Is Puerto Rico Safe? Travel Advisory 2023


Puerto Rico is a relatively safe destination with a lower crime rate than many other areas of the United States. It is one of the safest Caribbean islands.

Most of the violent gun crime in Puerto Rico is related to drug trafficking and gang activity, which rarely affects visitors.

Check also: Best beaches in Puerto Rico for 2023

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Tourist scams in Puerto Rico to avoid

As with any popular tourist destination, Puerto Rico has unfortunately been the site of various scams and schemes aimed at taking advantage of unsuspecting visitors. Here are some of the most common tourist scams to watch out for:

Fake taxi drivers: Some scammers pose as taxi drivers and prey on tourists who are unfamiliar with the area. They may overcharge for rides or take passengers on unnecessarily long routes to increase the fare. Always ensure that the taxi you’re getting into is licensed and clearly marked with the taxi company’s name and phone number.

Timeshare presentations: Some resorts and vacation rental companies offer freebies or deeply discounted prices for attending a timeshare presentation. However, these presentations can be high-pressure and last much longer than advertised. Before attending any presentation, research the company and read reviews from previous attendees.

Street vendors: While many street vendors in Puerto Rico are legitimate, some may sell counterfeit goods or overcharge for souvenirs. It’s always a good idea to negotiate prices and make sure you’re getting what you paid for before making a purchase.

Money-changing scams: When exchanging currency, be sure to do so at a reputable bank or exchange office. Some scammers may offer to change money on the street, but they may give you fake bills or use sleight of hand to take some of your money.

Rental scams: Be wary of renting vehicles or accommodations from unlicensed or unknown companies. Always research the company and read reviews before making a booking, and be sure to thoroughly inspect the rental before handing over any money.

“Helpful” locals: Some scammers may pose as friendly locals who offer to show you around or help you with your bags. They may then demand payment for their services or steal your belongings while you’re distracted. It’s best to politely decline any unsolicited help and be cautious of strangers.


May 4 – Three people dead and two injured after a shooting in Puerto Rico

Officials say a shooting in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has left three people dead and two injured.

According to authorities, the killings occurred at a corner store in the southern coastal city of Guayama.

The two injured victims were taken to a hospital, but police said they did not know how they were doing.

It was unclear what triggered the shooting. No other details were initially available.

There have been 140 murders reported on the island of 3.2 million so far this year, compared with 171 in the same period last year.

April 18 – 63 people charged with drug trafficking in Puerto Rico

A six-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico accuses 63 people of trafficking drugs in the Puerto Rican city of San Germán. The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) Mayagüez Strike Force. With the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the United Nations, indictments and arrests were completed. These investigations and arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.

“This case is a prime example of successful drug interdiction operations that result from collaborative work between federal and state agencies,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We can remove wrongdoers from the streets and bring stability and peace to our communities when we jointly apply our resources, personnel, and operational expertise to bear against extensive organized crime networks.”

March 16 – A 30-year old woman went to PR to celebrate birthday but never came back

A Henrico mother is still searching for information after learning that her daughter left for a trip to Puerto Rico in February but never returned.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 25, Oneisha Simone Shearin, 30, was found dead in her hotel bathroom in San Juan.

“I fell to my knees. This is the worst feeling I’ve have ever felt in my life,” said Maggie Watkins, Shearin’s mother.

For those who loved Shearin, the long weekend trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday turned into a nightmare.

More than three weeks after her death, Watkins explained that she is only interested in learning how her daughter passed.

Why visit Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico safe to visit

With its Caribbean average temperature of 80 degrees, alongside blue skies, beaches, and colorful landscapes, nobody would question traveling to Puerto Rico. Here are, 3 more reasons to do it.

1. Old San Juan

The colorful neighborhood paved with unique blue stones offers a myriad of restaurants, bars, and outdoor cafes amidst an area full of history and culture.

2. Santurce

The right place for those into music and art. Santurce is covered with murals, bars, and cafes. Best for people traveling on a budget. 

3. Vieques

Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, as well as the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy the beach while spotting semi-wild horses passing by.

Update archives

February 23 – Police: Boy among 3 killed at Puerto Rico birthday party

On Monday night, a group of armed individuals fired shots at a birthday party in the northern Puerto Rican town of Cataño, resulting in the deaths of three individuals, including a 4-year-old child.

The attack also left two other children, aged 9 and 10, injured. The incident occurred at a public housing complex. The police reported that two men were killed on the spot, while the young child passed away at a hospital the following day.

Authorities have confirmed that the child was not related to the men. The police suspect that the shooting was related to drug trafficking. No arrests have been made thus far.

February 22 – Puerto Rico’s Artisans Are Celebrated in New Tourism Campaign

Explore Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing group, has just released the second installment of its Live Boricua campaign, which features videos spotlighting local craftsmen and designers. They make items in Puerto Rico Sunshine, a color developed by the group in collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute.

The current marketing effort is a departure from the campaign’s initial phase, which was largely centered on traveler experiences on the island.

“Our latest campaign was built out of seeing this change in people wanting to have more connection to the places they were visiting besides the usual ‘fly and flop’ vacation,” said Discover Puerto Rico’s Chief Marketing Officer Leah Chandler.

February 8 – 3 American tourists were stabbed in Puerto Rico after being warned to stop filming in a popular neighborhood

After being instructed to cease filming in the La Perla neighborhood, three American tourists were attacked in Puerto Rico early on Monday, according to authorities.

The incident broke out in the well-known neighborhood where one of the tourists, Carlos Sanchez Brown, 39, of South Carolina, started filming a hamburger cart but was warned by some locals to stop and leave the area.

According to town commissioner José Juan Garcia, Brown was accompanied by Wallace Florence, 37, also from South Carolina, and Jackson Tremayne, 38, from Georgia.

A person with a knife attacked Brown in the left forearm as the victims approached Imperial Street near the Museum of Art and History. They then stabbed Tremayne six times, striking him in the left side of the chest, upper left part of the abdomen, left arm and back.

Ambulances were dispatched to transport Tremayne and Brown to a nearby hospital, but according to authorities, Florence refused medical attention. There was no immediate word on the victims’ condition.

Today, January 22, Puerto Rico has recorded 42 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a preliminary report conducted by the Department of Health. That’s the highest number of daily fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

16 of the cases were not vaccinated at all, 19 cases had received two courses of the vaccine, and 7 had received a booster shot. However, they had all suffered from underlying health conditions.

The good news is that hospitalizations have dropped down to 791, of which 103 are connected to artificial ventilation.

Up to date, the COVID-19 positivity rate in Puerto Rico is 27.01%, meaning that 27 of every 100 tests result positive.

Source: El Nuevo Día

December 14 – New restrictions for international travelers visiting Puerto Rico

Along with other countries around the world, Puerto Rico has tightened its entry restrictions due to the fear of the new Omicron variant.

As of December 6, all international visitors must present a negative test result taken no more than 24 hours before departure.

Also, at least 100 arriving passengers are tested randomly at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport every day. The number of random tests could vary depending on the positivity rate, the incidence of the virus, and the total number of daily arrivals.

Source: El Nuevo Día

November 8 – Puerto Rico to require vaccination from schoolchildren

Puerto Rico will require children aged 5 or older to get vaccinated to attend school, said the governor last week.

The coronavirus vaccine has just been approved for those aged between 5 and 11. There will be exceptions, of course. But the goal is to get at least 95% of this age group vaccinated.

The decision comes as Puerto Rico becomes the most vaccinated place in the whole of the U.S. and its territories. More than 80% of those aged 12 or older have received the full series of shots. Whereas 87% of 12-to 15-year-olds are already getting the vaccine.

Source: The Hill

September 24 – Puerto Rico removed from Chicago travel advisory list

Along with California, Puerto Rico has been removed from the Chicago travel advisory list. Therefore, travelers arriving from there are no longer recommended to get tested before and after their trip.

The states were taken off the list after daily new COVID-19 infections had dropped below 15 per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks. On Tuesday, September 22, California reported 13.6 daily new cases, while Puerto Rico had only 9.4 daily new infections per 100,000 people.

At the moment, California and Puerto Rico are the only states which are not on the list, while Washington D.C. and Connecticut were added back to the travel advisory.

Source: Travel and Leisure

September 3 – CDC adds Puerto Rico to the ‘very high risk of COVID-19 list.’

On August 30, the CDC added 7 more countries to the ‘very high risk of COVID-19 list,’ including Puerto Rico. The CDC recommends avoiding visiting these countries, and anyone who must travel there should be fully vaccinated.

To help prevent the virus from spreading, Puerto Rico followed the announcement with further local restrictions. Since September 2, alcohol sales and drinking, celebrations, and public events are banned between midnight and 5 am.

A mask mandate had already been in place in all indoor spaces. But the new restrictions require face coverings also outside if there is a crowd of 50 people and more.

Source: CNN, Insider

August 19 – Puerto Rico to ensure customers’ safety by requiring hospitality workers to be fully vaccinated from August 23

Puerto Rico is not taking any chances regarding the safety of its visitors. Starting August 23, all hospitality workers will be obligated to bear a vaccine certificate to be allowed in the work area.

The new Executive Order (EO-2021-063) includes “all theaters, cinemas, coliseums, convention centers, activities centers, restaurants, and places where food or drinks are served such as  bars, kiosks, sport bars, fast foods, food courts, and cafeterias.” 

So far, the government has not announced that tourists or customers will also need to comply with the rule.

Source: The National Law Review