The glossy brochures and spectacular online photos touting a Caribbean getaway make it look nothing less than idyllic; a tropical paradise with brilliant turquoise water, endless stretches of soft sand, umbrellas and cabanas, and the perfect place to unwind and recharge your batteries.
Behind all of that Caribbean and Latin American perfection, however, is a crime rate that is significantly higher than in the U.S. Much of this is due to violent crime, and thankfully, violent crimes rarely touch the tourist areas; it’s mainly among local gangs. Still, tourist crowds attract petty thieves, and a stolen watch, camera, or phone is enough to put a real damper on your island getaway.
So we’d like to mention some of the safest islands for a Caribbean holiday:
This British Overseas Territory, just south of Cuba, is famous for its spectacular beaches and world class scuba diving. While hurricanes are a concern during the June-November hurricane season, the crime rate is relatively low. According to the U.S. State Department, “The Cayman Islands are a safe place with little criminal activity affecting tourists…crime of opportunity such as pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occasionally occur. Police in the Cayman Islands enforce laws against illegal drugs, guns and ammunition.”
An overseas collective of France, St. Barts offers some of the best in Caribbean sophistication, and it’s the most expensive island in the Caribbean. It’s also one of the safest. In fact, the locals often leave their cars and homes unlocked without a worry in the world. That doesn’t mean you can leave your valuables anywhere and everywhere, of course, but the likelihood of someone breaking into your car, beach hotel, or rental home is extremely low.
Another island with a French flair, Martinique offers pristine beaches, mountains with great hiking opportunities, culture, and for foodies – well, let’s just say that the second-to-none gourmet cuisine will please even the fussiest palate. Petty theft occurs here, as anywhere else, but if you take simple precautions – lock your car and rental home, never leave valuables unattended – you shouldn’t have much to worry about. The U.S. State Department offers this advice: “Petty street crime, including purse snatching, does occur. Do not leave valuables unattended in public areas, unsecured hotel rooms or in rental homes.”
The State Department describes Anguilla’s crime rate as “relatively low,” but adds the common-sense advice that valuables should not be left unattended or in unlocked accommodations. While Anguilla is a playground for the rich and famous, it still has much to offer – including the obligatory endless expanses of white sand beaches – for those looking for some down time on a paradisaic tropical isle.
If you think that every Caribbean island is covered with casinos and megaresorts, think again. Guadeloupe has – so far – escaped the unpleasant overcrowding of places like the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas and resided in relative obscurity. And where tourist crowds aren’t, crime is usually low. The U.S. State Department reports that petty crime, such as purse snatching, does occur. So you can enjoy water sports or relax on the beaches of Guadeloupe with little concern. A truly stress-free getaway!