A trip to a Caribbean island is like being transported to another world. You’re surrounded by peaceful and majestic waves, exotic flora, and gorgeous views. In a few short days, you forget all about school, work, and taxes.
But there’s one crucial step to remember before you can start forgetting: research. Not all islands in the Caribbean are safe. For instance, the dual-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago is incredibly beautiful, but it’s also a dangerous place with high crime rates and no walking safety, day or night.
No worries though; there are plenty of gorgeous Caribbean islands that are safe, such as:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Cayman Islands
- St. Barts (Saint-Barthélemy)
- The British Virgin Islands
- Saint Lucia
- Turks and Caicos
- Sint Maarten (Saint-Martin)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
All these islands share two distinct wellbeing concerns:
- The hurricane season: In the Caribbean, the period between June and November is the rainy season. In the rainy season, storms may quickly turn into catastrophic hurricanes. So, it’s not the safest time to visit the Caribbean.
- Insect-borne diseases: Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya are commonplace all over the Caribbean. To avoid them, make sure your lodgings are insect-proof and always carry an insect repellent with you.
Still, there are nuances in the safety restrictions that vary across the islands. How safe are the roads? Are all of them LGBTQI-friendly? Should you worry about getting ripped off? Let’s find out.
Safest Tropical Places to Travel
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Cayman Islands
- St. Barts (Saint-Barthélemy)
- The British Virgin Islands
- Saint Lucia
- Turks and Caicos
- Sint Maarten (Saint-Martin)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
The US Department of State puts Anguilla in Level 1 threat category, which means that there’s little to no threat present to tourists. The advisory deems it safe for tourists to proceed by exercising normal caution: staying away from non-central places during the night, not carrying too much cash on their person, drinking responsibly, and not petting or poking any wildlife, no matter how cute they seem.
Similarly, statistics show that there’s little crime on the island except for people dealing or using drugs, but this is not common. The island, especially the tourist-condensed areas, is safe to walk around both during the day and night.
Anguilla is part of Barbados. According to the Barbados Country Security Report issued by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, travelers should have no concerns about their safety.
Are you concerned about the drinking water quality in the country? According to the Barbados Country Security Report, the tap water in Barbados is potable.
Lastly, although same-sex sexual practices are forbidden by law in Barbados as an act of serious indecency, there has been no official criminalization of LGBTQI relations in recent years. That said, public acts of same-sex physical affection might draw stares from the locals.
2. Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign island state located on the eastern parts of the Caribbean. According to the US Department of State, exercising normal caution is enough for safety on this island because it’s in the Level 1 threat category.
The country’s crime rating on Numbeo tells a different story, though: criminal activities have dramatically increased over the last couple of years. However, these criminal activities typically occur in poverty-stricken areas, away from the beaches and tourist-condensed zones, so you have nothing to worry about.
In other words, crime on this particular island doesn’t target tourists.
If you have the means, the best way to get to it is certainly by a cruise ship. These ships bring you straight to the safest coasts of the island, such as the English Harbour or Jolly Harbour.
The safest way to travel and explore other beaches on the island is by ferries and water taxis.
The US Department of State urges tourists to be careful when they’re driving or walking on major roads. The roads of the island are in poor condition, drivers are unpredictable, and sometimes, animals wander into the roads.
Not all taxis are registered in Antigua and Barbuda, and some unlicensed drivers try to extort money from tourists. So, whenever you take a taxi, check the driver’s license first.
In Antigua and Barbuda, same-sex relations between men are forbidden by law. However, this law doesn’t extend to LGBTQI tourists that have a marriage certificate. Still, there’s a chance that LBGTQI individuals might experience verbal assault and harassment if they engage in PDA (public displays of affection).
Bonaire is located in the Leeward Antilles section of the Caribbean. It’s a small island with a population of less than 23,000, a responsive police force, and enforcement guided by Dutch laws.
Although the island’s crime index of 37.50 seems relatively high for an island that small, the travel advisories have a relaxed approach.
The United States’ official travel advice suggests that there’s little to no crime in Bonaire. As such, the island is regarded as a Level 1 threat category, where you and your belongings will be safe as long as you don’t leave any valuables unattended.
According to Canada’s official travel advisory, the only real trouble you may face in Bonaire is petty crime such as purse-snatching and pickpocketing. So, the advisory urges its citizens to take normal security precautions.
Once you’re on the island, you can join boat tours and take taxis or minivans to explore. Taxis and minivans are typically safe means of transport. If you rent a car, make sure you’re careful when approaching turns and intersections because trees and vegetation on the island aren’t driver-friendly – they tend to cover traffic signs to cause whatever minor disturbance they can.
On a side note, there are two other islands in the same archipelago: Sint Eustatius and Saba. Both these islands are as safe as Bonaire, though they entertain fewer tourist attractions.
4. The Cayman Islands
Although Hollywood makes the Cayman Islands look like a hub for retired villains, it’s one of the safest tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
The US Department of State’s official travel advisory regards the islands under the Level 1 category, where taking normal precautions guarantees your safety. Similarly, according to Numbeo, the country has a low crime index of 32.45, and it’s safe to explore it day and night.
Additionally, according to the OSAC’s Cayman Islands Country Security Report, the overall crime rates have been decreasing recently. Plus, according to the report, there’s no criminal activity in the Cayman Islands targeting tourists.
Ferries are a great way to explore the islands, see pristine crystal caves, venture to the stingray city, go snorkeling or scuba-diving, or explore the beaches, coves, reefs, land, and the water that’s home to gorgeous starfish, and occasional shipwrecks.
However, the OSAC reports that every year, American citizens drown during scuba-diving sessions. The council’s report warns tourists that they should not show off in potentially dangerous watersports and always consult their instructors.
On another note, the road conditions on the Cayman Islands are fine, so you are at liberty to travel around by car, bike, or a rental vehicle. Plus, women and LBGTQI people don’t experience any problems.
Of course, all that comfort and safety comes with a price: the cost of living in the Cayman Islands is typically higher than the cost of living in the United States.
Grenada is another island country located in the West Indies territory of the Caribbean Sea. The island has so far seen French colonialism, British colonialism, and an invasion by the United States’ military forces. Despite all that intervention, the country is surprisingly stable and safe. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful.
Like all the islands we listed above, the US Department of State deems Grenada to be under the Level 1 threat category, meaning there are no safety concerns for tourists – as long as they don’t fall asleep on the side of the road because they drank too much and lost their whereabouts, which would be a safety concern anyway. Additionally, the island has a very low crime index of 20.94, and it’s very safe, both day and night.
However, the OSAC Grenade Country Security Report identifies St. George’s, the capital city of the country, as a low-threat location for crimes directed against US citizens. While you might want to avoid the city, the threat is only minimal, and you’re not likely to have any negative experiences.
Although Grenada has a fine public transportation system, the OSAC urges tourists to exercise caution if they take a bus or taxi during the night.
On a final note, same-sex relations between men are prohibited in Grenada. However, the OSAC reports that the government doesn’t enforce this particular law. There are no laws on same-sex conduct between women.
Like the Cayman Islands, Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory, but it doesn’t get as much hype as the former since Montserrat’s terrain is much more rugged, thus limiting tourism. However, Montserrat is also one of the safest Caribbean islands, if not the safest.
According to the US Department of State, the island is a no-threat territory under its Level 1 category. In recent years, no reports have been made concerning criminal activity against tourists.
The only problems highlighted in the official travel advisory are insect-borne diseases, such as Dengue and Chikungunya, that are commonplace all over the tropical zone. An insect-repellent can easily prevent infection.
In addition to official reports, statistics show that the country has little to no crime. Of course, the lack of a wider sample size affects the veracity of these reports.
Similarly, many travel websites and blogs claim that the latest murder case in the country dates back to 2008. However, we couldn’t find an official report on that, so here’s hoping!
Yet, in 1995, a bigger and more natural threat shook the life of Montserratians, causing two-thirds of the population to flee to Britain: the dormant Soufriere Hills volcano erupted, rendering more than half of the country’s land inhabitable. In 2003, there was another eruption that partially modified the island’s topography.
Nowadays, the government is building a new town, airport, and port away from the volcano, though more than half of the island is still an exclusion zone. So, if you visit Montserrat, make sure you observe the volcano from a safe distance.
7. St. Barts (Saint-Barthélemy)
According to a Jamaican news site, St. Barts has been voted as the safest island in the Caribbean, and the island has no recorded murders in recent years, like Montserrat.
The problem is that neither the US Department of State nor crime statistics websites such as Numbeo have this lovely island in their databases. Luckily, Canada’s official travel advisory confirms Jamaican reports that criminal activities are indeed scarce in St. Barts.
As there’s no public transportation system on St. Barts, you’ll need to rent a car or a scooter to get around. Although the roads are mostly in good shape and safe, they’re quite narrow, so drive carefully. Additionally, most of these roads run near cliffs and have sharp turns, mandating drivers to be extremely cautious.
The waves and the overall swimming conditions in St. Barts are less friendly than other popular destinations in the Caribbean. Riptides are common and waves can get violent, so pay attention to beach flags and enter the water only when the flag is green. If it’s red or black, stay away from the waters as these indicate violent waves or predator presence in the water. A yellow flag, on the other hand, means only experienced swimmers should swim.
8. The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands neighbor the US Virgin Islands, to the east of Puerto Rico and the west of Anguilla. They consist of four main islands and fifty small ones, and unlike the US Virgin Islands that have a high crime index, the crime rate in the British Virgin Islands is quite low.
According to the US Department of State’s travel advisory, trips to the British Virgin Islands are completely safe. This British Overseas Territory is in the Level 1 threat category with no reported crimes targeting tourists except for petty ones such as pickpocketing.
As long as you don’t leave valuable items on the beach when swimming or carry too much cash on your person, you’ll be fine.
However, there are still some things that you need to be careful about when you’re on the British Virgin Islands.
For instance, the roads have very few signs, so exercise extra caution when you’re driving. Especially in the mountains, the roads are steep, have sharp turns, and run alongside cliffs with little or no barricade.
Additionally, local drivers are pretty unpredictable and reckless. If you just hop on a painted crosswalk, thinking that the driver will stop, you may be putting yourself in danger. In the backcountry, livestock have a habit of wandering on the roads. Of course, we’re not blaming them – but you need to be extra careful under the circumstances.
Although the road conditions are fine throughout the island, some roads (especially those on Tortola Island) get quite slippery at times. The country has no roadside assistance, so, to prevent any accidents, we recommend that you rent a four-wheel vehicle and not a scooter or a bicycle.
9. Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has a worldwide reputation as one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.
The United States official travel advisory asks tourists to exercise only normal caution, which is the lowest threat category. Canada’s travel advisory advises tourists to “take normal security precautions” and assures safety. The UK advisory urges people to “maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness” as they would in the UK.
However, staying safe in Saint Lucia, especially if you wander far from your lodgings, is a bit trickier than on the islands we talked about before. That’s because this island has a higher crime index (61.58) than the others, and it’s not safe to walk around towns, villages, and mountains during the night.
More alarmingly, the Canadian advisory establishes that crime has been on a dramatic rise due to gang-related violence, robberies, and sexual assault. So, it’s best not to wander alone or drive around Saint Lucia after dark.
In addition, you should be vigilant when drawing money from an ATM because all the travel advisories we consulted attest that ATM frauds are common on this island.
When you’re mingling with the locals and listening to their troubles, you might start feeling sympathy towards their political cause as well. But here, political demonstrations occur on a regular basis, and they can get violent quite quickly. If you’re caught up in one, you might get arrested, too.
Lastly but not least importantly, St. Lucia isn’t an LGBTQI-friendly tourist destination. Same-sex physical affection in public spaces might result in verbal attacks, harassment, and assault, which makes its safety status increasingly doubtful.
10. Turks and Caicos
The case of Turks and Caicos’s eight main islands is the reverse of Saint Lucia. The US Department of State’s official advisory urges citizens to exercise increased caution, meaning – don’t leave the hotel area, restrict nighttime activities, and avoid contact with strangers. The country is in the Level 2 threat category.
However, the Numbeo crime index suggests that the Turks and Caicos archipelago is much safer than Saint Lucia.
Additionally, both Canada’s and the United Kingdom’s official advisories establish that most criminal activities on these islands occur away from tourist-condensed areas. However, these advisories also warn their citizens not to get too far away from their hotels and not to travel solo during the night.
One point that all these official travel guides emphasize is that you shouldn’t leave your drinks or food unattended, and you shouldn’t accept food or drinks offered by strangers. Spiked food and drinks are commonplace in Turks and Caicos, which could lead to robbery, or worse, sexual assault.
LGBTQI people may visit Turks and Caicos with peace of mind because same-sex relations are legal in the country. In inland villages, showing same-sex affection in public might result in stares and verbal harassment, but it’s unlikely to go further than that.
On a final note, the hurricane season in Turks and Caicos starts a bit earlier than the other islands in the Caribbean: May. So, if you’re planning to visit these beautiful islands, make sure you’re back home by May.
11. Sint Maarten (Saint-Martin)
Sint Maarten is Dutch, Saint-Martin is French, and Saint Martin is how the rest of the world wants to refer to this island. The island is divided in two: one part belongs to the Kingdom of Netherlands, and the other part to France. But since most of the flights to the island land in the Dutch part, we’re going to stick to calling it Sint Maarten.
Similar to Bonaire, the other Dutch island on our guide, Sint Maarten falls in the Level 1 threat category according to the United States Department of State. Crimes against tourists are extremely rare on this island. And even when they occur, they’re “crimes of opportunity,” where, hypothetically speaking, the potential criminal sees that you have left your phone on the table and gone to the bathroom, and is tempted by how easy it is to swipe it.
The crime rates of the island support the official US report. Sint Maarten has a lower crime index than Bonaire at only 26.33 – the chance of encountering any kind of crime is assessed as low or very low.
In case you want to drive around the island in a rental, keep in mind that the roads are narrow and, during the night, dimly lit. Yet, as long as you’re careful, there is no risk in driving at night. You can also walk safely under the moonlight.
Like all the Dutch islands in the Caribbean, Sint Maarten is LGBTQI-friendly.
12. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a two-island sovereign state that’s officially referred to as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis.
According to the United States Department of State, Saint Kitts and Nevis only presents a Level 1 category of threat, meaning it’s safe unless you forgo all the normal security precautions you usually take in your everyday life. The worst crimes that can be potentially committed against tourists in these islands are petty ones such as larceny, pickpocketing, and purse snatching.
In addition, crime levels suggest that it’s very unlikely for you to encounter criminal activities. It’s completely safe to walk around during the day, and you’ll be fine as long as you don’t wander far from your lodgings by yourself during the night – even if you’re in dire need of a brooding walk around town.
However, according to the Canadian advisory, Saint Kitts and Nevis is not the best or safest Caribbean destination for swimming. The beaches don’t have any warning flags or signs, the dexterity and vigilance of rescue services are questionable at best, and the waves do get violent. So, unless you have full confidence in your swimming skills (or are with someone whose swimming skills are unquestionable), it might not be worth the risk.
If you drive on this island, slow down and be extra cautious when approaching turns and intersections. The roads aren’t in good condition, there’s little to no signage, and local drivers might be more reckless than you because they know the routes much better than you.
On a final note, same-sex relationships between men are forbidden in the country, while there are no laws regarding women. However, according to the US travel advisory, the enforcement of this law is rather relaxed.
There’s little or no criminal activity targeting tourists on these islands, the natural environment and road conditions are friendly in comparison to other islands, and the pirates of the Caribbean already looted these locations ages ago.
However, this doesn’t mean that these are earthly replicas of paradise where you can relax, leave your valuables unattended, and accept questionable cocktails from strangers. On the contrary, you still need to take normal precautions.
These normal precautions include: carrying small amounts of cash on your person and using ATMs during the day; not straying further from your lodgings during the night; keeping an eye on your valuables, drink, and food at all times; and, of course, respecting the locals.
Additionally, the period between June and November is usually the hurricane season in the Caribbean, where your safety depends on the mercy of the weather gods. And you need to make sure you have an insect-repellent with you. These tropical insects won’t know who they’re messing with.