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Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Punta Cana safe to visit?

Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is generally safe to visit, particularly in the resort areas, despite the country’s higher overall crime rate. The region has moderate rates of crime and low rates of violent crime.

Travelers should exercise caution against petty theft, take health precautions, and be mindful of hurricane season, while female travelers should be aware of the risk of sexual harassment and take necessary precautions.

Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is a very popular destination for beach vacations. Five million international tourists visit each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Latin America.

But while this storied town may seem like a tropical paradise, is Punta Cana safe to visit? Here’s our expert take.

Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit in 2024?

Beautiful tourist area of the Cap Cana Marina pictured for a guide to whether or not Punta Cana is safe to visit


Yes. For the most part, Punta Cana is safe to visit. The high crime rates you encounter elsewhere in the Dominican Republic don’t affect this town as much.

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You should still be on your guard against opportunistic crime as well as potential hurricanes. Many people are nervous about traveling to Punta Cana because they know it is in the Dominican Republic.

The area has a bit of a dangerous reputation that is somewhat justified due to its high crime rate. Many countries advise caution when traveling to the Dominican Republic.

For example, the Australian government advises its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution when visiting the Dominican Republic due to high levels of crime, especially violent crime.

The U.S. State Department also issued a Level Two travel advisory for the Dominican Republic, warning potential visitors about higher levels of crime.

However, within the advisory, the State Department admits that resort areas tend to be much safer than the rest of the country because the government of the Dominican Republic invests a lot of resources into keeping tourist areas safe.

This includes places such as Punta Cana, which is very different from the rest of the country because it tends to be much safer.

Most crime incidents are petty, such as:

  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • Theft of unattended items
  • Scams
  • Sexual harassment

Besides crime, there are a few other things that you should look out for in Punta Cana. You should take extra precautions to protect your health.

In 2019, reports of tourists dying of mysterious health ailments while in the Dominican Republic gripped the headlines, including two people who stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.

These incidents were ultimately dismissed as freak accidents, and the hotel cooperated with the government of the Dominican Republic and the FBI to investigate possible breaches of health and safety protocols.

However, it’s a good idea to research possible accommodation thoroughly for previous accidents or reviews of travelers getting sick.

Visit a doctor before your trip and make sure you have good health insurance. Like most places in the Caribbean, Punta Cana is affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season lasts from June to November but intensifies around late August and September.

Although Punta Cana is not one of the regions in the Dominican Republic that gets hit hard by hurricanes, it’s still a good idea to monitor weather alerts closely if you decide to risk it and travel during hurricane season.

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Crime in Punta Cana

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

Many people hesitate before booking a trip to Punta Cana due to fears over the crime rate. The Dominican Republic is known to have a high crime rate.

The homicide rate alone in the Dominican Republic is 11 incidents per 100,000 people, a fairly high value. However, the situation in Punta Cana is different. Punta Cana has moderate rates of overall crime, and low rates of violent crime.

According to Numbeo, Punta Cana scores a 52.18 out of 100 on the site’s crime index, a moderate value. People don’t report many concerns with violent crime in Punta Cana.

The crimes people reported the most concern about in Punta Cana are corruption and bribery, break-ins, drug abuse, and petty property crime.

While violent crime does exist, and you should take precautions against it, the rates are far lower than they are in other parts of the country. Property crime is a much bigger cause of concern.

To get an idea of the relative safety of Punta Cana, it helps to compare it to other parts of the country such as the capital Santo Domingo. Numbeo helpfully provides a side-by-side comparison. The overall crime rate is much lower in Punta Cana than in Santo Domingo.

In Santo Domingo, people are far more worried about being mugged or robbed, being the victims of theft, and especially about being the victim of a violent crime.

While people feel safe walking in Punta Cana during the day and somewhat safe at night, they only feel somewhat safe in Santo Domingo during the day and not safe at all at night.

There are a few reasons why the crime rate is lower in Punta Cana than in other parts of the country. The economy of the Dominican Republic relies heavily on tourism, so the federal government had to invest a lot of resources into keeping touristy areas safe.

Resorts such as Punta Cana have designated tourism police and far more resources to maintain public safety. Plus, many tourists are insulated from the worst that life in the Dominican Republic has to offer.

Resorts often have private security, keeping those that stay there safe. Locals know their incomes are dependent on tourism, so are more likely to cooperate with fighting crime.

This doesn’t mean that you can throw caution to the wind completely in Punta Cana. However, it does mean that you don’t have to be as cautious as a city like New York City, especially if you plan to stay on the resort (which is my personal recommendation).

Petty Theft

When people think about crime in Punta Cana, they tend to think of dramatic instances of armed robbery or violent crime. However, the reality of most crimes you encounter in Punta Cana is far more mundane — it will most likely be petty theft.

In its travel advisory for the Dominican Republic, the Canadian government warns about the prevalence of theft targeting tourists, including in resort areas such as Punta Cana.

Common forms of petty theft include pickpocketing, bag snatching, snatch and grab robberies from the backs of motorcycles, and theft from hotel rooms and rental vehicles. Don’t let your street smarts float away while you are on vacation in Punta Cana.

Take common sense precautions to protect yourself from pickpockets. Don’t flash expensive jewelry or lots of cash as that makes you a target (if you can, don’t bring valuables on vacation).

Make sure that you’re holding your bag in a way that is harder to grab, such as across your body. Most thefts in Punta Cana happen when people really let their guard down. Don’t ever leave your valuables unattended, even for a second.

It’s common for people to go for a swim only to come back and realize that their stuff is not waiting on the beach. Phones in particular are common targets, so don’t be careless with your smartphone.

Theft from resort rooms is fairly common in Punta Cana, no matter how high-end the resort. Never leave your things just laying around your room.

Always put valuables in a room safe, or a lobby safe with a receipt. Lock your hotel room doors when you are not in, and close windows and any balconies. Scams targeting tourists are also common in Punta Cana.

Beware of people that seem overly friendly or interested in you. When paying a deposit for anything, such as an organized tour, make sure that you research the company first.

Always ask for proof that people are who they say they are, especially if they are posing as figures of authority such as police officers. The fake lawyer scam is also common, so make sure that you research potential lawyers if you run into legal trouble in Punta Cana.

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Female travelers often run into additional unpleasantries in Punta Cana that their male counterparts don’t have to worry about.

Unfortunately, catcalling and other forms of sexual harassment are common in the Dominican Republic, including in tourist areas. Sometimes, these situations escalate into assault.

The UK government warns citizens in its travel advisory for the Dominican Republic that there is a risk of assault and sexual violence against tourists in the country. In particular, it lists the frequency of incidents in beach resorts such as Punta Cana.

Perpetrators can be fellow guests, locals, and even resort staff. If you are a woman traveling to Punta Cana, take precautions to stay safe. Never tell anyone where you are staying.

Try to explore with a group or at least one other trusted friend. If you decide to check out Punta Cana’s famous nightlife, make sure you take precautions to protect yourself.

Never accept drinks from strangers or drink something that feels off. Never accept rides from strangers or agree to go somewhere else away from your group. To get home, use an authorized taxi.

Avoiding Bad Areas

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

Anywhere you go, avoiding bad areas is key to staying safe. Punta Cana is no different. In Punta Cana, be careful in most parts of the neighborhoods of Veron and Friusa.

These areas have slightly higher crime rates, although they also have safer pockets.

Avoid walking on the beach or in other isolated areas at night. Just like a trip to Mexico, we always recommend sticking to the resort grounds. Do this, and you should have no problem on your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gorgeous scene with white sand beaches under a blue sky for a piece on whether or not Punta Cana is safe

Lurii Dzivinskyi/Shutterstock

Here are a few other questions you might want to ask when planning your trip to Punta Cana:

Is it safe to go to Punta Cana right now?

Yes, it is safe to go to Punta Cana right now. The crime is as low as it’s ever been, and there are no announced demonstrations or protests.

Is Punta Cana safer than Cancun?

Right now, Punta Cana is safer than Cancun. They both used to be fairly safe, but Cancun and the Mayan Riviera are experiencing a problem with drug cartels that has driven the violent crime rate up. Punta Cana does not have similar issues.

Why is Punta Cana so inexpensive?

Punta Cana is more affordable than many other destinations on the Caribbean Sea because the cost of living in the Dominican Republic overall is more affordable. It is easier to find accommodation for a range of budgets here.

Can I leave the resort in Punta Cana?

Although resort areas are the safest, the rest of Punta Cana is also safe to explore! Just make sure that you do most of your exploring during the day and that you go with at least a buddy, if not a group.

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So, Is Punta Cana Safe to Visit?

📈 Homicide rate10.5 per 100k (moderate)
👮‍♂️ Most common crimePetty theft
🏠 Worst neighborhoodVeron/Friusa
❓ Safety tipStay on your resort

Punta Cana is a surprisingly safe location for a vacation. The violent crime rate is low, and you mostly have to be on your guard against petty theft.

That being said, female travelers need to take additional precautions. So, with so much to see and do, and plenty of safe resort areas, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!