Located in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a beautiful destination for those looking for a beautiful beach-front break. Known for its outstanding beaches, beautiful cities, delicious cuisine, and some of the best rums in the world, the Dominican Republic is a sought-after destination for many.
That said, when it comes to safety and crime statistics, its notorious reputation for the high rate of petty crimes and violence typically puts many people off.
Thankfully, due to its reputation as one of the most sought-after destinations in the Dominican Republic amongst holidaymakers, it’s safe to say that people wouldn’t visit Punta Cana as frequently as they do if they felt they were at risk.
In this article, we will explore just how safe the town of Punta Cana is, and a variety of tips and things to keep in mind to ensure your safety during your visit.
Crime in Punta Cana
Crime in the Dominican Republic is relatively high, but don’t let this put you off!
When it comes to tourism, especially in tourist-heavy areas, visitors are typically well protected from crime in the country, as the Dominican Republic wants to keep its reputation as a perfect holiday destination.
Crime rates in Punta Cana are relatively low compared to the rest of the country. That said, crimes most likely to affect tourists include pickpocketing, bag snatching, theft of unattended items, scams, and sexual harassment. Tourists are very unlikely to be a victim of violent crime.
Are Resorts in Punta Cana Dangerous?
If you’re staying in a resort in Punta Cana, you can rest assured knowing that you’re in one of the safest places possible.
Resorts in Punta Cana have a great number of measures in place to ensure the safety of their guests, including access control, safe storage facilities, fire safety measures, lifeguards by the pool and on the beaches, medically trained staff, background checks on all employees, 24-hour security, and plenty of on-site security cameras.
That said, there have been a small number of thefts from rooms and safes. These are typically rare, but measures should be taken to ensure the safety of your valuable goods. Do not leave your valuable items unattended, ensure to lock your room and keep your belongings secure.
How to Stay Safe in Punta Cana
When it comes to staying safe in Punta Cana, here are a few general precautions to take:
- Avoid Using Your Credit / Debit Cards
Credit card cloning and identity theft are both big problems in the Dominican Republic. For this reason, it’s best to use cash at every chance. Be sure to exchange enough currency before you leave your home country, and only take your card with you as a last-case scenario.
You should avoid using your card to pay for things, and also avoid using ATMs in public areas.
- Don’t Take Many Valuables
Expensive goods such as smartwatches and expensive jewelry can be eye-catching to pickpockets and those looking to steal from those who are wealthy. If a pickpocket or thief sees you wearing expensive clothing and jewelry, they may make you a target.
It’s better to dress down a little and avoid designer clothing that shows off the brand name, and expensive branded accessories (particularly handbags and bracelets).
Don’t take lots of expensive items and gadgets with you that you will have to leave unattended in the hotel room either. Even if you leave them in the safe their is a small risk of these being stolen, so try to limit to just the items you will need to take with you.
- Avoid Street Hustlers
In the Dominican Republic, tourists are some of the wealthiest people, and the locals know this. Many make it a daily ritual to go out onto the streets to sell things to tourists or do them favors in exchange for cash.
One example I came across recently was a tourist who was about to buy something at a souvenir shop but was approached by a man who told him he could help get this item cheaper. Assuming he was just being a friendly local, the tourist went with the man to the other store, finding the item on sale there for ¼ of the price. It was only then that the local who led them there began asking how they would repay him.
It’s important to keep in mind that even in situations like this one, where it may seem like genuine kindness from a local, there’s a good chance they’re just being helpful in the hopes that you’ll pay them for it.
The best way to handle these kinds of street hustlers is with a polite but firm “No, thanks.” After this, they’ll likely continue to push their products or try to get your attention. Simply ignore them, and walk away.
- Stay in Tourist Areas
To ensure your safety, it’s best to stay in tourist-heavy areas. If possible it’s best to just stay in the resort!
That said, we understand that sometimes when you’re on vacation, you’ll want to go out and discover the country you’re visiting. The best way to do this is by booking reputable tours, preferably directly through the resort you’re staying with. This will allow you to discover the most amazing parts of the country, whilst ensuring your safety.
- Don’t Walk Alone
If you choose to leave the resort and go out exploring in the town, it’s best to go with your travel partner.
Whilst it helps ensure both of your safety, it should be remembered that this is especially important if you’re walking somewhere at night, or in a more remote area.
Is Punta Cana Safe For Solo Travelers?
Being a solo traveler typically puts you at a higher risk for petty crime. That said, this is just the same no matter where you travel. If you’re planning on traveling to Punta Cana on your own, it’s important to be extra vigilant, and follow these tips to ensure you’re extra safe:
- Talk to People
Whilst you’ll likely be talking to people anyway, if you’re an introvert, you may want to put in a little extra effort here and make conversation as much as possible. It’s a good idea to get tips and travel advice from staff at your accommodation (even things as simple as which restaurant they would recommend, or what dish you should try during your stay!).
It’s also a good idea to try to make friends with some people your age who may be staying in the same accommodation as you.
- Drink in Moderation
If you’re a solo traveler on a night out in Punta Cana, be sure to drink in moderation. Being able to keep your mind focused and aware of your surroundings is very important.
Pickpockets will likely notice if you become inebriated, as it is much easier to take advantage of someone who is drunk.
- Stay in Touch With Family and Friends at Home
Keeping in touch with your family and friends back at home can help you stay safe. Messaging them regularly whilst on vacation, or even setting check-in times with them can help them to know if anything bad happens.
- Join Tours and Excursions
Tours and Excursions are a great way of getting around the Dominican Republic safely. By joining a reputable tour group, you can make friends and discover all the beauty this amazing country has to offer, without having the stress and worries of trying to find your own way around.
Is Punta Cana Safe for Female Tourists?
It’s important that female travelers remain vigilant wherever they choose to travel, but this particularly applies to those traveling solo.
If you’re traveling alongside male friends, or with your family or a partner, you’re much less likely to be a target of some crimes (particularly sexual harassment).
Unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault are two quite prominent crimes in the Dominican Republic. These have been reported in Punta Cana, even sometimes within resorts.
If you’re a female traveling to Punta Cana solo, it’s important that you don’t plan this trip unless you feel 100% confident in being able to keep yourself safe. It’s advised to be extremely cautious when traveling here.
If you’re a female traveling to Punta Cana with your partner, family, or friends, it’s a little easier to feel safe, particularly if you’re traveling with males.
That said, here are some tips to help you stay safe as a female traveler when visiting Punta Cana:
- Be Firm and Polite with Men if They Give you Unwanted Attention
If a man tries to make advances on you, it’s important to be polite when declining. Acting rude right off the bat, or just ignoring them can result in them very quickly becoming upset. This can escalate the situation, and make it more dangerous.
On the other hand, being overly friendly can also put you in danger. If you give off any feeling that you may be interested, they could be very upset when you ultimately decline.
Simply responding with a “No, thanks”, or “Sorry, I’m in a rush” should be enough.
If you’re traveling with male friends or a partner, they should be able to step in and help you.
Of course, if you feel as though you are truly in danger, if the aggressor is persistent or begins to grab at you, be sure to make a fuss, shout, scream, and do all you can to draw attention to the situation.
- Be Aware When Drinking
Other than simply being cautious about how much you’re drinking, it’s important to stay vigilant and ensure your drink does not get spiked. Never leave your drink unattended, and be sure to keep it covered if you are distracted (dancing, talking to someone, looking away, etc.).
Do not accept drinks that have already been poured, or drinks from strangers, and if anyone offers to buy you a drink, ensure you watch the bartender pour from start to finish, and don’t take your eyes off it for even a second!
- Don’t Share too Much Information
Be sure not to share too much information with people you’ve just met, no matter how friendly they may seem. It’s important to not give out any information about where you’re staying (particularly if you’re outside of the resort), your room number, or even places you’re planning on visiting for the rest of your trip.
Getting Around Punta Cana Safely
The easiest and safest way to get around Punta Cana, and the Dominican Republic, is usually by organized tours. If you book these through your resort, they’ll be with a reputable company, so you can rest assured knowing that you’re safe.
Another time you’ll be needing to travel is to and from the airport. Again, booking your transfers as part of a package vacation, or directly with your resort is a great way of ensuring you have a safe trip.
It’s important to avoid using local motorcycle taxis, known as “motorcoaches,” as these are often unsafe and can involve scams. If you really wish to travel by public transport, it’s important to stick to official taxis or trusted transportation services.
Never, under any circumstances, accept a ride from a stranger.
Overall, Punta Cana has similar risks to most other popular beachside tourist destinations, particularly those within the Caribbean. Despite the reputation of the Dominican Republic, you’ll be pleased to know that Punta Cana is one of the safest destinations in the country.
So long as you remain vigilant whilst traveling, and follow the tips we have outlined above, you should be just fine during your travels to this amazing destination!