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Is Saint John Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Saint John Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Saint John is the smallest island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, in terms of tourism numbers, it punches way above its weight—the national park alone receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

Saint John is known primarily for its natural beauty. The waters are beautifully clear and swimming with sea life, making it a popular destination for swimming with rays or snorkeling with turtles.

Saint John is home to the Virgin Islands National Park, which covers thousands of acres (about half of the island) of beaches, hills, and hiking trails. The island culture is laid back, with some galleries and rum tastings by way of creature comforts.

Saint John is the perfect Caribbean destination for when you want to get away from it all, since the beaches are blissfully free from crowds.

However, you may be wondering if blissfully getting away from it all will also mean getting away from other worries, such as crime or other threats.

This travel guide can help you prepare for your trip by letting you know all about the safety of the island. Keep reading for more details, including available crime information.

Is Saint John Safe to Visit in 2024?

A couple on their beachwear walking on the white shore towards the water, an image for a travel guide about safety in visiting Saint John.

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Yes. Saint John is a very safe place to visit, and some people name it one of the safest places in the Caribbean. The small island has a very low crime rate, and a particularly low violent crime rate.

However, you will need to be on your guard against common safety challenges in the Caribbean, such as hurricanes. Saint John is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a Caribbean territory that is generally considered to be a safe destination.

The New Zealand government doesn’t even issue a particular travel advisory for the Virgin Islands. The Canadian government advises its citizens to take normal safety precautions in the U.S. Virgin Islands (the lowest possible travel advisory level) but offers a few more details in its travel advisory.

It mentions common crimes that occur on the islands, including:

  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • Scams
  • Burglaries
  • Sexual assault
  • Violent crime

While these crimes exist in the U.S. Virgin Islands, more violent incidents rarely affect tourists. They also rarely affect St. John residents since the island has much lower crime rates than other parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many people visiting the island are hoping to go snorkeling or enjoy other water sports. The beaches are certainly attractive, but like anywhere else in the world, it’s important to practice safety when you spend time on the beach.

Always protect yourself from the sun and know your physical limits. Always snorkel with a buddy, so that someone can help you out in case of an accident.

That said, it does have a few dangerous animal and plant species. When you go into the water, be careful of stepping on sea urchins or brushing against jellyfish. There are no deadly species near Saint John, but their touch can be very painful!

You should also look out for some poisonous plants. The majority, such as Christmas bush, just cause nasty rashes and stings when you brush against them. The most dangerous plant is the manchineel tree, whose fruit is deadly.

Luckily, these trees are rare, and most are clearly marked with signs warning people not to touch or stand beneath them. This part of the Caribbean tends to get hit hard by hurricanes.

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island. Luckily, the island has mostly recovered in the years since.

It is a good idea to avoid Saint John during hurricane season, which reaches its peak from late August to October. If you go during that time, follow weather reports carefully so you can evacuate on time.

Crime in Saint John

Tourists walking towards a two-story establishment with a parked jeep, an image for a travel guide about safety in visiting Saint John.

VIRGIN ISLANDS, USA – JUN 3, 2014: Historic buildings on N Shore Road near Virgin Islands National Park entrance at Saint John Island, US Virgin Islands, USA./Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock

Crime is often the primary concern for people going on Caribbean vacations, as the islands have a bit of a reputation for high crime statistics. The U.S. Virgin Islands also have a high crime rate, including a high violent crime rate.

In 2020, local reporters and officials were alarmed at a spike in crime, including violent crime. However, Saint John has the lowest amount of crime of all of the Virgin Islands.

In the aforementioned 2020 crime wave, Saint John had only 7% of the total reported homicides in the Virgin Islands that year.

Finding accurate crime statistics is difficult because the island is usually lumped in with neighboring Saint Thomas when it comes to criminal jurisdictions. Even the FBI incorporates Saint John and other smaller islands in the Virgin Islands with its Saint Thomas unit.

This is a problem since Saint Thomas has a much higher crime rate than other parts of the Virgin Islands and then drives up the collective crime rate. However, according to anecdotal evidence, Saint John has a low crime rate.

According to Numbeo surveys of expats and locals, Saint John has a low score on the crime index at 33.33 out of 100.

People primarily reported concern about property crimes and other petty offenses, such as drug abuse, vehicle break-ins, and petty theft, although some people worried about armed robbery.

According to anecdotal evidence from locals and long-time visitors, the vast majority of crimes committed on Saint John are property crimes. Violent offenses are rare. Even thefts happen less often than in other Caribbean destinations.

There are a few reasons why the crime rate in Saint John is so much lower than in other parts of the Virgin Islands. One is the island’s relatively low population. It only has about 4,000 residents, or 4% of the total U.S. Virgin Islands population.

The island is a tightly-knit community, making it hard for criminals to get away with their actions unnoticed. The small population also means that other factors that affect crime in other parts of the Virgin Islands, such as street gangs and the drug trade, can’t take root here.

Saint John also has lower rates of unemployment and a more stable economy, avoiding many of the social factors that may push people into poverty.

Although you should still be a bit cautious while in Saint John, you definitely won’t need to be on your guard constantly. The island is very safe and relaxing.

Petty Theft

The most common crime in Saint John is simple petty theft, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching. This crime is common in tourist destinations throughout the world because it doesn’t require much planning in advance, just taking advantage of a window of opportunity.

Plus, crowds of tourists provide both cover and opportunity for pickpockets. Thieves tend to operate on beaches.

They know that tourists tend to leave items unattended while they go swimming and will rifle through bags while people are in the water. By the time you realize that your valuables are missing, the thief will be long gone.

The best way to prevent theft from your items on the beach is to not bring valuables to the beach in the first place!

Most accommodation options have safes or hidden compartments where you can stash your passport, credit cards, and smartphone. If you have to bring your things with you, you can ask a member of your group to watch your stuff and switch out or invest in a waterproof dive bag to hold your things.

Theft can also happen in other places, such as the streets of Cruz Bay or in bars.

Thieves usually target unattended items, such as wallets left on the bar while an owner heads to the bathroom, or items that are easy to snatch, such as purses hanging off of the backs of chairs. Make sure that you exercise basic caution when you walk around town.

Never leave your things unattended, even for a quick trip to the bathroom or another part of the business. Don’t make yourself stand out by waving around cash or getting too inebriated. Theft on Saint John is easy enough to avoid with basic common sense precautions.


Burglaries are another common form of crime in Saint John. This includes vehicle and residential burglaries. Renting a car is a common way to get around, since the public transportation is not the best.

However, thieves often target rental Jeeps for burglaries while they are parked in popular tourist areas, such as beach parking lots or hiking trail heads. The best way to prevent vehicle burglaries is not to leave any valuables in the car.

Always take your wallet, ID, phone, and purses with you when you get out of the car. If you are leaving other items in your car, such as your bags, make sure that they are not visible from the outside.

When you leave your car, make sure the windows are rolled up and the doors are locked. Residential burglaries sometimes target private villas rented by tourists. Ask villa managers about safety precautions they take (you can even do this before you book).

Make sure that you always lock doors and close potential entryways, such as windows and balcony doors, when you leave your accommodation. If you are worried about burglaries, staying at hotels or resorts is safer since there are more people around and they tend to have private security.

Avoiding Bad Areas

People laying down on sun beds while sunbathing on a fine-sand beach with a land area covered with a lush forest, an image for a travel guide talking about safety in visiting Saint John.

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Saint John doesn’t have many bad areas since the crime rate on the island is so low. The main town, Cruz Bay, has a few areas that are a bit unsafe.

You may run into rowdy drunks or people selling marijuana when walking around at night near nightlife areas and clubs. Just stick to well-lit areas with other people walking, and you should be safe.

Things to Consider

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Here are a few other safety tips for Saint John that you might want to know before you go:

  • Street dealers of marijuana are common. If you walk at night, you may be approached by someone offering you weed, or “ganja.” Just say no and move on (although recreational marijuana is legal on the island as of January 2023, regulations are still unclear and it’s best to avoid getting into trouble).
  • Drive on the left side of the road. If you rent a car, be ready to drive on the opposite side of the road from other parts of the United States!
  • Safari trucks, open-air jeeps, are common transportation methods. These trucks usually fill up their seats instead of offering private rides.
  • Greet people in shops and when running into each other on the street. Not saying “good morning” or “good day” is considered very rude in this tight-knit community.

Frequently Asked Questions

A secluded area of the beach with a rocky shore and clear water, the land area is covered with lush forest, an image for a travel guide about safety in visiting Saint John.

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Here are a few other questions you may have about visiting Saint John:

Is it worth going to St. John?

St. John is absolutely worth visiting. It may not have the pulsing nightclub scene or luxurious resorts of other Caribbean islands, but it has some of the most pristine nature.

How many days do you need in St. John?

You can explore both St. John and St. Thomas in about a week. However, for true relaxation, you can spend 5-7 days on St. John alone.

Which Virgin Island is the safest?

Saint John is the safest Virgin Island. It has the lowest crime rate and has few other dangers that might affect you on your visit.

Is it safe to swim in Saint John?

Yes, swimming in Saint John is safe! Most visitors actually come to this island for the pristine swimming opportunities. Just be sure to use your common sense, such as not swimming out so far that you’re too tired to get back, not swimming while drunk, and being careful of jellyfish.

Over to You — Book Your Trip to St. John Today!

The Caribbean island of Saint John is the perfect vacation destination. Not only is it beautiful, but it is also safe. As long as you don’t leave your valuables unattended and your car unlocked, you should have a safe time.

So, with so much to see and do, and a mostly safe environment in which to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that St. John has to offer. Happy travels!