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Is St. Thomas Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is St. Thomas Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

There are plenty of conflicting online guides about whether St. Thomas is safe to visit. Some say it’s one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, and others say it’s one of the most dangerous islands you can visit.

The truth straddles between these two extremes, where tourists are mostly safe visiting the island, despite its high crime rate. With so many bad guides out there, it’s hard to know which one is right.

But don’t worry  — our travel experts have done the hard work for you. We’ll show you whether this gorgeous island is worth checking out, and most importantly, how to stay safe when you do. Let us be your guide!

Is St. Thomas Safe to Visit?

The main port of Charlotte Amalie in Saint Thomas pictured with boats all around the bay


Yes, St. Thomas is safe to visit and enjoy. It’s a beautiful Caribbean island with crystal clear water and gorgeous scenery. As long as you avoid bad areas and practice good safety (as you would in any big city), you’ll have a great time exploring the island.

St. Thomas has a high crime rate that only increased during the pandemic, to 72%, primarily due to the isolation and poverty of the island.

However, Canada lists the advisory for the US Virgin Islands as “take normal security precautions.” This is a part of St. Thomas’s contradictory nature. While there’s a high crime rate, it mainly affects residents involved in illegal acts like drug trading or theft.

There’s an unwritten rule to leave tourists alone, as most of St. Thomas’s economy relies on the income from visitors. If you’re visiting as a tourist, you likely won’t have any problems if you use common sense.

Don’t walk around sketchy areas at night, stay aware of your surroundings, keep valuables locked away, and stick to popular touristy places. That way, you can enjoy St. Thomas without any problems.

Crime in St. Thomas

For a piece titled Is Saint Thomas Safe, a night photo of the bay with the hills lit up

Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock

Most crime on the island isn’t directed toward tourists, but there are some things you should be aware of before going, areas you should avoid, and some things you should look out for before heading to St. Thomas.

Crime includes the relatively high rate of violent crime (at 70%), possible drug trade (at 70%), and other crimes that don’t affect tourists much. Those caught up in these crimes are usually in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is why avoiding bad areas are essential.

Otherwise, you only have to take standard precautions against pickpockets, mugging, and petty theft, which abounds when tourists gather. As long as you use common sense, you shouldn’t run into trouble while enjoying your vacation.

Drug Trafficking and Violent Crime

Illegal drug trafficking and other types of trafficking are standard on the islands, especially after dark. You should avoid walking on the beach at dusk or after dark, no matter how romantic it sounds, to avoid becoming a tourist who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Also, stay away from drugs while on the island. Some tourists see vacations as a time to “cut loose” or try drugs and other recreational substances, but it’s a terrible idea.

Besides the risks of getting involved with any part of the drug trade and the dangers of the drugs themselves, taking drugs is forbidden by law. St. Thomas is a part of the US Virgin Islands, and they are bound by the same national laws in the States, including the harsh drug restriction laws.

If you get caught, there’s a high chance you’ll have to serve time before going home. Additionally, most violent crime on the islands is interpersonal, relating to the drug trade or gang activity in the more populated areas.

This doesn’t affect tourists who have nothing to do with either, but it’s still a good idea to use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings when out and about.

Petty Theft and Mugging

The crime tourists have to worry about is crime relating to theft. Pickpocketing and mugging do happen, but staying in crowds of people and remaining aware should help you stay away from both. The crime rate for muggings and robbings is 56%, and that number mostly doesn’t affect tourists.

Scams are less common in St. Thomas, but you should expect to pay more than residents at restaurants, taxis, and hotels. Always settle on a fare before you get in a cab, and only use authorized services.

Do your research before arriving and booking. Petty theft is another big crime that heavily affects tourists, including car theft. Never leave your belongings unattended when you’re at the beach and don’t make them visible in your car.

Even if they’re put away in bags, thieves will still be tempted by the possible treasures they may hold. Keep objects, including bags or purses, out of sight in cars and other vehicles.

Lock valuables away in the hotel safe, including your passport, and avoid flashing too much money around in public. There’s no reason to bring expensive jewelry or electronics to the island, so you shouldn’t have too many problems.

Wear a money belt or sash under your clothes that include your cards, cash, and a copy of your passport, and carry a bag with some petty cash as a decoy.

If you are targeted for mugging, give them whatever they want and contact the police to file a report. It’s not worth risking your life or health for money or things. However, as long as you are careful, it shouldn’t come to this.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Like most cities on Earth, some places are safe and some locations are better off being avoided. For St. Thomas, there are only a few areas you need to be careful about, and most of these are easily avoided.

The backstreets of Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the US Virgin Islands, are frequently considered the most dangerous place in all of the islands.

It should be avoided, although it’s relatively safe in daylight. Don’t walk around at night, and be careful when walking through the rest of the city, as it’s easy to go from a well-lit tourist street to a murder alley.

Stick to the main path, and don’t go wandering off and you’ll be able to enjoy Charlotte Amalie. Another section you should try and avoid is the public housing projects.

These places usually have “Estate” in their name, but there should be no reason to wander near them as a tourist. Frenchmen’s Hill is safe from violent crime and a beautiful area, but it’s known for petty theft and pickpocketing, specifically directed against tourists.

If you don’t want to experience this alone, you’re better off avoiding this entire area altogether. You should avoid Coki Beach and other beaches at night.

It’s a local spot for theft and other crimes after dark. If you want to go to the beach at night, stick to your hotel or resort beaches.

If you are wondering what neighborhoods are safe and great to stay in, most of the island’s east end is fun and safe. Sapphire Beach and Red Hook are guarded 24/7, making them some of the safest spots on the islands.

Things to Consider

Morning walk along the Sapphire Beach in St Thomas for a piece titled Is Saint Thomas Safe

Sasha Buzko/Shutterstock

There’s a lot more to St. Thomas than just crime. You need to take care of many things before you’re ready to enjoy yourself on an unforgettable vacation.

Things to consider include:

  • Plan and book accommodations and tours early. Pick reputable places with suitable safety measures, such as Red Hook, Sapphire Beach, or similar areas on the East End.
  • Negotiate fares before you get in taxis. It’s common for them to try and scam more money out of tourists. While you should expect to pay more than residents, you shouldn’t be spending fifty dollars just to get across town.
  • Ask a local if you’re unsure if an area or service is safe. They have the most up-to-date information and are helpful to tourists.
  • Follow local customs. You have to drive on the left side of the road and greet everyone you meet with a hearty good morning or good afternoon. Researching local culture is a great way to get more involved with your destination.
  • Don’t forget the essentials. St. Thomas has to ship everything in from abroad, and it’s considered international shipping. Everything is more expensive here, so bring some essentials to save money.
  • Hurricane season is between June and November in the Caribbean, but the most dangerous months are between July and October. Hurricanes can rapidly derail vacation plans, so if you’re planning on traveling during this season, be prepared to spend extra days at your location or be forced to cancel your trip altogether.

This is often the cheapest time to travel to the island, with discounts on airfare and hotels. Plus, a hurricane rarely hits the island, with most only producing strong winds that locals know how to handle.

It can be an excellent time to explore St. Thomas, with fewer tourists and better deals, so you shouldn’t just discount it because of the possibility of bad weather.

Frequently Asked Questions

Iguana resting on a rock in the USVI island of St Thomas

Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock

Americans don’t need their passport to visit the US Virgin Islands, which makes them a popular Caribbean destination. With clear water and plenty of attractions, there’s no reason not to go and enjoy everything St. Thomas offers.

Some of the most frequently asked questions include:

Are beaches free of dangers in St. Thomas?

Beaches are dangerous, and St. Thomas is no exception. While walking the beach, you should look out for sea urchins and jellyfish. You should look out for them when you’re in the water as well. While they’re painful, they’re rarely life-threatening, and local hospitals know how to deal with them.

Look for dangers to be posted around the beach, and heed them. The local authorities know how to rank how dangerous a beach is and how to avoid the risks so that you can enjoy the warm water to the fullest.

Is St. Thomas safe for women?

There’s an increased risk for solo women travelers wherever they go, and it’s no different here. However, St. Thomas doesn’t pose any additional risk the way Saudi Arabia might. Take standard safety precautions as you would in any city, and you should be fine.

Is St. Thomas worth visiting?

Absolutely. Americans don’t need a passport to visit, and it’s a picture-perfect Caribbean destination. Families, in particular, can enjoy everything the island offers, with plenty of activities for children and their parents.

What is the political climate of St. Thomas?

The US Virgin Islands is a US territory and follows US laws, so you don’t need to worry about political unrest. As long as you’re respectful of the locals, you should have no trouble during your time in St. Thomas.

Is driving a car safe?

If you plan to rent a car, you should drive carefully. The roads outside of the cities are full of potholes, steep, and generally unkept. Drive slowly and stay as left as you can on the streets.

Traffic can be challenging to deal with inside the cities, and traffic laws are only sometimes obeyed. Using public transportation or taxis to get around the island may be a better option.

Can you get mosquito-borne disease in St. Thomas?

Mosquitoes carry the risk of diseases like Dengue fever and the Chikunga virus. While there are some more severe strains, these both act like the flu, so if you are sneezing and sore when you get home, it might be one of the two. Use insect repellant at night and out of urban areas.

The water is safe to drink on the island, as it’s mostly filtered rainwater. However, ask the building manager to be sure, or if you want to play it safe, you can buy bottled water from the grocery store.

Is public transportation safe?

Public transportation is safe for tourists as long as you keep your wits about you and keep an eye on your belongings. It’s no less safe than any other American city, which may not be a stellar endorsement, but safe nonetheless.

So, Is St. Thomas Safe to Visit?

As long as you use common sense and remain aware of your surrounding, St. Thomas is perfectly safe to visit. It may be one of the safer Caribbean islands to see compared to Jamaica and other similar islands.

US citizens, in particular, love to visit and enjoy the sunny beaches, varied attractions, and mountainous territory, and everyone else is welcome to do the same. Just remember to remain respectful of the locals and stay in tourist areas.

Otherwise, St. Thomas is a beautiful island with many museums, restaurants, and scenery to enjoy, so book ahead of time, pack everything you might need, and stay safe while taking an unforgettable Caribbean vacation.

So, with so much natural beauty packed into a single package, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this island paradise today!