Puerto Rico - Safety Concerns? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Puerto Rico - Safety Concerns?

02-12-2007, 07:43 PM
I realize that "La Perla" and any high rise housing, shanty areas are to be avoided in San Juan, Ponce and anywhere around the island actually. But it's hard to quantify and qualify the risk behind the human factor to my upcoming "eco-adventure" with an angling sideline that I have planned well into the PR countryside (in fact as country as one can get).

I find lots of references to crime as well - drugs, carjacking, theft, etc. Are these prevalent in the city only or do they occur in the middle of nowhere as well?

My itinerary focuses on the countryside far from the tourist traps... is there anyone with first-hand experience in the safety exploring the countryside of this Carribean US territory, or has relatives there (or better yet lived there themselves)?

I have camera equipment but it's just simple stuff. I have fishing equipment... well ok only the best there. Other than that a tent, a snorkel and some quick-dry clothing.

If I can't pick a lobster from the rocks for dinner or catch a snapper then it will be a chicken skewer and rice from the local barbeque stand along the road. I want to be a simple wilderness traveler leaving only footprints in the sand.

Will I be putting myself at risk if I throw a hammock between two palms instead of finding a hotel room?

BTW - I don't speak spanish. I did buy a spanish speaking guidebook though (fingers crossed)

02-12-2007, 08:17 PM
Cripe!!! Other than that, it sounds like paradise:frown:
Are you sure that we can't tempt you to fish on "dangerous" North Monomoy instead? If need be, we'll chip in and make sure that you are the only FF for the day on Monomoy.
Obviously Juro, I have no specifics to offer you re where you are going......but one thing that I would advise, based on your description, is that upon landing, the first thing you do is go to a bank, get a safety deposit box and put your return plane ticket, some cash and an ID in it....and the key under a rock.
People can be one game fish that are unpredictable at best. Wish you well. Either way, you are either going to have one hell of an experience....or....one hell of an experience.

02-12-2007, 08:36 PM
Thanks for your concern but I really don't think it's going to be that bad where I am headed. I just hoped to hear from anyone with direct knowledge of rural PR.

I also have a backup plan for a compromise area that is very safe sleepy tourist area with some very good potential for big bones and permit but the lure of the ridiculous is too much to ignore.

Worse comes to worse I will bite the bullet and stay in a hotel every night rather than clear my head as I hoped to do - looking into the infinite cosmos through my screen-top tent without the rain fly on a perfect Carribean night counting jumping tarpon to get to sleep.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra - campsite area?

02-12-2007, 08:52 PM
Paxton's idea of a lock box is a good one. I would also recommend some pre-arranged check-back-in calls so that the calvary can be called out if need be. I don't believe going it alone is advisable. There is safety in numbers: two people will be at least 10 times less at risk than a singleton....three people probably 100 time less at risk. Keep in mind that your tackle represents many years income to a portion of he population.

02-12-2007, 10:06 PM
Hey Juro,

I had to really think about this one. I have traveled to Japan, Taiwan, Baja Caliif., Morocco, Cameroun, Zaire, most of Europe, the U.K. and lived in Spain close to ten years. The experience I have learned is not to become a victim. Just be careful and know what is going on and your limitations to what you know and what is happening around you.

I don't know what you're plans are in Puerto Rico and just setting up a tent or hammock in the middle of no-where without doing some serious research can lead to trouble. How about someone going to L. A. (I lived there for awhile during university) and putting up a tent on Whittier Blvd and Atlantic? The results would be even worse. I lived not too far from there and found some of the greatest people on earth there but there is always the ten percent that you have to watch out for. But, if you go to a camping area on the beach in S. CA., it would be different. There are places in Albuquerque that I won't go to unless I am armed well, too.

I have cousins that live in Puerto Rico (second generation now and counting), my first cousin started a gas company there quite a few years ago, anyway, he and his sons wouldn't live anywhere else. Puerto Rican people people are open, generous, friendly, helpful and will give you the shirt off their back - how do I know, I was married many years ago to a Puerto Rican girl; unfortunately, I got along better with my inlaws than with her. Screw it! Having said that; you have to watch yourself and anything else - some people make a living ripping off tourists.

Dont' hesitate in going to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican people I have met in my life time have been outstanding. Just plan on where you are going to stay - many camipng places exist on the island. Don't get over confident - you wouldn't do it in the states nor anywhere else.

I am going to Puerto Rico in March, just a couple of weeks. I have no fears. Watch your ass. Don't worry about the language difference - many latinos speak English it well enough to welcome you into their country. And, let them welcome you to their country.

Having said all that, I have never been to Puerto Rico. I have heard stories, songs, poems and history. I welcome the opportunity to do first hand after many years.

Juro, if you have any questions, don't hesitate in asking. Don't drink all the rum without me.

Now i have to pour me my big glass of wine and think about what I said.

02-12-2007, 10:19 PM
Well I will be cautious, of course. And I have to admit the risk is at least a little bit exhilarating - although it makes no sense to be foolhardy. But I have to think that I can find a path that allows me to see things yet unseen here without losing my gear or worse in the process.

I think I have resigned to the hotel route, at least befriending the hotel staff in the bond of customer and host, despite the unnecessary cost and frills compared to what my friend mother nature offers for free in this equatorial island gem. Yes, the room comes with a safe.

Home base #1 - Cabo Rojo, at Joyuda (where the tarpon pics were taken from the restaurant Vista Bahia) which is noted as a safe fishing village providing most of the seafood to the country. If I get lazy I can buy my lobsters and snapper at the docks in the early afternoon or pay back my early morning indulgences ;) by patronizing the Vista Bahia restaurant with my meal fare and tips.

Then the other half of the week 150 miles away in Culebra, which is a tourist-friendly island off the coast of PR consisting of locals and American free souls running small businesses on an island not unlike Nantucket in nature from what I gather. College kids bring dates there; so I am sure I can survive this place. Sounds pretty harmless.

The campsite (shown in pic above) is on this island and is patrolled by state guards; deemed safe in all travel guides I have read. Although it begs the question... "why is it guarded?"

I have read glowing NY Times articles talking about taking the roads seldom traveled around Porta Del Sol, the west end of the main island, where I planned to find some peaceful refuge from the hell I am in. Porta del "soul". Somehow I don't think I will find that in a hotel room. But there is probably a high cliff looking out over the Carribean to lay on near the lighthouse that will help, and a silver king the size of an airstream trailer that slides among the shadows that will remind me that there are forces bigger than the silly things people do if one is willing to go to the extreme to experience them.

I have never walked away from that before and not about to now.

02-13-2007, 07:48 AM
Hey...I've been to PR hundreds of time from my island life in the Virgins. My advice is this: The people are truely wonderful but there is a handful of thugs that will cause trouble. That rental car will mark you as a tourist, possible target. Cabo Rojo should be safe with great access to all the fishing you want. I'd make friends at a nearby restaurant, get advice there, maybe stay there or nearby in a paradora. At least the local food, rum and cold Medalla will be great. The camping area on Culebra should really cause no concern at all. I find it quit safe. Take a ferry from Fahardo; another nice town with fish potential. There may be little camping areas west of Ponce, on way to Cabo Rojo that should be nice and safe to camp in. At the airport check with the tourist division (get a map) plus the car rental people should also be able to give you good advise (especially if they want their car back!). Most all the people speak a little english...if they want too! The more rural you go though the less english!

Wish I could fly over and join you (I assume your going this weekend) but I have a tournament to direct. With more advance notice count me in next time. PM me if you want my phone number on St.Croix..just in case!

02-13-2007, 09:45 AM
Virgin fly -

Yeah too bad you can't make it. Fly over to Mayaguez and I will pick you up!

Anyway, should I drive the northern route from SJU or cut across the mountains to the south?

It looks like a 3 hours drive... I plan on going straight through to Cabo Rojo upon arrival.

Exploring some unbelievable waters near Boqueron, also venturing to Guanica but staying clear of Ponce.

Any fly shops ? :)

02-13-2007, 10:13 PM
Driving north to get to Cabo Rojo will take a long time...3 hours may do it. Remember you are visiting over a three day weekend and Puerto Ricans like to drive into the country on holidays...especially on Sundays! You might consider driving east to Fajardo then west pass Ponce to Cabo Rojo...follow the coast the majority of the way and not as long as going north all the way around Mayaguez. Over the mountains is the quickest route and all highway. It is very beautiful. Driving through Ponce is no big deal. The Highway goes just outside the city, follows the coast, and is easy. If time is the issue...go over the mountains. If not follow the coast out of SJ east then west to Ponce and to Cabp Rojo. There's potential fishing along the coast plus it's real vintage PR countryside. I'd plan to return to SJ a different way...but if your going to Culebra I think you must go thru Fajardo (by boat) or SJ (by air). Your choice but be aware of weekend/holiday traffic. Your car rental people will really be a good source to get better advice and maps.

Thanks for the offer...next time for sure. Maybe you can visit the VI on the way. I might be able to get a few guys together for a casting clinic!

Good Luck!

02-13-2007, 10:17 PM
Oh...no fly shops that I know of. Some of the guides may have some gear but don't count on much! Can't wait to hear about your adventure on your return!