Dominican Republic Travel Safety (8 Things You Should Know Before Going)

Although it is an island paradise, the Dominican Republic is a place that requires tourists to exercise safety precautions. This doesn’t mean that you should alarmed, but rather alert. Just use your common sense and you shouldn’t experience any issues during your Dominican vacation.
Dominican Republic Travel Safety
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While the Dominican Republic has had its share of negative press, the country is generally safe, if you stick to the tourist areas.

Every year, millions of travelers visit the island without incident, although many remain within the confines of all-inclusive resorts for their whole trip because of safety concerns.

Fortunately, it is possible for tourists to leave their resorts, go out and experience the “real” Dominican Republic, as long as they remain mindful of the legitimate threat of crime in the places where it does occur.

Read on for the ultimate guide to keeping safe while traveling in the Dominican Republic.

1. What Should You Be Careful of in the Dominican Republic?

Tourists visiting the Dominican Republic should watch out for scams. As with most other tourist destinations, the Dominican Republic has its share of problems relating to scamming and hustling.

Typical scams to avoid while on the island include fake beggars, fake police and unlicensed taxis.

Also be wary of hustlers who try to collect parking charges at the beaches, as parking is free.

2. What Should You Avoid in the Dominican Republic?

When traveling in the Dominican Republic you should avoid certain neighborhoods that have a high crime rate.

High-risk crime hotspots in Santo Domingo include Arroyo Hondo, Cristo Rey, Gazcue, Naco, and Villa Agricola.

Also avoid going to La Duarte, a street in Santo Domingo. It is crowded and chaotic, which increases the odds of getting mugged.

3. Is It Safe to Leave Your Hotel or Resort in the Dominican Republic?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to leave your hotel or resort in the Dominican Republic.

However, keep in mind that crimes of opportunity including petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching commonly occur in the major tourist areas.

Below are some safety tips to follow when leaving your hotel or resort in the Dominican Republic:

  • Go only on excursions organized by reputable tour operators.
  • Whenever you need to hire a taxi, ask your resort front desk to recommend a trustworthy driver.
  • Use the hotel safe to secure your valuables.
  • Ensure that your travel documents and personal belongings are secure at all times.
  • Avoid flashing cash, jewelry and other valuables.
  • Protect your cell phone, which is a popular item for theft.
  • Use your common sense.

4. Is It Safe to Walk Around in the Dominican Republic?

It depends on where you are walking.

It is not safe to walk around in the dangerous parts of the country, such as the high-risk crime hotspots of Santo Domingo.

You may also not be safe walking around in the non-touristy places of the Dominican Republic.

On the other hand, during the day time it is generally safe to walk around within touristy places such as Punta Cana. This is because the tourist areas where most tourists stay are often highly populated and patrolled by tourist police.

However, you need to take safety precautions when walking around at night anywhere in the Dominican Republic.

If you must travel in the evening, it is recommended that you take an official taxi cab to and from your destination and avoid walking in the streets late at night.

5. Is It Safe to Go Out at Night in the Dominican Republic?

It depends on where you’re going to.

It is not safe to walk around in the Dominican Republic in the dangerous parts of the country, such as the high-risk crime hotspots of Santo Domingo.

You will also not be safe walking around in the non-touristy places of the Dominican Republic.

However, it is generally safe to walk around at night within touristy places such as Punta Cana. This is because the tourist areas where most tourists stay are often highly populated and patrolled by tourist police. Moreover, such areas are well-lit at night with open bars and nightclubs.

That said, walking around, particularly alone, at night in the Dominican Republic is generally not recommended.

However, if you must travel in the evening hours, be sure to observe the following safety precautions:

  • Only go out in groups of people that you know.
  • It is safer to use a chartered or registered taxi rather than walking or using public transportation. Never use buses at night.
  • If you must walk somewhere, stick to the main roads and the more populated areas. Avoid wandering around in dark or isolated areas or places that don’t look safe.
  • Always maintain a high level of alertness and awareness.
  • Never resist if you are a victim of crime, as this may lead to the use of violence.
  • Always use your common sense.

6. Is It Safe to Travel Alone in the Dominican Republic?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to travel alone in the Dominican Republic.

That said, walking around alone may make you an easy target for crime.

Below are some useful tips to help solo travelers explore safely in the Dominican Republic:

  • Avoid walking around alone at night or in dark, isolated areas.
  • Do not flash cash or jewelry while walking on the streets.
  • Do not use your phone on the street.
  • Be wary of “friendly” strangers who approach you.
  • Only go out at night in groups of people you know.
  • Avoid excessive drinking when you go out.
  • Join an organized tour group for excursions.
  • Always use your common sense.

7. Is It Safe for a Woman to Travel Alone?

Although the Dominican Republic is relatively safe for women traveling alone, incidents of sexual harassment do happen.

Below are some useful tips to help keep solo female travelers safe when visiting the Dominican Republic:

  • You may experience catcalling by Dominican men. Respond by being firm yet polite. Instead of ignoring them completely, simply say that you’re in a hurry and therefore can’t stop to talk.
  • Do not hitchhike.
  • Never walk around alone at night or in dark, isolated areas.
  • Dress modestly whenever you go out.
  • Never leave your food or drink unattended or in the care of strangers.
  • Never accept food, drink, cigarettes or gum from strangers.
  • Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Be wary of “friendly” strangers who approach you.
  • Avoid excessive drinking, even at your resort.
  • Always ensure that your room door and windows are securely locked at night.

8. Is It Safe to Swim in the Sea in the Dominican Republic?

Yes, it is safe to swim in the sea in the Dominican Republic.

That said, although the water is mostly calm in the Dominican Republic, occasional strong currents may make it difficult to swim.

It is therefore recommended to follow these safety tips for swimming in the Dominican sea:

  • Learn how to swim in the surf – which is different from swimming in a pool or lake.
  • Always swim in a group. Never swim alone.
  • Swim only within designated areas protected by lifeguards.
  • Be alert at all times and check local weather conditions. Whenever in doubt, don’t go out.
  • Avoid swimming at night because you will not be able to see what you’re stepping on, and people will not be able to see you if you get into trouble in the water.
  • Never swim drunk because alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination.
  • Never float where you’re unable to swim.
  • Always check for obstructions and depth before diving. Never dive headfirst.
  • Before you wade out make sure that you have sufficient energy to swim back to shore.
  • Obey all instructions and orders issued by lifeguards.
  • Pay close attention to kids and elderly people. Waves can make them lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for marine life. Aquatic animals and plants can be dangerous. Leave animals alone and avoid patches of plants. Caribbean coral can cause serious cuts.
  • If caught in a rip current, stay calm to conserve energy and think clearly. Avoid fighting against the current. Instead, swim out of it along the shoreline.
  • If unable to swim out of a rip current, keep calm and float or tread the water. Once out of the current, begin to swim away at an angle towards the shore. If still unable to reach the shore, wave your arms to draw attention to yourself and yell for help.
  • Always maintain a distance of at least 100 feet away from jetties and piers because rip currents often occur near such structures.

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