Hurricane Sam (updated 24 Sep 2021 @ 8am)
📍 Hurricane Sam is expected to strengthen to a "major" hurricane (Category 3) on Friday night or Saturday. The current forecast projection has the storm passing to the northeast of Puerto Rico. We will be keeping an eye on this system over coming days to monitor its development.
🌊 Expect storm surge from the hurricane to affect our beaches, especially on the north and east sides of the island, during the first half of the coming week.
🌦️ Keep an eye on our weather page for updates from the National Hurricane Center
Temporary Mandates from 02 Sep to 14 Oct 2021 (updated 20 Sep 2021)
😷 Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone, regardess of vaccination status, in public, indoor spaces, and in outdoor spaces where 50 or more people are gathered.
🛒 Restaurants, bars, and stores must remain closed from 12 midnight to 5am. This limitation does not apply to supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, food take out and delivery, or healthcare.
🍺 Alcohol cannot be sold anywhere, nor consumed in public, from 12 midnight to 5am.
🚩 Effective 02 Sep to 14 Oct 2021 per executive order EO-2021-065. Note that this executive order was extended until 14 Oct on 20 Sep.
Current COVID-19 Mandates, with no end date (updated 30 Aug 2021)
😷 Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone, regardess of vaccination status, in public, indoor spaces.
🏨 In order to check-in to any lodging facility (short-term rentals, AirBNB, hotels, resorts, etc), all members of your party are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. This applies to all people 2 (two) years old and older. If you are unvaccinated and staying more than a week, you are required to show new negative test results weekly. Effective 16 Aug 2021 per executive order EO-2021-062.
🍔 In order to be admitted to a bunch of different places (restaurants, bars, theaters, tours, excursions, casinos, etc) you are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. Other types of businesses may, at their option, require this documention to access their facility.This applies to all people 12 (twelve) years old and older. Effective 23 Aug 2021 per executive order EO-2021-063.
✈️ All domestic travelers arriving in Puerto Rico are are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. This applies to all people 2 (two) years old and older.If you are un-vaccinated and do not have negative results when you arrive to PR, you have 48 hours to produce those results. Otherwise you will be fined $300 per person. See the PR Government Travel Safe site for details, and to submit your contact tracing information

PSA: How to Stay Safe in the Water

From our beaches, to rivers, to waterfalls, to canyons, and beyond, there are many extremely beautiful spots in Puerto Rico that are best experienced while being on or in the water. And many of the activities we write about take place in, on, or near bodies of water. With a little advance planning, all of those spots can be explored safely and without incident. The last thing you want to happen on vacation is the get banged up in the water, or swept out to sea, or worse. So spend a couple minutes reading this article so you are better prepared to have the best and safest vacation ever in Puerto Rico.

While the amazingly clear-blue water in Puerto Rico is so inviting, it is very important to “read” the water before jumping in. Rip currents are common at beaches all around the world, Puerto Rico included. The beautiful rivers here can turn deadly as the water rises rapidly during flash floods. Unfortunately, too many people drown, almost drown, or are severely hurt every year because they don’t know what to look out for. Entering the water without knowing if it is safe is just asking for trouble, and putting your own and other people’s lives (the lifeguard or the Good Samaritan who tries to rescue you) at risk. Here is a guide to help you know what to look for to avoid such disasters so you can enjoy Puerto Rico’s waters.

Water Safety

Risks at the Beach & in the Ocean

I know this may seem obvious to some, but it is really important to be able to swim if you are going to go in the ocean. Having a life jacket or some kind of flotation device attached to you will help. But even that is no substitute for being able to swim.

Never turn your back on the ocean. Large waves can pop up and either knock you over or pull you out into deep water quickly without you even being aware it was coming.

Never swim alone. Never leave kids unattended at the water’s edge, or playing even in shallow water.

Swim where there are life guards, and an pay attention to the safety flags. These safety flags are green (meaning that it is safe to go into the water), yellow (meaning warning, be careful), or red (meaning that it is not safe to swim, extreme danger). There may also be rip current warning signs. Stay alert, and stay alive.

The other BIG issue that so few people really are aware about are rip currents. Many of our beaches can develop rip currents, especially on the north coast. These usually happen during high surf conditions, and also during low tide, but they can form any time. These currents can happen anywhere depending on the waves, the underwater landscape, and beach layout. Before going to the beach, check for the daily rip current forecast post from the National Weather Service.

Water Safety

Did you notice the rip current in the photo above? I didn’t think so. We’ll point it out in the next photo.

Rip currents form when waves break strongly in one area, and less strongly in another. The water from the strong wave goes back to sea in the area where there is less resistance, so that’s where the waves are not as strong, or where there is nothing that will block the water’s immediate return to the deep.

Any break (above or below the water) in a reef, a shallow part of an sandbar, or rock formation will be a point where the water will rush out as rip currents. At the end of jetties or piers the currents will likely form. These currents are fast and strong and can pull someone (even strong swimmers) out to deep sea very quickly.

Unfortunately, there are many beaches in Puerto Rico where rip currents regularly occur. The very waves that make for great surfing and boogie boarding, can also be deadly. Beaches on the north, east and west coasts can be big problems, and a sadly number of people drown each year.

Jobos Beach in Isabela, many beach areas in the Piñones area in Loíza, and Candelario Beach at Palmas del Mar in Humacao have historically had the largest number of drownings. But the beaches in the San Juan area — Isla verde, Condado (especially La Concha), Ocean Park and Escambrón — also all have great rip current potential. Playa Caracoles and Poza del Obispo (both in Arecibo), Mar Chiquito in Manati, and Playa Escondida in Fajardo have perfect conditions for almost constant rip currents. Domes Beach in Rincón, and Playa Azul and La Pared in Luquillo also have rip currents regularly. And I have seen rip currents at beautiful Flamenco beach in Culebra, on the outer ends of the beach. Don’t assume the south coast is safe from these. Many beaches have warning signs out to watch for these currents. We have seen them especially in Guánica.

In short, don’t assume that any beach will be rip current free. The potential is always there. Knowing how to avoid getting into a rip current, and how to get out of one, is something anyone who goes into the ocean needs to know.

Water Safety

How to Spot a Rip Current

Rip currents are generally “calm looking” areas where the waves are not breaking. They look like a “safe” area to enter the water to swim, but they are not! You may notice a channel of churning, choppy water or an area where the churned up sand, foam, or debris is being pulled out to sea.

In the photo above, the rip current is indicated by the red arrow.

Do a search on Google for images of rip currents to see more, real-life photos, so you get a better idea of what to look for. But it may not look like that, or have any of the characteristic visible signs, so you need to know how to survive a rip current if you get caught in one.

Water Safety

How to Get Out of a Rip Current

Even though it goes against your body’s natural urge, you need to stay calm, and don’t fight it. Let the current take you out. You will be fine if you remain afloat, so float on your back, or slowly tread water. Don’t waste energy trying to fight the current, or swim directly back to shore. At some point, the current will dissipate, and you will be able to swim out of it to the side (parallel to the beach).

Once you are free of the current, swim parallel to the beach (in either direction away from the rip current), and then swim into the beach. See the green arrows in the photo above. If you need help getting back to shore, signal for help. Most importantly, remain calm so that you can stay afloat.

Here are some good resources on recognizing and understanding rip currents. We recommend taking a look at them …

Water Safety

Risks Around Rivers, Streams, Waterfalls & Canyons

The big risks in these areas are flash floods, and submerged rocks.

Being that the middle of the island has a run of large mountains and rain forests, you will find many rivers, streams, waterfalls, canyons, and natural pools to play in. But as beautiful as they are, you need to be aware of the potential dangers and how to read the water.

We live on a slope of the mountain in El Yunque and at times, when it rains, it is harder and with such volume you really can’t believe it. We have seen 3″ of rain fall in minutes. It’s amazing! The sudden development of an intense local storm, high in the mountains can, increase the water level in rivers above flood stage in a matter of hours, if not minutes. And it rains a lot in the higher elevations, and for longer periods, than it does down at sea level. That’s what makes a rain forest, and keeps it so green.

One other interesting thing we noticed here is that you can hear the rain in the distance – heavy rain sounds like a freight train coming down the mountain. The sound is caused by the millions of large drops hitting the millions of leaves in the forest. We can hear it raining higher up in the mountain, while it is dry and sunny on our property. So don’t assume that if it is not raining where you are, it is safe to go in the river.

Water Safety

This much rain causes flash flooding of rivers. It may not be a big issue if you are at sea level, where you can quickly walk out of the water and onto high and dry land. Though we have seen rivers that can rise 30 feet during these flash flood, so make sure you know the way to safety at all time!.

But if you are up playing in a waterfall, steep river incline, or in a canyon, it can be deadly and it can be quick! One minute, you’re in knee-deep water getting that perfect Instagram shot, and the next minute it turns into a swift current and over-your-head water.

Water Safety

Watch the current! As rising river will get faster, and you will notice things floating down in it (like sticks and logs). Further down river it may also get reddish from the clay. If it starts to rain get out of the river. These rushing waters, and the stuff rushing down stream with the water, will make you lose your footing, and you will be pummeled against river rocks.

Be aware of what is upriver. There are a few places that have hydroelectric dams that, on occasion and without warming, will release their water. We have seen this happen while hiking in El Yunque off of south 191, on the Sabana River.

Some fast-running, deep rivers can have whirlpool zones around some submerged material that can trap someone. And as fun as it may seem to “take a shower” in a waterfall on you, stay away from the waterfalls – we have seen rocks and tree stumps come over them.

For a few days after heavy rainfall, be aware that currents can still be swift in rivers and streams, and you can get seriously hurt.

Water Safety

Another thing that people do in rivers, is jumping into water from heights. There are places like El Hippie, Tinajas, and almost any waterfall or charco that local kids jump and dive. It looks like great fun, but they hopefully know where the submerged rocks are. They sometimes know how shallow to jump. Or just how far to the right or left to land. Unfortunately, sometimes, they don’t. If you don’t know what is under the water, DON’T JUMP!

In Summary

Always consult the National Weather Service forecast before going into rivers!

We’ve written about personal safety in the past. Now is a good time to check out that article, also.

There are many opportunities to experience beautiful parts of Puerto Rico that involve being in or on the water. You should take advantage of those. Have fun. Be safe. Enjoy Puerto Rico’s waters. Don’t be stupid.

The first, according to the rescuer is to monitor the weather conditions for the area, particularly comprising mountainous areas. “If it is raining for the mountain, the water hammer hit the river. So people should not get carried a clear sky. If time to the mountainous area is bad, it is best to postpone or cancel the picnic to the river,” he said Figueroa.

Another important tip is to monitor any changes in water color. “If it gets murky as coffee color, must be vigilant. Usually, when this happens undergrowth of trees in the runoff. This is a sign that a stroke of water is about to happen,” another track to take into consideration is the foam water. According to Figueroa, this is a sign of strong currents in the upper reaches of the river. “The higher up you’ll find, the more likely that the blow comes. I would say within two or three minutes you have available person out of the water and save his life,” he explained. “Similarly, if you are in the water and see the level goes up, must leave immediately. Many people do not know but mostly in these places there are many large stones and when a stream emerges people can hit against them and will cause traumas that can have serious consequences such as death, “he said.

Water Safety

not displaying img 1e and 1i assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 2 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

I am 80 yrs old so I will not be visiting PR . I read your article and day dream about visiting . I found it very fascinating information and inviting . Thank you for all the information about PR . If I was younger and did not have so many ailments I would be there in a heart beat . I think the article was well put together and very informative . People reading this should bee flocking to your island . Thank you again !

Comment by Rocky Rothwell on 27 Sep 2020

Good article! Puerto Rico is a beautiful and unique place that comes with some unique dangers. I recently moved here and the first thing I noticed is how intense the ocean looks compared to beaches that I have been to and lived near. I know how to handle being in a rip current and have gotten myself out of them many times at other beaches without a problem. Here in PR was the first time I actually panicked in one and could see that there was potential that I might not get myself out of it. I went from standing in waist-chest deep water to being swept away into the ocean in seconds. Here are some things I recommend to consider as I wish I did: -Geology: Beaches here are not straight so a rip current might not act like you think if there is a headland disrupting it which is common of most beaches here. They are often stronger and sweep you away quickly. Beaches here are also shallow until they aren't so stay in the shallow areas. -Intensity: Many beaches in PR are commonly surfed and some are know world wide for their waves, Jobos especially. Large waves that also happen at rapid rates means stronger currents and more chance to get knocked down into the water by a wave. Also consider Fall/Winter is more intense here. -How to get out: Many beaches at any given time may have people surfing or kayaking. Use this to your advantage. Swim towards the area they are at. (Yell for help if you dont think you can keep yourself up) They are catching waves that take them in and they are not being sucked into the ocean while they wait. If there isnt anyone out there, just swim parallel to the shoreline (as the article mentioned) but make sure the direction you are swimming actually has waves. Remember the waves are big so just try to stay a float and as a wave comes then swim towards the shore. In between waves rest and repeat. You will make it back just very far from where you started.

Comment by Nancy on 20 Feb 2020

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