From Natalie Holloway's tragic disappearance in Aruba to the murder of a honeymooning couple in Antigua and the oft-repeated advice of "don't leave the resort," crime has colored the perceptions of Caribbean travelers. 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.
Based on crime and murder rates, which describe the number of crimes or murders reported to law enforcement agencies per 100,000 inhabitants, here is a list of the safest and most dangerous places for tourists in the Carribean. It's important to keep in mind that safety is relative, and nowhere is completely free of dangers, including your own 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 as well as the rates and reviews at TripAdvisor for more tips and advice for planning a safe and budget-friendly vacation.
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St. Barts is short for Saint Barthélemy. This Francophone island is a French overseas collectivity. Known as a party place for the rich and famous, it is also dubbed safe due to its murder rate of zero.
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The British Virgin Islands
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The Cayman Islands
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 fairly low, and around the same as the United States (4.7 per 100,000 population).Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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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 and years go 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.
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The United States territory Puerto Rico makes the list due to the high murder rate of 24.4 per 100,000 that has only increased since the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis, short for the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, is located in the Leeward Islands. Its capital city, Basseterre, has the highest murder rate of any capital city in the world, and the overall homicide rate is the 8th highest across the globe. It goes without saying that traveling to this country is at your own risk.
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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.