The US territory of Puerto Rico is many things. It’s home to San Juan, the third oldest capital of the Americas (founded in 1521!), it’s bursting with beaches, there are lush rainforests to explore, and the food scene is insane. It’s a Caribbean paradise…

… Or is it? Puerto Rico has a very high firearm-related homicide rate, and victims are almost always something to do with gangs. A recent gang war didn’t stop the problem, which has grown steadily more widespread. Also, there are devastating hurricanes.

There’s a lot of potential danger in Puerto Rico, which is probably why you’re wondering, “Is Puerto Rico safe?”

Not to worry, I have created this epic safety guide filled with safety tips to help you travel smart.

It’s packed with info from whether or not it’s safe to drive in Puerto Rico, tips for solo female travellers in Puerto Rico – even tackling whether you should take your kids to Puerto Rico. If it’s your first-time solo travelling to Puerto Rico, no need to worry, it’s all covered in this handy guide.

Snorkel with Sea Turtles in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Welcome to Puerto Rico!

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    There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Puerto Rico Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

    The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Puerto Rico.

    If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

    Updated November 2023

    Is Puerto Rico Safe to Visit Right Now?

    Yes, Puerto Rico is safe to visit right now. In 2019, the World Bank confirmed that 4,931,000 international visitors arrived in Puerto Rico, a number that’s rebounded once travel restrictions were lifted. Virtually all of these tourists had a problem free vacation.

    In fact, it’s got a lower crime rate than many mainland US cities, which is reassuring. Choosing the right Puerto Rican neighborhood to stay in will also add to your safety.

    There is, unfortunately, an unusually high murder rate in Puerto Rico, though, to do with guns. 80% of them are drug-related and most victims are gang members or somehow related to drug trafficking.

    safe to visit
    Find out how safe this tropical paradise island is!

    Inequality is rife between the different cultures that live here – an ongoing issue – and there’s crime related to that. Almost half the population of Puerto Rico live below the poverty line – the highest of any US state or territory.

    Tourism has been important for the island’s economy. Lots of American tourists go there because it’s American territory, so it’s easy, you can use dollars, there are cheap flights and your cellphone still works… And in terms of tourists, there are a lot.

    Needless to say, hurricanes are a huge threat to Puerto Rico. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. In fact, tourists are actively being encouraged to help the country recover.

    To be extra safe, you may want to avoid visiting when hurricanes are usually at their worst, between September and October.

    Whilst it is safe to visit Puerto Rico right now, there are definitely some things you should keep in mind.

    Check out our detailed where to stay guide for Puerto Rico so you can start your trip right!

    Safest Places in Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico can tend to get quite sketchy, especially at night. In order to have a safe trip, you’ll need to stay in the right neighborhoods.

    Ferry Travel in Puerto Rico
    San Juan is the Juan.

    Luquillo is just a short ride from San Juan and offers pretty much the same cool vibes and attractions, just without the masses of tourists and pickpocketing issues. Staying in Luquillo is surprisingly affordable compared to the cost of living in Puerto Rico.

    Vieques is actually a separate island, but it’s quite easy to get to; you just need to take a ferry from the main island. If you want something completely off-the-beaten-path but incredibly safe, Vieques is an excellent choice.

    Dorado is right in the middle of Puerto Rico’s North Coast. Within Dorado, you will also find some great family-friendly attractions and welcoming locals. For this reason, I think this is another super safe place to visit. It’s also quite close to San Juan. Those looking for something off-the-beaten-path will enjoy the local culture, which has largely been untouched by the tourism industry.

    Places to Avoid in Puerto Rico

    Drug trafficking and gang-related crimes are still a problem in Puerto Rico. As I mentioned above, not all areas are safe for visitors. I’d definitely advise caution in certain areas, e.g. in and around San Juan where most crime on the island takes place. There’s also: 

    • Louis Lloren Torres (a public housing complex)
    • Pinones
    • Parque de la Palomas
    • Santruce
    • Puerta de Tierra
    • And parts of La Perla 

    These places are not safe at night so avoid them completely or if you have to, explore them with a guide or a large group of people. Always keep your eyes open and stay aware of your surroundings.

    Keeping Your Money Safe in Puerto Rico

    One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

    Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.

    The best solution? Get a money belt.

    Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
    Active Roots Security Belt

    Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

    It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

    Hide Yo’ Money!

    15 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Puerto Rico

    You might think that Puerto Rico is a no-no. But it’s actually really okay. It’s a pretty safe place to visit. In fact, safer than most US cities – and a lot more beautiful, too. As ever though, it pays to know how to travel smart

    El Yunque Rainforest
    El Yunque Rainforest is mozzy paradise.
    1. Be careful of your belongings – don’t leave them unattended.
    2. Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt.
    3. Try not to look too much like a tourist – especially in San Juan.
    4. Know about ‘Blue Laws’ – in Old San Juan you can’t drink on the streets. Other places have this rule too, so do research and be aware.
    5. Be vigilant at night in cities – especially San Juan. 
    6. Steer clear of caserios – at night, do NOT go there. Gangs operate here.
    7. Stay away from drugs – it’s still US law and not good to get involved. Why fund the gangs anyway?
    8. Learn some Spanishstart learning a new language, it’s fun anyway!
    9. Watch for weather warnings – not just hurricanes but tropical storms can cause flooding.
    10. Careful if you trek the rainforests – Take a map, be prepared, tell people where you’re going.
    11. Cover your legs and arms when hiking – there are poisonous plants in the rainforest.
    12. Take a good medical kit with you – even a minor graze can get infected in this sort of climate.
    13. Obey signs on the beaches – riptides can be deadly.
    14. If you find yourself in trouble with a riptide – don’t swim against it.
    15. Watch out for coral, sea urchins, jellyfish – watch where you swim.
    16. Cover up against pests – sandflies/mosquitoes. The latter can carry the zika virus and dengue fever. Use a repellent to keep mosquitoes away.

    Is Puerto Rico Safe to Travel to Alone?

    Puerto Rico is actually an awesome place to travel solo and it’s safe too! There are all sorts of adventures you can have on this amazing Caribbean island. But I have a few solo travel tips for Puerto Rico to make sure you have the best time ever and stay safe…

    Oh, and don’t jump in the sea drunk alone…duh.
    • Let people know where you’re going and don’t go off the grid. A solo travel adventure anywhere doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from your friends and family back home.
    • Make friends with other travellers. This will help beat the solo travel blues! Get chatting to people at your accommodation, make a few drinking buddies, and maybe even fun peeps to explore the rest of Puerto Rico with.
    • Keep emergency numbers at the top of your phonebook. In case something happens, you’ll want to call someone quickly.
    • Travel with a sim card. This will help you with everything from maps so you don’t end up getting lost to being able to check restaurant reviews on the move, updating Facebook, talking to your family – everything.
    • Ask locals about what to do, where to go, places to eat and drink, etc. This is the best way to find the best spots in Puerto Rico.
    • Avoid getting too drunk when you’re out at night. It’s fun, I know, but getting completely wasted is not a good way to stay safe.

    So there you have it. Puerto Rico is safe for solo travellers and it’s an awesome place to explore, even by yourself. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty epic place to travel solo. Just be sure to keep your wits about you!

    Is Puerto Rico Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

    Puerto is safe for solo female travellers, but you should be doing everything you normally to keep yourself safe. And to help out, even more, I’ve got some tailor-made tips for solo female travellers in Puerto Rico…

    Solo female hitchhiker takes selfie as she waits for a ride in Japan.
    Solo female travel can be SO much fun when done correctly!
    Photo: @audyscala
    • Men can be too friendly. If someone’s attention is getting too much for you and you feel uncomfortable, be firm but polite and decline their advances.
    • Don’t tell just anybody the details of your trip. You don’t always know who you’re talking to and what their intentions are. Lie or remove yourself.
    • Don’t be afraid to make a fuss if you’re feeling like you really are in danger. Even more so in public places. Most likely this will stop any attention coming your way from the perpetrator.
    • Be super careful if you’re drinking by yourself. Don’t accept any drinks from strangers, watch your drink once you’ve brought one. Drink spiking can and does happen.
    • As a woman, you’ll be seen as an easy target for petty theft. As annoying as it is, make sure you are extra careful with your bags, use cross-body straps, a money belt… anything.
    • Take a look around you and see what local women are wearing. Though you can pretty much wear whatever you want in Puerto Rico, try to follow local fashion.
    • Do your research when it comes to choosing a place to stay. Pay extra attention to reviews written by other solo female travellers.
    • Avoid wandering around at night by yourself. This goes doubly for quiet, deserted streets. Shortcuts down sideroads aren’t worth the risk.

    Choose yourself a social hostel with good reviews from other women, make some travel buddies, book a tour and explore this stunner of an island. Just make sure you make your safety and security a priority, watch your surroundings and use your common sense.

    Where to Start Your Travels in Puerto Rico

    Choosing a solid (and secure) place to stay in Puerto Rico will have a huge effect on not just the vibe of your trip, but also your safety! I’ve picked out a few spots that are not just aesthetically appealing, but are all located in Luquillo, which is no doubt the safest spot on the island!

    Safest area to stay
    Safest area to stay

    Luquillo

    Luquillo is like San Juan, just without the high crime rates. With plenty of great accommodations, attractions, and a super friendly vibe, it’s the perfect base for staying safe and being able to see all of what Puerto Rico has to offer.

    Is Puerto Rico Safe for Families?

    Puerto Rico is very safe to travel for families! In fact, it’s a top destination for people with children. So naturally, the island is pretty well equipped for family-friendly fun.

    There’s a ton of activities to enjoy together, all for different ages. Think snorkeling, days at the beach, child-friendly museums, Puerto Rico’s National Parks, and even tales of pirates.

    Toro Negro Forest Reserve
    Toro Negro Forest Reserve is my fav nature spot on the island.

    There’s not too much trouble in nature here. Trails for hikes are well-trodden and well-signposted. But it’s important to be prepared.

    Attractions on the island can sometimes be unpredictable with their opening/closing hours. Check before you go.

    There’s a whole range of accommodation options available in Puerto Rico. There are even family-sized apartments you can stay in. Just make sure to read reviews before you book – some aren’t so child-friendly. Resorts usually are though, and some have kids’ clubs.

    The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!
    mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

    A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

    An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

    Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

    Grab an eSIM!

    Getting Around Puerto Rico Safely

    It is safe to drive in Puerto Rico, but it can be challenging.

    I’m not going to lie: the drivers make it challenging. They tend to drive erratically, jump red lights, don’t pay attention to roadlands, etc etc. Another thing to note about driving in Puerto Rico is the fact that (for some reason) GPS systems don’t work very well here.

    Safe Drive
    Finding a parking spot might be the issue…

    Uber’s safe in Puerto Rico. However, it’s quite limited so it’s not always easy to pick one up. axis are safe in Puerto Rico, but they can be a little expensive too.

    To get a taxi, you can hail one or you could call one to pick you up, or grab a cab from the lines that usually form outside big hotels, cruise ship piers, and tourist attractions. Look for white cars with a yellow Garita or sentry box logo that says TAXI TOURISTICO on the side of them.

    Public Transportation
    Want to hop on a pink public bus?

    Public transport in Puerto Rico is safe for the most part, however sometimes on busy buses, you will have to watch out for your belongings. Pickpocketing can happen in these cases.

    Within San Juan, of course, there’s a pretty comprehensive (and cheap) bus system – 50 cents per ride! At the same time, it can be pretty tricky for visitors to figure out just how to actually use it.

    There’s also the Tren Urbano. This one-line urban train basically just runs through San Juan. It doesn’t go to Old San Juan or any big sights; it’s more for commuters.

    Crime in Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico’s crime rate is lower than it is in most other parts of the US. But, crime is far from rare. Whilst most crime that occurs is petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, violent crime in Puerto Rico is a real danger. At least 600 people are murdered in Puerto Rico each year.

    is transport in Puerto Rico expensive
    Use ya common sense and you’ll be fine!

    Tourists are seldom the target of violent crime in Puerto Rico, and much of this violence is between rival gangs. If you are an American tourist in Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t worry much. The US Travel Advisory recommends exercising normal precautions or using common sense (Level 1). This is safer than ‘safe countries’ such as Germany and France.

    If you have any safety concerns, contact local police if anything seems wrong. Stay aware of common tourist scams in tourist areas like Old San Juan and most importantly USE COMMON SENSE!

    Laws in Puerto Rico

    Most of the federal laws that apply in the USA apply in Puerto Rico, but not all of ’em. Just like all of America, Puerto Rico has its own laws too.

    Marijuana is not legal recreationally BUT the drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18, unlike the USA’s 21 – which is all you need to know. 😉

    What to Pack for Your Puerto Rico Trip

    Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Puerto Rico without…

    Product
    Description
    Somewhere to hide your cash
    Pacsafe belt
    Somewhere to hide your cash

    Travel Security Belt

    This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

    For those unexpected messes
    For those unexpected messes

    Microfiber Towel

    Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

    When the power goes out
    Gifts for backpackers
    When the power goes out

    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

    A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

    A way to make friends!
    A way to make friends!

    ‘Monopoly Deal’

    Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

    Keep your laundry organized and stink free
    Keep your laundry organized and stink free

    Hanging Laundry Bag

    Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

    Get Insured BEFORE Visiting Puerto Rico

    If you’re worried about safety, the number one thing to do is secure some good quality travel insurance. Health insurance wouldn’t hurt either.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    FAQs on Puerto Rico’s Safety

    Planning a safe trip to Puerto Rico can get quite overwhelming. That’s why I’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on safety in Puerto Rico.

    So, How Safe Is Puerto Rico?

    I’d definitely consider Puerto Rico as safe to visit – as long as you use your common travel sense. If you’re looking for trouble, you’ll find it.

    You may be worried about gang violence in Puerto Rico, and to be fair – it’s a valid concern. The fact that this actually occurs in this US territory is quite concerning. But the reality is this: tourism is very important for Puerto Rico. The likelihood of anything actually happening to you is low unless you wander (very stupidly) into the areas where narco gangs hang out.

    That’s the simple way to deal with that issue – as a tourist anyway. There is a little bit of a problem with petty crime, but that’s avoidable, too. Wear a money belt, don’t look too much like an unsuspecting tourist and try to blend in. Keep your belongings close to you and watch out for suspicious characters trying to get close to you. Your money is likely to stay safe in Puerto Rico if you just pay attention.

    If you think I’ve missed anything important, let me know in the comments below!

    Safety Puerto Rico
    See y’all in Puerto Rico!

     Looking for more info on travelling to Puerto Rico?

    Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!