Before you plan your visit to the Caribbean islands, knowing which places are the safest to visit is essential. If you have no idea, don’t worry as you’ll get all the help you need from this guide.
Many of you may be looking forward to a beach vacation sometime soon. Thanks to its postcard-pretty beaches, no one offers it better than the Caribbean. Yet, for years, the bad press about crime has triggered several misconceptions that made potential travelers rethink and even give the region a miss. But you no longer need to believe gossip, for we bring you a fact-based guide that would answer all your questions regarding which Caribbean islands are the safest to include in your travel itinerary and which aren’t. You can browse this entire guide for thorough knowledge or focus on a particular island you plan to visit sometime soon.
Once you’ve decided which Caribbean island would play host to you, make sure to book a secure and well-equipped place to stay at. Finding one shouldn’t be challenging as the region has a wide variety of accommodation options – from budget condos and hotels to luxury villa rentals. If you’re looking for privacy and flexibility at costs that are almost similar to what hotels would charge, Caribbean luxury rentals could be just what you need. With amenities like arrival drinks, fully-equipped kitchens, serene ocean or beach views, and airport transfers on offer at many of these, you could settle in these luxurious cocoons to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
This guide aims to help you know about the crime rates in specific Caribbean regions. If you need to know the recent COVID-19 updates, we recommend checking the relevant embassy’s website for information and advisories on health protocols and travel restrictions.
And since we’re living in tough times, we request you to check your travel plans before you go ahead with them. That’s because, despite our best effort to bring you the most updated and accurate information, things can undergo quick changes in these unprecedented times.
Planning your Caribbean visit – The safest islands that make it to our list
- The Dominican Republic
- Maarten/St. Martin
- The Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Turks and Caicos
The crime rate in the Caribbean – is it too high to make a traveler worry?
Generally, the Caribbean is an extremely safe destination. Yet, a handful of high-profile incidents can be blown out of proportion by the media, making potential travelers worry and sometimes, even rethink their Caribbean travel plans. Several data-backed pieces of research suggest that typically, the dread of crime in the Caribbean is exaggerated.
Violence, theft, and robbery occur in certain regions in the Caribbean. However, they’re mostly due to internal conflicts, gang wars, and civil unrest between the locals and the government organizations. Despite its bad press rep and the stigmatization, the Caribbean has limited crimes committed against tourists. And typically, these are mostly petty crimes. Violent crimes hardly affect over 25 million tourists who visit the region annually. Additionally, most violent crimes occur in inner-city areas that attract low tourist footfall. Like several other vacation destinations, the Caribbean witnesses petty street crimes along with the theft of valuables left unattended in hotel rooms, rental cars, or at the beaches.
According to the United States DOS (Department of State), you need to take some standard precautionary measures during your Caribbean sojourn. These include not flashing your wealth or valuables (watch, camera, jewelry, etc.), staying in tourist-friendly, well-lit luxury rentals or hotels, and traveling in large groups, if possible. All these will help you to steer clear of being victims of crime.
Hurricanes – How bad can they be?
It’s a myth that the hurricane season in the Caribbean (from June 1 to November 30) is unlivable on the islands. Though the storms and rains typically peak in an even smaller window (from August through October), you’ll still have excellent odds of enjoying a hurricane-free vacation if you travel during this period. Since there are little chances of these hurricanes hitting the land and disrupting your vacation, don’t let their fear stop your travel plans. You’ll feel better knowing that decades of data indicate the chances of a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast or Miami in the U.S. are higher than any region in the Caribbean. However, this doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the winds. Know your risks and take the necessary precautionary measures if your Caribbean vacation coincides with the hurricane season.
Compared to traveling during the peak tourist seasons, visiting the Caribbean islands during hurricane season would let you save significantly on accommodation and flights. Just ensure you buy a comprehensive travel insurance policy that offers adequate coverage should the weather make your travel plans go haywire. And don’t forget to check the hurricane forecast before you start your trip.
In case you don’t have the appetite for traveling with a certain level of uncertainty, you can always ensure your vacation in the Caribbean doesn’t coincide with its hurricane season.
The safest Caribbean destinations to visit
It’s not possible to call any particular Caribbean island the ‘safest.’ However, the crime rates in some destinations are higher than the others. Thus, it pays to check the most-recent government-issued advisories before booking your tickets and adhering to standard safety precautions when traveling in unfamiliar territory, especially at night.
It would be best if you considered other things too. These include checking if your resort is gated, whether you’ve got access to child-friendly beaches – especially if you have little ones in the family and the types of water sports and other activities on offer.
For instance, the crime rate is low in St. Lucia, but it’s better not to take your kids along if you plan to hike through the forest and climb the Pitons.
For families, the safest Caribbean islands are usually the ones with the calmest seas, the best beaches, and a wide range of child-friendly activities and amenities.
Here’re our top contenders (not in any specific order, though) that would fit the bill just right for a family-friendly Caribbean vacation.
According to Statista, Barbados had almost 1.36 million international tourist arrivals in 2018. Considered one of the safest Caribbean islands for families, Barbados offers miles of white sandy beaches, authentic gourmet cuisine, rum tours, and several water sports and outdoor activities. Playing host to some of the friendliest locals that you’ll find in the entire Caribbean, this tropical island lets you enjoy days of pure bliss with your family. From luxurious vacation rentals in gated and private resorts to hotels and family condos, you’ll find various accommodation options in Barbados that are located in some of the safest areas.
Though Barbados is usually a safe place to travel according to the United States DOS, you must not wear any camouflaged clothing as it’s illegal. In case you’re driving around Barbados, be extra careful as some of its smaller roads aren’t marked and may have informal signs put up at the road junctions.
Despite being troubled by gang violence, Jamaica is generally safe for tourists as such violence doesn’t affect the tourist resorts. Almost 4.3 million visitors came to Jamaica in 2019. According to independent reports, crimes against tourists in 2019 were less than 0.1% of all the island’s crimes. The regions in Jamaica under heavy military presence are best avoided, such as Kingston’s Denham Town and Montego Bay’s Mount Salem, as they have high crime rates and curfews. Ideally, you should also avoid some other areas that are known to be unsafe in Kingston (Cassava Piece, August Town, Downtown Kingston, etc.), Montego Bay (such as Canterbury, Flankers, Norwood, Barrett Town, etc.), and Spanish Town.
You should stay aware of your surroundings for the rest of Jamaica and follow general safety guidelines like avoiding deserted areas, not flashing your wealth, and not sharing your travel itinerary with strangers. If you follow these, you shouldn’t have any problem enjoying your Jamaican vacation to the fullest.
The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic welcomed over 7.5 million international tourists, who were overnight visitors, in 2018 and 2019. Almost 1 million same-day visitors also visited it during that same period, testimony to the island nation being a safe place to stay.
This ‘miniature continent’ offers a lot for tourists – from stunning beaches, picturesque mountains, and a rich culture to quaint cobblestone streets, beautiful Spanish colonial architecture boasting of intriguing history, and more. This Caribbean nation plays home to the first cathedral built in the Americas – the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor.
Many accommodation options are up for grabs, from hotels and resorts to beachfront villas and luxury rentals. For safety, you should ideally choose a resort in a gated community. Additionally, the United States DOS advises you to exercise extra caution when traveling, especially at night and in remote areas, and protect your valuables by storing them in a hotel safe whenever possible.
St. Martin/St. Maarten
Almost 2 million foreign visitors arrived here in 2019. Though it’s usually a safe place to visit, you should stay aware of your surroundings at all times. The United States DOS also recommends taking precautions to avoid falling prey to petty crime.
You can enjoy Euro-Caribbean flair during your vacation in St. Martin (or St. Maarten). Take in the magnificent cliffside view and taste French food on the northern French side. Else, shop to your heart’s content and make merry in the nightspots of Philipsburg – St. Martin’s capital, by crossing over to the southern Dutch side. With 37 beaches, beautiful lagoons and mountainscapes, and numerous water sports to indulge in, St. Martin is sure to enthrall you.
Anguilla’s inbound tourism volume got a boost in 2019 when it welcomed around 166,000 foreign visitors, which was almost double of 2018. Despite a substantial decline in its tourist volume over the preceding four years, perhaps Anguilla’s growth spurt was evident in its luxury villas and upscale hotels and resorts that changed the tourist scenario. According to the United States DOS reports, Anguilla’s crime rates are among the lowest in the Caribbean. Even the UNODC (U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime) lists it as one of the safest Caribbean islands. Yet, it would be best if you didn’t neglect the standard precautions.
Anguilla has beaches with long sandy stretches (such as Rendezvous Bay), secluded coves like those at Little Bay accessible by boats, and protected areas like the Big Spring Cave, famous for its prehistoric petroglyphs. Additionally, it has family-friendly restaurants along with numerous water activities and nightspots on offer. All these are sure to wow you, and you can enjoy them by staying alert and aware.
The Virgin Islands
Over 2 million international tourists arrived in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2019. The scenario was in contrast to the British Virgin Islands that experienced one of its lowest inbound tourist volumes (since 2010) in 2018 when it welcomed around 2 lakh overnight visitors and just over 200,000 cruise passengers. But there’s no denying that the Virgin Islands are considered to be one the safest Caribbean destinations.
The U.S. and the British Virgin Islands are famous for their turquoise seas, magnificent beaches, and spectacular national parks. The region is also popular amongst sailing, boating, and yachting enthusiasts. Thanks to severe penalties for crime, the crime rates are extremely low here. Yet, you should avoid venturing out alone at night and lock your valuables in a hotel/resort safe. Additionally, it would help if you were careful when driving at night as there are some poorly-lit, steep, curvy roads. If possible, it’s ideal to entrust the job to a skilled local taxi driver.
Along with Barbuda, Antigua was visited by over 1 million foreign visitors in 2018 and 2019. Typically, Antigua isn’t a Caribbean island that has a high-risk factor for visitors. However, in July, when the carnival is organized, petty crime rates tend to increase. To stay safe, you shouldn’t flaunt your valuables or leave them unattended at a hotel/resort, on the beach, or in a car, and avoid visiting remote beaches after dark.
Adhering to these safety measures would let you enjoy your family vacation in Antigua that offers 95 miles of splendid coastline and 365 stunning beaches along with exhilarating zip-line tours and thrilling island safaris. Additionally, you can visit the D-Boat, which is a decommissioned oil tanker transformed into a water park, the children’s museum, or shoot air pistols or indulge in archery at the Reservoir Range. You may even head to Antigua Distillery Limited on this Eastern Caribbean Island to sample the English Harbor Rums.
Almost 200,000 travelers visit this French Overseas Territory annually, drawn by its pristine beaches, tropical climate, classy marinas, luxury spas, and designer shops. Apart from being the Caribbean’s most expensive and exclusive island, St. Barts is one of its safest to visit as well. Almost negligible crimes have been reported to occur on the island. Perhaps that’s’ why several locals often leave their cars and houses unlocked. But that doesn’t mean you should be reckless as a tourist. Exercise common sense and adhere to necessary precautionary measures like being aware of your surroundings, not walking alone or visiting secluded places after dark, and using a hotel/resort safe to keep your valuables.
In 2019, the Cayman Islands welcomed about 2.33 million international tourists, 1.8 million of which were same-day visitors. With little criminal activity that affects the tourists and strict gun laws, the Cayman Islands are among the safest Caribbean destinations to visit. Though occasional incidents of robberies have been reported, keeping your windows and doors locked and following necessary safety precautions should make you enjoy your sojourn here without any problems.
Comprising the trio of islands of Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands play host to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Whether you have plans to visit the Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, get mesmerized by George Town’s traditional architecture, or make the most of the capital’s duty-free shopping, you can do them all without a worry by booking yourself into some of the region’s luxurious vacation rentals.
Turks and Caicos
Almost 1.6 million tourists arrived in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2019, a 9% growth over 2018. Despite being made of just 40 islands and cays, this British Overseas Territory attracts a huge volume of tourists, its primary revenue source. Thus, it’s natural that the government’s priority is to protect this thriving tourism industry. According to the United States DOS, you need to be cautious when visiting the region to avoid falling prey to crime. Additional safety measures like not walking alone at night and not leaving your valuables unattended are also recommended.
By following these, you should be all set to enjoy the gentle seas, crystal clear and warm water all through the year, spectacular beaches (like Grace Bay Beach, which is 12-mile-long), an abundant marine environment, and the stunning tropical wetlands of the Turks and Caicos Islands. With several luxury resorts and vacation rentals on offer, not to mention the region’s fine dining options for families in Providenciales (Provo) and its friendly people, your Caribbean sojourn here is bound to leave you wanting for more. And since there are fewer hurricanes and lower rainfall than some other Caribbean regions, the Turks and Caicos Islands can be safely explored.
Some of the worst Caribbean destinations
Based on the crime rates, Caribbean countries that are among the least safe to visit are Trinidad, Tobago, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and certain inner-city regions of Jamaica. However, as mentioned earlier, most crimes in the Caribbean destinations stay confined within the inner-city areas, which are quite far away from places where tourists usually visit. In case you’re going out of your hotel, resort, or vacation rental, make sure to do your homework well to avoid venturing into these problematic and unsafe neighborhoods.
Though a handful of isolated criminal incidents in the Caribbean have been reported in the press, violent crimes rarely affect the region’s tourists. And as long as you follow common sense and adhere to the necessary safety precautions, you can safely visit most Caribbean islands.
Need help to find the safest Caribbean accommodation options?
If you’re still finding it difficult to decide which Caribbean places are the safest to stay in, reach out to us. We have got Caribbean experts on board who know about all of the safest areas and can lend you a helping plan with your Caribbean tour planning.
You could also look at our website to find luxury villa rentals in different Caribbean tourist destinations that will ensure your stay is safe and enjoyable.