PUNTA CANA SAFETY CONCERNS: PERCEPTION VS REALITY - Travels with Talek (2023)

Punta Cana safety concerns were the last thing on my mind as I strolled through the honey colored beaches of one of the many resorts in the area.

PUNTA CANA SAFETY CONCERNS: PERCEPTION VS REALITY - Travels with Talek (1)

Safety concerns in Punta Cana were also the last thing on my mind as I swam in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, sampled the local cuisine, dipped in the plunge pool or explored the dense, lush rain forests. This is a paradise.

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Punta Cana, a tropical paradise

Punta Cana is an island nirvana in the Caribbean on the very tip of eastern Dominican Republic. The area faces both the Atlantic and the Caribbean and has ideal weather created by the ocean cross-breezes. Ringed with 34 kilometers of pristine beach, Punta Cana is host to numerous boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts.

I recently spent time at several resorts in beautiful Punta Cana as a guest of a consortium of hotels promoting the Punta Cana Promise. This Promise is an eight point pledge describing resort food and beverage safety guidelines, policies and security measures detailing what guests can expect at Punta Cana properties.

I was invited because the hotels wanted to communicate the message that it is safe to visit. And it is.

The importance of tourism in Punta Cana

Tourism is certainly among the top industries of the Dominican Republic. This vital revenue generator saw a sharp drop in visitor check-ins last year after several American tourists died. These unfortunate incidents resulted a frenzy of negative media activity. All the deaths were found to be accidental or due to natural causes. Dominican officials called in the F.B.I. to do their own tests which resulted in a confirmation of no foul play. In fact, the tourists to tourist-death-ratio was found to be within the standard norm. With over 2 millions visitors a year, the deaths, although tragic, were not unusual.

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Still, good news does not sell, and the tragic events caused a reaction totally out of proportion to the facts. The hotels responded with a concerted and coordinated effort to communicate the reality of the resorts’ safety and security.

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The concept of the Punta Cana Promise was always in effect. Tourist safety and security was always a prime objective of the hotels and resorts. Now it has become more relevant and urgent to communicate the Punta Cana Promise to prospective tourists who have many options for where to spend their tourist dollars.

Safety protocols dispel Punta Cana safety concerns

One of the Punta Cana Promise participants is the Iberostar chain of hotels – there are 5 Iberostar Hotels and suites in Punta Cana but I really like Iberostar Bavaro.

Deep in the resort’s kitchens, and dressed in sanitary whites, I witnessed the extraordinary measures taken to ensure food safety from sanitizing glass water bottles (the hotel uses no single-use plastic bottles) to their vendor sourcing protocol. Vendors must be approved by several levels of authorities both governmental and independent agencies certifying the vendors’ sanitary and quality compliance.

The kitchens were spotless and are subject to surprise inspections by independent international agencies. The staff proudly displayed the many certificates of food safety compliance received from the corresponding authorities. All certificates must be renewed on a yearly bases.

And did I mention the food was amazing!!!!

PUNTA CANA SAFETY CONCERNS: PERCEPTION VS REALITY - Travels with Talek (3)Worth mentioning is the sustainable tourism measures many of these hotels undertake. The Iberostar maintains coral nurseries to safeguard the delicate organisms and ensure their beauty for years to come.

The Melia hotel chain is also a Punta Cana Promise participant and is equally engaged in the safety and security measures. From onsite 24 hour multi-lingual medical assistance and ambulances to their own fire department – we were reminded several times that the best fire is the one that is never started – the security measures at this hotel chain were impressive.

The staff to guest ratio is very high and employee training extensive. One interesting little tidbit of back office information: any employee that interacts with a guest has a mirror at their desk. They look in the mirror when speaking with a guest to ensure they are smiling which is expected to communicate a pleasant tone to the guest.

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RIU hotels made me realize how it is virtually impossible to enter a room without at least seven people knowing who entered and having a record of it. In this day and age, in hotels the caliber of these Punta Cana resorts, the room entry systems are so sophisticated they are virtually impregnable.

All guests are given a bracelet with an electronic chip that opens the door. There are no traditional metal keys or key cards involved. Whenever a guest enters the room all they do swipe their wrist at the door to open. All room entries are immediately reported electronically to a central control point as well as to individual phones belonging to supervisory and security staff. Any entry not caused by the guest or housekeeping is a red flag addressed immediately.

The housekeeping staff uses cleaning solutions certified by independent agencies, rooms are sanitized regularly, there are anti-humidity controls in the air-conditioning for guest comfort and rooms are closed twice a year for deep cleaning.

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Notwithstanding these super security and sanitary measures, the most impressive security measure I observed was the bar controls. Rather than have liquor bottles that can be opened outside of a controlled environment, the bottles at the RIU sit upside-down in a locked cabinet. Shots are poured through measured dispensers. The only time the bottles are touched are when they arrive in the room sealed and when they are empty and replaced. Genius!

Other hotels visited included the upscale Zoetry with its holistic wellness approach and the lovely Bahia Principe Ambar with their extensive list of activities.

One resort with a stellar reputation and tons of activities is the Onyx Punta Cana.

Perception vs Reality

If there ever was an abyss between perception and reality it just may be the safety and security of resorts in Punta Cana and the misguided perception that it is somehow dangerous for tourists. I found Punta Cana safety concerns to be unfounded. The resorts are super safe, all the more so now with the attention given to the Punta Cana Promise.

Things to do around Punta Cana

Probably the coolest activity is scuba diving in Punta Cana. All the hotels offer many other aquatic sports either internally or through local providers. These can include kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, group boat tours, surfing, catamaran tours and more.

You won’t lack for things to do in Punta Cana.

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Swim with sharks and manta rays

One unusual activity is snorkeling with sharks and manta rays. I decided to try this thinking it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The guide assured me the nurse sharks were yay big – he extended his arms about two feet apart – and that they were not dangerous. Believe me, no matter how many times someone tells you sharks are not dangerous, once you get close to them your adrenaline starts to pump.

On the boat the guide said to me, “OK, go over there where the sharks are and snorkle around them.” I heard myself say “OK” and then wondered what possessed me. I soon found myself in a little alcove snorkling near the surface of the water and looking down on not one, but four sharks all of which were considerably over six feet.

I felt a primeval instinctive fear looking at those sharks swimming so close to me. They’re in their own environment whereas I’m in theirs. What if they come in my direction?! How would I get away? If it is possible to perspire in fear while underwater, I did it. But the sharks ignored me as a food option and quickly dispersed.

We also swam close to two giant manta rays called Big Mama and Big Papa. I’ve never had an experience like that and will cherish the memory.

Parque del Este National Park

This is a biologically diverse nature reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Park. It is a paradise of flora and fauna with over 500 species of plant and hundreds of species of birds and fish. The park offers an ideal opportunity for hikers to explore many loop hikes inland and along the pristine beachfront.

The park is the site of more than 400 indigenous cave paintings attributed to the Taino Indians, the original inhabitants.

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Ojos Indigenas Ecological Reserve

This 1500-acre nature reserve is used for scientific research, nature conservation and recreation. The reserve has many beautiful trails and freshwater lagoons you can swim in. It is also home to a small petting zoo and an iguana habitat.

Saona Island

This island is part of the Cotubanama National Park located south of Punta Cana. You can reach it via catamaran (2 hours) or speedboat (about one hour) from Punta Cana. There are several companies offering this service from Punta Cana. Your hotel can also arrange a tour for you including lunch. It makes for a perfect day trip from Punta Cana.

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As a protected nature preserve, the island is pristine with water in beautiful varying hues of blue, waves and waves of coconut trees and thick mangroves.

Santo Domingo

Two hours to the west of Punta Cana, on excellent roads, is the capital city of Santo Domingo. This colonial capital is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and, similar to the colonial historic center of Old Havana, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Santo Domingo has excellent international restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and interesting museums.

How to get to Punta Cana

Punta Cana is one of the easiest places to get to from virtually anywhere in the world.

With over 2 million visitors per year, Punta Cana airport (PUJ) is the second busiest airport in the Caribbean. There are many direct flights from U.S. cities, think Boston, New York, Atlanta and DC. Canada is not far behind with direct flights from Calgary, Edmonton and Halifax. There are a surprising number of direct flights from Europe; Amsterdam Frankfurt, Madrid, as well as from Latin America from as far away as Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile and much more.

The airport is in the town of Punta Cana so transport from the airport to your accommodation is likely to take a maximum of 30 minutes but probably much less. Many hotels and resorts provide shuttle service so check with your accommodation. Otherwise there is taxi service at the airport.

What are your thoughts about Punta Cana safety concerns if any?

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BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful,money-saving linksto book your trip:

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I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

FAQs

Is it safe in Punta Cana 2022? ›

Punta Cana is a safe as it gets

The beach, clear waters, and amazing resorts make it easy to fall in love with Punta Cana. But, we've noticed many tourists are worried about safety. They question if it's safe to visit Punta Cana as a tourist. To answer that question: Yes, it is very safe!

Is it safe to go to Punta Cana by yourself? ›

We can help, come to Punta Cana! It is a convenient and safe destination for solo travelers who don't want to miss out on their travels whether or not they find a partner for their adventures. The Dominican Republic, in general, is a country that stands out for the friendliness of its people and how welcoming they are.

Is it safe off the resort in Punta Cana? ›

Your Punta Cana resort is the safest place to stay in the Dominican Republic. The area is not only picturesque and brimming with fun things to do, but it is also completely safe.

Is Punta Cana safe Tripadvisor? ›

Punta Cana is very safe. Don't worry about the beach peddlers, you can say no thank you or ignore them. They will leave you alone. I choose to ignore them, because making eye contact can lead them to pursue you even more.

Is Punta Cana safer than Cancun? ›

While Cancun is mostly safe, there has been some reported violence and drug use in the resort areas. Tourists generally feel safe in both locations, but Punta Cana may be preferable to Cancun if you want to be less cautious about safety as a result there is no need to be overly cautious.

Is it safe to walk around Punta Cana at night? ›

Avoid walking alone in isolated areas or back streets alone late at night. In the resort town of Punta Cana, sexual assaults are common at night.

Is Punta Cana safer than Jamaica? ›

But if we talk about criminal cases, then Punta Cana is safer. The safety scale in Punta Cana is 56.28%, and in Negril (the most popular destination among tourists in Jamaica) is 41.18% (according to numbeo.com). The safety of walking alone during the night in Punta Cana is 50%, and in Negril is 38%.

How do people stay safe in Punta Cana? ›

Avoid solo travel out of Punta Cana; going with a partner or group is preferable. Even within Punta Cana, stick to popular areas and limit excessive alcohol consumption. Sexual assaults involving date-rape drugs in drinks have been reported at Punta Cana hotels.

How can I avoid getting sick in Punta Cana? ›

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Soap and water, but better still, use the alcohol based hand rubs that are everywhere in the dining areas of the resorts. Water is filtered for ice and for food prep, so no need to avoid salads, but do use bottled water for drinking.

What should I be careful of in Dominican Republic? ›

Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime. Country Summary: Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic.

Can you drink tap water in Punta Cana? ›

Drinking purified bottled water is recommended and available everywhere in the Dominican Republic. Hotels and restaurants use purified water to clean and cook their food and make ice for their ice machines. Tourists are recommended not to drink the tap water.

Is Punta Cana tourist friendly? ›

Punta Cana is a small touristic area with a population of about 50 thousand people. It features the largest inflow of tourists than any other province of the country. Punta Cana boasts the best beaches and a couple of top best beaches in the world, for example Juanillo. Santo Domingo does not have beaches at all.

Why is Punta Cana so cheap? ›

The country has one of the highest crime rates of any nation in the Caribbean and as a result, merchants in the hospitality industry have marked down the prices of vacation packages so severely, they're almost giving those incentives away.

Are taxis safe in Punta Cana? ›

The only thing that is important to the airport taxis in Punta Cana is their monopoly and the high prices they charge. Don't get me wrong, Punta Cana airport taxis are perfectly safe. But don't expect any kind of exceptional service nor an acceptable price-value ratio.

Is it better to go to Mexico or Punta Cana? ›

The tradeoff is that the beaches will be much more busy and crowded. But if that's your vibe, then Cancun is perfect! Punta Cana will be a better place for travelers who like to carve out their own space at the beach. However, the price you'll pay for fewer crowds and seclusion will be less access to amenities.

Are the beaches nicer in Mexico or Dominican Republic? ›

The most beautiful and well-groomed beaches of the Caribbean are located in the Dominican Republic.

Is Bahamas or Punta Cana better? ›

The biggest difference is that the Bahamas are much more expensive. But at the same time, the 5-star services, and facilities of hotels are no different from Punta Cana. Moreover, a lot of people love Punta Cana more because of the privacy and freedom, since the most popular tourist town in the Bahamas is Nassau.

Can you brush your teeth in Punta Cana? ›

Brushing teeth with tap water in the Dominican Republic is not recommended unless the water quality is guaranteed to be filtered or treated. In most cases, using boiled, filtered, or bottled water is a safer option for traveling.

Are clubs in Punta Cana safe? ›

You can enjoy nightlife in Bavaro and Punta Cana and feel absolutely safe in night clubs located on the territory of hotel complexes, for example Oro located at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Does it get cold in Punta Cana at night? ›

The temperature in Punta Cana year-round is between 66°F (lowest nightly temperature) and 90°F (highest daily temperature). This sounds like a huge difference, but in fact, the daily temperatures are always varying between 75°F and 90°F while you have typically between 65°F and 80°F at night.

Which is better Montego Bay or Punta Cana? ›

Overall, Punta Cana has bigger and more luxurious resorts than Montego Bay. Resorts are the main attraction when people go to this town, and you will find some of the best all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean there, many with direct beach access and incredible sea views.

Why is Punta Cana so popular? ›

Punta Cana is an authentic paradise in the heart of the Caribbean. Its endless beaches and turquoise waters that bathe its coasts make travelling to Punta Cana a favourite option among the most highly sought-after Caribbean destinations.

What is the hottest month in Punta Cana? ›

Quick Climate Info
Hottest MonthAugust (83 °F avg)
Coldest MonthJanuary (77 °F avg)
Wettest MonthAugust (4.57" avg)
Windiest MonthDecember (10 mph avg)
1 more row

Is food poisoning common in Punta Cana? ›

The second-highest number of food poisoning cases occurred in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, with 211 instances in total.

How can I avoid getting sick at an all inclusive resort? ›

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Soap and water, but better still, use the alcohol based hand rubs that are everywhere in the dining areas of the resorts. Water is filtered for ice and for food prep, so no need to avoid salads, but do use bottled water for drinking.

How do you avoid food poisoning at all inclusive resorts? ›

Many all inclusive buffets serve food that is not hot enough and in many cases only just warm. If you think that something looks undercooked don't eat it. Remember proper cooking kills bacteria. Don't eat food if it has been exposed to flies, insects or birds (again common in all inclusive resorts).

How do you prevent travelers diarrhea in the Dominican Republic? ›

Here are other ways to reduce your risk of traveler's diarrhea: Make sure dishes and utensils are clean and dry before using them. Wash your hands often and always before eating. If washing isn't possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands before eating.

What is the biggest problem in Dominican Republic? ›

Structural racial discrimination, inequality, the criminalization of abortion, and the excessive use of force by the National Police are major human rights concerns.

How can I avoid getting sick in Dominican Republic? ›

Be careful not to get water in your mouth when you shower, and make sure to brush your teeth and rinse your toothbrush with bottled water. If you travel outside the resort on your own, drink only bottled water and drinks with no ice in them and travel with an anti-diarrhea medication in case of illness.

Can you put toilet paper down the toilet in Dominican Republic? ›

Do not flush toilet paper down the toilet, remember to place toilet paper in trash. Communication: Cell phone service will be available in Santo Domingo. If you plan to use your cell phone service while abroad, we recommend contacting your cellular carrier about the global service plans offered.

Can you drink coffee in Punta Cana? ›

Coffee is a fundamental part of the culture and economy in the Dominican Republic. Just like with rum, coffee is one of the national drinks par excellence and we highly recommend doing a tasting during your visit to Punta Cana.

Do you need malaria pills for Dominican Republic? ›

Travelers to Dominican Republic are reminded to take malaria prevention measures. CDC recommends antimalarial medication for travelers going to the Dominican Republic, outside of Santiago and Santo Domingo cities.

What is the rainiest month in Punta Cana? ›

But keep in mind: The Dominican Republic experiences some of the effects of the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30. And Punta Cana in particular has been known to face severe tropical storms, with October being the rainiest month.

How much money should I bring to Punta Cana for a week? ›

The total budget of your vacation in the Dominican Republic should be around RD$6,000 per person per day. However, you don't have to take this amount in cash. You can regularly pay with a credit card and withdraw money at ATMs. Therefore, it is recommended to take around 200 to 300 dollars per person for your vacation.

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