Dominican Republic up close

Is It Safe to Visit the Dominican Republic?

Dominican fruit vendor, La Romana

Photo: Rafal Cichawa / Alamy Stock Photo

The Dominican Republic is America’s second-favorite country to visit, with more than 2.7 million Americans traveling the Dominican Republic each year. Together with tourists from Europe and elsewhere, some 6.5 million people visit annually.


There's plenty to see and experience here, and local people often go out of their way to help visitors - whether you're in a tourist area or not. But as with every trip to a new destination, a few safety tips can keep you even more safe and secure, and offer extra peace of mind.

Dominican girls in Sosúa

Photo: Viveronelle /

Is it really safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?

We say yes. Between 2018 and 2019, the Dominican Republic rose seven points on the Global Peace Index. This puts the country's rank of 84 someplace between Switzerland (11) and the United States (128). It's considerably safer to visit the Dominican Republic than to be a tourist in many other destinations, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, and yes - even the United States.


Because the Dominican Republic relies heavily on tourism as part of its economy, the government goes to great lengths to keep the country as tourist-friendly as possible. For example, you’re not required to get a tourist visa if you’re a citizen of the United States, Canada, Japan, or most European countries. In 2019, The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) ranked the Dominican Republic (DR) in the global top ten countries prioritizing tourism and travel.


The TTCI also awarded "the most improved country in the subregion" to this island nation "thanks to above-average regional and global improvement on 11 pillars."  The most notable improvement was in the categories of Cultural Resources and Environmental Sustainability.


There's so much to see on this beautiful island beyond the beaches and resorts, and if you're looking for an adventure, it's perfectly feasible to head out onto the paths less traveled. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to stay safe (and healthy!). Many of these tips you probably use in your hometown anyhow, especially if you're coming from a major U.S. metropolis.

Nighttime view of Santo Domingo

Photo: José Miguel Pérez

How to stay safe as a traveler

Just like you should in any city or tourist hotspot, use extra precaution while drinking at bars. Don't leave your drink unattended, accept drinks from strangers, or get intoxicated with new friends. Take someone you know to the bathroom with you, even at a resort.


Try not to wear or use expensive items in public, and don't leave your bag or phone accessible from the window of a vehicle.


Try not to carry valuables in your pockets. Crossbody bags are commonly used in the Dominican Republic. Just wear yours to the front. It won't draw undue attention.


In April 2019, the US State Department issued a Level 2 travel advisory for the Dominican Republic. The advisory recommends increased caution to avoid daterape and robbery of personal effects. It also warns tourists to limit any personal danger caused by excessive inebriation.

A colmado in Santo Domingo

Photo: Aleksei Denisov /

How to stay healthy as a traveler

Remember! Tap water is not consumed in the Dominican Republic. Everyone drinks bottled water. Juices made fresh on the street are incredibly tempting in the heat, but the ice is usually made from tap water, so these are best avoided.


You might also want to avoid food trucks and vendors, as their hygiene standards probably won't be as high as at Dominican restaurants and resorts. Your local cafe will have most of the same street snacks and juices that are tempting you, without the risk of upsetting your stomach.


Traffic comes under staying healthy! Polite drivers observe the pedestrian right of way, but not everyone. Once you do start to cross, look closely for the approach of motorcycles, as they zip between lanes.

Traveler taking photos, Los Haitises National Park

Photo: Ksenia Neyman / Alamy Stock Photo

Is there internet? Can I use my phone?

Travelers can access wifi at most major hotels and many boutique accommodation options. If you’re planning to use it often or use lots of data, you might want to check the cost of wifi while you’re browsing for accommodation - many places do offer free wifi, at least up to a point.


There are thousands of free wifi hotspots around the Dominican Republic, with good coverage in big cities and major destinations including Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, La Romana, Santiago de los Caballeros and San Pedro de Macoris.


Picking up a signal in McDonald's or a cafe is a great idea, but for more reliability, consider roaming with your regular phone carrier. You can always put your phone in airplane mode when you don't need it.


Most US phones unlocked for global use will work in the Dominican Republic, although charges for international calls and data roaming vary. Check first to see if the internet frequencies used in the Dominican Republic are compatible with your phone.


If your phone is unlocked for global use, you'll have a way better signal if you swap your sim card temporarily for a local prepaid card. The phone carrier with the best coverage is Claro. A Claro sim card will cost you just 150 pesos (about US $2.85*).

People swimming at Saona Island

Photo: Ryan Bowen

Why travel to the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic is home to some of the best-ranked beaches on the planet, world-famous Dominican cigars, coffee and chocolate, a proud heritage of major-league baseball stars, and a love of good food, dancing, and enjoying the good life.


The north coast of the Dominican Republic is home to some of the world's most popular beaches for surf-lovers. The wind blows all year round and the winter months whip up some serious rolling waves. Every February, the world's best surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers hit Playa Encuentro to compete at the Master of the Ocean surfing tournament.


Inland, the Dominican Republic is packed full of wild tropical forests, vibrant small towns and picturesque mountain paths just waiting to be explored. There’s so much to see and do beyond the resorts, from mountain biking and hiking to caving and white-water rafting.


Colonial history buffs can stroll the five-hundred-year-old Colonial Zone in downtown Santo Domingo, or visit the Catedral Primada de América - the oldest cathedral in the Americas. For those more interested in indigenous roots, there’s dozens of sites of cultural significance for the native Caribbean Taíno peoples, and plenty of living culture too, which you can glimpse in festivals like Carnaval.


Throughout their history of colonization, slavery, piracy and dictatorships on the journey to becoming a free republic, Dominicans have demonstrated incredible warmth, resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and generosity.


Get out beyond the resorts and soak up some real Caribbean culture and adventure. Visit the Dominican Republic.

Written by GA.


Published December 2021

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