Travelrisk: Bahamas

Bahamas travel warning issued in wake of 18 murders so far this year

Travellers have been warned to think twice about visiting this tropical paradise after 18 murders so far this year and “frequent” sexual assaults.

Think twice about a tropical getaway to the Caribbean this winter.

The US embassy in the Bahamas has released a security warning and travel advisory that the island nation is currently unsafe for tourists amidst 18 murders — “primarily” motivated by gang violence — in January alone, the NY Post reports.

Safety concerns have reached a point of severity where US officials say people shouldn’t even try to “physically resist” being robbed.

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” the embassy wrote in a release, also recommending the use of “extreme caution” on the eastern side of the Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau.

The port of Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. Picture: iStock

The port of Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. Picture: iStock

The embassy also says that Americans should be especially vigilant at night-time and “keep a low profile” always.

The US State Department, which on Friday put the Bahamas on an “exercise increased caution” warning, noted that the danger persists in tourist and non-tourist areas.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis addressed the frightening violence last week, saying that there will be roadblocks and covert police action initiated to contain the crisis, according to the Nassau Guardian.

“This may make you late for your appointments, or delay plans you have, but this is a small price to pay for the collective benefit of having our streets made safer, and our lives less blighted by murder and other violent crimes,” he said.

There is also concern over unregulated recreational watercraft activities, which according to the state department may not be properly regulated or maintained for safety, and improper judgment has been used in the past by boaters.

Travellers have been warned of the high threat of violent crime. Picture: iStock

Travellers have been warned of the high threat of violent crime. Picture: iStock

“Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred.”

Earlier this week, the State Department also put nearby Jamaica on a level three of four “reconsider travel” advisory — the only higher threat being a “do not travel” warning.

“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common,” the department warns.

“Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution in the Bahamas due to the threat of violent crime”.

“Travellers may be victims of violent crime, including in resorts,” reads DFAT’s most recent advice as of October 26.

“Be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables out of sight. Armed robberies, burglaries, bag snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau. Be aware of your surroundings, even in areas usually considered safe.”

It adds, “Sexual assault frequently occurs in the Bahamas. Don’t visit deserted beaches or walk alone, especially after dark. Food and drink spiking is a risk in tourist resorts. Never leave your food or drink unattended.

Reported on 27 January 2024 by