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11 Safest Cities In Puerto Rico (2022 Update)

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Although a US territory, Puerto Rico is not an official state. They do not report crime figures to the FBI and do not release annual crime rate figures. Efforts have been made in the past two decades to clear the territory of high drug crime and organized crime rates, as well as governmental and police corruption incidents.

The mountainous territory is located 1,000 miles away from mainland US and in the Caribbean Sea. Its capital, San Juan, is its most populous city with a population of 335,000 people. The whole island is home to just over 3 million residents, and attracts slightly more than this in tourists every year. Because the Caribbean Islands are popular with tourists, they can attract a lot of crime, including some violent crime.

The Island of Enchantment does have one of the highest homicide rates of any of the Caribbean Islands but these do tend to be drug or gang related and do not usually spill over to include tourists. In 2021, the homicide rate in Puerto Rico was 19.3 per 100,000 people, which is almost four times as high as that of the US, which had a homicide rate of 4.96.

Cities like Carolina and Bayamon, as well as some areas of San Juan, including Santurce and La Perla, are considered among the most dangerous cities in Puerto Rico, but below are 10 of the safest and least dangerous spots to visit.

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The 11 Safest Cities in Puerto Rico

1. Cabo Rojo

Historic house in Cabo Rojo, PR
Historic house in Cabo Rojo, PR (Image Credit: Blue Mariena, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)
Population: 9,000

Settled by the Spanish in 1511, the area around Cabo Rojo became popular for salt mining. The town gets its name, which means red cape, from the reddish color of the surrounding salt flats. Like much of the island, Cabo Rojo is famed and popular for its beaches. The plane boasts more than 120 beaches, including its most famous, Playa Sucia.

Visitors will also find a plentiful supply of fresh fish and seafood in the many seafood restaurants. Festivals are held throughout the year in Cabo Rojo, such as an oyster festival in May and a watermelon festival in July. Despite welcoming a lot of tourists and visitors every year, Cabo Rojo is a quiet and somewhat sleepy town where visitors are more likely to enjoy a quiet drink at a seafood restaurant than a raucous night out.


2. Condado

Condado Puerto Rico pano
Condado Puerto Rico pano (Image Credit: Jmoliver, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 6,000

Condado is a neighborhood, or subbarrio, of Santurce and is considered middle to upper class. Its properties are expensive and very difficult to come by as they rarely go up for sale. This has led to the nickname of the Manhattan of Puerto Rico.

Condado started life as a streetcar suburb of Old San Juan and in the early 20th century, large and expensive properties were built by some of the richest families in the area. It experienced another boom in the 1950s, when a series of exclusive and expensive hotels were erected in the area. This is another laid-back tourist spot that is popular for its shopping and for its selection of outdoor activities like parasailing and snorkelling, but also for its exclusivity.


3. Dorado

Carretera PR-165, Dorado, Puerto Rico
Carretera PR-165, Dorado, Puerto Rico (Image Credit: Yamil Rivera, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 37,000

Dorado is somewhat bigger than both Cabo Rojo and Condado and has a population of nearly 40,000 people. The town was established as a ward of Toa Baja but worked to distance itself and become a separate entity. Having gained independence in 1848, it regained its independence in 1905 after having been included as part of Toa Baja in the 1902 census. Dorado was host to the second ever G7 summit, held in 1976 at the Dorado Beach Resort.

Like most of Puerto Rico, Dorado is known for its beaches, of which there are 24, and hotels, as well as its nightlife and shopping, but it is perhaps even better known for its golfing opportunities. There are three working golf courses in Dorado. Several festivals and fairs are held here every year, with the highlight of the calendar being that of the Fiestas Patronales de San Antonio de Padua which includes regional food, rides for the kids, and parades to celebrate the town’s patron saint, Anthony of Padua.


4. Luquillo

Playa La Pared en Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Playa La Pared en Luquillo, Puerto Rico (Image Credit: The Eloquent Peasant, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 18,000

Luquillo is a coastal city that has 12 miles of seafront and 14 beaches, although some of these are considered dangerous beaches because of coastal conditions. La Pared, or The Wall, for example, has strong tides and swell, which make it popular for surfing and surfing lessons but means that it is considered unsafe for swimming and paddling. More popular, and more inviting, is Luquillo Beach or La Monserrate Beach, which is filled with coconut palms and has showers and toilets, as well as cafes and restaurants.

Every year, the city holds a Leatherback Turtle Festival in April. The endangered Leatherback Turtle nests all along Luquillo’s coast and the number of nests has actually increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Although the festival does enjoy a typical party atmosphere with music, dancing, and food, it is also dedicated to the conservation of the turtle. There are parades, fancy dress parties, and opportunities for the whole family to get involved.


5. Vieques

Population: 8,250

Vieques is a small island off the South East coast of Puerto Rico. The island’s name translates as small island but is sometimes known as little girl island because it is said to be the smaller sister of Puerto Rico herself. It has also been nicknamed crab island.

Although it is now a wildlife refuge, the island gained notoriety for being home to widescale protests against the United States’ using the island as a bombing range. The protests halted its use in 2003 and the island is now popular for its white beaches and beautiful blue waters.

The waters off some parts of the island turn even bluer when disturbed, because of a microorganism called Pyrodinium bahamense. When the organism is moved, it gives off a nenon blue luminescent glow, and the bay has been awarded the status of the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world by the Guinness World Records.


6. Fajardo

Fountain in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Fountain in Fajardo, Puerto Rico (Image Credit: vxla, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Population: 32,000

Fajardo was established in the latter half of the 18th century and used by American troops to invade Puerto Rico. Today, it is a very popular tourist destination with visitors flocking to the town to enjoy its seafood but also because of its close proximity and easy access to Palomino and other small islands.

The 46 beaches of Fajardo have still waters and are considered ideal for activities like snorkelling, while also being safe for swimming and for other water sports. You can also take a night kayaking tour of the bioluminescent bays in the area. For those looking to move to Puerto Rico, Fajardo is also popular because it is home to some affordable housing units that are ideal for families and family units.


7. Mayaguez

Teatro Yagüez - Mayagüez Puerto Rico
Teatro Yagüez – Mayagüez Puerto Rico (Image Credit: Todd Van Hoosear, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)
Population: 73,000

Mayaguez is the 5th largest city in Puerto Rico with a population of 73,000 people. Traditionally, the area was used for agriculture, and in the 1970s and 1980s, Mayaguez packaged and provided 80% of all tuna that was consumed in the US. It has also been a major textile hub, with approximately 25% of US Army drill uniforms once made in the city.

Today, however, it is a college town that is home to University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, an engineering university, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. The city hosted the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games and the stadia used during the games are still used today. Although a large city, and one dominated by colleges and universities, it is considered a safe and relaxing city.


8. Old San Juan

Old San Juan, puerto rico
Image Credit: AndPon, Pixabay
Population:

Old San Juan is a historic part of the San Juan islet and is considered a historically important part of Puerto Rico. It is known for the high walls that surround the area, and that were once used as a means of defence, as well as castles and other historical sites that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1983.

Today, the city is a popular tourist location with visitors flocking to see the ancient walls and castles, spend time on the beaches, and also to visit La Perla, which is a former shantytown. What was once considered a dangerous neighborhood is now a culturally rich and highly sought-after area of Old San Juan. The Rum Diary, featuring Johnny Depp, was filmed in Old San Juan, while La Perla has been used in numerous music videos including for Despacito, once the most viewed video on YouTube.


9. Isla Verde

Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico (Image Credit: The Eloquent Peasant, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 1,500

Isla Verde is a small town outside the Eastern Border of Sanu Juan. It was named for the small island that is visible just off the coast, and its name means green island. The town, which is home to the national airport, is very affluent and exclusive. Famous residents have included singer Ricky Martin. There is a water park that is popular with families, bars and restaurants that are popular in the evenings, and water-based activities like parasailing and banana boat rides.


10. Rincon

Population: 15,000

On the westernmost section of Puerto Rico is the town of Rincon, which is best known for its beaches. In particular, the town is popular with surfers and with those looking to try their hand at the water sport. It has a population of approximately 15,000 people and, other than surfing tourism which was introduced when the 1968 World Surfing Championship was held on the Domes Beach, the area’s economy is based on agriculture and fishing, although in recent years, several Internet-based companies have also set up in the town.

Rincon is also home to the Boiling Nuclear Superheater Reactor Facility, known as BONUS. Decommissioned in 1968 and having undergone several rounds of shielding and clean-up, BONUS was Puerto Rico’s only nuclear reactor, although it was only in full operation for three years.


11. Humacao

Population: 51,000

Humacao has a population of just over 50,000 people and is, primarily, a tourist destination. Originally populated by ranchers, Humacao was officially recognized as a city by the turn of the 20th Century.

There are eight beaches within the borders of Humacao, as well as resorts and hotels: the most notable of the resorts is that of Palmas del Mar. Palmas del Mar is the island’s largest resort and contains more than 20 tennis courts, two golf courses, a riding center, and several beaches. The city also has an observatory and the Palmas del Mar Tropical Forest.

divider 1How To Stay Safe In Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a beautiful and inviting island with stunning beaches and very attractive water. However, like other Caribbean islands, it does have some issues with crime. Pickpocketing and theft are the primary crimes of the area, although some violent crimes and organized crimes do still exist despite the best efforts to combat these problems. There is also a high homicide rate compared to the rest of the US. To ensure a safe visit, follow these guidelines:

  • Be Careful With Your Valuables – Pickpocketing and theft are major problems in most tourist areas, and Puerto Rico is no exception. Take care of your valuables. Leave those that you don’t need in your hotel room, ideally in a locked safe, and if you do need to take them out of the room with you, keep them in a secure bag or inside pocket. Separate money into different pockets so if you do fall victim of a pickpocket, you won’t lose all of your cash.
  • Don’t Look Like A Tourist – Ideally, dress to blend in rather than stand out. At the very least, you need to look like somebody that knows the island, therefore minimizing the risk of being a victim of crime.
  • Do Your Research – Before travelling, research the area you’re going to stay and your residence. Also, make a note of decent restaurants, hotels, and places you want to visit, and consider learning some Spanish so that you can ask for directions or even get help. Ensure you know local laws and customs, before you arrive.
  • Take Care At Night – Crime rates increase at night, especially around bars but also in more secluded areas. Stay away from housing projects and if you do intend to travel to local bars, try to do so in groups and always be respectful of the locals.

divider 1Conclusion

Puerto Rico is home to more than 3 million people and enjoys the same number of people visiting its shores every year. It is a popular tourist destination, along with the other Caribbean Islands, and while it does have a relatively high crime rate and a high homicide rate, it is possible to travel to Puerto Rico, have a good time, and stay safe. Above, we have listed 11 of the safest towns and cities on the island: some of which are ideal for short-term visitors and some that offer residential opportunities for people that are looking to move to the area.

See Also: What Is the Safest City in Ecuador?


Featured Image Credit: MariamS, Pixabay

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