Updated on January 26, 2021 by Asher Fergusson
What to pack for this beautiful place is a common question, so I’ve put together a list of what to wear in Puerto Rico, what other items to pack, what NOT to bring, and some FAQs.
Note: there are some parts of the island still in recovery mode after being hit by Hurricane Maria. Do plenty of research on the areas you’ll be visiting, and consider finding a way to help if you can! We still highly recommend you visit because it’s such a beautiful place and your tourism dollars will help their economy tremendously.
What to Pack for Puerto Rico – 17 Essentials
It’s not hard to imagine how your phone might get ruined in Puerto Rico – there’s a lot of water on and around the island. Many activities you take part in will put your electronics in danger. I don’t take chances with my devices. I always secure them from harm, and this phone case is my favorite method of doing so for my phone. It’s waterproof and dust/dirt proof, simple to use, and also offers some shock resistance, all while allowing me to use my phone’s touchscreen and camera. The price of this case, too, is unbelievably affordable.
While you’re out and about boating, hiking, or strolling the beach, there’s a chance your camera or phone may be dropped into water of some kind. Electronics aren’t known for their ability to float, so it’s a good idea to attach a flotation device to them just in case. This floating wrist strap is designed to be comfortably worn on your wrist to prevent the device from falling in the first place, and it’s buoyant enough to keep your small devices at the water’s surface should an accident happen.
I really love these shoes. I was surprised at how comfortable and supportive they are – they can easily be worn for a day of hiking, and you can splash around in the waterfalls or walk right into the ocean wearing them without a care in the world. Their design allows sand and water to flow out so they don’t get trapped inside and cause you pain or discomfort. I wear mine for hiking, beach-walking, snorkeling, paddle boarding… really any activity that requires a solid grip and water-safe shoes.
While the tap water in Puerto Rico is treated to the same standard as the rest of the US, with the recent flooding issues it’s better to be extra safe. This LifeStraw filtered water bottle is handy to have on any trip because it will save you from having to buy bottled water or drinks throughout the day – you can just carry it with you and refill it as needed.
I always want a camera with me while I’m taking part in water activities. I like to catch cool underwater shots and video, and I don’t want to have to worry about a regular camera getting ruined or having to pay for an expensive GoPro. I have tried several underwater cameras, and I like this one for its accessible price and quality images/video. It’s small and easy to use, and won’t be heavy to bring along on your daily adventures in Puerto Rico.
Mosquitoes are a problem in any tropical or subtropical area. Puerto Rico is no different, and it’s wise to plan accordingly. These mosquito wristbands are my preferred method of insect repellent because they’re very long-lasting in and out of the water, they have fewer and safer chemicals in them, and they are safe for children. I also recommend bringing an insect repellent spray to use on hikes and when you need to spray your clothes or bag.
Water sports mean potential water damage to the items you’re carrying with you, including your cell phone, camera, wallet, etc. A drybag is my go-to way to protect those really at-risk items. Sometimes I use it on its own as my daybag (like when I’m paddleboarding or snorkeling), and sometimes I tuck items inside it and put in in my daypack with other items that I’m not as worried about. These bags are super easy to use, and not hard on your travel budget.
When lounging by the pool or hanging around at the beach, a swimsuit cover-up is a must-have. You can throw it on over your swimsuit and take a stroll or go for lunch without having to completely change or walk around in a damp towel. This particular cover-up is absolutely gorgeous, and seems to be universally flattering.
This little backpack can’t be beat. It’s compact but still has plenty of room for your daily essentials (water bottle, camera, phone, guidebook, etc.), and when it’s not in use it can be folded up into its own tiny storage pouch for ease of packing. It’s also easy to wash and dries quickly! I use mine for everyday activities as well as travel.
A Virtual Private Network is essential for any travel. I learned this the hard way when I recently had my credit card number stolen after using what I thought was a secure Wifi network at an Airbnb rental. When you connect to unfamiliar Wifi, you’re exposing your data to potential hackers. This means your personal information and financial details are all at risk of being stolen! The VPN puts up a wall of encryption between you and any would-be thieves. It also has the ability to allow you access to censored or blocked content in countries where this kind of internet restriction is an issue. The services offered by NordVPN are inexpensive, incredibly easy to use, and can save you a lot of time and money by keeping you safe from cyber-attack.
I can’t stand it when I have to return to my accommodations mid-day just to recharge my camera or phone. When I travel I tend to use those items a lot, and so they run out of juice more quickly than usual. This tiny portable charger holds multiple charges so you don’t have to go back and wait for your devices to charge – it can do it for you while you’re still out exploring!
When you’ll be going to the beach, it’s really nice to have a reliable beach bag to make your day easier. This one is waterproof and easy to clean sand out of. It’s also lightweight and can be folded compactly for packing, but unfolds to a large enough size to carry towels and other items that you’ll need at the beach. To top it all off, the bottom compartment is a cooler for snacks and drinks!
The sun is extremely strong in Puerto Rico, even in the winter. This means that sun safety is crucial, and a rash guard will go a long way toward keeping you safe from excess UV exposure. These are our favorite rash guards for fun in the sun – they’ve got a UPF rating of at least 50, plus they’re very comfortable and will protect against rash and friction burn when using water sport accessories.
14. Gorgeous Dress
There will be times in Puerto Rico where you’ll want to get a little dressed up for a night on the town or just a fancy dinner. A gorgeous outfit like this will instantly help you feel more confident, which usually means you’ll have more fun! This dress is universally flattering (see the Amazon photos!), is light and airy, and can be worn on- or off-shoulder.
Feeling sticky, sandy, or greasy after time spent traveling or adventuring is not fun. If you can’t shower or just want a quick freshen-up, these deodorant wipes are perfect. They can be carried with you so you’ll always have them when you need them, and they have a fresh, gentle scent to them. They’re also great for sensitive skin!
Strong sun means a much higher chance of damage to your hair. I use this leave-in conditioner spray to protect and replenish my hair to keep it from becoming unhealthy and fried from too much UV and saltwater exposure. It’s lightweight and effective, and doesn’t leave a heavy or greasy residue.
Travel insurance has saved me and so many others from the stress of expensive travel mishaps. Things like canceled reservations, unexpected medical issues, and theft or damage to items can all be taken care of with a good travel insurance plan. World Nomads plans are affordable and provide great coverage, plus they’re known for their good customer service. I highly recommend them!
Other packing list items for Puerto Rico
Copies of all ID docs
First aid kit
Small travel sewing kit
Travel toilet paper
Hanging toiletry bag
Watch or Alarm clock
Bag for wet clothes
What to wear in Puerto Rico
A hat and sunglasses are also a good idea too. For days in cities or elsewhere, shorts and a tank top are good to beat the heat. If you’re going to the mountains, dress in layers. No matter what, bring comfortable walking shoes.
What NOT to take to Puerto Rico
If you’re flying, make sure to check out what items cannot go in your carry on bag. These items are TSA prohibited:
3) Sharp objects
4) Liquids (unless you follow the liquids rule)
6) Camping equipment
7) Medical tools
8) Certain alcoholic beverages
See the TSA website for further instructions and travel restrictions.
FAQs about traveling to Puerto Rico
1) Is it still safe to travel to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria?
2) How can I help aid in hurricane recovery?
You can physically volunteer, donate supplies, or donate money. Here’s how to help on the ground, and get matched with a volunteer project.
3) What’s the best time of year to go to Puerto Rico?
The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter and just before the rainy summer. You’ll find the weather more tolerable, and the lines far shorter than during the tourist high-season.
If you must visit during high-season, plan for higher prices and be sure to be patient with crowds. Puerto Rico is a popular destination!
4) What language is spoken in Puerto Rico?
Spanish is the most common language, but many people also speak English.
5) What currency is used in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico’s monetary unit is the US Dollar. There’s no need for exchange rates or foreign currency! Carrying a lot of cash is very unwise, though – most places accept cards. Carry a small amount with you if you must (for things like tips or small street purchases), but lock all other cash away in a safe in your room. Or better yet, just visit an ATM when you need to!
6) Do I need a passport or travel documents to visit Puerto Rico if I’m a US Citizen?
No. Unless you intend to pass through another country, going from the mainland US to Puerto Rico is just like going from Dallas to Denver – you just need a photo ID. It’s a good idea to have multiple forms of ID just in case, but standard travel ID requirements for air travel are all you should need to worry about.
7) What’s the best way to get around Puerto Rico?
In larger cities like San Juan you can take public transportation like the buses that serve the area. This is ideal, as it’s fairly cheap and you can hop on and hop off as you decide what you’d like to do that day.
Ferries are a very accessible method of transportation (and just about the only way to visit the Bacardi distillery there…) and are available on schedules.
If you’re staying close to your accommodations, walking is easiest but bicycles are also common and can often be rented.
8) What is food like in Puerto Rico?
As you might guess, seafood is on just about every menu, and is typically excellent and fresh. Another extremely common ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking is rice. You can find sweet rice dishes with spices and rum, or you can find savory and hearty rice concoctions with meats and veggies mixed in. Spices tend to be flavorful but not especially spicy unless you’re sensitive to spice. Influences for Puerto Rican foods come from Spain, Latin America, and even Africa!
Asopao – a meat and seafood stew – is a must-try if that seems like something you’d be in to!
9) What are the best attractions to see in Puerto Rico?
Beaches on the island are top-notch, so if you’re looking for relaxation they’re ideal. Swimming and snorkeling, too, are thoroughly enjoyable – even more fun with a snorkel guide! Otherwise, exploring Old San Juan is fascinating. There are plenty of tours that offer insights and histories of the area, but you can also manage it on your own with a map.
Boat and rainforest hiking tours are endlessly entertaining as well. If you’re looking for a thrill, try taking a Kiteboarding class or learning to surf or SCUBA dive!
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