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Leisure travel to the Caribbean is appealing for so, so, so many reasons. It’s understandable why visitors flock to the islands in droves.
I mean. Come on. What’s not to love? Colorful cocktails, sandy beaches, rainforests, warm weather. The list is endless.
In general, the Caribbean is also a relatively easy destination to visit. Particularly, Puerto Rico is a wonderful Caribbean destination for Americans, considering that US citizens don’t need a passport to travel there, which cuts down on some of the hassle, such as clearing Border Control and declaring items at customs.
Solo travel to the Caribbean comes with additional questions, though.
Think about the advertisements that we see for the islands. Over all, the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, is often associated with family vacations, honeymoons, and bachelorette parties.
But what about solo travel, though? Is it lonely? Is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone? Is it even worth the additional expenses? After all, an island vacation isn’t always gentle on one’s bank account, and as a rule, solo travel can be quite pricey, especially at hotels and resorts.
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Is Puerto Rico Safe to Travel Alone?
So is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone? 110% yes!! I loved Puerto Rico as a solo traveler! Loved, loved, loved it. In particular, San Juan had so many things to do alone that is made for an incredible adventure.
Look at that picture of me. That smile doesn’t lie.
First and foremost, Puerto Rico’s tourism infrastructure is fantastic. I never felt worried about getting lost or missing a tour, because Puerto Rico knows how to “do” tourism.
I would actually recommend Puerto Rico to new solo travelers, especially Americans who perhaps don’t have a passport yet, because exploring this gorgeous island is so easy to do.
As a single woman, I wandered around Old San Juan and never once felt on edge or unsafe. I also took Ubers to other areas of the city, beyond the “touristy zones,” and everyone was super kind and helpful. I felt safer exploring Puerto Rico than I do doing errands in parts of my own state (New Jersey).
By the way, even if you only have 24 hours in San Juan, it’s so so easy to see and do a lot. That’s how awesome the infrastructure is.
So, stuff your safety worries in a sack. You won’t have any major safety concerns traveling alone to Puerto Rico as far as violent crime goes. Of course, I can’t predict the future and random criminal acts can happen anywhere at any time, but odds are in your favor.
Honestly, most solo travel safety concerns in Puerto Rico have to do with the island’s awesome nature. Sunburns, bug bites, dehydration. So, a lot of my tips are especially important for visitors who might not be used to a tropical climate and as a result, underestimate the heat and humidity.
Yet, by taking a few additional precautions, you’ll have a very safe solo trip to Puerto Rico, and plan a return vacation in the near future.
Solo Travel Safety Tips for Puerto Rico
Below, I’ve listed my top suggestions for staying safe on a solo trip to Puerto Rico. Again, I want to reiterate that I felt very safe and happy on my own travels to San Juan and its surroundings. I don’t think safety crossed my mind once, not even when I landed at one in the morning at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.
Puerto Rico is very easy to fall in love with, and I want to plan another solo vacation there in the near future.
I truly hope this post encourages you to book a ticket to Puerto Rico. Even if you’ve never traveled alone, give it a try here. You’ll be in good hands.
Apply Sunscreen and Bug Spray Liberally
First and foremost, Puerto Rico’s sun is incredibly strong. I’m not kidding. I saw some nasty, nasty burns on my solo trip to Puerto Rico.
Protecting my skin is incredibly important for anti-aging reasons as well as health concerns (skin cancer isn’t appealing to me). As a solo traveler, no one will remind you to reapply that sunscreen, so you’ll want to stay extra diligent about it.
My personal favorite sunblock is Sun Bum SPF 50 due to the natural ingredients and strong protection. For additional safety, bring a wide brim hat that has UV protection to keep your head safe and face feeling cool and refreshed.
Lastly, for nature walks in the rainforest, you’ll also want to pack some bug spray to avoid bites. No one wants bugs keeping them company on a wonderful solo trip, after all.
Don’t Drink Too Much
Puerto Rico is known for amazing cocktails. Amazing cocktails. After all, this island is the birthplace of the Pina Colada. And it’s delicious. Seriously delicious. I could talk about Puerto Rico’s cocktails for hours.
However, as a solo traveler, you’ll want to pace yourself and not drink too much alcohol. Some of these cocktails are very easy to drink, and combined with the hot weather, you might not notice how intoxicated you are until its too late.
I personally suggest limiting yourself to two cocktails when enjoying Puerto Rico’s nightlife. Always order drinks from the bartender and watch it closely. If you lose sight of your drink, don’t finish it and order another one.
Of course, you can also opt not to drink and still enjoy something delicious. A Pina Colada mocktail is a top notch dessert if you ask me.
Don’t Wander Into La Perla
La Perla is a historical shanty town made famous by the Despacito music video. You’ll see views of La Perla from Old San Juan and can easily walk there, but you ought to think long and hard about it.
San Juan has so many wonderful attractions that I don’t see any reason to go to La Perla alone. The thought unsettles me, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Honestly, if you want to visit La Perla, then only do so with an organized walking tour during the day with a local community leader.
Why a local community leader? Simple. Ethical reasons.
Safety aside, it’s a bit gross to go poorer neighborhoods (not a fan of “slum tourism”) to ogle at the community. I just cannot imagine filming people in their private homes as if they’re zoo animals. Don’t do it. Snapping pictures without permission is disrespectful. Locals hate it and won’t react kindly either.
Absolutely do not visit La Perla at night. I’ve heard this advice from multiple locals, and trust their judgement.
Know Your Physical Limits
Puerto Rico has a lot of wonderful outdoor activities. You can hike in El Yunque National Forest, for instance. You can take a snorkeling tour. You can kayak on sparkling bioluminescent bays. And swimming in the Carribean Sea is a joy.
However, as a solo traveler, it’s important to know and respect your physical limits. Not everyone is a hardcore and experienced hiker or diver. And you know what? That’s 100% okay!
I always encourage my readers to try new things and push their comfort zones, but at the same time, it’s important to be reasonable. Know your limits and don’t try to do activities that are physically out of your reach. It’s okay to say “no.”
Learn a Few Phrases in Spanish
Plenty of Puerto Ricans are bilingual, speaking fluent English and Spanish, but at the same time, it’s polite to know a few phrases of Spanish in Puerto Rico. Even a simple “hola” or “gracias” demonstrates respect for the local culture.
Not to mention, fewer people speak English outside of the major cities and tourist areas, so knowing some Spanish is very beneficial. Pack a Spanish phrasebook to read on the plane, or use an app, like Duolingo, to get started.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is essential for solo travel to Puerto Rico. No one likes to think of their trip getting cancelled, but stuff happens. You want to be prepared since you’re the only person who’s looking out for you.
Keep in mind the time of year, too. For example, if you decide to travel during Hurricane Season, a tropical storm (or worse, a hurricane) might impact or even cancel your trip. Furthermore, if you’re flying from New York or Chicago to escape the winter weather, snow storms might stop you from ever reaching the island.
It’s much better to be prepared.
For my trips, I always purchase World Nomads Travel Insurance since their policies include both trip delay/cancellation insurance, as well as medical coverage. For adventurous spirits, you will want to upgrade to adventure insurance to cover riskier outdoor activities.
Like I said, I know it’s not fun to worry about mishaps on your solo trip. Yet, travel insurance is meant to protect your health and bank account. The last thing you want is to navigate through an unexpected emergency without travel insurance to support you.
Furthermore, certain credit cards come with travel insurance, so always double check before any big vacation!
Puerto Rico has a tropical climate (duh) that’s hot and humid. You’ll likely sweat a lot, so it’s important to stay hydrated, especially after drinking a couple cocktails. I’d also avoid bottled water when possible. The plastic isn’t great for the environment (understatement), and you’ll want to do whatever possible to protect the island’s gorgeous natural wonders.
Instead pack a reusable water bottle and refill it as often as you able to. Don’t underestimate dehydration. It wrecks havoc on your body.
As a solo traveler, no one is going to remind you to drink water, so stay on top of it.
Take a Guided Tours
Puerto Rico has plenty of guided tours that you ought to take advantage of. These are especially wonderful if you don’t want to worry about renting a car and planning every detail of the trip yourself.
Plus hiring local guides contributes to the island’s economy, which is always important from an ethical standpoint. You’ll also chat with other visitors, which could lead to some delightful friendships.
Lastly, guided tours provide safety. If you want to snorkel or wander the rainforests, then an experienced guide will stop you from getting into too much trouble. Like I said, Puerto Rico’s nature is stunning, but also demands respect. You don’t want to wander into the rainforest or go diving without a plan in place. A guide is even better.
Puerto Rico Tour Ideas
- Casa Bacardi Rum Tasting Tour: Mmmm, you can’t visit Puerto Rico and not learn all about rum. Casa Bacardi was a lot of fun, and the rum tasting was informative and funny. The Rum Tasting Tour also includes a free welcome drink, which is a nice bonus.
- Culebra Day Trip: Culebra is a small and sparsely populated island with stunning beaches and crystal clear water. This highly rated guided tour will make seeing Culebra seamless and delightful. Get ready for paradise!
- El Yunque Rainforest Day Trip: Seriously, El Yunque Rainforest is incredible. I cried at the opportunity to swim in the rainforest, and it’ll be an experience that I will remember forever. It’s hard to get to El Yunque without your own car, so I recommend booking yourself on this El Yunque Rainforest Day Tour to see everything that Puerto Rico’s nature has to offer!
Rideshares are very popular around Puerto Rico, and are numerous in areas frequented by tourists, such as Old San Juan. I personally took Ubers everywhere, and never once felt unsafe. Not to mention, Ubers here are more reasonably priced than in most big US cities, such as New York or San Francisco.
I’m a huge proponent of spending money to feel safe, no matter where you are in the world, and Puerto Rico is no different. For example, if you’re out at night and don’t feel comfortable walk back to your hotel, even a short distance, then don’t worry about it and splurge for the rideshare. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
So is Puerto Rico safe to travel alone? I absolutely think so! With common sense precautions, you can definitely enjoy a solo trip to Puerto Rico without any major worries. Have a great time!