Thinking about going to the Bahamas? Well, with its beaches, watersports, coral reefs, around 2,000 islands to explore, and yet more beaches, we can definitely see why. This cluster of Caribbean beauty spots is world-famous: say “Bahamas” and everyone knows the vibe.
Or do they? Because actually, there’s really a lot of stuff about the Bahamas that makes us think it’s not that safe. There’s a lot to take into account, what with the violent crime levels on the rise, petty theft, sexual assaults, drug trafficking gangs, as well as other hassles.
This certainly makes for a bit of a worrying situation in this group of islands, which is why we have put together this insider’s guide to staying safe in the Bahamas. Knowing the issues is the first step towards travelling smart and avoiding trouble, so we’ve packed it all in.
There’s information on what islands of the Bahamas are safe, how solo female travellers can make the most of their trip, what the situation is with public transport – and even when hurricane season is because that is also an issue in the Caribbean!
So let’s take a look at what’s going on with these islands…
- How Safe is The Bahamas? (Our take)
- Is The Bahamas Safe to Visit Right Now?
- Bahamas Travel Insurance
- Safest Places to Visit in the Bahamas
- 22 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to the Bahamas
- Is the Bahamas safe to travel alone?
- Is the Bahamas safe for solo female travellers?
- More on Safety in the Bahamas
- FAQ’s on the Bahamas Safety
- Final thoughts on the safety of Bahamas
How Safe is The Bahamas? (Our take)
Famous for its crystal coastline, having a zillion (well, 2,000) islands, beaches – including Pig Beach – as well as coral reefs, this paradise archipelago is a popular destination. Nice weather too: George Washington said they were “the isles of perpetual June”
Though it’s all good if you’re sticking within the bounds of an all-inclusive resort – of which there are many – if you’re trying to stick to a budget and do things more independently, you’ll be more likely to encounter a sketchy situation. Some islands are safer than others, too.
The Bahamas comes packed with a lot of social issues, namely gaps between rich and poor, plus being a bit of a conduit for the drugs trade to North America and Europe. Crime is a big problem here. Poorly regulated water-sports are a source of danger as well.
Weather in the form of hurricanes and storms can pose threats to the islands, too.
There’s quite a bit that makes us think that maybe the Bahamas isn’t as safe as you think it is, but let’s look at that in more detail…
Is The Bahamas Safe to Visit Right Now?
Bahamian isles attract a lot of tourists. In 2018 the Bahamas welcomed 6.6 million visitors and is set for a record-breaking 2019, apparently.
A recent “crimewave” in the Bahamas has led the United States to issue a travel advisory from the 25th February 2019. There are 4 levels of travel advisories issued by the US to its citizens (4 being the worst) and the Bahamas got stuck with level 2: “exercise increased caution”.
However, this advisory doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be going anywhere; the Bahamas responded to America’s update by saying that it shares this “level 2” advisory with France, the UK and Spain (the latter being one of the safest countries in Europe).
The British High Commission reports that there has been an increase in reports of break-ins and robberies across New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. They also note police patrols in tourist areas.
Most crime, however, is against Bahamians, but that doesn’t mean shouldn’t take sensible precautions.
The Ministry of Tourism, along with local governments, have implemented things like CCTV, regulations to improve the safety on boats, and general “aggressive efforts” across all ministries to help make the Bahamas a “welcoming environment” for visitors. Heightened police presence has been noted.
Another thing to take into consideration is nature! From June to November, it’s hurricane season and this means that the islands can get hit by storms. Protecting yourself against mosquitoes is more than just a suggestion in the Bahamas: here they transmit Chikungunya virus.
In conclusion, though the US has issued a travel warning, we would still say that it’s safe to travel to the Bahamas right now.
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Safest Places to Visit in the Bahamas
Not all islands in the Bahamas are safe to visit. Some of them have higher crime rates than others. While it’s always necessary to keep an eye on the weather, and especially the sun (it can get brutally hot), you can escape the sketchy situations and crimes rates by staying on these incredible islands below.
The Exuma islands aren’t just one but many small islands combined. Some of them are completely remote, others are more focused on tourism. You’ll hardly find any crime on these islands which make them one of the safest places to visit in the Bahamas.
Grand Exuma is the biggest island and is the base for most visitors. Here you’ll find plenty of activity options as well as friendly locals and breathtaking beaches.
A stunning paradise made of countless little islands, with breathtaking beaches, great accommodation options and cool water activities
Cat Island is one of the most peaceful and safest islands in the Bahamas. It’s a pretty small island with hardly any people living there, which puts the crime rate close to zero.
There are a few little guesthouses and Airbnbs, which makes it a great place to stay for budget travellers that want to escape the big resorts without having to give us crystal blue water and stunning beaches. There is not much to do on Cat Island apart from tanning and relaxing, but it’s definitely safe.
A very peaceful 48 miles of sand and palm trees, with a couple of local run guesthouses and Airbnbs. It’s the best place in the Bahamas to sit back and relax.
The Abacos Islands chain is a fishing, sailing and diving paradise. Located in the Northern Bahamas, you’ll find hardly any crime here. It might not be the cheapest place to visit in the Bahamas, but you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck.
There’s a great bar and restaurant scene as well as beautiful accommodation options. While there are a quite few luxury resorts and retreats on the island, you can still find guesthouses and affordable Airbnbs.
A literal dream for sailing, snorkelling, diving and fishing, the Abacos islands are the best place for safe watersport. With plenty of bars, it’s also one of the best places for nightlife.
Places to avoid in the Bahamas
We’ve already discovered that some islands are safer than others. Nassau, the New Province Island and Grand Bahama are known for violent crime which is also targeting tourists. While not all of the islands is dangerous, you should stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Nassau is a great city to visit for budget backpackers, as you’ll find loads of great and affordable accommodations. But it definitely has its downsides. Avoid the following neighborhoods when visiting the Bahamas:
- Nassau’s Over the Hill area
- Nassau’s Sand Trap area
- Freeport in Grand Bahama
Now that we’ve covered the best and worst places to visit in the Bahamas, let’s have a look at some travel tips that’ll keep you safe during your visit.
The romance of the Bahamas may be one thing, but the reality of stepping outside the resort areas is another. With petty crime a possibility, especially in tourist areas (places you’ll be heading at least once, we imagine), it’s important to know what to look out for and what you can do to stay safe in the Bahamas, so we’ve made a list of some of our best tips for travelling smart in this tropical paradise…
- If someone tries to take your stuff, don’t resist – it’s not worth it. Wear a secure money belt to hide your cash.
- It’s best not to walk around obliviously – with your bag open, a dangly handbag, an SLR or phone in your hand; snatch and grab and pickpocketing happens in touristy areas.
- Try to dress down – looking too flashy is going to make you look like a walking ATM for thieves.
- Do not leave your valuables unattended at the beach – thefts do happen.
- Keep an eye on your bank cards when paying for stuff – and check your bank statements for dodgy activity; credit card fraud does happen here.
- Don’t take money out on the street at ATMs – go inside a bank or a hotel and be aware of who is around you when doing so.
- Make sure your hotel room is secure – look doors and windows before you go out (and whilst you’re in it, we’d say).
- Say no to drugs – you may be offered them, but they’re illegal. You’re an easier target than a gang member for police, so if you’re caught with anything you could be fined, imprisoned or deported or a mix of all three.
- Keep a cool head – staying calm and not confronting people is a good way to go. You don’t want to provoke an angry situation.
- Curb public displays of affection – same-sex or between opposite sexes, even holding hands or kissing is just best avoided.
- Practise safe sex on the island – and be aware that AIDS is a risk. It’s estimated that 3.2% of over-15s are living with HIV (compared to 0.3% in the UK; figures as of 2013).
- Make sure tour/watersports/excursion companies are reputable – these are poorly regulated and bad safety precautions have resulted in deaths and injuries of tourists.
- Be wary of jet ski operators – “there have been reports of sexual assaults by jet ski operators in Nassau” according to the British government.
- Sexual assaults occur around casinos, clubs, hotels, even on cruise ships – be careful of your drink as drink spiking is a big problem.
- It’s definitely better to take a taxi at night – especially in crime hotspots like Grand Bahama and around Nassau.
- Take care walking around after dark – particularly in quieter areas on or near beaches, or just away from downtown Nassau.
- Avoid travelling on local buses at night – especially if you’re not in touristed areas; you’ll be at risk of being a victim of crime.
- Don’t accept rides from strangers or get into unlicensed taxis – just comes with risk.
- Pack your luggage yourself and don’t leave it unattended – you don’t want to be inadvertently trafficking drugs (it can happen!)
- Be very careful with your passport and other important docs – don’t carry them around with you; keep ’em safe.
- Monitor local weather during hurricane season – it can get seriously bad.
- Make sure your phone works – so you can use it for maps, emergencies, keeping in touch with people. Get an international sim card if you need one.
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
Sleep safe! Choose your hotel, hostel or Airbnb ahead of time so you’re not last-minute booking a less-secure place.
Read our Where to Stay Guide for our favorite accommodations in the Bahamas by area.
Being all about solo travel, we could talk all day about the benefits of travelling the world by yourself; the main one though is probably only having yourself to rely on. It’s going to be challenging, but that’s the best bit: you get to grow as a person whilst seeing awesome stuff! As long as you know how to stay safe travelling, you’ll be fine.
The Bahamas may seem like more of a place for honeymooners and retiree tour groups rocking up on cruise ships, but these islands can be travelled solo though it comes with some risk. For the best ways to tackle the Bahamas by yourself, we’ve got a few pointers…
- Choose an accommodation that suits your travel style. There’s a surprisingly big range of accommodation on the Bahamas – from luxe resorts to cute guesthouses and even hostels, there’s a lot to choose from.
- A good option, if you’re a solo traveller, is an all-inclusive resort – if you can afford it. You won’t have to worry too much about safety, there are no worries about travelling alone at night, everything’s in one place and you’ll probably get to meet people, too.
- If you’ve chosen to stay somewhere like an Airbnb, a villa, or even in a hotel – we would advise that you are very careful about answering the door. If someone’s knocking and you can’t see who it is, and you weren’t expecting anything, maybe don’t answer and call security – if your place has it.
- Avoid booking an isolated form of accommodation, unless on one of the safer, outer island.
- Try to walk around as confidently as possible. It’s possible that you’ll be more of a target by yourself, so walk with purpose and look like you know where you’re going – even if you don’t.
- Try to keep other people informed of where you are and what you’re doing. It’s always safer having people know where you are than being off-grid.
- A good way for solo travellers to see the Bahamas is on a group tour. Not only do you get to see awesome stuff, but you also get a guide to tell you about it all, the safety of being guided, and find some people to travel with and get to know.
- There are booze cruises you can go on, which is a fun way to let loose if that’s your idea of fun. Just make sure that the company operating the cruise itself is reputable, well-reviewed, and that the boat itself isn’t overloaded.
- Somewhere you can go by yourself that’s pretty safe is the Ardastra Gardens. Whilst partly a zoo, it’s also a conservation centre where you can wander around 5 acres of tropical jungle and see some rare Caribbean flamingoes.
There you have it. Whilst solo travelling in the Bahamas might not seem like the best thing to do as we said, it can be done. A good way to go about it would be to ask the staff at your accommodation where’s safe to go and what’s good to eat – they’ll be happy to tell you.
Is the Bahamas safe for solo female travellers?
This is the part where we usually say, “surprisingly, it’s fine for solo female travels” – but it’s not. It’s really not the safest destination for solo female travellers. For one thing, catcalls and sexual harassment have been reported by women walking around Bahamian streets.
In fact, even if you’re not travelling solo as a female, and you’re just a female on holiday – with family, with friends, whatever – there is a chance you may be harassed whilst walking around. We’re not going to lie, it’s not looking good, but we’ve got a few tips to help you stay safe if you still want to travel to the Bahamas as a solo female traveller.
- Accommodation. This is very important for avoiding trouble as a solo female traveller and is basically the foundation for your trip; get a bad place, and you may have a crappy time.
- Hostels are a good option in the Bahamas. Here you’ll find sociable people, beachside locations, nice staff and a relaxing environment that’s still secure. Make sure you read reviews. Firstly though, it’s very, very important that you book somewhere that’s got a lot of good reviews – especially from solo female travellers who have been there before.
- The Bahamas is still a conservative society and very much patriarchal. Seeing a woman walking around by herself may cause people to question you, maybe out of interest more than anything, but don’t tell strangers things they don’t need to know. Use white lies; you never know what sort of person is asking you stuff.
- When it comes to clothing, it’s best to dress modestly. Yes, beach-wear is fine at the beach, but when you’re not on the beach, we would advise covering up. Have a sarong or scarf or light dress handy in your bag that you can easily throw on once you’re done sun-soaking and need some lunch.
- Be aware of your surroundings, of possible dangers, at all times. Not to stress you out, but just noting who’s around you and what the atmosphere is like is a good thing. Be on-guard.
- Don’t walk around by yourself at night – at all, ever. It’s really just not a good idea to be doing so and could really put you in danger.
- Drink spiking is a problem around many areas of the Bahamas. People may seem friendly wanting to get you a drink, but honestly, it is a bit of an issue here so refuse politely. Buy your own drinks and don’t leave them unattended.
- If you are a solo female traveller, definitely do not get into strangers’ cars or into a taxi that appears unlicensed. This may seem obvious, but it can be seriously risky to do so.
- Don’t go off-grid. Make sure at least someone knows where you are – it’s much safer that way. Even if you’re heading out for the night, just tell the staff at your hostel or hotel, or text your friends at home, or even your parents.
- If you’re not too bothered about hanging around other people get yourself a nice hotel on one of the outlying islands. The crime levels in places like Bimini and Abacos are far lower than in places like New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Many women do travel solo to the Bahamas. Actually, if you are the sort of person who isn’t too bothered about being in a social hostel, or partying every night, then the peace and quiet of one of the Bahamas safer, quieter islands could be completely right for you.
Think about it: sparkling seas, hardly any tourists, not having to worry about where the next meal is coming from, cocktails on the beach… Doesn’t sound bad, does it? Still, if you head out from the resort be aware of your surroundings and keep our tips in mind to stay safe.
More on Safety in the Bahamas
We’ve covered the three main question about traveling safety already, but there’s quite a few more things you need to know. We’ve listed and the most useful information about safety in the Bahamas so keep on reading to be fully prepared for your trip.
Is the Bahamas safe to travel for families?
The Bahamas is safe to travel for families. This group of islands may seem more of a “luxury” destination than anything else, but there are a fair few family-friendly hotels where you could base you and your family for your own slice of Caribbean sun.
Larger hotels have fantastic facilities for children, things like kids’ clubs, child-friendly pools, babysitting services etc. So much so that you won’t even have to leave the walls of the resort.
For those who do want to see some things outside of that world of convenience will find a lot of family-friendly adventures to be had. You can go to the Aquaventure Water Park on Paradise Island; check out the 18 waterslides at Atlantis Resort; go snorkelling and diving with a tour company, or go out on a glass-bottomed boat tour to catch glimpses of undersea life without getting wet!
For the most part, families will be safe in the Bahamas.
How to Keep Kids Safe in The Bahamas
Most of the time you’ll probably just want to spend your time hanging out at the beach – we totally get that. Just make sure you pack the beach essentials, particularly sunscreen. Ensure you and your little ones are covered up against the sun; use plenty of sunscreens and limit everyone’s time in the sun.
If you want to walk around the towns, pushchairs really aren’t the best idea – especially outside of towns. Don’t expect to find facilities like high chairs and baby-changing rooms.
Taking basic safety precautions, your kids will be safe in The Bahamas. Together, you can snorkel, go horse-riding, make sandcastles all day long and splash around in the pool. You’ll probably make friends with other families too, so they’ll get some new playmates!
Is it safe to drive in the Bahamas?
Driving in The Bahamas is much like driving in the UK – it follows the UK’s driving laws, such as driving on the left-hand side of the road; that doesn’t mean, however, it’s as safe as driving in the UK. Towns can be hazardous to drive in, the streets busy, the drivers crazy…
Traffic rules aren’t always adhered to by the locals – and traffic police don’t enforce those rules, either.
In truth, unless you really want to, there’s not much to driving in the Bahamas. You can always hire a driver: much easier and pretty affordable. Renting a car can be expensive and the cars are often in bad condition anyway. If you decide to do so, make sure you arm yourself with good car rental insurance coverage.
Basically, driving in the Bahamas is safe-ish, but not recommended. If you do choose to drive, you should have experience of driving in a foreign country, know how to drive defensively, and be a confident driver.
Is Uber safe in the Bahamas?
There is no Uber in the Bahamas and there’s no Lyft either. To be fair, these are beachy islands that maybe don’t need the benefits of ride-hailing apps.
Are taxis safe in the Bahamas?
You’ll be able to find taxis outside hotels, at the airport, and in busy public places. Make sure to check the numbers plate before every ride. If they’re not yellow, they’re not registered and most likely dangerous.
You can also hail taxis on the street, mainly only in Nassau and Freepoint; this is also the sort of place where the taxis hail you if they think you need a lift.
The taxis in the Bahamas are pretty well regulated and fares (fixed as well as per the meter) are set by the local government; that means you won’t have to be haggling every trip.
There are fixed rates for destinations like cruise terminals and the airport and they might charge you for luggage.
However, on some islands, you may have to play the haggling game, and you have to may share your taxi with other people – especially in more remote islands.
Is public transport in the Bahamas safe?
There is public transport in the Bahamas, but not on all islands and certainly not that structured; it runs on Bahamas time.
Buses are available on several of the major islands and in the most important towns, such as Nassau, Grand Bahama and Paradise Island.
In Nassau you will see many, many jeetneys; these little private mini-buses run during daylight hours mainly but they don’t have much in the way of a timetable. They leave when they’re full and you pay a fare that ranges from 1.25 – 2.50 BS$.
The buses in the Bahamas are pretty safe in general, but you should keep an eye on who’s around you (and on your belongings, too). Travelling on buses after dark is not a good idea and will put you at more risk of being a target.
The outer islands don’t have any public transport, but you can get to them by using ferries operated by a company called Bahamas Ferries. You can catch the ferry from Nassau to a whole range of islands, including:
- The Exumas
- Grand Bahama and Long Island
The government also runs water taxi links between places that aren’t that far away from each other, between North and South Bimini for example, and from Mangrove Cay to South Andros. These are quite frequent (around every half an hour).
To conclude, the public transport is safe in the Bahamas – just not very dependable!
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in the Bahamas safe?
Paradise Island is home to high-end resort dining, such as Crusoe’s Restaurant, wheres in Downtown Nassau you’ll find a range of authentically Bahamian cuisine – we’re talking conch fritters and seafood. To navigate the tastiness safely here’s some helpful tips…
- If you’re worried about getting to grips with real-life Bahamian food then take a food tour. This is the best way to sink into the culinary scene of the Bahamas and a good way to learn about unique tastes.
- When it comes to Bahamian food, you shouldn’t be afraid to give it a go. Whilst tempting, you shouldn’t just stay at the hotel restaurant. Head out to the busy parts of town and see what takes your fancy.
- Can’t figure out where’s good to eat? Go to places that are busy with locals for starters; they’ll be at the tastiest, most popular, most famous places. If they’re busy, that means they’re good (and you’re likely to not get ill eating there, either).
- Only eat food that’s been freshly cooked and that’s still hot when you devour it. If you can see the food being cooked before your very eyes, that’s a bonus as well as a blessing – since it’s cool to see and you know it’s fresh.
- Be careful of things like conch salad. This is a bit like ceviche (raw seafood). If you eat somewhere less reputable where the conch might not be so fresh, you could really make yourself ill.
- Fish is big news in the Bahamas and most dishes will include fish of some kind. As with seafood, however, just make sure the fish is fresh; if it tastes weird, that may mean that it’s a little bit past its best, so stop eating!
- Watch out for souse. This is a popular Bahamian dish and is a big stew. If you’re squeamish, you may want to steer clear of this; the meat used in this stew is almost anything. You might find a tongue, you might find a trotter, so if that sort of thing turns your stomach, best avoid.
- Don’t be late for the hotel buffet. Buffets are a good place to get ill because food sits around for a long time picking up germs, other hotel guests breathe on it, cough on it, might not have washed their hands and don’t use the tongs – you don’t know!
So whilst you should go and enjoy Bahamian food, just make sure you don’t go crazy on it – and be careful of eating at ropey places. There are good dishes, good puddings and some good liquors and rums to wash it down with; cocktails like the Yellowbird work very nicely!
Can you drink the water in the Bahamas?
The water in the Bahamas is said to be fine to drink, but it’s not that nice.
Locals often drink bottled water. If you head to any of the outer islands it’s probably better to stick to bottled water in general anyway.
If you like, you can boil the water (vigorously for at least 1 minute), you can take water purification tablets with you, and bring along refillable travel bottle. We even have compared the best travel water bottles on the market to help you decide which one is the best for you. Save the planet from more plastic!
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Is the Bahamas safe to live?
Life in the Bahamas sounds like a dream, right? Sitting out on your very own deck, drinking a cocktail, looking out at your sea view…
However, there are some concerns about living somewhere that’s got such a high crime rate, which is why the Bahamas’ sizeable expat community live in gated communities. This does make it a little safer to live in the Bahamas and the most you’ll have to worry about is how to keep the cockroaches away.
Living in Paradise Island may seem like a little slice of paradise, however, that kind of place is actually more geared towards tourists and is lacking in amenities (such as hospitals too).
You’re also going to want to make sure you buy or rent a house that is going to withstand tropical storms and hurricanes – and that’s high enough that means flooding isn’t a worry, either.
There are obviously parts of life in the Bahamas that are not safe in some areas: crime, poverty, corruption.
This, however, is balanced out by the positives of living in the Bahamas: friendly people, laid-back lifestyle, great weather and simple living.
Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in the Bahamas?
Airbnbs are very safe accommodations, from the homes themselves to the whole booking process. Technically, renting an Airbnb in the Bahamas is perfectly safe if you’ve read the reviews and they were mainly positive. However, there were some news about renters receiving unpleasant show ups from dodgy characters in Nassau. This, however, is not common at all and unless you’re staying in a very dangerous area that is known for high crime activity, you’ll have a very easy and nice Airbnb experience in the Bahamas.
Is the Bahamas LGBTQ+ friendly?
We want to say yes, but the Bahamas hasn’t quite made it to the whole acceptance stage yet. Same-sex relationships are still a work in progress, however, there’ve been some improvements over the last years. When travelling with your partner, don’t show affection in public and keep the relationship behind closed doors to avoid nasty comments or worse.
FAQ’s on the Bahamas Safety
Being safe in the Bahamas isn’t automatically given. We’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on safety in the Bahamas so you can plan a secure trip.
Final thoughts on the safety of Bahamas
Yes, the Bahamas are safe but only if you know how to prepare properly and use your travel commonsense. It may be paradise, for some people at least, but the beaches and warm weather of this archipelago are balanced out by a fair bit of crime. Not only is there petty crimes, like pickpocketing, there’s also robberies, sexual assaults, and gang-related murders, making for a bit of a scary prospect of heading outside your resort. For the most part, however, as long as you travel smart, you’ll be fine.
Keep our tips in mind and know that some areas of the more touristed islands just aren’t a good idea to visit. Travelling smart also takes into consideration stuff like staying in secure and safe accommodation in the first place, and making sure that you don’t use tour companies, watersports rentals and excursion outfits that aren’t reputable. Reading reviews takes precedence over your budget here, 100%.
So make sure you’re well prepared before you go. Know where is and where is not so safe to wander around, stay at accommodation that comes highly recommended (don’t skimp on that for the sake of a few dollars), only use the most well-reviewed tour companies, stay aware of your surroundings: you’ll be fine. If you don’t feel up to exploring, stick to your resort – at least you have the luxury of doing so. Enjoy!
And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking on the link below.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
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