A few high-profile incidents can quickly get visitors wondering how they can stay safe during a Caribbean vacation, and what may be lurking beneath the sun-and-fun image promoted in tourist brochures.
In general, fear of crime in the Caribbean is generally overblown. However, the overall murder rate among developing nations in the Caribbean is nearly four times the average rate in North America.
High rates of unemployment and a lack of economic development along with narcotics trafficking breed crime, violence, and gang activity in many Caribbean nations. Thus, to avoid becoming a victim of a violent crime, do not associate with criminals by buying drugs or taking part in other illegal activities.
It's essential to keep in mind that safety is relative, and nowhere is completely free of dangers, including your backyard. Make sure you do your due diligence, try to avoid looking like a tourist and keep your wits about you.
Before you begin planning your Caribbean getaway, be sure to check the U.S. State Department crime warnings for Caribbean destinations.
Based on crime and murder rates, which describe the number of crimes or murders reported to law enforcement agencies per 100,000 inhabitants, the following is a list of the safest and most dangerous places for tourists in the Carribean.
Montserrat is nicknamed "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean," both for its terrain and the heritage of its inhabitant. The island is a British territory in the Leeward Islands and is considered to be the safest island in the Caribbean. The last recorded murder occurred in 2008, according to Nation Master.
St. Barts is short for Saint Barthélemy. St. Barts has been an overseas collectivity of France since 2007. It is known as a party place for the rich and famous. The island is also dubbed safe due to its murder rate of zero.
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands consists of Tortola (the largest and most inhabited island), Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Josh Van Dyke, and over 50 more smaller islands and cays. The murder rate was last recorded at two per 100,000 back in 2006, making it a very safe destination for travelers.
The Cayman Islands is another British Overseas Territory widely known as a financial haven for wealthy individuals, and thus, is very safe for travelers.
The murder rate is relatively low, with a rate of around five per 100,000 population.
Bonaire is a part of the ABC Islands and is a special municipality of the Netherlands. Unlike most Caribbean islands, it is located outside of Hurricane Alley.
Years have gone by without a single homicide on the island. However, in May 2017 two murders occurred within 24 hours, to the shock and horror of both travelers and locals alike.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign state in the Americas and British Commonwealth. It is nicknamed the "Land of 365 Beaches" and maintains a very low crime rate.
Martinique is an overseas region of France located in the Lesser Antilles. While it has the highest murder rate of the islands on this list, the rate was still low at just 17, recorded in 2009.
The United States territory of Puerto Rico makes the list of dangerous islands to visit. It has a high murder rate of 17 per 100,000. This rate has increased since the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations and maintains a high murder rate, 472 as of 2010.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with the country of Haiti. It has an extraordinarily high murder rate, with 2,513 recorded in 2011.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis is the shortened name for the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. It is located in the Leeward Islands.
The capital city, Basseterre, has the highest murder rate of any capital city in the world, and the overall homicide rate is the eighth highest across the globe. Most violence and criminal activity in the country is believed to be gang or drug-related.
It goes without saying that traveling to this country is at your own risk.
Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world, but 70 percent of all crime is linked to the drug trade. Locals advise travelers to avoid some troubled spots in Kingston, Montego Bay, and other smaller cities.