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Is Punta Cana Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Punta Cana Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Punta Cana is one of the most popular destinations in the Dominican Republic. Gorgeous beaches, great weather, and lovely people even make it one of the most desirable vacation spots in the Caribbean.

The tropical paradise has beautiful ecological scenes, gorgeous art in every form, and food that is just as diverse as its population. Millions of tourists visit the town yearly, and most have an incredible experience from start to finish.

However, if you are a safety-conscious traveler, you’ll want to research the city’s safety beforehand. Taking a trip to Punta Cana is like taking a trip anywhere. It is crucial to stay alert and use common sense to avoid trouble.

You can relax at the beach, snorkel or surf, enjoy the culture of the Dominican Republic, take zipline tours through the jungle and go on eco-adventures — as long as you keep your and your family’s well-being at the forefront of your mind.

Read on to learn more about how to take advantage of Punta Cana while staying safe. This article will cover where to visit, crime rates, weather concerns, terrorism, and more.

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Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit in 2022?

Bavaro shops and police cars pictured for a piece on Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit

BAVARO, PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – 9 APRIL 2019: Two police cars on El Dorado plaza with stores, cafes and restaurants/Photopixel/Shutterstock

Generally speaking, Punta Cana is one of the safest cities to visit in the Caribbean. Millions of travelers enjoy the tropical paradise every year without incident.

Just as with any other vacation, though, there are always risks that come with the destination. Tourists commonly fear pick-pocketing when they travel to the Dominican Republic. Not only can this form of thievery lead to monetary loss, but it can also lead to identity theft.

Plus, if a thief steals your phone, you may not have any way to call for help. The pick-pocketing in Punta Cana is not severe, but there is a slight risk, especially in crowds. With the necessary precautions, it is easily avoidable.

Crime is not the only thing that causes visitors to Punta Cana to be wary. With the tropical weather, you always risk visiting at the time that a natural disaster may hit. Disasters may include hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and tidal waves.

While Punta Cana is prone to some of these events, they are rare, and there will often be some warning in advance. Read the sections below to learn more about whether or not you should take all of these concerns to heart when booking your vacation.

Crime in Punta Cana

Safety-conscious travelers should always consult the crime statistics for their destination before booking the trip. Compared to other cities, the violent crime rate is low.

As of May 2022, the crime index comes in at a moderate 49.69. Keep in mind that this statistic includes crimes that should not affect foreign travelers. Some of these crimes include drug use and sale, home break-ins, and car theft.

When it comes to physical attacks, the crime rate is moderate. The same goes for theft, assault, and armed robbery. Although, these crimes do not often occur in resort areas.

The city is highly safe to walk around in the daytime and moderately safe to explore at night time. With a safety index of 50.31, the city is safer than it is dangerous.

While “moderate” may seem uncomfortably high for some, it is pretty low for a vacation destination. Cancun, for example, has a higher index by over six points. Plenty of U.S. cities have higher crime indexes than either Caribbean location.

It is key to remember that the resorts will keep you safe. Beyond altruism, the tourism industry keeps Punta Cana on its feet. Resort hosts will be glad to have you and keep you safe.

Frequent travelers to the tropical town of Punta Cana recommend taking the following precautions against crime:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Travel with a group
  • Never walk alone
  • Stay away from secluded areas at night

The media has a lot to say about safety in the DR, but in most cases, it is severely overblown. Punta Cana is actually significantly safer than other Caribbean cities, so most of the concern is unwarranted.

Pick-pocketing is a common type of theft in the Dominican Republic. To avoid this, keep your items in a sealed bag close to your body. Do not wear any flashy jewelry, and keep your phone tucked away at all times.

If you carry cash, keep half in one purse or pocket, and the other half in another bag or pocket. Make copies of every important document you bring if someone steals the original.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Dominican Republic building made of stone pictured for a post on Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit

June 10, 2022 La Cienaga, Dominican Republic. Dramatic image of a Dominican man building stone wall high in the Caribbean mountains of the countryside/Todd Aaron Sanches/Shutterstock

Punta Cana itself has no bad neighborhoods. The entire city is tourism-centric, so there is no reason to fear meandering around the coastal town.

Sometimes, however, tourists like to take day trips from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo to see the DR’s capital. Santo Domingo is usually pretty safe, but if you wish to take a day trip, there are a few areas to avoid for your family’s safety.

“La Cienaga,” also known as “The Swamp,” is a dangerous Santo Domingo neighborhood. Others include “The Zurza,” “Christ the King,” and “Los Guandules.”

Avoid these neighborhoods, especially at night when most violent crimes occur. Your Punta Cana resort is the safest place to stay in the Dominican Republic. The area is not only picturesque and brimming with fun things to do, but it is also completely safe.

You can even feel safe walking after dinner to enjoy Punta Cana’s nightlife. If you wish to take a trip out of the resort, travel with a guided tour group, and do not explore alone at night.

Weather Concerns in Punta Cana

Weather is one of the biggest concerns when visiting Punta Cana. Hurricanes, in particular, make travelers nervous. Hurricanes like David, Laura, and Georges caused such destruction that it makes sense for people to be nervous about the next big storm.

Hurricane season in Punta Cana ranges from June 1 to November 30. These months are over half the year. They also cover the entire summer season for the United States, which is conveniently when vacationers love to visit the tropics.

Remember, booking a vacation during hurricane season does not mean a hurricane will hit during your trip. Just in case, purchase travel insurance for a refund on plane tickets if a storm is en route to the DR.

Fortunately, you will know days beforehand. Seismic activity is more unpredictable in Punta Cana. However, millions manage to travel to the town without incident.

A high risk for earthquakes also does not mean the earthquakes will always be severe. To be extra ready, tune into local news stations as soon as you feel a quake. This way, you will know if you must evacuate to avoid a tsunami.

There is nothing that you can do to prevent natural disasters. The threat of one should not inhibit you from enjoying your trip to Punta Cana – just remember to use common sense about impending storms and listen to earthquake warnings.

Are There Dangerous Animals in Punta Cana?

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MaeManee/Shutterstock

Anytime you are in nature, you run the risk of running into an animal that isn’t necessarily the friendliest. While there aren’t any animals that represent immediate danger, there are a few that you should be aware of to avoid a trip to a medical center. 

The ocean around Punta Cana has the possibility of having organisms such as sea urchins, Portuguese Man o’ War, Cassiopea, stingrays, and lionfish.

These animals don’t actively target humans, but you can run the risk of stepping or coming into contact with one, which will most certainly result in a bit of pain. However, as long as you are wary, you should have no issue with these sea creatures.

Of course, there are sharks, as well as any part of the ocean, will have. Take the proper precautions and ensure you always have an emergency plan when boating or diving.

On land, there are a few insects and animals that you should keep your eye out for as well, such as the black widow, giant centipede, paper wasp, and Mata Cata.

These organisms have terrible bites that will leave you with a painful memento from your trip. However, they are easily avoided as long as you keep your eyes open and always check your shoes before putting them on.

Are There Terrorist Attacks in Punta Cana?

Some travelers are nervous about terrorist attacks while traveling. Given the current climate, this is a perfectly valid fear. If you wish to travel to Punta Cana, you can rest easy. The chances of a terrorist attack are extremely low in the whole country.

The Dominican Republic has not seen a single terrorist attack in recent years. Of course, it is always best to be vigilant. Unfortunately, you can never predict when or where a terrorist attack will strike.

Punta Cana may not have been a target yet, but terrorism is a global threat. The risk comes with the conflict in Iraq and Syria, especially against the interests of the United Kingdom.

Most countries do their best to quell the threat and ensure their people’s safety. However, there is only so much that governments can do. Take these steps to stay safe from terrorism while traveling:

  • Respect security and staff working for your safety
  • Report suspicious activity to the nearest authority
  • Do not look after anyone’s bags
  • Report unattended bags
  • In the event of an attack, listen diligently to instructions

Once again, Punta Cana has never been the target of a terrorist attack. Still, it is pertinent to keep these tips in mind while traveling.

Things to Consider

If you are traveling to Punta Cana, there are a few things to consider when it comes to your safety. Consider the following points before traveling to the Caribbean paradise:

  • Never travel alone to a foreign place
  • Avoid locations with extreme weather advisories
  • Do not walk alone on the streets
  • Always tell someone your whereabouts
  • Never leave your bags with anyone
  • Allow friends to track your rideshare service rides
  • Keep cash in multiple pockets
  • Avoid public WiFi unless it’s an emergency
  • Make copies of your I.D. and other important documents
  • Lock your hotel room door
  • Bring all medication, including inhalers and Epinephrine
  • Avoid political conversation in unregulated spaces
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
  • Immediately learn the emergency services phone number
  • Do not drink and swim

You should always consider these tips, no matter where you are traveling. In a safe city like Punta Cana, keeping these points in mind can still optimize your comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman in a dress dancing on a beach

Valentin Valkov/Shutterstock

You may still have some questions about staying safe in Punta Cana. Hopefully, we can answer them below.

When should you avoid Punta Cana?

Hurricane season in Punta Cana runs from June 1 to November 30. During this time, the Dominican Republic is prone to hurricanes and severe tropical storms. The chances that these storms will occur on your vacation days are remote.

You will also likely receive a fair amount of warning before a big hurricane hits the island. However, it is worth noting that the Atlantic conditions cause plenty of rain, particularly during September and October.

If you’re an avid beach-goer, avoid those two months. Other than these weather concerns, there is no reason not to visit Punta Cana year-round. Crime is no worse at any point in the year.

Is it safe to leave resorts in Punta Cana?

It is safe to venture out from the resorts in Punta Cana, so long as you go with a guided tour. Experienced tour guides will not only take you to the best destinations, but they’ll also help you navigate the country safely. To be extra safe, book tours with travel agents at the resort. They only use reputable companies, so you don’t have to sweat a tour guide’s credentials.

Is Punta Cana safer than Cancun?

Punta Cana and Cancun are both generally safe cities to visit in the Caribbean. As always, just be sure to stay alert in both locations.

Is Punta Cana the safest place to travel in the Caribbean?

Punta Cana is as safe as a tropical Caribbean destination gets. It is one of the safest towns to visit in the Caribbean, with one of the lowest crime indexes.

Are there sharks in Punta Canta?

A coral reef surrounds the coast of the Dominican Republic. The reef functions like a natural barrier to keep sharks away from shore. There is no reason to fear sharks in the Dominican Republic.

So, Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit?

Punta Cana is nothing short of a stunning tropical adventure. If you have the opportunity to go, you absolutely must — especially now that you know how safe it is.

Put your common sense to good use and keep all the usual safety tips in mind while traveling, and you should have a lovely Caribbean experience. Happy travels!