Is it safe to travel to Puerto Rico right now -Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island known by many for being an autonomous community of the United States of America.
The country is located in the Caribbean Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the US Virgin Islands.
The territory is an archipelago that includes the main island of the same name and several smaller islands.
Most people are warm and welcoming, always eager to smile, even if they don’t know each other.
Puerto Ricans love to party, and just about everywhere you go, you will find some kind of fiesta or fiesta in town.
If you want a tranquil tropical paradise, look no further than the cities of Puerto Rico.
Warnings and Dangers in Puerto Rico
General risk: medium
Puerto Rico is safe, but you should take precautions on the streets of major cities and after dark. Beware of pickpockets and bag snatching, and keep your valuables safe by your side. Never carry all your money in one place or leave your valuables in plain sight in a car or on the beach while swimming.
Risk in taxis and transport: medium
The streets are always full in Puerto Rico, and traffic jams are unpredictable. Drivers are reckless and inconsiderate. There are too many vehicles on the island, and the roads are in poor condition. Driving is hectic.
Pickpocket risk: medium
Pickpockets are a common occurrence on the streets of Puerto Rico, and tourists are advised to remain vigilant at all times when on the streets. Make sure you don’t flash your valuable possessions on the street, or better yet, leave them in your accommodation.
Risk of natural disasters: medium
Hurricanes are a serious problem here. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, which caused extensive destruction to the island’s infrastructure. This also later caused the outbreak of mosquito-borne Zika fever.
Assault risk: medium
Assault is not entirely uncommon on the streets of Puerto Rico. In such a situation, hand over all your possessions immediately and do not resist. Avoid poorly lit and deserted areas.
Terrorism risk: low
Terrorist attacks in Puerto Rico are likely to occur because Puerto Rican terrorists have been active in the United States and Puerto Rico for more than two decades. In addition, due to the island’s political status, separatist violence is likely to continue. Therefore, remain vigilant at all times.
Scam risk: medium
Scams are widespread in Puerto Rico, so check your change, never pay, and negotiate everything in advance. Also, be very careful around ATMs and be wary of people trying to distract you. Also, watch out for children, as they are probably trying to distract you too – they are skilled pickpockets.
Risk for female travelers: low
Traveling to Puerto Rico is generally safe for solo women, but remember that you should always walk with someone, never alone. Also, stay away from poorly lit and deserted streets and areas and from people who are visibly intoxicated or under the influence.
So How Safe Is Puerto Rico?
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico cannot be described as a particularly safe country.
Many issues contribute to the overall insecurity, such as health issues (Zika outbreak), rising crime rates, and government debt difficulties.
As is the case with most warm-weather destinations in the hemisphere, including part of the U.S., the presence of the Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Although Zika causes very mild symptoms, if any, in most people who become infected, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the immediate future are in grave danger.
Certain areas such as Río Piedras or different “residenciales Públicas” are unadvisable to visit at night.
But if you are going to the western area of the country, then you will be much safer than in San Juan or the metropolitan area.
Above all, try to stay home at night instead of hanging out in bars where people get drunk; if you are a night owl, visit well-known hotels and restaurants instead.
Most street crime is non-violent and non-confrontational, and the chances of tourists getting attacked are slim.
However, even though the incidents range from scams to petty theft, as a tourist, you should mainly worry about pickpockets, and that only applies to areas frequented by tourists.
Travel insurance for Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the tropical paradises with everything in one place. You can visit this fantastic Caribbean island at any time of the year. To get to know every corner without worries, don’t forget to take your travel insurance for Puerto Rico.
In addition to beautiful beaches, Puerto Rico has historical architecture that you can see and tour throughout San Juan. There are many historical treasures, such as the walled city, the fortresses that guard every corner of the island, and its cobblestone streets and colorful houses.
Puerto Rico’s beaches are a Caribbean paradise; with white sand and crystal clear waters, it is easy to fall in love with this archipelago. However, the best thing about this island is that due to its size, you can easily get to know many places on it in a single trip.
Puerto Rico is the ideal place for adventure tourism; here, you can swim in underground rivers, dive in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, take night walks on bioluminescent beaches, and rappel down limestone mountains.
Of course, you can do all these adventure sports accompanied by travel insurance. In addition, you can also explore the wonderful gastronomic route that the island of enchantment has, trying an exquisite Mofongo dish.
What do I need to travel to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico belongs to the territory of the United States, which is why its immigration laws govern travel regulations. As of May 2022, many measures imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been lifted. We tell you what requirements you need to travel:
To travel to Puerto Rico, you must process an entry visa.
Vaccination certificate: All passengers entering the island must present a vaccination certificate against Covid-19, showing that they were vaccinated at least 15 days before the trip.
Test against Covid-19: It is no longer necessary to present the negative result of a test against Covid-19.
Form: All passengers must fill out the Certification Form before travel. You can find the form here.
Travel insurance: The authorities recommend traveling with comprehensive travel insurance.
All Puerto Rico passengers are subject to random PCR testing or may be required to quarantine or isolate upon arrival. You can get more information at this link.
Quote the best travel insurance
The health system in Puerto Rico works in a very similar way to the United States. Most of the hospitals found on the island are private and do not provide free assistance to tourists. This means that if you require medical assistance of any kind, you must pay for the service you need.
We know the need to be protected when we travel outside our country. That is why our coverage is designed to provide you with the best assistance when you need it. By hiring insurance, you will be covered 24 hours a day.
Quote for free at www.protegetuije.com, the best travel insurance for Puerto Rico. Our plans have extensive coverage against accidents and illnesses, including Covid-19. In addition, we offer you other benefits such as compensation for flight delays and compensation for lost luggage.
First Things First: Political Status of Puerto Rico
Is it a colony or not? The current situation in the country is so complex that it is confusing in some aspects, not only on paper. From the protest songs of Calle 13, through the random with which Puerto Ricans go from English to Spanish, to colonial architecture mixed with malls and fast food chains. Everything gives the impression that political status influences even the identity of Puerto Ricans, with a good part of the people fighting to recover their Latin American ties and the same number defending and enjoying the American dream. The truth is that Puerto Rico became a territory and commonwealth of the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. Puerto Ricans do not pay federal taxes or vote as a commonwealth, and travelers must abide by the same rules to enter the United States. So here comes the first point to keep in mind: if you need a visa to travel to the United States, to enter Puerto Rico, too. The good news: it is the same procedure, the same role. If you already have it, you don’t need to add anything to it.
How to get to Puerto Rico
Traveling from Latin America, you can connect with different United States cities. From Europe, Iberia and Air Europa have direct flights from Madrid.
What is the best time to travel to Puerto Rico?
The best season to travel to Puerto Rico is from mid-December to the end of April, when the weather is nicer, the sun is not as intense, and the risk of hurricanes is off the calendar. The downside is that at this time, prices go up exponentially, and making a budget trip can be much more of a challenge. The most advisable thing, in any case, is to travel near the beginning/end of the high season, to take advantage of the benefits of the good weather, and not leave your wallet behind in the attempt.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November, although the most prone months are September and October. So anyway, planning a trip at this time is still a risk.
Cost of living
Although it depends on each traveler and the trip they want, here I copy some indexes that can help to get an idea. This is a backpacking article, and I like to travel cheaply, so my recommendations are set accordingly. Of course, if you want your trip to be more comfortable, you can travel to Puerto Rico with an all-inclusive package and let yourself be treated like royalty. But you can always change your mind if you want a little more uncertainty on your trip.
As mentioned above, you must put some attitude and dedication to travel cheap. As a main rule, do not get frustrated at the first impression. Puerto Rico points to elite tourism, but that does not mean you cannot travel cheaply.
Sleeping in a hostel in the center of San Juan is around U$D 15 in a shared room. For about US$25 per person, you can get a private room. (Not bad if you consider that you can reach most of the attractions on foot). If the budget is looser, there are always options for a higher category. Outside of San Juan, especially in beach destinations, accommodation can become the most significant expense during the trip ($30 – $35 per person). A tent is more than recommended, not only if you travel on an economic plan: Puerto Rico has many ideal reserves to experience a little contact with nature. In the beach areas, free camping is possible even though it is not permitted by law. For security reasons, it is best to go to some areas designated for this purpose. Prices are around $10 per tent. In many reserves, camping is free, but it is necessary to apply for a permit. It is best to find out ahead of time. You can find information about some campsites on the National Parks of Puerto Rico website. Airbnb can also be an option if you want to prioritize the location.
A good plate of Creole food is around U$D 12, although you can always get something cheaper (I don’t know if it’s healthier) in the fruitiness, street stalls specializing in skewers, and deep-fried fried foods 🙂. Strong liver or not, Eating at these stalls is quite a local experience, not only because of the gastronomy but because the owners tend to attend these businesses. In my post about typical Puerto Rican food, you can see some of the unmissable dishes on the island. Vegan travelers or lovers of their own cuisine, not to worry. Like any tropical island, Puerto Rico has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. You can cook economically and richly for less than the cost of a dish.
Transportation in Puerto Rico is one of the biggest problems when traveling. Puerto Rico is an island designed exclusively for cars. So much so that it is common to see big parking lots next to the routes, adjacent to each other, to the point that it seems incredible that so many cars could fit on such a small island. It is therefore not difficult to imagine that most tourists drive in rented cars or taxis, which implies an actual budget. But what do we low-budget travelers who want to tour Puerto Rico do then? I remember even thinking: are there no cyclists in this country? If there are, I didn’t see any.
Public transport exists (bus stops and everything), but the frequencies are very scarce. If one finds the schedules, the differences between the bus and the transfer for tourists are abysmal. However, where many see a problem, others can see an opportunity: a small territory, many cars, and few buses. Is there anything better for hitchhiking? Hitching a ride in Puerto Rico (or traveling by pon, as they say, there) is not only possible but very easy, even within the cities. In the blog of the Slovak traveler Zuzana Piovarčiová, you can find a lot of information about it (The blog is in English, but if you have questions, you can contact her. Zuzana is super friendly and speaks excellent Spanish).
Is it safe to travel to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico has a bad reputation due to its crime rate, drug problem, and high rate of domestic violence. (Nothing that does not happen in other Latin American countries). As you might imagine, most of these crimes occur in large cities’ peripheral areas and are rarely related to tourism. In general, the greatest risk is being robbed by a pickpocket or opportunist friend of others. Therefore, the best advice is not to neglect things of value or lose sight of them. Do not venture into neighborhoods far from the downtown area (not without local company, at least), and do not lose common sense.
What to see and do in Puerto Rico
Old San Juan is the starting point for any trip to the island and an exciting attraction to learn about and understand the country’s history and current situation. The best way to discover it is on foot, and if you have time to get lost in the labyrinth of the old streets, even better. A guided tour is more than recommended: some buildings keep secrets and traditions that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The Parque de las Cuevas Río Camuy, very close to the capital city, is one of the largest cave systems in the world. The caves are part of an extensive network of natural limestone caves and underground watercourses carved out by the third largest underground river in the world, the Camuy.
Undoubtedly, one of the essential attractions in the area is the Ponce Art Museum, located in the city with the same name. Founded in 1959, the museum has an art collection of 4,500 pieces that cover 30 centuries of history and culture from Europe, America, and Africa, the three roots of Puerto Rico. One of the best collections of Spanish paintings in Latin America is found in this museum, including works by El Greco and Goya.
La Parguera is a small community famous for its abundance of snapper, the relaxed climate, and the quiet beaches, where colonial buildings coexist with the most modern architecture. Unfortunately, the nearby bioluminescent bay has lost its charm, but the town is worth a visit. Nearby are the islands of Mata la Gata, and Caracoislands are very close to there, known for their mangroves.
Isla Culebra, a small island to the east of Puerto Rico, is considered a Wildlife Refuge and is home to the most paradisiacal beaches in the country, including Playa Flamenco, chosen as one of the best beaches in the world. In addition to snorkeling and enjoying the sea, you can take a walk to the tip of the island, where there is an abandoned war tank from when the United States used the island as a training camp during the Cold War. Finally, Playa Tamarindo is the perfect place to spend the day snorkeling and swimming among colorful fish to the island’s west.
The El Yunque Rainforest is a protected area home to more than 240 species of trees and a wide variety of native fauna. For lovers of trekking in nature (or for those who want to do something more than going to the beach), El Yunque offers different options for hiking, waterfalls, natural pools, and the possibility of camping with permission. However, you have to be prepared as there are no facilities for this purpose.
Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon generated by tiny organisms that react chemically to movement. The Bioluminescent Bays of Fajardo can be seen at sea level. It is enough that there is no full moon, stir the water a bit, and abracadabra: the lagoon becomes a blanket of turquoise tinkles that seem like magic. Although the excess irresponsible tourism and the lack of environmental policies have greatly diminished the effect, the spectacle is still worthwhile. The recommendation is that they do not go with motor boats and not into the water (as tempting as the photos may look, that also helps the degradation of bioluminescence).
Do not travel to Puerto Rico without…
Having all your documentation in order. Even if you travel by direct flight or go by boat without passing through the United States, the immigration conditions are the same. You may need a visa and health insurance to cover your stay.
Sunscreen, repellent, and seasickness pills (navigation can be challenging).
Desire to dance. Puerto Ricans love to party, and it would be a shame to be there and go to bed early. So instead, play salsa, plena, or an attempt at either; in Puerto Rico, you’ve gotta dance.
Patience. If you’re waiting on a bus, hitchhiking, or striking up a conversation, don’t forget that you’re on the road!
A huge smile. This is how people will receive you throughout the country, and it is always good to respond in kind.