Want to know if Puerto Rico is a safe destination for your next trip? In this guide, I'll discuss everything you need to know about the island's safety concerns so you can go better prepared and tour confidently.
A gorgeous member of the Caribbean archipelago, Puerto Rico is an island adorned with sandy beaches, lush nature, exotic wildlife, and architectural wonders. For backpackers and digital nomads, it's a budget-friendly destination, offering a plethora of things to do and see.
But what dangers lurk beneath the island's sunny atmosphere?
If you've done some background research, you're bound to have some concerns regarding your safety. Puerto Rico is somewhat infamous for gun crimes, drug trafficking, and theft.
In this guide, we look at the safety aspect of touring the island, the main risks involved, and how to avoid them.
Is Puerto Rico safe to travel?
Yes. Puerto Rico is safe enough to visit and enjoy as long as you take adequate precautions to safeguard yourself!
The country does have a reputation for serious crimes like homicides carried out by drug dealers and criminal gangs. But, travelers are unlikely to be affected by them. They have also decreased significantly over the years, though they remain prevalent. Puerto Rico ranks 18th in the crime rate index at present.
Most of the issues faced by tourists are common risks like theft, pickpocketing, and scams. Another risk is the island's rogue weather patterns. While all these issues may seem concerning, most travelers have a trouble-free experience. All you need to do is take the necessary safety measures as you would in any other country.
When is Puerto Rican weather a safety threat?
The geographic location of Puerto Rico makes it vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. The hurricane season usually lasts from June to November, with August and September being the worst times.
So, make sure to check the weather forecast when you plan for your trip!
If you plan to travel during the high-risk season, make sure you're covered against natural disasters by travel insurance. Be alert to weather changes and take weather forecast warnings seriously. You have to be prepared to react promptly in situations of heavy rain or storm.
Avoiding Petty Crimes in Puerto Rico
When you're touring the island, pickpocketing and robbery should be one of your primary concerns. Thieves usually operate in crowded areas, and tourists can easily be targeted.
It's important to be vigilant about your surroundings and keep your belongings safe.
Avoid wearing jewelry or fancy items that may attract robbers. Also, don't flash your money when you purchase items from stalls off the streets. If you are staying at a hotel, it's best to leave your valuables and personal documents in a locker.
Try to blend in with the local crowd as much as possible. You can dress like a local, throw in a Spanish phrase or two, and act like you know your way around. Learning some common Spanish phrases can also help you communicate with vendors and locals better.
What to Do if You Are Mugged or Robbed
You have to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenarios, too. If you are mugged, don't resist, although it could be your first instinct. Hand over whatever you have and leave fast.
Losing your travel documents is more serious than losing money. In such a case, file a complaint with the police and contact the embassy.
Safest Neighborhoods in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, is the most popular tourist area.
Its neighborhoods like Old San Juan, Santurce, Isla Verde, Miramar, and Condado are safe during the day and night because the police will usually patrol the streets. Areas like Piñones, Santurce, Parque de las Palomas, and Puerta de Tierra should be avoided at night.
It's best to refrain from visiting the public housing complex area, Louis Lloren Torres, as it's renowned for gang activity. Outside San Juan, cities like Dorado, Rio Grande, Vieques, and Luquillo are other safe places in Puerto Rico.
Is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone for female travelers?
Puerto Rico is safe for female solo travelers, but it's always better to buddy up!
If you're traveling alone, it's important to take every precaution possible. Keep someone or multiple people updated about your whereabouts, and make sure you have all the necessary emergency contact numbers with you.
Avoid staying outside late at night and walking on dimly lit or deserted pathways. You should also be wary of locals claiming to guide you because they can charge you exorbitant rates.
How safe is it to drive in Puerto Rico?
It is safe to rent a car and drive around, but you should exercise a lot of caution. You will notice a lot of reckless driving on the road, and the best you can do is follow the rules and drive as carefully as possible.
Always park the car in a safe, designated parking area. Make sure you don't leave any of your valuables in the car. Car theft is also a common issue here.
Other Health and Safety Concerns
Aside from all these, you should protect yourself from nasty insects and bugs. Don't forget to carry a good mosquito repellent cream or spray, and reapply every few hours. As with every tropical country, the island has a risk of mosquito-borne viruses like dengue and Zika.
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