Is Nassau safe to visit in 2024?
While Nassau is mostly safe, but tourists usually face only minor crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching. Violent crimes, more common among locals, are concentrated in specific neighborhoods. Travel advisories highlight safety precautions, and the presence of dedicated tourism police in popular areas helps enhance security for visitors.
Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas, one of the most popular tourism destinations in the Caribbean. Nassau receives more than 6 million visitors annually.
While most are cruise day trippers or those passing through to other islands, many visitors stop to discover the pleasures of the city. Nassau is a great stopping point for exploring the history and culture of The Bahamas.
Check out historic sites such as Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase, which take you back to Nassau’s colonial past. Wander through pretty neighborhoods such as downtown and Graycliff, with their colorful facades, souvenir shops, and fish fries.
You can also visit the beach right from the capital or stay at an all-inclusive resort! It’s a mistake to skip through Nassau to head to other places in The Bahamas as the capital has so much to offer.
However, there might be other reasons to avoid the bustling city, such as safety concerns. It’s always a good idea to research such things when planning your itinerary.
But don’t worry — we’ve done the hard work for you by creating this detailed guide to Nassau that can help you evaluate if it is a safe destination for you or not. Let us be your guide!
Is Nassau Safe to Visit?
Yes. Nassau is a destination where you will have to take some precautions, but you can still have a safe visit. The Bahamas overall has a very high crime rate, and this affects the capital and largest city.
However, tourists are almost never affected by this crime rate as most crime incidents are concentrated in certain neighborhoods. Most foreign governments warn about crime in Nassau in their travel advisories for The Bahamas.
For example, the United States issues a Level Two travel advisory for The Bahamas, citing high levels of crime as the reason why visitors should exercise increased caution.
The advisory mentions that the majority of crime in The Bahamas occurs on New Providence Island, which is where Nassau is located. The Australian government is another government that mentions the high levels of crime in Nassau as well as the rest of The Bahamas in its travel advisory.
It also places The Bahamas under a Level Two travel advisory due to high crime levels. Australia warns its citizens that criminals often target tourists for certain crimes such as theft.
Common crimes tourists might encounter in Nassau include:
- Bag snatching
- Theft from scooters or other vehicles
- Tourism scams
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Robbery and mugging
One important caveat to keep in mind is that although Nassau has a high rate of violent crime, this crime mostly affects locals, not tourists. If tourists experience crime when they are in town, they are usually minor property crimes.
If you use the right precautions, it’s easy to minimize your risks for those. Fears of crime may grab the headlines, but don’t let that distract you from a far bigger concern — nature.
Hurricane season in The Bahamas runs from June to November. Usually, this just means your vacation will have a lot of rain, but The Bahamas gets a lot of direct hits from hurricanes.
The most recent strong storm, Hurricane Dorian, didn’t devastate Nassau as much as other parts of the country, but it still caused a lot of destruction.
Try to time your visit to avoid coming during hurricane season. If you do visit during the summer, follow along on The Bahamas Ministry for Tourism & Aviation’s site for real-time hurricane and tropical storm updates.
Crime in Nassau
Most tourists concerned about their safety while planning a trip to Nassau are probably thinking about crime. This isn’t just paranoia or fear of a new location talking.
Nassau unfortunately has a high crime rate, just like the rest of The Bahamas. The problem is that violent crime overall is high in The Bahamas.
In 2022, the homicide rate was a whopping 32 incidents per 100,000 people, making The Bahamas one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
If the overall crime rate in the country is so high, then of course the capital and largest city (which is home to 70% of the population) will experience high crime rates. The Royal Bahamas Police Force publishes a detailed breakdown of crime data at the end of each year.
In 2022, New Providence, which is the island which Nassau encompasses, had 3,272 total crime incidents that year. Of those crime incidents, about 29.4% were violent crime incidents while the rest were property crimes.
The most common violent crimes in Nassau or New Providence in 2022 were armed robbery and robbery, which combined make up 20% of the total crime rate.
Unfortunately, Nassau experienced 113 homicides in 2022, which is more than two murders a week. This is one of the deadliest years on record for Nassau crime. Authorities attribute most murders to gang activity.
Although the murder statistics seem concerning, tourists are not likely to be murder victims because most homicides happen in out-of-the-way neighborhoods and victims are often connected to local gangs somehow.
In terms of property crime, the most common crime is stealing, which makes up 24.8% of total crimes committed in Nassau in 2022.
This category includes different types of petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag snatching. Other common forms of property crime include housebreaking and stealing from vehicles. There are some optimistic statistics when it comes to crime in Nassau.
Property crimes decreased by 7% compared to 2021. Plus, although violent crime numbers are still high, they are not as high as they were in 2015, when the homicide rate was a whopping 37 incidents per 100,000 people.
The local police put a lot of effort into making sure that people, especially visitors, are safe.
There are 147 officers in the dedicated Tourism Police Unit, which patrol downtown Nassau and protect tourists from crimes. Their presence has made downtown areas far safer.
Forget about homicides or dramatic gang kidnappings — the crime you are most likely to encounter in Nassau is regular old petty theft. This type of crime is common throughout the world, especially in tourist destinations.
Most crimes in Nassau are not violent incidents but crimes of opportunity — and distracted tourists provide plenty of opportunities. The Australian government warns about the prevalence of petty theft in touristy areas, such as the Straw Market in Nassau.
Whenever you are walking around a crowded area, keep a close eye on your valuables. Put important possessions in a place that is hard for a thief to access, such as a front pocket or a cross-body bag.
No matter where you are, never leave your valuables unattended. It’s common for people to get too relaxed at the beach or in a laid-back café, then to realize that their wallet is gone when they get up.
Don’t hang your bag off the back of chairs or leave it unattended on the shore as you swim. Be careful about flashing your valuables.
Keep in mind that the average income of most Nassau locals is much lower than the average income of most tourists, so a smartphone or wallet stuffed with cash is a tempting target even for someone that isn’t a hardened criminal.
Choosing the right accommodation can go a long way towards helping you feel safe.
Book a hotel or resort with a secure room safe, preferably one that is bolted to the floor. Read reviews carefully, focusing on safety, as there have been thefts from hotel rooms in Nassau before.
Although most violent crimes don’t affect tourists, the exception is armed robbery. Criminals often target tourists deliberately because they know they will be more lucrative targets than Nassau residents.
The Canadian government warns about the possibility of armed robbery in Nassau. Criminals operate in areas where they know there are large crowds of tourists, such as the cruise ship terminal in Nassau.
Even during the day, be careful not to walk alone down deserted side streets or dark alleyways. Although you may dream of a pristine beach all to yourself, deserted beaches are also prime spots for robbers.
Try to stick to an area where there are at least a few other people. Although robberies occur during the day as well, they increase in frequency after dark, which is why the UK government advises against wandering around after dark.
You can explore at night, but only if you stick to safe areas such as resort grounds or the major tourist areas in downtown Nassau.
To get home to your hotel, take an authorized taxi, not a street taxi or a bus. If you do get robbed, hand over your valuables and don’t resist. Armed robberies have turned deadly in the past.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Since so much crime is concentrated in certain areas in Nassau, avoiding bad areas is the key to staying safe. The most dangerous neighborhood in Nassau is the “Over the Hill” area, or south of Shirley Street.
This neighborhood has a high concentration of gang activity, which drives up the violent crime rate. Other neighborhoods to avoid are the areas around Fish Fry, Arawak Cay, and Sand Trap.
Popular tourist areas and downtown Nassau are usually safe thanks to the large crowds at all hours and tourism police (although that is not an invitation to throw caution to the wind).
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other questions you might want answered before you head to Nassau:
What is the safest tourist area in The Bahamas?
Although it is possible to stay safe in Nassau, the safest tourist areas are actually away from the capital. More remote islands such as the Abacos Islands or Exuma have practically nonexistent crime rates.
Is Nassau Bahamas nice for vacation?
Nassau in The Bahamas is very nice for a vacation! The city has beaches within city limits and a gorgeous town center. Plus, many high-end resorts are located in Nassau itself, perfect for pampering.
Is it safe to walk in The Bahamas?
It is safe to walk in The Bahamas, including Nassau. However, it is probably a good idea not to do that after dark, when your risk of being the victim of a crime increases.
Is it safe to swim in Nassau, The Bahamas?
Nassau has several beaches within city limits, and it is a great idea to take advantage of them! The waters off the coast of Nassau are usually calm, perfect for beginner swimmers. However, be careful not to leave stuff on the beach as you swim as that is a prime target for robbers.
Is it expensive in Nassau, The Bahamas?
Nassau is a fairly expensive city to visit. Accommodation costs are high as there are many resorts. Plus, the cost of living is high as many items in the islands have to be imported.
Book Your Trip to Nassau Today!
Nassau is a city that has its problems, including a high crime rate. However, authorities make sure that tourists don’t have to encounter those problems with safety measures including a dedicated tourism police force.
As long as you take common sense precautions to prevent theft, you should have a good time in Nassau. So, with so much to see and do and a mostly safe atmosphere, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this island paradise today!