.

Occasionally there will be catcalls and comments, but as long as you stay aware and in well-lit areas when walking alone you’ll be okay. 

Puerto Ricans are very friendly, especially the men, but if you feel that someone is being too friendly for having just met them, trust your gut. Keep your trip plans and where you’re staying to yourself, and remember it’s always okay to lie or make a fuss to get away if you feel unsafe. 

Send your location to someone when you are going out, and let them know what time you’ll check in again. This is especially important for solo travelers and even more so for solo women.

 

Is Puerto Rico safe for LGBTQIA+ travelers?

As far as the Caribbean islands go, Puerto Rico is considered the most LGBTQIA+ friendly and has the same marriage laws as the mainland United States. 

image of Puerto Rico's LGBTQ community
Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ community.

There are thriving LGBTQIA+ scenes in metropolitan areas, although there is some tension and misunderstanding about sexuality and gender identity. 

If you’re worried about your presentation or a night out with your partner, you can stay near places like San Juan, Condado, and Santurce, but otherwise, you shouldn’t have a problem, even in rural areas.

 

Is Puerto Rico safe for disabled travelers?

Yes! It’s safe for disabled travelers in Puerto Rico. 

Accessibility for physically disabled people in Puerto Rico depends on the accommodations you need for your disability and on where you visit. 

In more metropolitan areas like San Juan, you’ll be able to find very accessible hotels, transportation, and experiences, but as you travel more off the beaten path, the accessibility is harder to come by. 

See accessibility tips for Old San Juan in the video below:

I encourage you to look for accessible activities around the island, like the trolleys in Ponce, adaptive kayaking, and the wheelchair-accessible beach in Luquillo; Mar Sin Barreras (Sea Without Barriers). 

For mentally disabled and neurodivergent travelers, Puerto Rico is definitely safe, but there are some sensory challenges that may take some planning ahead. 

I recommend thinking about Puerto Rican culture and the climate when it comes to your needs. 

The culture here is fun and loud! That comes with loud music and people, large crowds, bright lights, and often late hours. Earplugs or headphones, sunglasses, and noise machines help!

Beaches also may not have showers or foot washes available, and the sun, heat, and sand might bother you, so take time to think about what beach you’d like to visit, and whether or not you’d prefer your stay to be close by or to have private beach access or maybe even a pool instead. 

 

Is Puerto Rico safe for families? 

Yes, it’s safe for you and your family to visit the island, in fact, Puerto Rico is one of the top Caribbean destinations for families with children. 

image of a family traveling in San Juan, PR
Family traveling in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Hiking paths are well-trodden and clearly marked, and snorkeling and swimming at the beach are sure to be fun for the whole family. 

There are museums and resorts, and all sorts of family-friendly vacation condos, not to mention activity-packed tours. 

Something you may keep in mind is that the hours for businesses aren’t always correct online, so calling ahead to double-check is a good idea.

 

Is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone?

Yes! Like female travelers, I have also met a lot of backpackers that travel alone to Puerto Rico, as well as older adults taking solo business trips and vacations. 

image of a female traveler in Puerto Rico
Female traveler in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

As long as you take the usual precautions when traveling alone, like keeping a close eye on your belongings and walking in well-lit areas, you’ll have a great time on your trip. 

You’ll also want to take extra caution when it comes to things that seem obvious, like remembering sunscreen, not drinking too much alcohol on a night out, or letting someone know when you’re going hiking. It’s easy to forget safety when you’re on your own!

 

What is the most dangerous city in Puerto Rico?

In my experience on the island, the most dangerous places I visited were Loíza and Piñones at night, especially near the Caserios (low-income housing complexes) in Loíza. 

During the day, Loíza and Piñones are amazing to visit, with Piñones being a hub for the most amazing street foods on the island, and Loíza being a center for African Puerto Rican music, food, and culture. 

image of Loíza Beach, Puerto Rico
Loíza Beach, Puerto Rico.

At night, however, Piñones and Loíza are hosts to a lot of gang violence and drug trafficking. It’s best to stay inside at night or stay in a gated community if you’re staying in the area. 

Other metropolitan areas are also dangerous at night, like Santurce, Condado, Miramar, and La Perla, but these areas pose the same risk as metropolitan areas in the mainland United States as well. 

Ultimately, if you exercise caution, stay away from drugs, and don’t look for trouble, it won’t find you. 

 

FAQ section

What is the safest area in Puerto Rico?

After almost a year of traveling, Luquillo, Puerto Rico, is the safest place I have visited.

Is Puerto Rico safer than Mexico?

When looking at crime rates, Puerto Rico is safer than Mexico statistically. It’s not likely that you’ll be in the right place at the wrong time, but it’s even less likely in Puerto Rico.

Is medical marijuana legal in Puerto Rico?

Yes, medical marijuana is legal in Puerto Rico, but recreational marijuana is still illegal and considered a felony. Puerto Rico has reciprocity, which means you can bring your out-of-state medical card and use it at Puerto Rican dispensaries, although there are limitations to what you can buy.

Do I need my passport to travel to Puerto Rico?

No, you do not. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means that it is in fact a domestic destination.

Do I need a Covid-19 test to travel to Puerto Rico?

No, you’re not required to have a negative Covid-19 test result to travel to Puerto Rico, nor are you required to have proof of vaccination. Masks are no longer mandated, except in instances where there will be more than 1,000 people in the vicinity.

 

Final thoughts

Puerto Rico is a safe option for your next vacation. 

The island is beautiful and full of fun activities for solo travelers, friends and families. Don’t be afraid – come explore!

If you need help deciding where to stay in Puerto Rico, then check out our article about the 13 best areas and places to stay in Puerto Rico.

Also, check out our article about the 45 best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Article by

Jenny Diaz

Writer at PuertoRico.com. Growing up in New York and spending my summers in Puerto Rico, I have always loved writing, travel, and animals. I began my career as a travel writer, and after many different jobs in media, I have settled back into what I love most. I enjoy the beach, exploring the island with my family, and coffee!

About the author

Find the best things to do
by interest