While many people pack their luggage exclusively with swimwear, sandals, and t-shirts when they’re visiting the island, the truth is you’ll need a little more than that on your checklist of what to pack for Puerto Rico.
I live in San Juan and I’ve seen many visitors buying essential things they forgot to pack for a high 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, you can bring a water filtration bottle in your backpack instead of spending your money on water bottles. The Grayl GeoPress water purifier bottle cleans out 24 oz of water, without a complex installation process or preparations, making it the perfect reusable water bottle.
Don’t carry a heavy and uncomfortable suitcase to Puerto Rico, it’ll be a load you’ll have to carry through Old San Juan. Choose a backpack instead. The Osprey Porter 46 meets airlines’ standards for a carry-on, but it can 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.
Many travelers face the problem of how to transport the things they need for a day trip without having to carry their complete luggage. The Tortuga Packable Daypack folds into a small pack you can fit inside your luggage and then take it out when you’re going to explore your destination. It’s comfortable and resistant to the rainy weather of Puerto Rico.
We’re in 2021 and it’s already common knowledge that sunscreen helps to protect the skin against UV rays, but not all sunscreens are safe for the environment, and some chemicals might harm marine life. The Sun Bum sunscreen lotion is great because it’s SPF 50, but it’s also reef friendly.
If you’re exploring the island on your own and you’re an experienced snorkeler, 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 aren’t uncommon, so you should include a portable charger on your Puerto Rico packing list. The Anker portable charger is slim and charges your electronics quickly. This small power bank can charge your phone up to 3 times.
Quick Dry Towel
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 doesn’t occupy much space in your suitcase or beach bag, it’s absorbent, and it dries fast so packing it back up won’t be a problem.
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.
Leave-In Hair 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.
Puerto Rico features a rainy season from June to November characterized by frequent short evening showers. Having a good travel umbrella with you will save you from getting soaked. This umbrella is almost the size of your palm, but it is still 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-cancelling headphones are great to keep unwanted noises out. These JBL headphones work up to 50 hours on a single charge, are noise-cancelling, and use a voice assistant to let you know about the battery status.
Motion Sickness Medicine
If you’re considering taking a catamaran to Icacos or the ferry to Vieques and Culebra, you’ll want to have motion sickness medicine ready. Dramamine is a great motion sickness medicine that prevents nausea and the best, it doesn’t make you drowsy.
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 gets made of a resistant material with seamless technology to keep the water out. It also brings a free waterproof phone case.
First Aid Kit
You never know what can happen while you’re out hiking or on the beach, and a first aid kit can help you provide the necessary help, even if it’s temporary. This small and compact first aid kit offers 85 supplies in a 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 memories in every circumstance. The GoPro HERO9 is a top favorite action camera because it can record 5k video and take 20 mpx photos on the beach, underwater, and even while you’re ziplining.
👉 Love to record beautiful destinations? Don’t miss the most beautiful places you should visit in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a tropical island with lots of mosquitoes. If you’re sensitive to bites or you aren’t used to them, 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, and your phone isn’t waterproof, a waterproof phone case is something you’ll need. 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.
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.
While planning your trip to Puerto Rico, make sure to buy travel insurance. 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. Not to mention, we’re still in the midst of a global health crisis that could throw a wrench in your plans any day! With World Nomads travel insurance, you can enjoy knowing you’re covered in case of emergency.
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 the overall list of things that all Puerto Rico packing lists should include. Let’s look at some specific clothing items you will need for your tropical vacation.
Beach Cover Up
Unlike other destinations around the world, Puerto Ricans do not wear a bathing suit for 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
The Water Lves water shoes offer a rubber sole with arch support, thick to protect your feet but light enough to dry quickly.
To avoid skin damage because of 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 common crimes in Puerto Rico. You can carry your cards safely and protect them from any thieves and identity theft with this RFID-protected money belt that fits even your passport in a breathable and discreet bag. Check out the Puerto Rico safety guide to learn more.
If you’re planning to hike El Yunque during the rainy season, 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.
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.
Puerto Rico Packing Tips
You won’t be needing winter clothes when you pack for Puerto Rico. Since you’ll be spending much of your time on Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches, you really don’t need to overload your luggage. Bring more than one swimsuit instead, 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 will require different clothing than walking around Old San Juan or visiting the beach, and make sure your bag matches your to-do list on the island.
🧳 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, you might want to consider staying in a rental apartment with a washing machine, using a local laundromat or your hotel’s laundry service, so you can wash and reuse your clothes instead of packing a huge suitcase that will pay extra fees at the airport.
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 from June to November it’s the rainy season and your vacation will get 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.