Saint Barts, as Saint Barthélemy is colloquially known, is a popular Caribbean destination for rest and relaxation. This French overseas collectivity receives nearly 300,000 visitors annually, a big number for such a small place.
Luxurious fun in the sun is the primary draw of St. Barts. The best thing to do is explore beautiful beaches such as Shell Beach or Anse de Colombier where you can tan, swim, snorkel, or check out more intense water sports such as kite surfing.
Rub elbows with the world’s billionaires in the posh town of Gustavia or enjoy the laid-back vibes in the seaside village of St. Jean. Whatever you do, don’t do it in a hurry — relaxing is the best thing to do in St. Barts.
Hopefully, your vacation will continue in a relaxing, safe atmosphere. If you don’t want to leave your relaxing vacation to chance, you probably want to research the safety of the island ahead of time.
But don’t worry — our travel experts did the hard work for you; our detailed travel guide can help you evaluate if a trip to St. Barts is the right decision for you. Let us be your guide!
Is Saint Barts Safe to Visit in 2023?
You don’t have to worry about a thing when visiting St. Barts, because the island is extremely safe! Specific, it has an extremely low crime rate.
The only thing you will have to worry about is that you might never want to leave. Many Caribbean islands hide darker realities beneath their paradise-like pictures.
Countries in the Caribbean region, such as Jamaica, have some of the highest homicide rates in the world, a reality that can sour your resort trip. You don’t have to worry about any of that in St. Barts.
The small, close-knit island has a crime rate that is practically non-existent. In fact, St. Barts was voted the safest island in the Caribbean by a local travel company, a title that many people would informally agree with.
Besides looking at travel warnings and crime rates, looking at how many visitors a place gets and what those visitors are like can tell you a lot about the security situation.
For example, St. Barts is famous for being the playground for the world’s billionaires and millionaires, with famous guests including Jeff Bezos and Dua Lipa.
These are the types of people that are not likely to vacation somewhere where their valuables are likely to be stolen! Of course, problems can happen anywhere, and St. Barts is no different.
You might encounter minor crimes such as:
- Purse snatching
- Theft from hotel rooms
Violent crime is practically unheard of in St. Barts. As long as you take some common sense precautions, the same that you would walking around your hometown, you won’t encounter any problems in St. Barts.
St. Barts is so safe that even though it is a Caribbean destination, you rarely have to worry about hurricanes.
Destructive hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irma in 2017, happen only about once every 20 years. The island has good infrastructure and recovers quickly after hurricane devastation.
Hurricane season lasts from May to November, but most years pass without a hurricane directly hitting Saint Barthélemy because it is located away from the hurricane belt in the Caribbean. Just be prepared to experience some more rain than usual.
Crime in Saint Barts
The crime rate in St. Barts is so low that it is practically nonexistent. Visitors almost never encounter a criminal incident while they are in town. The local French government put together a detailed breakdown of crime on the island.
Although the latest statistics available online are from 2014, which was several years ago, nothing much has changed, and St. Barts is the same pristine, calm place it always was.
In all of 2014, there were only 223 total property crimes. 92% of those property crimes were non-violent thefts. The most common incidents were simple thefts in private places, such as hotel rooms, simple thefts in public places, and scooter thefts.
The entire year, there were only 2 robberies that used some form of violence. Violent crime numbers in St. Barts are even lower than the property crime numbers.
There were only 64 violent crimes in the entire year of 2014. 66% of those were simple assault cases. Almost no violent crime incidents affected foreign visitors, and most were between locals who knew each other.
There are a few reasons why St. Barts has such an astonishingly low crime rate, especially when compared to its neighbors.
One is the island’s small size. St. Barts only has a population of about 7,093 according to the CIA factbook (although it may be slightly higher). Most people live in small villages where everyone knows each other, making it hard to get away with a crime.
Another factor is the high standard of living. People in St. Barts are technically French citizens and receive French wages and benefits, meaning that their living standard is much higher than it is on neighboring islands.
St. Barts has fewer social factors that push people towards crime, such as high unemployment and high poverty rates. The clientele also plays a factor.
St. Barts caters to exclusive forms of travelers, people that can afford to visit or take a private jet or yacht to the island. These people tend to have great security, creating less opportunities for theft (and are less likely to be the thieves themselves, mingling with fellow travelers).
Plus, the exclusive reputation of the island means that it is invested in maintaining its reputation as a place for the rich and famous.
There are a few different reasons why St. Barts has a low crime rate, but at the end of the day, none of them matter that much. What matters is that you will almost certainly have a safe trip to St. Barts.
If you end up encountering any crime in St. Barts, which is highly unlikely, the most likely problem is petty theft. People often get very relaxed while they are on the island due to the low crime rate, and thieves take advantage of their inattention.
In its travel advisory for the territory, the Canadian government warns that petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur in St. Barts despite the overall safe atmosphere on the island.
You don’t have to take any heavy precautions, but some basic situational awareness can help. A good precaution to take is not to leave your things unattended.
A lot of people get too relaxed and leave their wallet on a restaurant table while paying or leave their bag unattended on the beach. Make sure that your valuables are at least in sight at all times.
When you go swimming, leave your stuff in your hotel room or villa. It’s a good idea to keep a particularly close eye on your passport. It’s not that passports are a popular target, but they are a pain to replace in St. Barts.
Try to leave it in your accommodation locked up in your hotel safe. You do have to carry ID with you (although ID checks are rare) so opt for a photocopy of your passport.
Thefts From Accommodation
You may start thinking of your hotel room or villa in St. Barts as a sanctuary, but don’t let yourself get too complacent. Theft from an accommodation on the island is rare, but it does happen.
According to the local crime report, theft from a private residence is the single most common type of crime. Hotels and villas are included in those private places.
You’d be amazed at which basic precautions are enough to protect you from theft. For example, when you leave your accommodation, don’t forget to shut your doors and windows.
Ideally, you should lock the front door and any other entry points. You’re probably used to locking your doors, but many people in St. Barts don’t do that. The island is so safe that people are not used to locking their front doors, car doors, or scooters.
While this is easy most of the time, in very rare instances, it does result in a theft.
A simple turn of the key is enough to deter most thieves. If you are really concerned about your valuables, you can follow the advice of the UK government for traveling to St. Barts and put valuables in a safe.
Most hotels and resorts offer either safety deposit boxes in each room or a hotel safe. A room safe is the most secure option as nobody else can enter it besides you.
When putting items in a hotel safe in the lobby, ask for a receipt so you can prove that the items are yours later on and get damages in case of any theft. While the possibility of theft is nearly unheard of, it’s always good to protect yourself just in case.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are no dangerous neighborhoods in St. Barts, so there are no places that you need to avoid! All of the towns and villages on the island are perfectly safe. Anywhere you go, crime is practically nonexistent.
You may want to avoid walking on the beach at night as no matter where you go in the world that can be a bit unsafe, but other than that, your trip to St. Barts should be very safe!
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting St. Barts:
- Be careful if you are afraid of flying. The main airport in St. Barts has a notoriously difficult landing, so much so that pilots have to go through special training to get permission to land there. If you are nervous about flying, then be prepared as the landing is a bit abrupt! You can also take a ferry from neighboring islands to get to the island.
- Prepare for bug bites. Although the local mosquitos and no-see-ums are not dangerous and don’t carry diseases, they still are annoying! Make sure your accommodation has screens or some form of bug repellent and carry bug spray as you walk around the island. The local substance roucou is a natural bug repellent and is found in many local cosmetics.
- Be careful when engaging in water sports. Although the waters off of St. Barts are usually calm and easy to swim in, sometimes riptides can occur. Make sure that you follow any posted warnings about where to swim and that you don’t swim out beyond your capabilities. If you book an organized tour, such as a diving tour, ask the operators about their safety procedures.
- Don’t rent a car. The island is small enough that you can get around by scooter or bike, and there is a good taxi service. The roads are narrow and in poor condition, so out of towners have a hard time driving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions that you might encounter when researching St. Barts:
Is St. Barts’ airport safe?
The first time most people land at Gustaf III Airport, they feel as if they are taking their life into their hands. Although the short, seaside runway may make you feel as if something bad could happen at any minute, the airport is actually very safe. There have been very few accidents, as pilots train just for that runway.
Can you walk around St. Barts?
The towns and villages in St. Barts are very walkable. The island is just big enough that you can’t walk all of it, but you can get around with a bike or scooter.
Does St. Barts have mosquitos?
Yes, St. Barts has mosquitos. Although mosquito-borne diseases are rare here, stings can be painful so be sure to protect yourself.
What is the best way to get around St. Barts?
The best way to get around St. Barts is by taxi or by scooter. Don’t rent your own car as the roads are very unpredictable.
Is St. Barts affordable to visit?
St. Barts is one of the most expensive Caribbean islands, if not the most expensive. If you want to tan on the same beach as Jeff Bezos, you can expect to pay a lot more money for your vacation than you would somewhere else.
So, Should You Visit St. Barts?
If you are looking for a safe Caribbean vacation, you can’t do much better than Saint Barts. The island has a practically non-existent crime rate and is the perfect tranquil getaway.
So, with so much to see and do, and no real bad areas, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that this tropical paradise has to offer. Happy travels!