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Safety in Punta Cana

Safety in Punta Cana is not usually a problem as long as you exercise a decent amount of common sense. When going out on excursions or to visit local towns bring only the amount of cash that you need and don’t flash it around. Having your cash divided up so that you can easily pull out the amount you need is a good idea.

When going shopping or out to a restaurant, you can bring a credit card with you instead of cash. There have been complaints about cards getting run through twice, but your credit card company is responsible for that – just make sure to check your bills when you get home. Instead of carrying a wallet with you, a laminated photocopy of the picture page of your passport is a smart bet. You have no chance of losing your ID that you’ll need to get out of the Dominican Republic and you still have ID in case something happens.

I’ve always felt quite safe walking around Punta Cana during the day, but you should be a little more careful at night. Remember that this is an impoverished country, desperation does account for some amount of crimes committed against tourists. Don’t walk on deserted sections of beach at night or walk around local towns in small groups.

The first thing you’ll notice anywhere in any city in the Dominican Republic is that people are constantly offering you directions and volunteering to show you where things are. While the locals are very nice, they are expecting to get paid for this service – if you don’t want a hired tour guide, politely but firmly say no thank you.

If you decide to take a day trip to Santo Domingo, everyone should visit the oldest city in the new world at some point in their lives. Santo Domingo is a big city – it’s pretty safe to walk around during the day, but the cautions that you take as far as safety in Punta Cana go should be magnified in Santo Domingo. A tour guide is a decent idea if you’re not comfortable finding your way around in a big city. People will offer to show you around or give you directions, beware that they are going to hit you up for money. You should find a good map before you go, locate tourist information centers on the map so you can stop in if you have questions. Walking around Santo Domingo at night is not a great idea unless you’re in a large group.

As far as water safety in Punta Cana goes – there is a reef which covers most of the coast in front of the beach. While this reef does protect swimmers from the bulk of the waves, remember that coral can be sharp. If you’re going to swim out to the reef, be careful – water shoes are a good idea.

Riptides safety in Punta Cana – because of the reef which disturbs the incoming waves, there are not a lot of riptides on Punta Cana beaches. If you do ever get caught in one they are as easy to get out of as they are terrifying. A riptide is a narrow channel of current moving away from the beach. The natural instinct when stuck in one is to swim frantically toward the beach, but the riptide pulls you out faster than you can swim in. Riptides are usually no more than 50 meters wide; the best thing to do is to swim sideways until you feel the current stop affecting you.

Safety in Punta Cana tips:

  • Women should always avoid walking alone on deserted sections (unpatrolled) of beach. No matter the level of safety in Punta Cana, err on the side of caution.
  • Only bring the amount of money that you need when going shopping
  • If you’re going somewhere at night – traveling in groups or with a guide is recommended.
  • Salespeople can be very aggressive, don’t be rude to them! The best way to avoid looking at their goods is to tell them you didn’t bring any money and promise to go back later.
  • Leave all your valuables in the safety deposit box in your room – not on the beach while you’re swimming.
  • Teach your family about how to get out of a riptide – they probably won’t ever need it but it could save their life.
  • Wear water shoes if swimming out to the reef.
  • Taxis or tour buses are the safest way to get around; “gua-guas” the local buses are a great way to check out local culture but are not quite as safe (seasoned travelers only).