Puerto Rico Packing List (23 Things People Forget to Bring)
While many people exclusively pack swimwear, sandals, and t-shirts while prepping for the island, the truth is you’ll need a little more than that on your checklist of what to pack for Puerto Rico.
I’m a San Juan local and I constantly see visitors scrambling to buy essential things they didn’t think to bring. But though you can get almost anything on the island, they will come at a premium price in Old San Juan.
Since I want to save you from that, I’ve summed up the essential items you should include in your packing list for Puerto Rico.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
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Puerto Rico Packing Checklist
Water Filtration Bottle
If you feel uneasy about drinking tap water in Puerto Rico, then I recommend bringing a water filtration bottle instead of spending your money on water bottles. The Grayl GeoPress water purifier bottle can purify up to 24 oz of water. It’s super easy to use and you can fill up your water from pretty much anywhere — making it the perfect reusable water bottle.
Make your trip practical while still traveling comfortably with this backpack that fits everything for your trip while still supporting your back and keeping things accessible.
Dragging a big, uncomfortable suitcase around Puerto Rico isn’t very much fun. From the streets of Old San Juan to beachy towns, choosing to bring a backpack will be a literal load off.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 meets airlines’ standards for carry-on luggage, but it can still fit your week’s packing list. It features a back harness to distribute the weight, a patted back with a laptop sleeve and a front pocket for easy access.
Take only the most important things with you during a day trip with this foldable and water-resistant day pack that can fit everything you need for a day of fun.
If you’re heading off on a day trip and don’t want to bring your entire backpack or suitcase, then this is the item for you. The Osprey Daylite folds down small so you can carry it in your luggage until you’re ready to use it for an excursion. Not only is it comfortable, but it’s also resistant to the rainy weather of Puerto Rico.
Enjoy your hikes, beach days, and snorkeling excursions protected against the harsh weather of Puerto Rico, with this SPF 50 and reef-safe vegan sunblock lotion.
It’s common knowledge that sunscreen helps to protect the skin against UV rays, but not all sunscreens are created equal. Not all are safe for the environment and some may contain chemicals that harm marine life. The Sun Bum sunscreen lotion is great because it’s SPF 50 and reef friendly.
Aloe Vera Gel
In the event of a sunburn, you’ll thank yourself for bringing along a travel-sized bottle of aloe vera.
It’s a small thing, but forgetting it could mean the difference between overpaying for aloe vera in your resort’s convenience store or not.
This Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel is one of the most highly-concentrated aloe gels on the market. It’s the perfect way to lock in moisture to your skin and comes in an airplane-friendly size.
Save time and money by bringing your own snorkel equipment to swim on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico.
If you’re an experienced snorkeler and are looking forward to exploring the waters of Puerto Rico, then you should definitely pack your own snorkeling gear. There are places you can rent snorkeling gear, but it’ll be more expensive. The SwimStar snorkel set fits any type of face and features a single anti-fog front crystal.
👉 Do you love snorkeling? Check out other best adventures you can enjoy in Puerto Rico.
After Hurricane Maria in 2017, blackouts and power shortages have occurred, so you should include a portable charger on your Puerto Rico packing list. The Anker portable charger is slim and charges your electronics quickly. In fact, this small power bank can charge your phone up to 3 times.
From caves to forests and the bioluminescent beaches, if you plan on exploring Puerto Rico by night, then you’re going to want a hands-free light.
The Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp is the best solution. It’s weatherproof, has multiple lighting options, and comes in a few fun colors.
Leave your laptop at home and bring a lightweight Apple iPad Mini on vacation. It’s great for watching movies on the airplane or for booking excursion tickets on the fly.
If you don’t want to lug around your laptop but want something more than your phone to entertain you on your trip, then opt for a Tablet.
The Apple iPad Mini is a standout product and will sync to your other apple devices. It has an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, a 12MP Wide back camera, a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera, and has up to 256GB storage. Oh, and it comes in four fun colors to suit your personality!
Quick Dry Towel
This microfiber towel absorbs and dries quickly, perfect for beach days and waterfall adventures.
A quick-dry towel is essential in your Puerto Rico packing list, since not every hotel or apartment offers a beach towel. The Rainleaf microfiber towel won’t take up much space in your bag, is absorbent, and it dries fast so packing it back up won’t be a problem.
Honestly, it’s an essential thing to pack for any beach vacation, whether you are packing for Mexico, Puerto Rico, or anywhere else with a shoreline.
This hand sanitizer holder makes it very easy to refill your sanitizer bottle plus you can trust it’s safely attached to your backpack and you won’t lose it.
After 2020, it’s clear that hand sanitizer is something you should always carry with you, but small sanitizer bottles easily get lost. This travel-size hand sanitizer holder features a safe harness hook so you can attach it to your backpack or pants. The design makes it super easy to refill the bottle.
Wrinkle Release Spray
Stay sleek and suave with wrinkle-free clothes on your trip to Puerto Rico.
Linen and cotton are great lightweight clothing options for Puerto Rico’s hot weather. But as anyone who’s ever shoved these fabrics into a suitcase knows, they wrinkle pretty easily.
The Bounce Rapid Touch-Up wrinkle release spray is the best solution. In addition to releasing wrinkles, they also get rid of static. Plus, they’re travel-sized and will give musty-smelling clothes a fresh, clean scent.
Leave-In Hair Conditioner
Detangle your hair and keep it moisturized after a long beach day with this travel size, hydrating, and frizz-taming leave-in conditioner.
Besides taking care of your skin, you should also take care of your hair when you’re visiting Puerto Rico, especially if you’re planning to spend your days on the beach. The Moroccanoil leave-in is travel size and it’s great to hydrate your hair and detangle it after a day of sun, breeze, and saltwater.
Don’t miss any of the fun because of the rain with this mini umbrella that is windproof, and it protects you from the sun too.
Puerto Rico features a rainy season from June to November characterized by frequent short evening showers. Having a good travel umbrella on hand will save you from getting soaked. This umbrella is almost the size of your palm, but it’s windproof and has a 50 SPF to protect you from UV rays.
Keep focused on your book or relax in your hotel room listening to music with these noise-cancelling headphones that can play music for about 50 hours.
If you’re staying in San Juan, then you’ll notice nights are quite noisy. Noise-canceling headphones are great to keep unwanted noises out. These JBL headphones work up to 50 hours on a single charge, are noise-canceling, and use a voice assistant to let you know about the battery status.
Motion Sickness Medicine
Enjoy a day trip out in the waters of Puerto Rico with this quick-acting motion sickness medicine that won’t put you to sleep after taking it.
If you’re considering taking a catamaran to Icacos or the ferry to Vieques and Culebra, then you’ll want to have motion sickness medicine ready. Dramamine is a great motion sickness medicine that prevents nausea and won’t make you drowsy.
Carry your most important belongings in the river or the beach with this waterproof and resistant dry bag.
Your Puerto Rico packing list should include a waterproof bag if you’re visiting rivers, waterfalls, or any beach. With a dry bag, you can keep your extra clothes and electronics with you at all times, even in the water. The Heeta waterproof bag is made of a water resistant material with seamless technology. It also includes a free waterproof phone case.
First Aid Kit
Always be prepared for any emergency with this compact first aid kit with 85 supplies to help you take action fast.
You never know what can happen while you’re out hiking or on the beach, and a first aid kit can come in handy. This small and compact first aid kit offers 85 supplies in a water resistant hard case you can throw in your suitcase or backpack.
Portable Action Camera
For your visit to Puerto Rico, you’ll want to include in your packing list a camera that can record your precious memories. The GoPro HERO 10 is a top favorite action camera because it can record 5.3k60 Ultra HD video and take 23mpx photos on the beach, underwater, and while ziplining.
👉 Love to record beautiful destinations? Don’t miss the most beautiful places you should visit in Puerto Rico.
Keep mosquitos, ticks, and flies away with this easy-to-apply repellent that doesn’t leave a sticky residue on your skin.
Puerto Rico is a tropical island with lots of mosquitoes. If you’re sensitive to bites or you aren’t used to them, then make sure to add mosquito repellent to that packing list. The OFF Deep Woods repellent doesn’t leave an oily residue on the skin and it also repels mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies.
Waterproof Phone Case
If you’re visiting the bioluminescent lagoons, the beaches, or any of the rivers of Puerto Rico, then you’ll want a waterproof phone case. This Pelican waterproof pouch stores your phone safely with a clear window so you can still use it and take pictures if you need to.
These are how I became a packing pro! Definitely worth the investment for the space - and sanity - they will save you.
For your Puerto Rico trip, you’ll want to keep your bag as organized as possible. This amazing set of packing cubes separates and organizes your items with bags for your shoes, underwear, and clothes. It even brings a toiletry bag and a string bag perfect for your dirty laundry.
VisitorsCoverage is a travel insurance marketplace where you can quickly compare quotes from hundreds of insurers -- all it takes is a minute to enter your details!
While planning your trip to Puerto Rico, consider if travel insurance makes sense for you. Besides all the incidents that could happen while you enjoy an adventure like hiking in El Yunque, Puerto Rico also has a hurricane season that can change your vacation plans at the last minute.
You can easily compare dozens of quotes in minutes through the handy VisitorsCoverage website.
Other Puerto Rico Essentials to Pack
- Eye mask
- Facial sunscreen
- Vaccination card plus card protector
- Passport, if you aren’t coming from the USA (see my guide to Puerto Rico passport rules)
- Driver’s license or Photo ID
- Proof of insurance cover if you’re getting a rental car
- Cash – US Dollar
- Prescribed medicines
Clothing to Pack for Puerto Rico
Unless you get easily cold, you won’t need your winter clothes in Puerto Rico, not even during the winter! The island features hot weather the whole year, and most of what you’ll wear in Puerto Rico will be light and comfortable.
So what clothing should you pack? Here is a quick clothing checklist for Puerto Rico:
- 2-3 denim shorts
- 3-4 t-shirts
- 1-2 tank tops
- 1-3 bathing suits
- 1 beach cover up
- 1 light rain jacket
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1-2 casual dresses
- 1-2 blouses
- 7-9 pairs of underwear
- 5-7 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of sneakers or hiking boots
- 1 pair of water shoes
- 1 sunhat
That’s my general Puerto Rico packing list. Now, let’s look at some specific clothing items you’ll need for your tropical vacation.
Beach Cover Up
Unlike other destinations around the world, Puerto Ricans do not wear bathing suits in restaurants or shopping malls. This is why a light comfortable cotton cover up like this one is useful and easy to throw on.
📚 Related Reading: Top Puerto Rico Beaches
Go into a beach or a waterfall with your feet protected with these athletic sport shoes that dry quickly and can take you to more places than just the beach.
If you’re planning to visit the waterfalls in Puerto Rico, then common water shoes won’t help you get there — many of the island’s best waterfalls are at the end of Puerto Rico’s many hiking trails.
The Water Lves water shoes offer a rubber sole with arch support, thick to protect your feet but light enough to dry quickly.
Avoid a sunburn with this hat that blocks out UVA and UVB rays completely, while being breathable.
To avoid skin damage from sun exposure, you’ll want to use additional coverage besides sunblock. The Columbia sun hat blocks out UVA and UVB rays, plus it sports an adjustable string to keep it in place during your windy beach day trips.
Pickpocketing is one of the most common crimes in Puerto Rico. But you can carry your cards safely and protect them from thieves and identity theft with this RFID-protected money belt. It will fit your passport in a breathable and discreet bag. Check out my Puerto Rico safety guide to learn more.
Explore the mountainous interior of Puerto Rico with this light and waterproof rain jacket with a reflective logos that makes you stand out.
If you’re planning to hike El Yunque during the rainy season, then you should include a light rain jacket in your suitcase. These Baleaf raincoats are great for men and women with waterproof material, a warm interior, a back pocket, and adjustable strings to make your jacket fit the best.
Hike through the hardest trails, rivers, and rocky mountains with these waterproof and lightweight hiking boots with a rubber sole and comfortable interior cushion.
Puerto Rico features amazing hiking trails any outdoor adventurer will love to explore. Your common walking shoes might not take you far, so you should opt for a good pair of hiking boots. The Columbia hiking boots are waterproof and lightweight perfect both for men and women.
See our full guide to what to bring hiking if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.
Puerto Rico Packing Tips
You won’t need winter clothes when you pack for Puerto Rico. And since you’ll be spending a lot of your time on Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches, you really don’t need to overload your luggage. Instead, just bring a few swimsuits, light clothes, toiletries, and necessary travel accessories.
Consider What You’ll Be Doing
If you’re planning to go to conventions, restaurants, clubs, and Puerto Rico’s museums, then your bag will look different than the bag of a beach lover. Keep in mind the dress code for restaurants, shopping malls, and museums — it will require different clothing than walking around Old San Juan or visiting the beach.
🧳 Read Next: Colorado Packing List
Choose a Backpack
It’s very frustrating to see tourists dragging their luggage through the steep streets of Old San Juan. If you’re only visiting for a few days and you won’t be attending any particular event, then a good travel backpack is more practical than a suitcase for your trip and it will fit all that you’ll wear in Puerto Rico.
Do Laundry for Longer Periods
If you are only visiting for a Puerto Rico weekend getaway, this won’t be a problem. But if you’re staying more than two weeks, then you might want to consider staying in a rental apartment with a washing machine, using a local laundromat, or using your hotel’s laundry service. Being able to wash and reuse your clothes is invaluable on a longer trip.
A Scrubba Portable Wash Bag is a nifty way to wash clothes without a washing machine.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Puerto Rico’s weather is quite warm all year, but June to November is the rainy season and your vacation will be frequently interrupted by showers. You can bring a light rain jacket if you’re spending time in El Yunque or hiking in the mountainous interior. You can also bring a light jacket during the winter if you get cold easily.
👉 For more planning tips, check out my guide to the best time to visit Puerto Rico for the best weather and fewest crowds.
FAQs About Packing for Puerto Rico
What should I pack for a week in Puerto Rico?
To stay in Puerto Rico for a week, visitors should pack comfortable and fresh clothing for the heat. A Puerto Rico packing list should always include flip flops, swimwear, shorts, t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.
What do you need to bring to travel to Puerto Rico?
To travel to Puerto Rico, travelers should bring light and fresh clothing, swimwear, driver’s license, passport if they’re international, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a camera, and their prescribed medicines.
How should I dress for a trip to Puerto Rico?
For a trip to Puerto Rico, tourists can dress comfortably in jeans or joggers, and a t-shirt. They can use an additional layer on the airplane if they get cold, but they should avoid wearing thick sweaters and boots, as they’ll reach a warm destination. Visitors’ luggage should be mostly packed with light clothes.
What do you need for 2020 in Puerto Rico?
Visitors arriving in Puerto Rico will need a vaccination card or a negative Covid-19 test done within 72 hours of their trip. Daily essentials include light clothing, face masks, swimwear, flip flops, reef-safe sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
That is the complete list of things you need to pack for Puerto Rico!
Whether you’re visiting El Yunque, the historic cities, or the sandy beaches, your packing list will probably consist of the same things.
Keep planning with my guide to the top things you can do on the island.
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Thank you, very informative information.
Thanks 🙏 really appreciate it.
Thank you for your thoughtful article. I am considering relocating to P.R. for my retirement.
Any thoughts about who could guide me during my transition?
This is more of a question how far are the beaches to San Juan?