Planning a vacay to Puerto Rico but can’t decide what to bring? Located in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is tropical and hot all year round, so packing for this paradise island is actually quite easy. However, travelling light with just carry-on luggage is highly recommended especially if you plan on island hopping by small boat or plane. With this in mind, we’ve put together a handy guide covering what to pack for Puerto Rico: the essential list.
What to Pack for Puerto Rico: The Essential List
Puerto Rico has a hot and muggy season that runs from May to October. December to March is a relatively cool season. Generally, the coolest and least rain-prone period is from December to March. The lowest average monthly temperature is 77°F (25°C) in January and the highest average monthly temperate is 84.2°F (29°C) in July and August. So, what you should pack for Puerto Rico depends on when you plan to go.
What toiletries to pack for Puerto Rico
Reef safe suncream
Puerto Rico is sunny year-round. So, no matter what time of the year you visit, you’ll need to make sure you need to pack sun protection. To protect the coral reefs around Puerto Rico and marine life too, buy reef-safe suncream. This means looking for non-nano mineral sunscreen. You should also pack some cooling after-sun lotion or aloe vera gel.
When planning what to pack for Puerto Rico, it’s important to consider mosquito control products. These keep you and your family safe from disease and make your travels more comfortable. There are plenty of natural mosquito repellents on the market, however, if you are prone to bites and severe reactions, consider packing a mosquito repellent with 20-30% DEET (diethyltoluamide) active ingredient.
Portable battery charger
Power outages are frequent in Puerto Rico, so it is advisable to bring at least one rechargeable battery charger. Look for a charger with a high mAh rating and keep it with you when you are out and about, especially if you use your phone as your main camera.
These quick-drying towels are ideal for carrying with you on hikes as they take up very little room in your bag. They can also double as picnic blankets and throws when you get a little chilly.
Waterproof phone case
If you plan to be at the beach a lot or will be spending a lot of time in the rainforest or swimming in waterfalls, you really ought to consider packing waterproof protection for your phone. These cases not only protect your expensive phone from water damage but also from scratches caused by sand and salty sea spray.
Small backpack or day bag
A small, comfortable, waterproof backpack is a must for hiking and day tours. Your valuables will be safe, secure and dry and your hands will be free for taking photos and helping with balance. A 20-litre bag should be big enough to fit the essentials – a microfiber towel, a bottle of water, suncream, your phone and camera, wallet/purse, snacks and a sweater or rain jacket.
Plug adaptors and power converters
Puerto Rico operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz, the same as the USA. There are two types of plugs in Costa Rica. Type A has two flat prongs, while Type B has two flat prongs and a rounded ground pin. Type A and B plugs are mostly used in the USA, Canada, Central America, China and Japan. Depending on where your appliances are from, you may need travel plug adaptors. If your electrical items are not dual voltage, you’ll also need a travel power converter.
What shoes to pack for Puerto Rico
For strolling the beaches and strutting around the pool, flip-flops and sandals are perfect. Mesh water shoes are also great as they are light, take up very little room and are ideal for boat rides and exploring tidal pools.
Packing an old pair of sneakers is also a good idea as you’ll be able to explore more of the beaches by hiking over rocks and across trails. You won’t be able to safely do this in flip-flops.
For jungle treks and exploration, pack a sturdy pair of waterproof shoes. Your old sneakers will do for easier, paved trials, but waterproof hiking boots are the best option. These will allow you to safely go further off the beaten track and explore more rugged terrain.
Pack a pair of comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes or trainers for when you explore the cities.
When hitting the bars and clubs, men can get away with a casual pair of loafers and women can wear sexy sandals or pumps. Many women wear heels at the club, but they pack a pair of ballet pumps in their handbag.
What clothing to pack for Puerto Rico
The sea in Puerto Rico is warm enough for swimming all year round. When it comes to bathing suits pack whatever makes you feel most comfortable. One-pieces and bikinis are fine, some people wear thongs. For men, board shorts and trunks are the most popular beachwear.
Pack a UV rash vest if you plan on doing lots of water sports and snorkelling in Puerto Rico. Rash guards give your skin some protection from sun exposure and they also help reduce chafing caused by surfboards and bodyboards.
The dress code in Puerto Rico is quite casual. Pack your suitcase according to the time of year and humidity level. From December to April, bring light clothes made from cotton or linen. Shorts, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, maxi dresses and loose-fitting trousers are all ideal.
From May to November, pack tropics-friendly items made from lightweight, breathable fabrics. You’ll also need a light raincoat or anorak.
A light sweatshirt or a pashmina is a good idea for airconditioned places, they can be very chilly.
Puerto Rico is an adventure playground, so pack clothes that you can freely move in, are comfortable and don’t chafe.
Nighttime dress code
Even nighttime attire is still pretty casual in Puerto Rico. From December to April you’ll need to pack a sweatshirt for the evening. For fancy restaurants and bars, a pair of tailored trousers or jeans (no rips) with a short sleeve shirt is fine for men. For women, sandals and a dress or a nice top and jeans are perfect. When heading to the clubs, aim to look a little smarter. Most clubs don’t allow people in if they are wearing sports clothes or shoes, sleeveless tops or flip flops.
Puerto Rico reading material
Get a feel for this Caribbean island with a good book set in Puerto Rico or one that covers the history and culture. For non-fiction fans, pack When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago. Fiction lovers should pick up a copy of La Llamarada by Enrique Laguerre.