Are you wondering if Puerto Rico safe or not?
The world-famous island of Puerto Rico is a beautiful Caribbean island many times overlooked for Caribbean vacations.
It is technically a US territory further east in the Gulf of Mexico than Cuba and Haiti.
According to Puerto Rico’s Tourist Board, Puerto Rico means:
Rich history and culture, exceptional food, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, relaxation, adventure — all packed into one sun-kissed Caribbean paradise.
If that’s the case, is Puerto Rico as safe as people say it is?
Is Puerto Rico Safe?
Definitely. If you consider most other Caribbean islands such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, Puerto Rico would be hedging your bets.
The crime rate is that of a lot of US cities, with the only issue being a petty crime.
As long as you keep all of your belongings on your person and don’t flash expensive gadgets or other items, you’ll be fine.
As far as the weather and climate go, it’s up to you whether you’d like to visit during the hurricane season or not.
Safety Facts about Puerto Rico
- In January 2020, a string of large earthquakes struck Puerto Rico and caused severe damage throughout the country, leading the Governor Vázquez Garced to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard.
- The Puerto Rican government put a lot of resources into tourism initiatives to encourage travelers to visit the island nation following Hurricane Maria, and will no doubt do the same following the earthquake damage in early 2020.
- On average, Puerto Rico residents feel twice as fearful of walking outside at night that other Americans.
- There are 13 times as many murders per year in America than in Puerto Rico.
Is Puerto Rico Safe to Travel Alone?
The good news is that Puerto Rico is perfectly safe to travel alone!
If you stay within the confines of the beach areas and trust your instincts, you’ll have a wonderful holiday.
Like in Jamaica you’ll need to abide by the unwritten rules of independently traveling to Caribbean islands: such as don’t go out at night, don’t trust strangers and don’t flash expensive items.
Puerto Rico is a great stop-off point for exploring the Gulf of Mexico.
Backpacking Puerto Rico Safely
Backpackers must consider that the Caribbean is wrought with hurricanes. See this guide to backpacking Puerto Rico for more ideas.
Even when the season was supposed to end in November, there were surprise hurricanes in January.
You’ll want to stay in an all-inclusive complex just because of the safety issues in places that aren’t prepared for them.
Petty crime is an issue of course, but it’s an issue for most places backpackers travel to.
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Puerto Rico: Travel Safety Tips
Puerto Rico has the potential to be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions i.e. you don’t do your homework.
Here’s some top tips to help you before you make the trip out:
- Make sure to take sunscreen. You’re close to the equator so if you don’t keep sunblock on you, you’ll develop some nasty skin ailments.
- If you are a person that suffers from typical culture shock symptoms see our tips on adapting to new surroundings on this blog.
- Louis Lloren Torres, Pinones, Parque de la Palomas and Santruce are dangerous places to visit after dark but are generally safe in daylight hours.
- Keep away from crowds of people. You could be attacked or arrested.
- Don’t accept offers of drugs. Not only is it illegal, but it’s dangerous and you’re helping an industry wrought with crime that the government is trying to stop.
- Make sure to use trusted and accredited hotels/hostels. Then once you’ve booked your room, book taxis or buses through the hotel.
- If you take a taxi on the street, make sure it’s a licensed white vehicle with a lit-up roof sign.
- Don’t take too many valuables with you. If you want to take expensive equipment such as cameras or smartphones, keep them hidden, locked away and on your person. A PacSafe backpack is perfect for this.
- Keep dummy wallets for pickpockets and keep your money hidden away. Bras, money belts or secret bag compartments will do.
- If you’re visiting between June and November, remember that this is the height of hurricane season which means you’ll need to take the necessary precautions.
With regards to hurricanes and natural disasters, ensure you visit during the suggested months to lower the risk.
Although the highest category hurricane that’s ever been through Puerto Rico was a category 5, prepare for power cuts.
Traveling Around Puerto Rico Safely
Every major car rental company maintains a presence in Puerto Rico — especially in San Juan.
You’ll find several companies that have offices both at the airport (or nearby) as well as in tourist-popular neighborhoods like the Condado district.
Most independent travelers to Puerto Rico hire cars from San Juan since the roads are so similar to American.
If you’re looking to get to your hotel from the airport, you’re better off getting a taxi than a bus.
Puerto Rico is not well developed in terms of island-wide bus service, and there are no long-distance bus/coach options.
You’d be better off either hiring a car or hailing licensed taxis.
Walking is a great way to explore the beaches, but if you need to get to the next town it would be safe to get a taxi.
Is it Safe to Travel to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is an amazing island to visit and is perhaps the most comfortable island to stay in the Caribbean since it’s so similar to America.
It would help when visiting Puerto Rico if you knew at least some Spanish, but residents won’t be offended if you speak to them in English.
Despite the 2017 debt crisis, Puerto Rico is overcoming it. And soon it will be the best island to visit in the Caribbean.
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