Incredible beaches, highlands, rainforests, savanna, and also the highest Caribbean mountain, there is no shortage of exciting adventures awaiting you in the Dominican Republic. In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is the most visited tourist destination.
However, it is rife with poverty, which means that there are numerous crimes like mugging, pickpocketing, etc. This is why a number of people often wonder if is it safe to vacation in the Dominican Republic.
The Caribbean island is also deemed unsafe due to trade and the use of illegal drugs, easy availability of weapons, and weak criminal justice system. Also, the gorgeous island also suffers the risk of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, storms, etc.
But, our list is going to help you out with that and answer all your questions regarding your safety in this beautiful vacation spot. Whether you are looking for tips for family, solo, or women, this guide will cover it all.
The reason why you are probably thinking about how safe the Dominican Republic is maybe the headlines in 2019 that highlighted how 11 tourists were mysteriously found dead while on their vacation. Initially, the news claimed the deaths had occurred because of spiked drinks but after FBI investigations, it was concluded that they died due to natural causes.
But people canceled their booking in this pristine vacation spot. As a result, the government altered the guidelines and made it compulsory to inspect all the hotels 4 times every year, including complete beverage and food control.
Also, each hotel room should now have a card with emergency numbers like –
- 911 (for ambulance, fire, or police)
- 112 (directs to 911)
- 809-200-3500, which is a contact number for tourism police
Some general safety tips include –
- Do not ride two-wheelers without a helmet.
- Avoid unlicensed taxis. A licensed taxi will have a sign on the roof with information about the taxi company.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry in public to prevent the attention of thieves.
- Do not use mobile phones while walking on the streets. You can enter a restaurant or café to use your phone for checking maps or making a call.
- To discourage begging, avoid giving money to beggars.
- Always lock your suitcase before leaving your hotel and pack all valuable stuff safely.
- Always carry an insect repellent, mosquito net, and a set of full sleeves night suit because the island has witnessed cases of zika, chikungunya, and dengue, specifically in hurricane/rain season (May, September-November).
- Do not get involved with drug peddlers.
- Always drink bottled water.
Solo Traveling for Women
It is safe for ladies to travel alone on this island. However, you should always have a sensible judgment and common sense.
- You should avoid walking alone in dim and dark areas at night.
- Although sexual harassment towards women travelers is uncommon, you may receive unwanted attention from locals shouting slangs or whistling. You should ignore that and keep walking.
- At the public beaches, do not pay attention to young men who try to seduce female travelers with the intention of looting them or extorting money from them. If you are approached, politely refuse.
Which Areas Should You Avoid?
Crime is common in the Dominican Republic but only in specific areas, and luckily, they are not tourist spots. You should avoid visiting high-crimes areas including Villa Agricola, Naco, Arroyo Hondo, Gazcue, and Cristo Rey. Various violent crimes have occurred in these areas.
Keep yourself safe and secure in urban areas by applying the following tips.
- Do not leave your drink unattended anywhere. If you have to, ask for a new drink.
- Avoid leaving your bags and valuables unattended at the beach. Ask someone close to you to look after them or carry them with yourself.
- Always walk in a group of at least 2 people, specifically during late night.
- Avoid visiting La Duarte, which is a busy and chaotic market, which makes it a perfect place of pickpocketing and mugging.
Safe Places To Visit
Now that you know which places you should avoid, you should also know which areas are safe.
- Bahia de las Aguilas, which is the part of the Jaragua National Park
- Playa Rincon, Samaná
- Saona Island
- Playa Las Ballenas, Terrenas, Samaná
- Playa Esmeralda, Miches
- Playa Blanca, Punta Cana
- Cayo Levantado
- Kitesurfing in Terrenas, Samaná
- The Damayagua Cascades
- Humpback whale watching in the whale watching season, which is in January and February at Samaná Bay
- Canoeing through caves of the Los Haitises National Park
- Windsurfing in Cabarete
- Diving in Cap Cana.
- Santo Domingo’s Colonial City, which is amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Fortress San Felipe in Puerto Plata
- Faro Colon, Santo Domingo
- Taino Caves
- Altos de Chavón
The Bottom Line
Traveling in the Dominican Republic is safe if you are alert and follow general safety rules, which are common for all developing nations. Tourism on the island has increased massively over the years, which shows it is not an unsafe destination. Just because of your fears, do not miss the opportunity to travel in this picturesque and beautiful location.