The Bahamas are a beach destination that many people dream about visiting. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, with over 7 million visitors arriving annually.
Besides being an independent vacation destination, the islands are also a popular cruise ship stop. The Bahamas has something to do for everyone.
You can visit pristine beaches such as Pink Sands Beach or Cable Beach. Check out the tropical natural environment in Lucayan National Park or more remote islands such as Exuma, with its famous pig population.
Or, you can visit Nassau for a taste of local history and culture or stay in one of the world-famous resorts such as Atlantis Paradise Island to feel pampered.
The Bahamas may look like a paradise on Earth from the pictures, but even paradise destinations can have very real problems such as crime. Before visiting any new place, the smart thing to do is to research the safety of your destination.
But don’t worry — our travel experts created this detailed travel guide to the Bahamas can help you evaluate if it is safe for you to visit or not. Read on to learn all you need to know!
Are the Bahamas Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. The Bahamas are mostly safe to visit, but you will have to exercise some precautions when you go. The crime rate, including the violent crime rate, is fairly high, but most incidents affect locals, not foreigners.
Travelers can still visit, but they should use their common sense while in the country and avoid high-crime areas.
That is the advice that you get from most travel advisories issued by foreign governments. The United States advises citizens to exercise increased caution while in the Bahamas, primarily due to crime.
Other governments issue similar travel advisories. Canada also puts the Bahamas under the yellow level of travel advisories, meaning that travel is still allowed but visitors should exercise caution when they are in the country.
Common crimes that occur in the Bahamas include:
- Bag snatching
- Armed robbery
- Sexual assault
Most crimes that affect tourists are property crimes. Violent crimes are common in the island country, but usually in more run-down neighborhoods of Nassau and Freeport that visitors don’t frequent.
There is a big difference between the most common crimes in the Bahamas and the most common crimes that visitors experience. That being said, the Bahamas are not exactly a country where you can throw caution to the wind.
Make sure that you take precautions during your trip to keep yourself safe, as there is a possibility that something bad might happen to you.
As with any tropical destination, you should also keep natural disasters in mind when visiting. The islands receive an average of seven hurricanes per year and is in the area of the Caribbean that sees frequent storms.
Due to climate change, the storms hitting the Bahamas are becoming stronger. In September 2019, a category five hurricane named Hurricane Dorian hit the island country, causing damage that is lasting to this day.
Hurricanes often wipe out valuable infrastructure, damage buildings, and even kill people. Hurricane season is from mid-May or early June to late November.
While trips are more affordable during this time, they are also more dangerous. Avoid traveling to the Bahamas during hurricane season. If you decide to risk it, check the weather forecast ahead of time and cancel your trip if they predict a storm.
Read Next: The Average Bahamas Trip Cost in 2023
Crime in the Bahamas
Many Caribbean destinations struggle with problems that show the ugly side beneath the beautiful pictures. Some island countries struggle with a very high crime rate, making these island paradises some of the most dangerous locations in the world.
Unfortunately, the Bahamas are one of those places that struggles with managing and curtailing crime. The island country has a very high crime rate, including violent crime and property crime.
The homicide rate alone is very high. According to World Bank data, the homicide rate is a whopping 29 incidents per 100,000 people, putting it near the top of the world homicide list.
For context, the global average for homicides is just about 6 incidents per 100,000 people. The rates of other violent crimes are also high. Violent crimes make up about 27% of total crimes committed in the country.
According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, violent crimes increased in 2022 by a whopping 23%. All violent crimes increased, including homicide, robberies, and armed robberies.
Armed robberies increased the most, at 34% compared to 2021. Property crime rates are also fairly high in the Bahamas.
The most common property crime is theft, at 35.7% of total property crimes. This is followed by shop breaking, or theft from stores, at 18%, and residential break-ins at 17.4%.
There are a few reasons why crime in the Bahamas is so high. Social factors, such as high rates of youth unemployment, push many people towards crime.
The island country’s proximity to the United States attracts organized crime groups that use it to traffic drugs and people. Organized crime is also unfortunately an increasingly serious problem.
Local gangs take advantage of unemployed, impoverished youth, while international syndicates from Colombia, Mexico, and Italy have been plaguing the Bahamas for decades. Organized crime groups are often behind violent crime incidents as they fight for turf.
If the crime rate in the Bahamas is so high, then how come people still visit, and countries just tell their citizens to exercise increased caution instead of avoiding it altogether?
That’s because most of these crimes affect locals, not tourists.
Crimes are mostly committed in locations where tourists don’t go, and most visitors stay on well-protected resorts or remote, beautiful islands far removed from crime. That is why avoiding bad areas is very important to avoid bad areas when you are in the Bahamas.
Robberies and other forms of property crime are the most common incidents that affect foreign tourists in the Bahamas. This is characteristic of many tourist destinations, especially when there is such a gap between local incomes and average tourist incomes.
The United Kingdom warns its citizens about the prevalence of robberies in its travel advisory for the Bahamas. More and more tourists report break-ins and robberies while they are in the country.
The local authorities responded by increasing police patrols in popular tourism areas, which might help curtail incidents. Most armed robberies occur at night, which is why it is a good idea to limit your movements to daytime.
If you decide to check out the nightlife in the Bahamas, never go out alone and always take a taxi from a trusted company back to your hotel. Never, ever walk alone at night or take public transportation.
Try not to make yourself a target. You will already stick out enough by being a tourist, you don’t need to draw even more attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewelry or carrying lots of cash.
Leave valuables in your hotel safe, or better yet, leave them at home before traveling to the Bahamas. Don’t wander alone in places where you are an easy target, such as remote beaches.
Hotel and residential break-ins are increasing in the Bahamas. Before booking accommodation, ask your potential hosts about the security precautions that they take and research previous reviews.
Always lock your doors and close your windows, even when you are sleeping at night. These precautions can help you minimize your risk of robbery, but they cannot eliminate it altogether.
If you are the victim of a robbery, focus on complying and getting away safely. Robbery incidents in the Bahamas have turned deadly in the past when victims tried to resist.
Unfortunately, female travelers face additional risks when traveling to the Bahamas. According to the Australian government advisory for the island country, the Bahamas has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the entire Caribbean.
Female travelers have been harmed even in locations where they may expect to be safe, such as in their hotels, in private resort areas, on cruise ships, or while on a jet ski excursion with a jet ski guide.
Unfortunately, women have to exercise caution in these areas as criminals know those locations have foreign women they can prey on.
According to the Canadian government travel advisory, many women are also drugged or plied with excess alcohol before they are assaulted. Always keep a very close eye on your drinks when you are going out.
Never leave drinks unattended or accept drinks, food, or gum from strangers. If you decide to check out nightlife in the Bahamas, go with a trusted group, never on your own.
Traveling to the Bahamas as a female traveler unfortunately means adjusting your movements with your own safety in mind — only traveling during the day and with licensed taxis. You should also avoid high-risk activities such as jet skiing or hiking to remote areas alone.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Since crime is so concentrated in certain areas in the Bahamas, knowing which parts of the country to avoid is crucial to staying safe. Most violent crime is concentrated in the big capital of Nassau.
In Nassau, avoid the part of the city called “over the Hill,” or south of Shirley Street, which has a high concentration of local gangs. In Nassau, also avoid Fish Fry, or the area near Arawak Cay, as it also has a high crime rate.
The touristy areas of Nassau are safer in terms of violent crime. However, thieves operate in crowded areas in Nassau, such as the cruise ship port. Keep a close eye on your valuables.
The island of Grand Bahama also has a higher crime than others in the archipelago. Be particularly cautious in Freeport, the city with the second-highest crime rate after Nassau.
Things to Consider
Here are some additional safety tips for visiting the Bahamas:
- Be very careful on jet ski rentals. While jet skis are popular activities for visitors to The Bahamas, the water sports industry is very poorly regulated. Not all jet ski companies are registered or follow any safety standards. Women should be careful with jet ski rentals as there have been cases of assault before.
- Don’t use drugs while on the island. Drug penalties are severe, and the authorities don’t look kindly at foreigners using drugs. Plus, the drug trade is controlled by foreign gangs that you don’t want to encounter.
- Have good travel insurance. Care on more remote islands is limited and you may have to be medically evacuated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few additional questions fellow travelers to the Bahamas have asked before:
Is it safe for a female to go to the Bahamas?
Many women travel to the Bahamas regularly. However, there is a high rate of sexual assault in the country, including against foreigners, so women will need to take additional precautions.
Is it safe to leave the resort in the Bahamas?
Resort areas are the safest in the Bahamas as they often have private security. However, you should explore outside of your resort. Just make sure to avoid dangerous neighborhoods of Nassau and Freeport, save most of your exploring for the daytime, or visit smaller towns and islands.
Is the Bahamas expensive?
A trip to the Bahamas is probably going to cost you a decent amount of money. Accommodation, especially if you want to stay in a resort, is expensive, as is traveling between the islands.
What language do they speak in the Bahamas?
English is the official language and the most common spoken language in the Bahamas. However, people here speak a dialect of English that is different from what people speak elsewhere so you may encounter some unfamiliar words and phrases.
Is it safe to walk in Nassau?
If you decide to go for a walk in Nassau, only stick to the well-trafficked tourist districts, and save your exploring for the daytime. Walking in Nassau can be dangerous as it has a high crime rate.
So, Should You Visit the Bahamas?
The Bahamas are a very popular tourist destination, despite their relatively high crime rate. Although it has a lot of violent crime, by taking safety precautions and avoiding dangerous neighborhoods, you can have a safe trip.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to the Bahamas and see for yourself all that this picturesque destination has to offer. Happy travels!