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Are the Virgin Islands Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Tips

Are the Virgin Islands Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Tips

The Virgin Islands are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea whose islands are divided between the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both Virgin Islands territories are very popular tourist destinations.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are famous for their beautiful beaches and hedonistic cruise culture.

Visit the scenic North Shore Bay Beaches on St. John, go shopping in the capital Charlotte Amalie, or check out beautiful nature such as the turtle sanctuary on St. Croix.

On the British Virgin Islands, check out beautiful nature such as The Baths at Virgin Gorda, dive into shipwrecks at Anegada Island, and of course, lounge on beautiful sandy beaches.

The Virgin Islands are a dream destination for many thanks to their beautiful nature, but you don’t want your dream vacation to turn into a nightmare because you wander into a bad situation while unaware.

That is why it is important to research practical concerns such as safety before any trip. This safety guide will tell you everything that you need to know about safely traveling to the Virgin Islands. Let us be your guide!

Are the Virgin Islands Safe to Visit in 2024?

Picturesque tropical beach on St. Thomas pictured with a few people swimming in the water and waves lightly lapping the white sand with palm trees growing over the scene, with a giant hill in the background that's covered in thick vegetation

Andrei Medvedev/Shutterstock

Yes. The Virgin Islands are safe to visit, and thousands of people do so each year. The British Virgin Islands are slightly safer as they have a much lower crime rate than the U.S. Virgin Islands, which have an elevated crime rate.

As with anywhere else in the Caribbean, you will have to be mindful of natural disasters when planning your trip. According to travel advisories, both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands are perfectly safe to visit.

The New Zealand government doesn’t even bother issuing a specific travel advisory for either the British Virgin Islands or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Canadian government is another government that has travel advisories for both territories in place. While it has the lowest possible travel alert for both the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands, the language it uses is different.

According to the travel advisory, crime occurs on the U.S. Virgin Islands but is rare on the British Virgin Islands, showing that the British territories are a bit safer.

Common crimes that tourists might encounter in the Virgin Islands include:

  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • Scams
  • Hotel room break-ins

More violent crimes do occur on the Virgin Islands, particularly in certain parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. These include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Assault
  • Homicide

The reason why no travel advisories mention these crimes is that violence against tourists is rare. Certain islands in the Virgin Islands archipelago struggle with crime, but these problems are almost always confined to areas where only locals will venture.

Most visitors to the Virgin Islands never uncover the darker side of paradise. However, one danger that all tourists to the Virgin Islands should worry about is hurricanes.

The Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, and the islands are often devastated by passing hurricanes and tropical storms.

The force of these weather events is often deadly. At best, infrastructure is knocked out for weeks in the islands. According to an official travel warning put out by the Irish government, hurricane season is at its worst from July to October.

Avoid traveling to the Virgin Islands around this time. If you have to visit during hurricane season, pay close attention to weather reports and any government advisories urging you to evacuate.

Crime in the Virgin Islands

For a guide to whether or not the Virgin Islands are safe to visit, a photo of a jewelry store with a man sitting outside under a blue sky with a brick walking path down the narrow and well-lit alleyway

Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands-20 May, 2017: Charlotte Amalie historic center and shopping district/eskystudio/Shutterstock

When discussing crime in the Virgin Islands, the statistics are very different depending on which part of the Virgin Islands you are discussing.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a very high crime rate, including a violent crime rate. According to Numbeo, the U.S. Virgin Islands scores a 72.22 out of 100 on the crime index, which is a relatively high value.

People are most worried about vehicle break-ins, drug abuse, petty theft, corruption, and violent crimes, in particular armed robbery. The U.S. Virgin Islands also have a very high violent crime rate.

The homicide rate for the territory is 49.28 incidents per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest rates not just in the United States but in the whole world.

There are a few reasons why the crime rate is so high in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many homicides are related to the drug trade, which uses the Virgin Islands as a transit hub to the United States.

The rate of arms trafficking and domestic violence, other factors affecting homicide, is also high. Police authority and trust in the government is low in the territory due to an ineffective police force and high corruption rates.

Even though the crime rate in the U.S. Virgin Islands is high, many people still travel there. That’s because very few violent crimes affect visitors. Most murder incidents occur in a few areas with high levels of gang activities.

There have been cases of foreigners being killed in the U.S. Virgin Islands before, but many of those cases were somehow tied to domestic violence and the women’s partners were suspects in the murder.

Crime statistics for the British Virgin Islands tell a completely different story. According to Numbeo, the crime index score is 42.50 out of 100, which is a moderate value.

The homicide rate is much lower than in the U.S. Virgin Islands, at about eight incidents per 100,000 people.

This murder rate seems high, but the method of calculating murder rates does not work in favor of the British Virgin Islands. According to local news, there are usually about four murders a year in the entire territory.

Since the population of the territory is so low — about 30,800 people — every violent crime incident is weighed more heavily when it is calculated as a rate per 100,000. That makes the territory seem more dangerous than it really is.

Most tourists who visit either the U.S. or British Virgin Islands complete their vacation with no incidents. However, if you are really worried about traveling, visit the British Virgin Islands as the crime rate is much lower.

Petty Theft

Open-air market in the USVI of Saint Croix pictured for a guide to whether or not the Virgin Islands are safe to visit with people mulling about in daylight

SAINT CROIX, USVI – September 9, 2013: Saint Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although agriculture is showing growth in recent years, tourism remains the primary source of income/Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

The most common crime you will encounter in any of the Virgin Islands is theft. For example, the Canadian government warns in its travel advisory for the British Virgin Islands that although petty crime is rare, it does occur.

Petty theft is slightly more common in the U.S. Virgin Islands, especially on St. Thomas, which is a popular cruise ship destination and receives a lot of crowds.

Pickpockets and bag snatchers in the Virgin Islands are usually not the hardened, savvy thieves that you might find elsewhere.

Instead, most are criminals of opportunity that see the chance for theft when tourists let their guard down on vacation and take it. You can avoid theft by making sure that they don’t have the opportunity.

The best way to prevent petty theft is to make sure that you don’t leave valuables unattended anywhere — and we mean anywhere. A lot of tourists bring their phones to the beach to take pictures, then leave them in their bags as they go swimming.

Thefts from beaches are common in all regions of the Virgin Islands, so leave your valuables in your hotel room or designate a buddy to keep an eye on them.

Make sure that you have physical contact with your valuables at all times when walking through crowded areas, such as cruise ship ports or popular shopping streets. Crowded tourist attractions are primary locations for pickpocket activity.

Armed Robbery

Unfortunately, property crimes in the Virgin Islands sometimes turn more aggressive. Although most victims of armed robberies are locals, tourists are sometimes targeted by this crime.

The UK government mentions the possibility of armed robbery in its travel advisory for the British Virgin Islands. Although the risk of this crime for visitors is rare, it does happen.

Many violent crime incidents, including armed robbery, are tied to the drug trade. Common sense precautions are usually enough to protect you from being the victim of an armed robbery while you are in the Virgin Islands.

The Canadian government shares a few of these precautions in its travel advisory for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Most robbery incidents occur after dark, so a good precaution to take is to be careful with your movements at night. Either stick to your resort or explore only well-lit areas with many other travelers out and about.

Avoid dark side streets, alleyways, or deserted stretches of the beach; they’re never as deserted as you think they are. Choosing the right accommodation also goes a long way.

Make sure that your resort or hotel has good security, including a room safe. That way, you can leave your valuables in your room safe and not be a target while you’re walking around, and you don’t have to worry about theft from your hotel room.

If you are the victim of a robbery, comply and focus on getting to safety. Incidents are rare, but there have been cases of people being injured or killed when they tried to resist robbers in the Virgin Islands.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Night view of the Philipsburg boardwalk as seen from the beach at night


Since the crime rate is so stratified in the Virgin Islands, knowing which areas to avoid is key to staying safe. In Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, avoid any side streets or unfamiliar areas.

Avoid any neighborhoods that are called “Estates,” as these are housing projects that often have high rates of crime. Frenchman’s Hill has a high rate of petty theft and is not safe after dark.

St. Croix is the island with the highest violent crime rate in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but parts of it are still safe to visit.

Just stick to well-trafficked areas, avoid housing projects, and stay away from port areas that are often hubs for drug traffickers. Most parts of the British Virgin Islands are very safe. Just avoid wandering down beaches after dark.

Things to Consider

Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling to the Virgin Islands:

  • Women should take additional precautions. Female travelers have been victims of sexual harassment and assault before. Never walk alone at night or accept drinks from strangers. Be careful when visiting potential romantic partners as women have been killed suspiciously before.
  • Be careful with water sports. Check with locals that the beaches you are visiting don’t have any currents or riptides. If you are going on a more adventurous activity such as diving, make sure that you book a reputable tour operator.
  • Driving can get sketchy. Conditions are worse in the more rural British Virgin Islands, where roads are poorly maintained and often feature wandering livestock. Drive carefully as other people sharing the road probably will not.
  • Drugs in the British Virgin Islands are illegal. Do not take any illegal substances as you don’t want to run afoul of the law or get mixed up with powerful local gangs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gorgeous and colorful buildings with red roofs line a boardwalk that also functions as a dock in St. John for a piece on whether or not the Virgin Islands are safe to visit


Here are a few common questions that you might want answered before visiting the Virgin Islands:

Which U.S. Virgin Island is the safest to visit?

The sleepy island of St. John is the safest island to visit in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s probably because it has the smallest population and enjoys the fewest crimes, helping it have the lowest crime rate.

Are the Virgin Islands safe from hurricanes?

The Virgin Islands experience hurricanes and tropical storms each year, so they are not completely safe. However, direct hits only happen every few years, so they are not as devastated as other parts of the Caribbean.

Are the Virgin Islands expensive?

Like most Caribbean destinations, the Virgin Islands are fairly expensive to visit. Most accommodation caters to travelers looking for luxury. Plus, the cost of most items on the island are high since they have to be imported.

Is St. John safe for tourists?

Yes, St. John is safe for tourists. It has a very low crime rate and a laid-back atmosphere.

Is St. Thomas safe in 2023?

St. Thomas is safe as long as you exercise the right precautions. Make sure that you keep an eye on your valuables as pickpockets roam in crowded areas. Avoid dangerous parts of the island, such as the housing estates of Charlotte Amalie.

So, Should You Visit the Virgin Islands?

The Virgin Islands vary in safety depending on the region. The British Virgin Islands are one of the safest territories in the Caribbean.

The U.S. Virgin Islands suffer from an elevated crime rate, but it is still possible to visit them safely if you avoid dangerous areas. That said, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this island paradise today!