The United States Department of State has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for individuals intending to visit the Bahamas.
The advisory, released on Friday, urges travelers to “exercise increased caution” primarily due to concerns about crime, especially on the islands of New Providence, which encompasses Nassau, and Grand Bahama, which includes Freeport.
A security alert from the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas last Wednesday also cautions U.S. citizens about the occurrence of “18 murders in Nassau since the beginning of 2024.” The alert highlights that these incidents have happened at various times, including broad daylight on the streets, with retaliatory gang violence being the main motive for the murders in 2024.
As per the State Department’s advisory, travelers are advised to maintain “increased vigilance” in the “Over the Hill” area south of Shirley Street, where gang-related violence has led to a high homicide rate, primarily impacting the local population.
The advisory emphasizes that violent crimes, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, can happen in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Travelers are cautioned to be vigilant, especially when staying in short-term vacation rental properties lacking private security presence.
Moreover, the advisory discourages engaging in activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, citing inconsistent regulations and potential issues with poorly maintained vessels and operators lacking safety certifications.
“Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred,” notes the advisory. Due to safety concerns, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using independently operated jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.
Lastly, the advisory alerts travelers to be cautious of sharks while swimming, referencing recent incidents involving fatal and non-fatal encounters with sharks.
Safety Tips When Traveling to The Bahamas
According to the State Department, here are some tips if you are traveling to the Bahamas:
- Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Review the Country Security Report for the Bahamas
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency and medical situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel
Any U.S. citizen who needs assistance while in the Bahamas can contact the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. The embassy can be reached by phone at 242-322-1181 or by email at [email protected]. You can find the embassy’s website here.