Is Nassau, Bahamas safe for tourists?

Depends on who you ask.
The Bahamas - Places to visit
The Bahamas - Places to visit / EyesWideOpen/GettyImages

During the winter months, you might have your eyes set on a Bahamas vacation - and specifically, the popular tourist destination of Nassau, the capital of the Commonwealth. But recent news from the State Department may dissuade you from booking a flight. So is Nassau, Bahamas safe for tourists?

The short answer is “depends on who you ask.” But in the interest of actually providing some real info you can use here, let’s get into it.

Is there a travel advisory for the Bahamas?

Yes indeed, there is a travel advisory currently set for The Bahamas. The U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs set a travel advisory on January 26, 2024. The current level of the advisory is a 2 out 4, meaning “exercise increased caution.”

In particular, the State Department warned about two areas: New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands.

Though there are regular warnings in place for the Bahamas about sharks, the lack of regulations around boat tours, there is one specific area that elevated the warning this past month: crime.

A cruise ship leaves the city port during a beautiful...
A cruise ship leaves the city port during a beautiful... / Roberto Machado Noa/GettyImages

Why is there a travel advisory for the Bahamas? What to know about the gang-related murders:

While we’re not a crime blotter here at TripSided, we will note that the elevated warning seems to be directly tied to a spate of gang-related murders that have happened in the area. Specifically, as of a January 24 note from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, per the New York Times, the security alert told potential visitors, “to be aware that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the beginning of 2024. Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets.”

Yikes! Sounds bad, but to be clear it seems like the majority of the violence is gang on gang murder. Which still makes it murder, but they are not targeting tourists or visitors. The reason for the raised advisory level, however, is that the violence seems to be happening in both tourist and non-tourist areas. So an alert does seem warranted.

What does The Bahamas have to say about this travel advisory?

The Bahamas, however, disagrees with the United States. In a statement shared with Travel + Leisure by The Bahamas Prime Minister, The Honourable Phillip Edward Davis, said, "The incidents described in the January 2024 U.S. Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas. The safety and security of everyone is of paramount importance to us and we are confident that The Bahamas will remain safe and welcoming for millions of visitors to continue to enjoy the magic and beauty of our beautiful islands.”

So there you go. The United States says exhibit caution, while The Bahamas maintains they are staying vigilant to keep tourists safe. Neither are bad thoughts, and both should be weighed in for the time being before you book your next stay in Nassau.