Why would people still want to come here after hearing about this?
I found out it depends on the neighborhood, and it is different in the 10 safest cities in Puerto Rico.
- 10 Safest Cities in Puerto Rico
- 1. Ponce (The Bucana Barrio)
- 2. Juana Diaz (The Rio Canas Abajo Section)
- 3. Dorado
- 4. San Juan Neighborhoods
- 5. Cabo Rajo
- 6. Puerto Real (A Cabo Rajo Barrio, NOT The City!)
- 7. Fajardo (Safe for Swimming and Water Sports)
- 8. Santa Isabel
- 9. Cayey (Central Puerto Rico in Caguas)
- 10. Rio Mar
- 5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rico Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Safest Cities in Puerto Rico
A total of 78 barrios (districts, neighborhoods, or municipalities) exist within Puerto Rican borders, some of which provide more safety than others.
Weather and swimming safety sometimes matter more than crime, at least for people just visiting and not living here.
However, you will want to know what places to go that have the least violence, pickpocketing, or theft.
1. Ponce (The Bucana Barrio)
You will find the city of Ponce on the south-central coast of Puerto Rico reaching out to the Caribbean Sea.
It is the second most populated area beside the metropolitan San Juan regions.
You may want to start out in Bucana if arriving at Ponce.
Bucana Barrio Safety
According to Retirepedia, Bucana has received recognition as the “safest and smallest city in Puerto Rico.”
Technically, you would hear it called a “barrio,” which means neighborhood, municipality, or district – not a city.
Anyway, you will find Bucana sandwiched between the “Playa” and “Vayas” barrios.
Tips of all three of these areas’ lands reach the water and have beaches.
Ponce happens to be one of the southern PR locations where the heart of most major hurricanes has not passed through.
2. Juana Diaz (The Rio Canas Abajo Section)
The section of Rio Canas Abajo in Juana Diaz had experienced a violent hurricane.
However, this barrio of only about 3,000 people seems quiet overall.
It is also known for its safety and family-oriented environment.
Now, I do not understand why Google Maps says it will take 1h 18 min to walk to the Marbella Hotel near the beach.
It only takes seven minutes to drive from downtown though.
It is probably not a straight route, so you better make sure it is safe to walk on and not a highway.
If you do not drive, you might have access to public transportation, such as a bus.
Despite this, I would advise you to start out in this section of Juana Diaz.
I do not plan to relocate to Puerto Rico, but if I were to stay there for longer than a week, I would probably want to find a place in Dorado if I could.
It is a suburb located only 30-35 minutes of driving distance from San Juan and has its own amenities and sustains itself.
I would not even have to enter San Juan if I did not want to if visiting this destination.
People that choose to retire here do so because of its gated communities and pedestrian-only walking trails.
Depending on where you live in this city, you could walk to some nightclubs, restaurants, or other nearby entertainment spots.
It does have its own beaches, shopping centers, and golf courses though.
4. San Juan Neighborhoods
According to Crime Grade and U.S. News, San Juan has a higher crime rate than the “average U.S. city” or “metro areas similar to San Juan,” as contrasted to San Antonio, Texas, Portland, Oregon, or Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
However, San Juan neighborhoods provide more safety than some other areas of this city.
Safest Sub-Districts (Subbarios)
Some safest San Juan neighborhoods include three subbarrios (sub-districts) which are in the south and western sections of the Santurce barrio.
These include Ocean Park, Miramar, and Condado.
I would choose to live in or visit one of these subbarrios if not spending time in Dorado, which is only about a half-hour drive from San Juan.
Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and Puerto de Tierra also have relatively safe ratings, depending on the streets you walk.
More people congregate here, which can increase pickpocketing or theft incidences, however.
If a violent crime were to occur, at least you would have more access to public safety services than if in a rural location, such as Toe Alta, Juana Diaz, or Stella.
5. Cabo Rajo
One of the safest sections of Cabo Rajo is the remote area of Pole Ojea.
It is west of the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and the central part of this small, non-touristy down is about 26 minutes by car to the Bahia Sucia Beach.
I would not mind visiting Pole Ojea.
On the western part of the city, you have large chunks of Mirador and Pedernales barrios located west of Puerto Real that have an excellent safety rating.
To the northeast, you will find Bajura.
To the west and southwest, sits Monte Grande, which isn’t quite as safe as the other locations.
However, it is still less dangerous than some sections of San Juan.
6. Puerto Real (A Cabo Rajo Barrio, NOT The City!)
You might not see Puerto Real on some of the most popular “best” or “safest” Puerto Rico city lists, and that is because there are two different places in PR with this name.
I found out that the Cabo Rajo Barrior of Puerto Real has an “A+” violent crime grade.
This district is NOT the city, and it may have some livable neighborhoods not all inundated by tourists.
Another location, Puerto Real, Vieques, PR has a much worse crime rate.
You will find this more unsafe place southeast of Fajardo, which also does not have the safest crime rating either.
However, these areas are ranked “high” in safety for swimming.
You may not want to live here.
However, the Cabo Rajo Barrior of the same name is much more family-friendly and less violent overall.
Note also that the less-safe Puerto Real location is on the islet southeast of Puerto Rico’s main island.
The safe “Puerto Real” is on the western coast of the main island.
7. Fajardo (Safe for Swimming and Water Sports)
You would choose this place if you want to live in affordable housing in a beach location that ranks safe for swimming and water sports.
However, it does have a poor crime grade.
Apparently, 93% of U.S. cities rate safer than Fajardo overall, and 69% of the same qualifying locations have a lower crime grade than Fajardo.
You probably can find affordable accommodations here if you choose this destination, and people who live here say that the western portion is the least violent area.
However, beware that you have a 1 and 187 chance of becoming a violent crime victim in the southern portions of Fajardo.
On the contrary, the western portion has a lower probability of violent attacks of 1 in 315.
8. Santa Isabel
Descalabradom, Jauca I and II, and Felician I and II have the lowest violent crime rates in Santa Isabel.
The eastern portion of Santa Isabel has the lowest victimization odds of only approximately 1 in 788 people.
If I were you, I would go to this place.
I also would check out down to the street what neighborhoods here would keep you the safest.
Hurricane and Storm Safety
It amazes me that the five most destructive hurricanes to have ever passed over Puerto Rico had missed most of Santa Isabel or caused the least damage.
9. Cayey (Central Puerto Rico in Caguas)
Cayey, Caguas, Puerto Rico has one of the best safety ratings, with it declared as safer than about 71% of other U.S. cities.
Total incidences equal approximately 1.75 per 1,000.
Areas, where you would least likely become victimized, include Sumido, Cercadillo, Matón Arriba, and Quebrada Arriba.
You should still take caution wherever you go and watch your wallet or purse in case of pickpocketing, however.
Do not worry much about noise here though.
10. Rio Mar
Sometimes called the “sleepy town,” Rio Mar has one of the lowest crime rates on the island.
It also has a low drug use rate and apparently almost no theft on it.
That is probably because it hardly has any people on it, and it is a remote area meant for people who do not want to deal with city life.
5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Puerto Rico
1. Prepare for arrival.
First, find out what clothing, emergency supplies, and precautions you should take before you show up at your destination.
Beware of local customers as well, such as knowing what hand gestures are appropriate in public.
Make sure the neighborhood you enter has safe drinking water, and find out what the safest, least crime-ridden streets are.
2. Watch out for hurricanes.
Never enter the water if you have heard a word of a nearby hurricane.
Do not bother showing up in PR if you already know about the possibility of a hurricane, which happens most during June and November.
3. Swim with caution.
Never enter the water if lifeguards on duty tell you do not do.
What is more, heed warnings of tropical storms, such as floods and violent winds and rain.
If you hear reports of possible water contamination, don’t go and never swim at night.
4. Avoid dangerous areas, especially at night.
Some places you just should not go into at night if you can help it.
If you do, do not go alone.
These include sections of La Perla, Louis Lloren Torres and Piñones, El Parque de las Palomas and Puerta de Tierra.
Make sure you research these areas thoroughly before planning your trip and ask locals some questions about them if you can.
5. Do Not Look (or Act) Like a Tourist.
You can avoid looking like a tourist if you wear more neutral-colored clothing instead of bright tropical print shirts.
Wearing sunglasses and hats may be hard to prevent but just notice the local fashions before investing in what to wear on the island.
Taking pictures in public also is a “dead giveaway” and could make you vulnerable to theft and scams.
Puerto Rico Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: Puerto Rico Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
- MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most dangerous thing about Puerto Rico?
You probably will deal with tourist scams, theft, or pickpocketing most of the time.
However, you should also beware of kidnappings, drug crimes that sometimes involve mugging or murder, and other violence.
If you do not provoke anyone or involve yourself in local drug rings, you should not have to worry, however.
Are hurricanes common in Puerto Rico?
More than four dozen hurricanes have occurred near or have hit the island of Puerto Rico since the 1990s.
About 29 of them have made an impact on the island, and about nine of them have caused the most damage.
Hurricane Maria was reportedly the worst one as of 2017, rated as a category 5 one.
However, Hurricane Teddy from 2020 was measured as the fourth-largest diameter wise to occur in the Atlantic.
What cities should I avoid in Puerto Rico?
It is more about certain neighborhoods that you should avoid and not just whole cities.
In most cases, you should avoid going to the immediate downtown or metro areas by yourself at night.
Only go there if you have a reason to, such as view some historic churches and government buildings.
Is Old San Juan Safe?
I have seen some safety reports including “Old San Juan” as one of the safest places on the island.
It supposedly has only about an average violent crime rating.
However, it seems to have poor murder, drug, kidnappings and identify theft, animal cruelty, and vandalism rating.
Still, I think I would risk visiting this location, also known as “Viejo San Juan” in Spanish.
It is where I would go if I want to appreciate the vintage architecture of some of the island’s oldest churches, government buildings, castles, palaces, and lighthouses.
By the way, Old San Juan is on The Isleta of San Juan, which also includes Puerto Tierra, which is safer than San Juan.