Thinking About Visiting the Caribbean?
The Caribbean Sea is home to several gorgeous islands that attract millions of visitors each year. But some of these islands have higher-than-average crime rates.
The safest islands include:
- St. Barts
- The Cayman Islands
- The Virgin Islands
- St. Lucia
- Turks and Caicos
- St. Maarten
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Dominican Republic
- The Bahamas
Below, we’ll dive into the 17 safest islands in the Caribbean in detail, a few things to consider before going, and things to watch out for on each one.
The 17 Safest Islands in the Caribbean in 2023
The last thing anyone wants while on vacation is to fall victim to criminal activity, so if you’re thinking of visiting an island in the Caribbean, you’ll want to choose an island with a low crime rate.
Without further ado, let’s explore the safest islands in the Caribbean!
1. St. Barts
The French-owned island of St. Barts (Saint-Barthélemy) is incredibly safe, with a zero-percent murder rate and a below-average property and violent crime rate. Much of this stems from the fact that St. Barts is almost exclusively designed to cater to the needs of high-income visitors.
Sun exposure and mosquitoes pose more significant risks to visitors than local criminals, making St. Barts an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy a crime-free experience in the Caribbean.
However, this island is one of the priciest, with the average per-night hotel room rate averaging more than $200 per night. In fact, many of the safest islands in the Caribbean have a higher-than-average cost of living, including Anguilla.
The U.S. Department of State rates Anguilla as one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean, with a threat level of one (the lowest possible number).
While petty theft does occur, visitors who leave their valuables at home (or in their hotel room) aren’t likely to fall victim to this crime. But like St. Barts, Anguilla is a relatively costly Caribbean destination.
The average hotel room on this island costs about $250, and living expenses (groceries, rent, utilities) are higher than in other Caribbean territories and nations.
Fortunately, you can keep travel costs low by purchasing groceries (instead of dining out at restaurants) and visiting during the off-peak months (typically June to August).
3. The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands has some of the strictest gun laws of any Caribbean territory or nation. For example, fewer than 1,000 licensed gun owners live in the Cayman Islands (and more than 65,000 residents).
This lack of firearms makes the trio of islands that comprise the Cayman Islands some of the safest in the Caribbean Sea.
While property crime (like theft) is somewhat common due to the high number of international visitors, violent crimes, corruption, and drug-related crimes are far more uncommon.
Still, the Cayman Islands attracts wealthy travelers, making it one of the most expensive Caribbean destinations. For example, a standard hotel room in a three-star hotel in Grand Cayman (the largest of the Cayman Islands) goes for between $120 and $250 per night.
4. The Virgin Islands
Did you know that the Virgin Islands are split between the United States and the United Kingdom? But while these islands are divided, their cultures, cost of living, and crime rates are remarkably similar.
If you’re planning on visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands, you’ll be glad to know that the most common type of crime is petty theft.
As such, staying safe during your visit is often as simple as leaving your most expensive items at home and avoiding crowded areas. Unfortunately, sexual assault does occur, and women can experience sexual harassment.
Women looking to avoid this issue when visiting the Virgin Islands may want to travel as part of a group. Visiting with a spouse can also help lower your risk of sexual assault.
5. St. Lucia
Those looking to spend some time in St. Lucia will want to exercise standard safety precautions. For example, walking around alone late at night or flaunting expensive items is heavily discouraged.
Generally, the most significant safety threat to visitors is inclement weather. For this reason, travelers will want to avoid visiting St. Lucia during the late summer and fall, especially from August through November.
It’s also worth noting that St. Lucia is one of several Caribbean countries that has outlawed same-sex relationships between men and women. As a result, LGBTQ+ visitors may want to be cautious when visiting St. Lucia and avoid displaying signs of physical affection when in public areas.
Read Next: The Best and Worst Times to Visit St. Lucia
Martinique is another top-notch Caribbean destination for those looking to avoid violent crime risks.
While petty theft occurs fairly regularly (especially in Fort-de-France), visitors can lower their risks of being accosted by thieves by leaving high-priced possessions at home, avoiding large crowds, and only traveling throughout the island during the daytime.
ATM fraud is also a relatively common issue. If possible, pay for your hotel room online before arriving and use Euros (the most widely accepted form of cash in Martinique) to pay for food and activities while visiting.
Montserrat is a British territory, making it one of the most popular Caribbean destinations for English-speaking visitors. This tiny island typically receives about 20,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most peaceful tropical islands.
This low number of annual visitors also makes Montserrat far safer than popular destinations like the Bahamas. As a result, violent crimes are comparatively low, with the most common crimes typically involving property theft.
However, this island is home to an active volcano (Soufrière Hills). As such, visitors should be prepared to flee Montserrat in the event of an eruption.
Like many other Caribbean islands included on this list, the biggest threat to visitors staying in Grenada is petty theft.
Because this island averages about 200,000 visitors each year, opportunistic criminals are comparatively rare, as opportunities to steal from tourists are scarce. Still, walking alone late at night is discouraged.
It’s also wise to dress casually and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. These simple safety precautions can significantly reduce the risk of being targeted by thieves.
9. Turks and Caicos
The British territory of Turks and Caicos consists of 40 tiny islands, most of which are made of ancient remnants of coral.
These islands are sparsely inhabited, though Providenciales (the primary tourist destination in Turks and Caicos) has a population of about 57,000. Because most visitors arrive in Turks and Caicos via Providenciales, the highest level of petty crime occurs on this main hub island.
In addition, due to the spread-out nature of this territory, access to healthcare and police services is limited, which also contributes to crime rates.
If you plan on visiting Turks and Caicos, you’ll want to avoid leaving your resort or hotel during the night. It’s also an excellent idea to book a room at a popular hotel instead of staying in a remote villa or cabin.
The French-owned collection of islands known as Guadeloupe contains some of the most stunning black-sand beaches and vibrant dark-green forests in the Caribbean.
It’s also a comparatively safe tropical destination, with petty theft as the primary source of crime.
Travelers are encouraged to practice standard safety precautions, such as not walking alone at night, avoiding isolated areas, and keeping documents locked away. Visitors may also want to avoid residential areas, as some locals aren’t particularly fond of curious tourists.
11. St. Maarten
In St. Maarten (also spelled St. Martin or Sint Maarten), visitors tend to be a little safer than residents. St. Maarten is plagued by rampant illegal drug trade, with competing drug dealers often committing violent acts against one another to maintain dominance.
Most travelers staying in St. Maarten won’t be affected by this issue, especially when staying at reputable resorts and avoiding night time excursions. Still, petty theft and drug dealing are potential issues for visitors, so you’ll want to stay alert and avoid remote residential areas.
12. St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis consist of two islands, separated by only two miles of sea. The U.S. Department of State lists this destination as minimally threatening, with the primary concern for visitors being petty theft.
But LGBTQ+ visitors may want to avoid displays of physical affection when in public areas.
St. Kitts and Nevis are part of the Caribbean nations that have outlawed homosexual relations. While tourists are unlikely to be arrested by police, locals may harass or violently assault homosexual couples.
Barbados is a family-friendly Caribbean destination that provides top-notch security services for its most touristic areas. However, it does experience its fair share of crime, especially around Crab Hill, Nelson Street, and Wellington Street.
Petty theft is the most common type of crime that visitors encounter, though drug dealers have also been known to harass tourists.
Traveling in groups and avoiding nighttime excursions is an excellent way to prevent these issues. Being alert and avoiding overly crowded areas can also help lower your risk of being robbed.
It’s also worth noting that homosexuality is illegal in Barbados, so LGBTQ+ visitors may need to take extra precautions before visiting (or avoid Barbados altogether).
Roatán is a virtually unspoiled island off the coast of Honduras, and like many other Caribbean islands, it’s a relatively safe destination for visitors.
It’s also one of the most peaceful islands in the Caribbean, typically only receiving about 1 million visitors each year. This might seem like a high number, but it’s crucial to remember that other islands see millions of visitors annually.
Petty theft is the most common type of crime in Roatán. Therefore, visitors are encouraged to stay in touristic centers, particularly after nightfall. Remaining alert and dressing casually can also help you avoid criminal activity during your stay in Roatán.
15. Antigua and Barbuda
Like St. Kitts and Nevis, this Caribbean island nation consists of two distinct islands, Antigua and Barbuda. These islands are home to colorful buildings, stunning beaches, and busy ports.
But they’re also more prone to crime than other Caribbean islands. Drug dealing and corruption are significant problems in this country, and some areas can be dangerous for travelers.
Petty crime levels are moderate, and visitors are encouraged to keep their valuables locked in a hotel safe. It’s also wise to avoid wearing jewelry and luxurious accessories, and you’ll likely want to minimize the amount of cash you keep on you.
16. The Dominican Republic
Millions of people visit the Dominican Republic every year to see its gorgeous beaches and breathtaking waterfalls. However, the high number of annual tourists attracts opportunistic criminals, making this Caribbean island less safe than others.
Resort areas tend to be the safest spots for visitors, but armed robbery and sexual assault are significant concerns within the nation’s most populated urban areas, including Santo Domingo.
As a result, visitors will want to avoid visiting crowded areas far from tourist-friendly resorts. It’s also an excellent idea to leave precious jewelry or luxury clothing at home before visiting the Dominican Republic.
These items are attractive to thieves and could potentially increase your risk of being robbed or violently assaulted.
The U.S. Department of State currently lists the Dominican Republic as a Level 2 destination, making it slightly more dangerous than other Caribbean islands.
17. The Bahamas
Like the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas receives millions of visitors each year. And this high number of tourists contributes to the comparatively high crime rate of this island nation.
Petty theft is widespread in the Bahamas, especially near crowded tourist hotspots and major cities (like Nassau). Unfortunately, violent crime is also common in Nassau, particularly in the Over-the-Hill community.
To stay safe while visiting the Bahamas, you’ll want to avoid walking around at night (especially if you’re alone), choose reputable water sports equipment providers, and remain alert when exploring crowded areas.
The U.S. Department of State lists the Bahamas as a Level 2 destination, making it officially safer than some Caribbean islands (including Jamaica).
Read Next: Best Time to Visit the Bahamas
Things to Consider When Visiting the Caribbean
Before you travel to any of the islands in the Caribbean, you’ll want to ensure you’re adequately prepared for your trip. For example, you might want to:
- Pack plenty of sunscreen
- Learn a few Spanish phrases
- Ensure you’re not visiting during hurricane season (June through November)
- Prepare to consume plenty of bottled water
- Acquire cash currency accepted at your destination
- Leave luxury items at home
- Make an itinerary for your upcoming trip
Remember, the Caribbean islands are far less developed than major cities throughout the United States. As a result, cell phone signals, WiFi, and card readers can be hit-or-miss.
Having some spending cash on you (in the currency of your chosen island destination) is an excellent way to ensure you can purchase much-needed items during your stay. Of course, bottled water is one of the most vital things you’ll want to buy after arriving.
After all, local water sources may contain harmful bacteria like E. coli (Escherichia coli) or heavy metals like lead. So it’s best to avoid drinking tap water while visiting the Caribbean.
It’s also helpful to have a basic understanding of Spanish phrases, as Spanish is the most commonly spoken language throughout the Caribbean. Dutch, French, and Haitian Creole are also spoken, but to a lesser extent.
To stay safe during your travels, you may want to leave your Louis Vuitton or Gucci products at home. Flaunting your priciest clothing or accessories can make you a target for thieves and criminals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the safest islands in the Caribbean. Check out these common questions before booking a flight or reserving a hotel room!
Which Caribbean Islands are not safe?
Trinidad and Tobago has the highest crime rate
of any of the Caribbean islands and is the sixth most unsafe country in the world. Jamaica’s crime rate is almost as high, followed by Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
Gangs, drugs, and government corruption might be the primary inciting causes behind the violent crimes and burglaries common throughout these Caribbean nations.
What is the friendliest Caribbean Island?
Most visitors report that the Bahamas, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Nevis are home to some of the kindest and most hospitable residents. St. Lucia, in particular, is home to one of the largest expat communities throughout the Caribbean, making it a natural destination for retirees.
What is the cheapest and safest Caribbean Island to live?
Grenada has a comparatively low crime level and enjoys some of the lowest living costs of any Caribbean island. Therefore, it could be an affordable retirement destination for those looking to spend their golden years soaking up the sunshine while lounging in a tropical paradise.
Which Caribbean Island has the best quality of life?
Barbados has a higher life expectancy than any other Caribbean island, hovering at about 79.5 years. That’s higher than the average life expectancy in the United States!
While groceries and some utilities (like WiFi or cell phone service) are pricier in Barbados than in the United States, real estate is generally more affordable, and core medical services are well developed.
What is the least touristy Caribbean Island?
Montserrat is the least-visited (and therefore least touristy) island in the Caribbean. This island only receives about 20,000 visitors each year. Compare that to the Bahamas, which typically sees more than 7 million tourists every year!
So, What Is the Safest Island in the Caribbean?
The safest island in the Caribbean is St. Barts. But Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, and the Virgin Islands are also comparatively safe Caribbean destinations.
Notably, though the Bahamas are a popular destination, it’s one of the most unsafe islands in the Caribbean. Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago also have higher-than-average crime rates.