Whenever we think of the Caribbean, it is easy for our minds to automatically connect with a vision of the sun, beach and clear-blue water. After all, the most exotic and beautiful sights on this earth are hidden in the islands of the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the Caribbean remains more than what meets the touristic eye. Once we look past the exoticism, we can sadly find crime, civil unrest, political corruption, controversy, poverty and several other societal disadvantages. As such, not all areas can be considered visitor-friendly.
As a tourist looking to explore the unknown, it remains empirical to remain informed on the safe places to go as well as those to avoid. Although it's important to highlight the fear of crime in the Caribbean is often overblown, you may still want to consult this list of the Caribbean's most dangerous cities before planning your next trip.
10 Nassau, Bahamas
In general, the Bahamas can be considered as the safest option on this list--yet one must still proceed with caution. While violent crime does not occur often, there has been an increase in specific places like Nassau.
Despite the city being highly touristic, which tends to result in an increase in security, the danger may still lurk in less developed residential parts of the town. It is therefore always best to be cautious of one's belongings, use better judgement and avoid high-risk behaviours. Mostly reports of pick-pocketing and petty theft have been reported, especially in nightclubs and restaurants.
9 Managua, Nicaragua
Nicaragua has been added on the list of dangerous places to travel due to high rates of crime, civil unrest, and poor access to health care. Political instability often leads to violent protests which have managed to rock the country so much that the U.S. has evacuated its government personnel.
Moreover, theft such as pick-pocketing and armed assaults are common after dark. Violence against women also continues to be a concern and so even in hotels.
8 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Despite being an unincorporated territory of the United States, many consider Puerto Rico to be a Caribbean island as well. Relatedly, this island finds its way on this list due to an enduring struggle with crime and political corruption.
A cycle of violence has been identified through an increase in organized crime, illegal drug trade and alleged governmental involvement in such violations. Indeed, the island is not as safe as it used to be--especially in the city of San Juan. A wave of daytime violence linked to drug trade has kept tourists reluctant to visit the island altogether.
7 Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago
Murder rates have risen significantly along the years in the tiny islands of Trinidad & Tobago with most of the infractions incurring outside of the capital city of Port of Spain in Laventille.
The majority of crimes are linked to illegal drug trades and gang-related issues. Murder also appears to be on the rise, with the latter being closely linked to gang violence. Though Tobago appears to be much safer than Trinidad, there is an increased risk of theft and armed assaults on both islands during holiday periods such as Christmas and Carnival.
6 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has been in the news a lot recently with reports of tourists mysteriously wounding up dead during their resort stay on the island. As these strange occurrences continue to accumulate, several travel warnings have been issued with regard to the increasing crime rates.
The profile underlying the vibrant city of Santo Domingo reflects low safety and high chances of assault, vandalism, theft and more. Reports of police corruption and bribery have also made it harder to control criminal activity. Though the latter does not usually affect the resorts, it is best to be cautious when travelling to the city. Flashy jewelry and high-risk behaviours are not recommended.
5 San Pedro Sula, Honduras
In recent years, Honduras has experienced incredibly high levels of both violence and criminality. The city of San Pedro Sula is considered to be rampant with drug-trafficking, gang affiliation and violence. Indeed, the city is considered to be ground-zero for violent homicides in Honduras and is soon looking to become one of the murder capitals of the world.
Reports indicate an outstanding record of 20 homicides occurring daily. Young people happen to be the target of murder and assault due to the prominence of urban gangs like Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18. Travelling to Honduras is thus to be strongly reconsidered.
4 Basse Terre, St. Kitts & Nevis
Crime in Saint Kitts & Nevis has gotten much worse in recent years. In fact, the capital city of Basseterre has held the record for the highest murder rates in any capital city in the world and so for years.
The majority of crimes appear to be linked to both gang activity and illegal drug trade. Though measures have been taken to reduce the level of crime for a while now, one must still proceed with caution.
3 Kingston, Jamaica
Although Jamaica remains of the most popular international destinations for American travellers, several visitor warnings have been issued with regards to certain areas. The frequently visited island has one of the highest murder rates in the world and serves as a site to a prolific drug trade system. Both Kingston and Montego Bay have found their way on this list and so for considerable reasons.
While violence tends to remain in impoverished areas, in these aforementioned cities, violence is not confined. Sexual and physical assaults, robberies, murders and more have been frequently reported with the latter even occurring at all-inclusive resorts.
2 Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Governmental warnings have been issued time and time again for Haiti and so especially in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince. As the country has experienced political instability for some time, the city is often central to a series of protests which tend to erupt into violent encounters between government officials and civilians.
Moreover, economic disparities have led to increased rates of armed robberies, break-ins, carjackings, murders and physical assaults against visitors. The criticality of the situation is reflected in tourists getting robbed upon arriving at the airport. Lastly, drug-related crimes are also common along with gang violence and kidnappings.
1 Caracas, Venezuela
Currently, the State Department advises tourists to not travel to Venezuela and rightfully so. The island which borders the Caribbean sea has experienced rapid and unfavourable changes in the past years with crime increasing at alarming rates. Violent crimes, which previously only touched rural areas, has now erupted everywhere. Moreover, civil unrest and political dysfunction continuously place the city at the center of chaos.
The rise of gangs, economic disparity and drug trafficking have only resulted in greater violence, homicides, theft and social fragmentation. The Venezuelan Capital of Caracas currently ranks amongst the world's most violent cities.