Puerto Rico Is Open for Tourism, Despite All Those Grim Earthquake Headlines

Nervous about going to Puerto Rico? This map shows exactly where the earthquake swarm is on the island—and everywhere else where it’s still safe to visit.

Puerto Rico Is Open for Tourism, Despite All Those Grim Earthquake Headlines

San Juan is about a two-hour drive north of Guanica, the town nearest the epicenter of the 6.4 magnitude quake on January 7. That’s roughly the same driving distance between Philadelphia and New York City, for reference.

Photo by Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock

If you’ve read headlines about the swarm of earthquakes that have hit Puerto Rico since the end of 2019, the news seems grim.

“‘Scarier’ Than Hurricane Maria: A Deadly Earthquake Terrifies Puerto Rico,” read one New York Times headline on January 7, 2020.

On January 16, 2020, NBC News led with “Displaced by the Earthquake, Puerto Ricans Cope With Constant Aftershocks and Uncertainty.”

Even I wrote the headline, “Powerful Quake Destroys Famed Natural Wonder in Puerto Rico” on January 8, 2020, on this very website.

All of these headlines are true. However, if you don’t read the entire story, you won’t realize that the quakes have been localized to the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico and 99 percent of power has been restored across the U.S. territory after one earthquake knocked it out across the island earlier this month.

To help dispel any misconceptions that all of Puerto Rico is suffering from earthquake damage, Discover Puerto Rico, a nonprofit tourism organization, recently shared a map on Instagram detailing exactly which parts of the island have been affected by the earthquakes.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Discover Puerto Rico (@discoverpuertorico) on Jan 10, 2020 at 8:37am PST

“Puerto Rico continues to be open for tourism, and the people of Puerto Rico are eager to welcome you to our island. Recent earthquakes impacted the southern coast of our island only–and yet even in the Southern region, some tourism businesses remain open. This map illustrates the recent impact,” the Instagram post reads.

As questions poured in from concerned tourists, the tourism board confirmed that in addition to the San Juan cruise port being open, all flights are operating normally to and from the cities of San Juan, Ponce, and Aguadilla. (San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport lost power during the 6.4 magnitude quake on January 7, 2020, but it was back up and running on generators and flights ran as scheduled that day.) All major hotels, including the newly renovated Caribe Hilton in San Juan and the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve on the island’s north shore, are also operating normally.

In a statement to the press, Discover Puerto Rico reiterated that there has been no disruption to tourism outside the affected area indicated on the map.

“A way people can show their support for Puerto Rico at this time is to travel to the island for their vacations, work trips, meetings, conferences and events,” the statement read. “Tourism fuels the local communities and will help keep the economy recovering. The local American Red Cross chapter is gathering donations for those who wish to provide support to those in the southern region as well as various local organizations.”

If you are an anxious traveler, you can reassure yourself by reaching out to your hotels, airlines, and other travel providers to confirm that everything is still operating normally before you depart. It’s also best to double-check your travel insurance to see if you paid for a “Cancel For Any Reason,” or CFAR, policy that will let you recoup a portion of your money if you decide you still don’t want to go—but that shouldn’t be necessary.

>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Puerto Rico

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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