The riskiest vacation hot spots in the Caribbean, ranked

Flickr/Ben KucinskiTravelling to the Dominican Republic anytime soon?

The US State Department’s public travel advisories let Americans know what countries are safe to travel to and which ones they should be wary of.

With at least five Americans reported dead in the Dominican Republic in the past three months, it’s worth checking these alerts before going on your next Caribbean vacation.

The State Department uses four levels of travel guidance to let Americans know what to expect in each country:

Level 1 – Exercise normal precautions

Level 2 – Exercise increased caution

Level 3 – Reconsider travel

Level 4 – Do not travel

Fourteen countries around the world are designated “do not travel,” mostly because of ongoing armed conflicts. In the Caribbean, Haiti, Venezuela, and parts of Colombia are designated Level 4.

Here are the travel advisories for every country in the Caribbean, ranked from least to most risky based on the State Department’s designation levels.


Anguilla – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

EQRoy/ShutterstockThe British territory of Anguilla is one of the lesser-known Caribbean islands, meaning you can enjoy the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches without the crowds.

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Antigua and Barbuda – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the popular cruise-ship destination.


Aruba – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Steve Photography/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island, which is part of the Netherlands.


Barbados – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

RUBEN M RAMOS / ShutterstockA street bar at a bus terminal in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The US State Department lists Barbados as a Level 1 but warns that travellers shouldn’t travel to Crab Hill, St. Lucy; Ivy, St. Michael; Nelson Street, Bridgetown (at night); Wellington Street, Bridgetown (at night); and Jolly Roger and Buccaneer Cruises (at night) because of crime. The agency also recommends exercising increased caution in Black Rock, Deacons, Carrington Village, Green Fields, New Orleans, and Pine because of crime.


Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory.


British Virgin Islands – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Cayman Islands – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island chain, which is a British territory.


Costa Rica – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department recommends increased caution in Limón, Liberia, the Desamparados neighbourhood in San Rafael, and the Pavas and Hospital neighbourhoods in San Jose because of crime.


Curaçao – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory.


Dominica – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Joseph Thomas Photography/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island.


French West Indies – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the French West Indies, which include the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélemy.


Grenada – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

EQRoy/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island.


Montserrat – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Saint Kitts and Nevis – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the islands.


Saint Lucia – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Darryl BrooksA boat party in Saint Lucia.

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island.


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Getty Images/DeAgostini

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island chain.


Sint Maarten – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory. Sint Maarten shares an island with Saint Martin, which is part of the French West Indies.


The Bahamas – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

alarico/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the island chain, and says that violent crimes, including burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur even during the day and in tourist areas. Most of the crime occurs on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The agency also warns of unmaintained watercraft and reports of jet-ski operators sexually assaulting tourists.


Read more:
The US government is warning Americans that if they visit the Bahamas they could be at risk of sexual assault and violent crime


Belize – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of violent crime, including sexual assault, home invasions, armed robberies, and murder, which it says are common even during the day and in tourist areas. The south side of Belize City is particularly notorious for such crimes, the agency says.

The agency also says that most crime is gang-related and that local police don’t have the resources or training to respond to serious incidents, so most crimes go unprosecuted.


Colombia – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The US State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping throughout Colombia. Terrorists operate in some areas, and violent crime is possible, the agency says.

Parts of the country are a Level 4 advisory, with the agency recommending Americans don’t travel to Arauca, Cauca (except Popayan), Chocó (except Nuquí), Nariño, and Norte de Santander (except Cucuta) because of crime and terrorism.

The following areas are a Level 3 advisory, and the State Department recommends Americans reconsider travelling to them: Antioquia north of Medellin, Caquetá, Casanare, Cesar outside Valledupar, Córdoba outside Montería, Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Putumayo, Valle del Cauca outside the Cali and Palmira area, Vaupes, and Vichada.


Cuba – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The US State Department warns of sonic attacks that targeted US Embassy workers in Havana and recommends avoiding Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri.


Dominican Republic – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

dean bertoncelj / ShutterstockPunta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The US State Department warns of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault. The agency also says that while the country has its own tourist police force and that resort areas are generally safer, urban areas like Santo Domingo aren’t very well-policed, and drugs, weapons, and a weak criminal-justice system are a concern throughout the country.

Furthermore, at least five American tourists have died in the Dominican Republic in 2019 so far. Two died in a car crash, and three died of what authorities said was respiratory failure.


Guatemala – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

John Moore/Getty ImagesMembers of a migrant caravan cross the Mexico-Guatemala border near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the country, with a heightened risk of violent crime – including armed robbery and murder – in Guatemala City, Escuintla, Chiquimula, Quetzaltenango, Izabal, and Petén.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.


Jamaica – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

Michael Steele/GettyClark’s Town, Jamaica.

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the island, recommending Americans don’t travel to Kingston, parts of Montego Bay, and Spanish Town. The agency says that home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides are common – even at all-inclusive resorts.


Read more:
The US government is cautioning Americans that if they visit Jamaica they could be at risk of sexual assault and homicide


Mexico – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The US State Department warns of crime and kidnapping throughout the country.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the advisory reads. “The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by US government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.”

The government recommends Americans don’t travel to the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.

The advisory warns that Tamaulipas state is particularly dangerous:

Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles and blockades, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles travelling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Federal and state security forces have limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.


Trinidad and Tobago – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The US State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, and doesn’t recommend travelling to Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, or the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.


Turks and Caicos Islands – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

Debbie Ann Powell/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the British territory, with the majority of it occurring in Providenciales.


El Salvador – Level 3: Reconsider travel

The US State Department warns that violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common and that gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and trafficking, is widespread.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.


Honduras – Level 3: Reconsider travel

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the country, with increased risk of violent crime and gang activity in Gracias a Dios.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.


Nicaragua – Level 3: Reconsider travel

The US State Department warns of civil unrest, crime, limited healthcare availability, and arbitrary enforcement of laws, and it says violent crime, including sexual assault and armed robbery, is common.

People pretending to be police known as parapolice are also dangerous, the agency warns, and road blocks may prevent food or fuel from reaching some areas.


Venezuela – Level 4: Do not travel

LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty ImagesCaracas, Venezuela.

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens. The agency ordered government employees and their families to leave the country in January 2019.


Read more:
Water from sewer pipes, cooking with tiny candles, and a Happy Meal that costs a month’s pay: Photos by ordinary Venezuelans show life under an economic meltdown


Haiti – Level 4: Do not travel

The US State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. In February 2019, the agency ordered all nonemergency US personnel and their families to return to the US.

Royal Caribbean operates a private cruise port called Labadee on the island, and the area is fenced in and under tight security.

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