**Updated July 2020**
Punta Cana is a lovely city in the Dominican Republic!
We know that a lot of people have heard crazy stories about the Caribbean and South American countries… and these rumors are the reason that many Americans are afraid to travel outside of the US. These stories are mainly untrue for Punta Cana. In fact, the city is safer than most major U.S. cities!
But, like all cities, there are some general safety tips that you should know to ensure you and your family have a fun, safe, and overall amazing vacation.
Have a look at the list below!
Tip #1 Book the Excursions
If you are hoping to see more of the DR than the resort and airport, then you should definitely book excursions. Punta Cana, itself, is very safe. But, if you want to go outside of it, then we strongly encourage the excursions. You are guaranteed a good time, you’ll see this gorgeous country, and you’ll be safe!
Our favorite excursions include Catalina and Saona Island, the Colonial Area in Santo Domingo, or the beautiful Samana Peninsula! You can take a small plane to the gorgeous peninsula of Samana, ride safari trucks and horses, sample local fruit, visit the gorgeous Salto del Limón Waterfall, and much more!
All of these options are fantastic and extremely safe. You should be worried about mosquitoes more than crime!
Tip #2 Avoid the Beach at Night
Though the beaches are very safe during the day, they are less safe at night. This is because Politur -security- officers (Politur is the tourist police that work in the area) patrol during the day. Many resorts will not allow you on their beach at night. But, if you are given the option of exploring after dark, we would encourage you to wait until morning.
You can head to the city center at night and enjoy some fun places for dancing and drinking – while staying safe. But hanging out on the beach is something we wouldn’t recommend unless you’re going on a sunset cruise or excursion and you’re with a group.
Another friendly tip: don’t light fires on the beach. We all enjoy a good bonfire, but lighting one yourself is illegal.
Tip #3 Ignore the Resort Employees
The title of this tip sounds awful. What I mean, is this: “Ignore the Resort Employees that care about making money from you”. The staff at the resort will advise against visiting anything outside the resort while staying in Punta Cana “because it is dangerous”. They will also have ideas about places to visit and avoid. All the ones they say you can visit involve an excursion with a hefty price tag in it.
Well, based on our experience, you shouldn’t listen. Most resorts will do this to make more money from tourists spending their full holidays inside their premises. Speaking with the locals is always a great idea! The people in the Dominican Republic are very friendly. Try to talk to those who are not involved in business with tourists, and you’ll find yourself in some very interesting conversations.
I’ll quote an article from TripAdvisor here. These are not my words:
Since 2006 Punta Cana has been reported as having one of the lowest crime rates in the world, mostly because of the low drug crime here. Statements, primarily from resorts who are protecting their market share, saying this area is NOT safe, do not benefit the Punta Cana area or the people who live here (hopefully the resort directors are reading this – as you are also hurting yourselves too). It could be they are saying this so they are not liable for stupid people who get crazy on vacation outside the resort, and show disrespect to the locals. But also because of the new competition of so many gorgeous vacation condos for rent that are on or near the beach, and a short walk to all the modern shopping and dining amenities… which are often much more affordable than staying at an all-inclusive resort.
Tip #4 Pay Attention
There are some stretches of the beach (between Barcelo Palace Deluxe and Natura Park for example) that have very few people on them. This may sound like an excellent place to take pictures or to enjoy the scenery alone, but if you want to avoid all sorts of trouble, you should stay in more populated areas where there are people around. Don’t go off alone.
Overall, Punta Cana is very safe, but like anywhere else, it is wise to be near people and to pay attention. Paying attention to your surroundings is probably the most helpful tip we can give you, next to using common sense.
Tip #5 Use Common Sense
Like anywhere else you have lived or visited, using common sense will usually keep you safe. The same thing is true when visiting Punta Cana. Try not to flash your money or expensive jewelry around, don’t leave your belongings unattended, lock your rental car, and trust your instincts. These are basic tips that people follow everywhere. And, if you follow these simple tips, then you should have no problems during your trip!
Bonus Tip: Visiting Santo Domingo? Stick to the Colonial Area!
If you are planning on visiting our historic capital, then we suggest you stick to the Colonial Area. Yes, the capital is very beautiful, and some of the buildings date back to the 1500s! But, it is unsafe outside of this area. Santo Domingo was listed as having some of the worst homicide, sexual assault, and robbery rates in the Dominican Republic. So, if you plan on visiting, be sure to stick to the Colonial Zone! It is gorgeous, and you will definitely enjoy a walk in the narrow and beautiful streets of this antique city.
It is important to know that the crime rates in Santo Domingo are extremely different from the crime rates in Punta Cana. We do not encourage any tourists to go to Santo Domingo by themselves without asking locals where they should and shouldn’t go beforehand.
We hope that you found these tips helpful and that you use them!
Like all cities, Punta Cana has better areas than others, but for the most part, it is a great place to be. The tourist locations and resorts are especially safe; and as locals, we can assure you that Punta Cana is both a lovely and safe place for your destination wedding.