What are the safest areas to stay in Puerto Rico? Are there areas to avoid in Puerto Rico? In this post, I will help you to find the safest areas to stay in Puerto Rico for tourists and the best places to stay in Puerto Rico for all budgets.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. It is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and several smaller islands and keys.
Puerto Rico was originally inhabited by the Taíno people when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493. It became a Spanish colony and remained under Spanish rule until 1898 when it was ceded to the United States following the Spanish-American War.
Puerto Rico’s political status has been a subject of debate for many years. It is not a U.S. state, but rather an unincorporated territory. This means that while Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they do not have full representation in the U.S. Congress, and they cannot vote in presidential elections.
San Juan is the capital and largest city of Puerto Rico. The official languages of Puerto Rico are both Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language spoken by the majority of the population.
Puerto Rico is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. Popular attractions include El Yunque National Forest, Old San Juan, and the bioluminescent bays.
In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation in Puerto Rico, leading to significant challenges in recovery efforts, including power outages and infrastructure damage.
Is Puerto Rico safe for tourists?
Puerto Rico is generally considered safe for tourists. It is a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches, historical sites, and vibrant culture. However, like any travel destination, it’s important to exercise common-sense safety precautions.
While Puerto Rico has its share of crime, most tourists have a safe and enjoyable visit. Areas like Old San Juan are relatively safe, but it’s wise to stay in well-traveled and well-lit areas, especially at night.
Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, so be vigilant with your belongings.
Puerto Rico is susceptible to hurricanes and earthquakes. It’s essential to be aware of the weather conditions and have a plan in place in case of a natural disaster. Follow local authorities’ guidance in such situations.
Health and Safety:
Like in any travel destination, practice good hygiene and be aware of any health advisories or vaccinations needed before traveling.
Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and be cautious when engaging in water-related activities.
Be cautious when driving, as Puerto Rican roads can be challenging, and traffic rules may differ from what you’re used to. It’s also essential to choose reputable transportation providers.
Local Laws and Customs:
Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs. Respect the local culture and people, and be mindful of any restrictions or guidelines, especially in religious or historical sites.
While many people in Puerto Rico speak English, learning some basic Spanish phrases can be useful, as it is the official language.
Have the contact information for local emergency services and your embassy or consulate readily available.
What are the safest areas to stay in Puerto Rico?
The safest areas to stay in Puerto Rico for tourists are Old San Juan, Santurce, Isla Verde, Miramar/ Condado, Rio Grande, Fajardo, Ponce, Luquillo, Dorado, Cabo Rojo, Vieques/ Culebra, and Rincon.
It’s always essential to exercise standard safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings no matter where you stay.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Puerto Rico, it’s advisable to research your destination thoroughly, stay in reputable accommodations, and consult with locals or your hotel concierge for recommendations on safe places to visit and areas to avoid.
Map of Map of Safest Areas to stay in Puerto Rico:
What areas to avoid staying in Puerto Rico?
Here are some areas in Puerto Rico that some travelers may prefer to avoid or exercise extra caution:
While this area is famous for its colorful houses along the coast, it has a reputation for higher crime rates and may not be the safest place for tourists, especially after dark.
Some parts of San Juan:
While the capital city of San Juan has many safe and popular tourist areas like Condado, Old San Juan, and Isla Verde, there are neighborhoods in San Juan where crime rates can be higher.
It’s a good idea to research specific neighborhoods before booking accommodations.
Certain rural areas:
Some remote or rural areas of Puerto Rico may have fewer tourist amenities and potentially less security. It’s important to plan carefully and be prepared when visiting less populated parts of the island.
Like in any city, walking alone in isolated or poorly lit areas late at night can be risky. It’s best to stick to well-lit, populated areas after dark.
The safest areas to stay in Puerto Rico for tourists are:
1. Old San Juan
Old San Juan is a popular tourist destination with a strong police presence. It’s generally considered safe during the day and evenings. But, as with any tourist area, be cautious of pickpocketing and petty theft.
Old San Juan, often referred to as “San Juan Antiguo” in Spanish, is the historic colonial district of San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. It is one of the oldest settlements in the Americas and is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture.
Founded by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1508, its well-preserved colonial architecture and historic fortifications have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The architecture of Old San Juan is a mix of Spanish colonial and Caribbean styles. You’ll find colorful buildings with wrought-iron balconies, cobblestone streets, and charming plazas. The city’s architecture is characterized by its use of pastel colors, particularly shades of blue, pink, and yellow.
Old San Juan is home to two iconic forts, El Morro and San Cristobal, which were built by the Spanish to protect the city from pirates and foreign invasions. These forts are well-preserved and offer fantastic views of the ocean and the city.
You can take a stroll along Calle del Cristo, the historic street in Old San Juan is famous for its shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
Also known as the Governor’s Palace, La Fortaleza is a historic mansion that serves as the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. It’s an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture.
Plaza de Armas is the central square surrounded by historic buildings and is a hub of activity in Old San Juan. It’s a great place to start your exploration of the city.
The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista dating back to the 16th century, is one of the oldest churches in the Americas. Its stunning architecture and historic significance make it a must-visit site.
Casa Blanca, also known as the White House, was originally built for the family of Ponce de León. It’s now a museum showcasing the history of the city and the island.
Old San Juan offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from street food vendors selling Puerto Rican favorites like mofongo and empanadillas to upscale restaurants serving traditional and modern cuisine.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Old San Juan:
- Luxury ($$$): Fortaleza Suites Old San Juan
- Mid-range ($$): Puerto Valdes
- Budget ($): CasaBlanca Hotel
Santurce is a diverse neighborhood in San Juan. While it has trendy areas with bars and restaurants, it also has some less-safe areas. Exercise caution and stay in well-lit, populated areas, especially at night.
Santurce is a district located in the northeastern part of San Juan. It is one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods in San Juan and offers a mix of cultural, artistic, and recreational attractions.
Santurce is known as the artistic heart of San Juan, with numerous galleries, street art. It is home to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré, and hosts the annual Santurce Es Ley street art festival.
Santurce has access to beautiful beaches along the northern coast of San Juan. Condado Beach and Ocean Park Beach are popular choices for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
Santurce is known for its vibrant nightlife. The area around La Placita de Santurce is a popular spot for bar hopping and enjoying live music and dancing such as traditional salsa, reggaeton, rock and jazz.
You can enjoy outdoor activities, including jogging or biking along the Paseo Lineal Martin Peña, a scenic trail along a canal. There are also parks and recreational areas for sports and picnics.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Santurce:
- Luxury ($$$): DoubleTree by Hilton San Juan
- Mid-range ($$): Trópica Beach Hotel
- Budget ($): Rosalina Ocean Park
3. Isla Verde
Isla Verde is a beachfront area near the airport with many hotels and resorts. It’s considered a safe and tourist-friendly area. Just use common-sense precautions like you would in any tourist area.
Isla Verde is part of the municipality of Carolina, which is situated just east of San Juan. Isla Verde is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Isla Verde is conveniently located near the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and Old San Juan, making it easy to explore the cultural and historical attractions of the city.
Overall, Isla Verde is a popular destination for tourists looking for a mix of relaxation, entertainment, and water activities in Puerto Rico. It’s a great place to unwind on the beach during the day and enjoy the lively nightlife in the evenings.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Isla Verde:
- Luxury ($$$): The Royal Sonesta San Juan
- Mid-range ($$): Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan
- Budget ($): TRYP by Wyndham Isla Verde
Miramar is a well-known neighborhood in San Juan, located between the historic district of Old San Juan and the modern Condado area. It is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, known for its upscale ambiance, historic charm, and proximity to various attractions.
Miramar is generally considered a safe neighborhood. It’s a well-patrolled area, particularly due to the presence of government buildings, corporate offices, hotels, and cultural institutions.
Miramar is home to several cultural attractions, including the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art and the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico.
Miramar enjoys a picturesque waterfront along the Condado Lagoon, providing residents and visitors with scenic views and opportunities for outdoor activities such as jogging and picnicking.
Miramar’s central location in San Juan makes it easy to access Old San Juan, Condado, and the Hato Rey financial district. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is also relatively close by.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Miramar:
- Luxury ($$$): Sheraton Puerto Rico Resort & Casino
- Mid-range ($$): Aloft San Juan
- Budget ($): Hotel Miramar
Condado is a popular and upscale neighborhood located in San Juan. It is known for its beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of dining and entertainment options.
Condado is a safe neighborhood for tourists. It has a strong police presence and is well-patrolled. But, as with any urban area, it’s important to exercise common-sense safety precautions, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and being aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
Condado is famous for its pristine beaches, particularly Condado Beach. The beaches are typically well-maintained and safe for swimming.
You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore Condado Lagoon. It’s a calm and picturesque body of water, perfect for water sports.
The main street in Condado, Ashford Avenue, is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a great place for shopping, dining, and people-watching.
Condado has several casinos, such as the Casino del Mar at La Concha Resort and Casino del Mar at the Renaissance La Concha Resort, where you can try your luck.
If you’re in Condado on a Sunday, check out the farmers’ market. You can find fresh produce, local crafts, and delicious snacks.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Condado:
- Luxury ($$$): O:LV Fifty Five Hotel – Adults Only
- Mid-range ($$): San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino
- Budget ($): La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
6. Rio Grande
Rio Grande is home to beautiful beaches and resorts. It’s generally safe, but, like anywhere else, it’s wise to be cautious at night and secure your belongings.
Rio Grande is a municipality located in the northeastern part of Puerto Rico, along the northern coast of the island and is part of the San Juan metropolitan area.
The municipality of Rio Grande is known for its diverse geography, which includes lush rainforests, rivers, and beautiful beaches. El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, is partially located within Rio Grande’s boundaries.
Rio Grande is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and proximity to El Yunque National Forest. You come to explore the rainforest, hike its trails, swim in its waterfalls, and enjoy outdoor activities such as ziplining and nature walks.
The municipality boasts several picturesque beaches along its coastline, including Playa Vacia Talega, Playa Caribe, and Playa Las Picuas. These beaches offer sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
Rio Grande is home to several high-end resorts and golf courses, including the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, which features two championship golf courses designed by Greg Norman and Tom and George Fazio.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Rio Grande:
- Luxury ($$$): St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
- Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico
- Budget ($): The Country Club Residences at Grand Reserve
Fajardo is a popular destination for its bioluminescent bay and access to the beautiful islands of Vieques and Culebra. It’s generally safe for tourists, but always exercise common-sense precautions.
Fajardo is situated on the eastern tip of Puerto Rico, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Fajardo is surrounded by clear blue waters, and there are numerous beautiful beaches and cays (small islands). This makes it a popular destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing.
One of the most famous attractions in Fajardo is the bioluminescent bay, known as “Laguna Grande.” The waters of this bay are inhabited by microorganisms called dinoflagellates that emit a blue-green glow when disturbed, creating a magical and unique natural light show at night. Kayaking tours to experience this phenomenon are a popular activity.
Fajardo serves as a gateway to the nearby islands of Culebra and Vieques. Ferries and private boats provide transportation to these islands.
Fajardo is accessible by road from San Juan. The city has a ferry terminal and a small airport, Diego Jiménez Torres Airport, which offers domestic flights.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Fajardo:
- Luxury ($$$): El Conquistador Resort – Puerto Rico
- Mid-range ($$): Waterfront studio at Fajardo, Puerto Rico
- Budget ($): Sueños del Mar
Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second-largest city and a cultural hub, located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. It’s generally safe, but, like in any city, be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
Ponce was founded in 1692 and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the South” due to its historical and cultural significance.
The city is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Ponce Cathedral (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), Parque de Bombas (a historic firehouse), and the Ponce Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of European and Puerto Rican art.
Ponce is home to the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico), a well-regarded institution of higher education.
Ponce is easily accessible by road and has its own airport, Mercedita Airport (PSE), which connects it to other parts of Puerto Rico and the United States.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Ponce:
- Luxury ($$$): Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort
- Mid-range ($$): Aloft Ponce
- Budget ($): Caribe Hotel Ponce
Luquillo is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is generally considered safe for tourists. Just practice basic safety measures.
Luquillo Beach: Luquillo is famous for its stunning crescent-shaped beach, often referred to as “La Monserrate” or “Blue Flag Beach.” It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
Kioskos de Luquillo is a row of colorful food kiosks located along the main road. You can enjoy a variety of Puerto Rican and Caribbean dishes, including seafood, mofongo, and tropical drinks. It’s a great place to savor local cuisine.
Las Paylas (The Natural Waterslides) are natural rock formations in the Mameyes River where you can slide down the smooth rocks into clear pools of water. It’s a fun and refreshing adventure for nature enthusiasts.
Balneario de Luquillo offers more amenities than the main Luquillo Beach, including picnic areas, changing facilities, and lifeguards on duty.
While not located directly in Luquillo, you can easily find tours to bioluminescent bays nearby. The Mosquito Bay in Vieques and Laguna Grande in Fajardo are two popular options.
Hacienda Carabali adventure park offers horseback riding, ATV tours, go-kart racing, and other outdoor activities. It’s a great place for adrenaline seekers.
Located in the historic center of Luquillo, Casa Roig Museum is dedicated to Puerto Rican art and culture. It often hosts exhibitions and cultural events.
If you’re visiting on a weekend, you might catch the local farmers’ market, where you can buy fresh produce, artisanal products, and local crafts.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Luquillo:BEST HOTELS IN LUQUILLO
Dorado is an upscale resort area located on the northern coast of Puerto Rico and is generally safe. As with any tourist area, be cautious of your belongings.
Dorado is famous for its stunning beaches, including Dorado Beach, which is home to several luxury resorts. These beaches are known for their golden sands and crystal-clear waters, making them popular destinations for both locals and tourists.
Dorado is a golf enthusiast’s paradise, home to The Dorado Beach Resort & Club, featuring multiple golf courses designed by renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
Dorado is home to several upscale resorts, including the Ritz-Carlton Reserve and the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. These resorts offer luxurious accommodations, spa services, and dining options.
The town of Dorado has a rich history and was originally settled in the 19th century. You can explore historic sites such as the San Antonio de Padua Parish Church and Casa del Rey, a historic mansion.
Beyond its beaches, you can explore the Dorado Beach Natural Reserve and enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Dorado:BEST HOTELS IN DORADO
11. Cabo Rojo
Cabo Rojo is a relatively safe area, located on the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico, known for its beautiful beaches and natural attractions.
Los Morrillos Lighthouse (Faro Los Morrillos) iconic lighthouse is perched on rugged cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea and is known for its striking views and beautiful sunsets.
Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, home to diverse bird species, mangrove forests, and unique ecosystems.
Playa Sucia, also known as “La Playuela,” this pristine beach offers crystal-clear waters, white sands, and stunning natural surroundings.
Boquerón Beach has a lively atmosphere, featuring restaurants, bars, and water sports activities. Cabo Rojo Salt Flats have been used for salt production since the 16th century and are now a protected area.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Cabo Rojo:
- Luxury ($$$): Hacienda Tres Casitas
- Mid-range ($$): Combate Beach Resort
- Budget ($): BOHO Beach Club
Vieques is a beautiful island located just off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. It’s known for its pristine beaches, natural beauty, and relaxed atmosphere.
Vieques is considered safe for tourists. It’s a tranquil and laid-back island with a low crime rate. But, it’s always a good practice to exercise common-sense safety precautions to ensure your safety.
One of the most famous attractions on Vieques is Mosquito Bay, which is renowned for its bioluminescent organisms. These microorganisms emit a blue-green glow when disturbed, creating a stunning natural light show in the water at night.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Vieques:
- Luxury ($$$): Casa de Tortuga Guesthouse
- Mid-range ($$): Blue Horizon Boutique Resort
- Budget ($): The Vieques Guesthouse
Culebra is another beautiful island located off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere. Similar to Vieques, Culebra is generally considered a safe destination for tourists.
One of Culebra’s most famous attractions is Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco), often ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world. It features pristine white sands, clear turquoise waters, and a relaxed ambiance.
Culebra is also known for its diverse marine life and birdwatching opportunities. The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1909, is home to various species of birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife.
You can reach Culebra by ferry or small aircraft from the mainland of Puerto Rico. The ferry departs from the town of Fajardo on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. The island’s small airport, Benjamin Rivera Noriega Airport, serves flights from San Juan and other nearby airports.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Culebra:BEST HOTELS IN CULEBRA
Rincon, often referred to as “The Town of Beautiful Sunsets,” is known for its surfing and laid-back atmosphere. It’s generally safe, but exercise usual precautions.
Rincón is located on the western coast of Puerto Rico. Its unique location along the coastline grants it access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, providing a diverse range of beaches and surf conditions.
Rincón boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico including Playa Domes, Sandy Beach, and Steps Beach. Sandy Beach, in particular, is famous for its consistent waves, making it a hotspot for surfers of all levels. Steps Beach is great for snorkeling due to its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs.
The Punta Higuero Lighthouse, perched on a dramatic cliff, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline. Tres Palmas Marine Reserve is home to a rich marine ecosystem, including sea turtles and colorful coral reefs, making it a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The surrounding natural beauty of Rincón also lends itself to eco-tourism activities such as hiking, bird watching, and horseback riding. The nearby El Faro Park offers walking trails and opportunities to observe local wildlife.
Many visitors come to Rincón seeking relaxation and wellness. The town has several yoga studios and wellness centers offering classes and services to help visitors unwind and rejuvenate.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico in Rinco:
- Luxury ($$$): Rincon Beach Resort
- Mid-range ($$): Rincon of the Seas Grand Caribbean Hotel
- Budget ($): Villa Cofresi
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In conclusion, Old San Juan, Santurce, Isla Verde, Miramar, Condado, Rio Grande, Fajardo, Ponce, Luquillo, Dorado, Cabo Rojo, Vieques, Culebra, and Rincón are the best and safest places to stay in Puerto Rico for tourists.
Regardless of where you stay in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions like safeguarding your belongings and being cautious in unfamiliar surroundings.