Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is a gem of the Caribbean. Frequented annually by millions of tourists from around the world, the area boasts some of the most pristine beaches anywhere. For beachgoers, snorkelers and surfers it is paradise. The question for the first time visitor – is it safe?
If you are staying at any of the all-inclusive resorts, safety and security will not be a concern. If tourists choose to visit places outside the resort then being well-informed and using common sense will help make a vacation a memorable experience.
1. CRIME IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS LOW
Compared to 162 countries, the Dominican Republic ranked the 76th safest place to visit. Because Punta Cana and the adjacent areas cater to tourists, the zone is well protected. Lodging and attractions like the beaches are heavily guarded. The risk assessment is medium.
2. WHAT TO AVOID
Punta Cana is no different than any other tourist destination in terms of crime. Taking basic precautions removes the fear out of travel. They include using a money belt to avoid pickpockets and being mindful of any abnormal behavior that would indicate in unsafe situation e.g. a group of teens around ATM machines.
It is advised visitors hire a driver or taxi for transportation around the area, especially at night. It is more convenient and safe.
Punta Cana is not at high-risk for any terrorist attack. At the time this article was written there are no alerts put out by the US Embassy for the Dominican Republic. The United States Department of State advises tourists to use increased caution when traveling to the country.
4. ZIKA VIRUS
The Zika virus can be a concern in the Dominican Republic. But proper steps to avoid mosquitos will address the issue. They include using the right repellent on your person and clothes, following directions for applying the repellent to maximize its effectiveness and choosing to exercise indoors.
In addition, mosquitos are drawn to bright colored clothing. Cover up with more neutral colors like beige and light gray. Clothes should be long sleeved when possible, but always breathable.
5. DRINKING WATER AND FOOD
Weather in the Dominican Republic is hot. It is important to drink lots of water. However, tourists are advised to drink bottled water only. The bottle must always be sealed. Any ice that did not originate from bottled or purified water should also be avoided.
General precautions should be taken when dining locally. It is better to be selective of the restaurant you eat at in order to avoid stomach problems. Taking Pepto Bismol daily is recommended to ensure a trouble-free vacation. Drinks and food in DR are safe to consume, it’s just that your gut bacteria may not be accustomed to local seasoning and ingredients.
6. TRAVELING SOLO AND WOMEN TRAVELERS
Regardless of gender, it is wise not to venture into unknown, less-traveled parts of the area. That is especially true in the evening. That does not mean visitors can’t enjoy a warm Caribbean night and a peaceful breeze.
Take an official excursion to many of the points of interest offered by licensed tour groups. Doing so allows tourists, especially women to travel safely.
7. BASIC DOS AND DON’TS
Wherever you go, there are certain things to do for one’s well-being. Don’t draw attention to yourself by what you wear or how you behave. Don’t go into bad areas in the Dominican Republic any more than you would visit a bad neighborhood in your own town.
DO make the effort to enjoy everything that Punta Cana has to offer. “Common sense security” is the most effective way to ensure a visit to the island exceeds expectations. It can be done by taking the above-mentioned steps seriously to avoid trouble.