While Punta Cana has had its share of negative publicity, it is generally safe so long as you stick to its well-travelled areas.
Each year, millions of tourists visit Punta Cana without incident, although many decide to remain within the confines of all-inclusive resorts for their whole trip due to safety fears.
Nevertheless, it is possible for holidaymakers to leave the resorts, and get out and experience the “real” Punta Cana, provided that they remain mindful of the real threat of crime in the areas where it does happen.
Read on for the essential guide to keeping safe while vacationing in Punta Cana.
Is It Safe to Go to Punta Cana?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to travel to Punta Cana.
With the exception of opportunistic crimes such as petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching that commonly occur within major tourist areas, crimes against tourists are rare in Punta Cana.
Moreover, the risk of experiencing crime in Punta Cana is lower if you stay within the well-traveled areas which are generally safe.
That said, visitors holidaying in Punta Cana should watch out for hustles and scams. As a major tourist area in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana has its share of problems relating to hustling and scamming.
Common scams to keep an eye out for in Punta Cana are fake police, fake beggars and unlicensed taxis. Also beware of hustlers who’ll try to collect parking charges at the beaches although parking is free.
Is Punta Cana Dangerous in Any Way?
Yes. Walking around in certain areas of Punta Cana alone late at night can be dangerous.
Punta Cana can be particularly dangerous if you stray away from the areas that most tourists stay.
Such areas are generally safer as they are typically highly-populated, well-lit with open bars and nightclubs, and are patrolled by tourist police.
Can I Leave the Resort in Punta Cana?
Sure, you can leave your resort in Punta Cana – in fact, it is recommended that you do so.
This is because although resorts are great for protecting tourists, they tend to limit the ability to venture into the interior of the island, interact with the local people and immerse themselves in their culture. As such, if you want to experience the “real” Punta Cana, you will need to leave your resort!
That said, visitors should beware that in the Dominican Republic, crimes of opportunity including petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching commonly occur in major tourist areas such as Punta Cana.
As such, it is important to follow these safety tips when you leave your resort in Punta Cana:
- Go on tours organized by reputable tour companies only
- When hiring a taxi, ask the resort front desk to recommend a driver you can trust
- Leave your valuables secured inside your hotel safe
- Secure your travel documents and personal belongings at all times
- Never flash cash, jewelry or any other valuables
- Cell phones are a popular item for theft – always protect yours
Is It Safe to Walk Around in Punta Cana?
Yes, Punta Cana is generally safe to walk around during the day.
However, when walking around Punta Cana at night, you should avoid straying from the areas where most tourists stay.
Punta Cana’s touristy areas are generally safe at night as they are patrolled by tourist police and are often highly-populated and well-lit with active bars and nightclubs.
Is It Safe to Go Out at Night in Punta Cana?
Yes, it is generally safe to go out at night in Punta Cana, as long as you do not stray from the areas in which most tourists stay.
The touristy places of Punta Cana are generally safe at night as they are normally highly-populated, well-lit with happening bars and nightclubs, and are patrolled by tourist police.
Here are some safety tips for walking around Punta Cana at night:
- Go out only with groups of individuals that you’re familiar with.
- Taking a registered or chartered taxi is safer than walking or using public transportation. Avoid taking buses at night.
- Never wander about in isolated or dark places or in areas that don’t look safe. If you have to walk to somewhere, stay on the main roads and within the more populated areas.
- Always be very alert and aware.
- Do not resist if you’re the victim of crime, because this may result in the use of violence.
Is It Safe to Rent a Car in Punta Cana?
Yes, renting a car in Punta Cana is perfectly safe, provided that you only deal with reputable car hire companies. Fortunately, the major international car rental companies such as Hertz, Avis and Europcar all have franchises in Punta Cana.
Moreover, renting a car in Punta Cana is a pretty straightforward affair. Just be sure to fully research your options, book the car ahead of your visit and then follow the tips below:
- Check the vehicle before your drive it off the lot. It should have seatbelts in the back, adequate oil and water, and should be in good working condition.
- Look the vehicle over carefully and document every nick, dent or scratch. Taking photos of any damage will help you avoid having it being blamed on you when you take back the car.
- Before leaving the car hire company, be sure to check that all your car hire documents are up to date, so as to avoid any possible problems with police later on.
Are Taxis Safe in Punta Cana?
Yes, taxis are safe to use in Punta Cana.
Visitors can easily get a taxi in Punta Cana by calling the 24-hour taxi dispatch companies.
If there is no fixed rate, be sure to negotiate and agree on the fare with the driver before starting your journey. Taxis in Punta Cana cost an average of U.S. $5 one-way mostly for in-city destinations.
Is Uber Available?
No, Uber services are not available in Punta Cana at this time.
What Can You Not Eat in Punta Cana?
While vacationing in Punta Cana, you should avoid eating:
- Raw, cold or undercooked meat, seafood, fish, eggs and poultry
- Bush/ game meat
- Condiments such as sauces made from eggs and other raw ingredients
- Food that is uncovered, not on ice or not refrigerated such as buffets
- Unpeeled or unwashed fruit and vegetables
- Raw vegetables from questionable sources, or if unsure whether they were washed with purified water
- Unpasteurized dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and ice-cream
What Can You Not Drink in Punta Cana?
Here is a list of beverages you should not drink when visiting Punta Cana:
- Water from a well or tap, or any water if you’re unsure of its quality
- Beverages containing ice
- Unpasteurized milk and juices
- Concentrated or powdered drinks mixed with unpurified water
- Carbonated beverages and bottled water from unsealed bottles
- Cold coffee and tea
Is the Water Safe to Drink in Punta Cana?
No. Tap water is not safe to drink in Punta Cana as it has not been purified.
It is recommended that visitors should only drink treated water while traveling in Punta Cana.
It is therefore required that you first sterilize the tap water before you drink it. By boiling the tap water, you can eliminate the bacteria that cause stomach infections.
If unable to purify the tap water beforehand, you may also drink bottled water which is widely available in Punta Cana.
What Happens if You Brush Your Teeth With Tap Water in Punta Cana?
If you brush your teeth with tap water in Punta Cana, you may end up ingesting the untreated water which may be contaminated by bacteria and other toxins that can result in stomach upsets.
It is advisable to always brush your teeth using boiled, filtered or bottled water while visiting Punta Cana.
Never brush your teeth with tap water in Punta Cana, unless you are certain of the quality of the water.
Is It Safe to Shower in Punta Cana?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to shower in Punta Cana.
However, you should avoid ingesting water from the shower as it is unpurified. Such untreated water may be contaminated with bacteria and other toxins that are known to cause stomachaches.
Is Ice Safe in Punta Cana?
The safety of ice in Punta Cana will depend on where it is served.
Most resorts in Punta Cana make ice cubes out of purified water, which means it is safe to use in drinks.
On the other hand, avoid using ice served at bars off the resort as the ice cubes may have been made from untreated tap water which is not safe to drink.
Are There Mosquitos in Punta Cana?
Yes, there are mosquitoes in Punta Cana.
Because Punta Cana is a tropical destination, it therefore naturally has diverse insects and bugs including mosquitos.
That said, you can protect yourself from mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent and other preventative measures to ensure that mosquitos do not ruin your amazing holiday in Punta Cana.
Can You Get Malaria in Punta Cana?
Yes, you can get malaria in Punta Cana.
That said, Punta Cana is not a malaria-endemic area of the Dominican Republic. As such, the chances of getting malaria while vacationing in Punta Cana are rather low.
Nevertheless, you should always protect yourself from mosquito bites using mosquito repellent and other preventative measures in the Dominican Republic. .
Do I Need Malaria Tablets for Punta Cana?
Yes. It is recommended that tourists visiting Punta Cana take measures to prevent malaria such as by taking anti-malarial medication.
That said, malaria is not that common in Punta Cana. As such, you don’t have to worry about getting malaria during your vacation in Punta Cana.
Is Zika Virus in Punta Cana?
Yes, the Zika Virus is in Punta Cana.
That said, cases of Zika infections are rather rare in the Dominican Republic as a whole.
Do You Need Bug Spray in Punta Cana?
Yes, you will need bug spray when vacationing in Punta Cana.
Because Punta Cana is a tropical destination it naturally harbors a diversity of bugs and insects that bite.
One of the most problematic bugs in Punta Cana is the sand flea which is difficult to see and seemingly immune to everything.
However, a good bug spray will effectively protect you from sand flea bites.
Are There Poisonous Snakes in Punta Cana?
No, there are no poisonous snakes in Punta Cana. In fact, there are no poisonous snakes at all in the Dominican Republic.
The endemic snakes found in the country, including the green snake, mainly serve as pest control for mice and rats.
Rarely found in the mountains and wild green areas, these snakes do not carry poison nor do they present a threat to humans.