Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is a jewel in the Caribbean. It is a popular destination spot, especially for those looking for an all-inclusive resort vacation.
Yet, some travelers feel the urge to explore the area’s native surroundings. They want to interact with the locals and see the non-tourist part of the city.
Those who are a novice to traveling may wonder if such excursions are safe. There are good reasons for the question, as many travel experts have debated the question.
You should separate facts from myths before venturing off the resort. Below are some statistics regarding safety outside Punta Cana resorts.
1. The city is designated as having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This has been true since its first designation in 2006.
2. There is a low drug crime rate in Punta Cana compared with other similar tourist cities.
3. The city has police officers called Politur, who are officers assigned to help tourists. They constantly patrol areas for tourists outside the resort.
4. There are designated rope lines separating resort property from public beaches.
While these facts should ease some fears about venturing off the resort, there are some common-sense cautions you should implement. Most experts advise to avoid public beaches altogether at night and urge traveling in groups.
This is particularly true for women because sexual assaults and sex trafficking, while not common, such incidents happen mostly at night.
Be aware the extreme poverty makes theft more tempting. Experts stress guarding possessions carefully and state to never leave any unattended, even if they are in a locked car.
Another aspect to consider is the locals will swarm you immediately in public touristy areas in an attempt to get you to purchase their wares. This can be scary, but you can just tell them no.
Vacation experts warn to never pay the first price vendors give you because they will overcharge. Items are purchased through negotiations, so be aware of what an item is worth and demand lower prices.
Two elements of crime to consider:
1. Prostitution is illegal but not actively pursued by law enforcement, so you may be approached. Engaging in the practice is dangerous.
2. You could be approached to buy illegal drugs. Most drugs, including marijuana, are illegal and a drug purchase or possession conviction could carry a 10-year-penalty with you remaining in jail until trial.
Language and Food
An item to consider is language. Most locals outside the resort do not speak English. However, most in the business district have English-speaking people as many who work there are transplants from places like Canada and the United States.
Two other warnings are to drink water only from sealed containers and be selective in the food you eat.
Those who live in the area state venturing off resorts is worth it. There are beaches, discos, museums and local restaurants that offer a different look at the city. It is safe to explore as long as you use common sense.