Caribbean Islands to Avoid

by AOL Travel Staff Subscribe to AOL Travel Staff's posts Posted Feb 11th 2010 02:23 PM


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Caribbean Islands to Avoid

Particularly when the frigid wrath of winter gusts across North America, few places lure like the Caribbean. Beaches with champagne-hued sand, infinitely clear water layered parfait-style in deep greens and blues and tiki huts wrought from palm fronds aflutter in a tropical breeze-those cliche images synonymous with a Caribbean vacation are accurate to a tee, and pretty much define relaxed resort living. But there are some things you should know about traveling in this diverse region, as the Caribbean is home to some danger zones. And while most tourists will never face a threat during their vacations, dangers still exist in the prettiest of places. Read on for our list of Caribbean islands where tourists should take extra care and where nervous visitors might do well to avoid altogether:

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

From its rugged coffee bean-growing interior to towering waterfalls, rushing rivers and the honeymoon-and-cruise ship havens of Negril and Montego Bay, Jamaica is one of the Caribbean's most stunning islands. More than one million tourists visit here every year, most without incident. All-inclusive resorts operate as gated communities of sorts, and you're unlikely to encounter any danger within their confines. But the country as a whole has one of the highest murder rates in the world (uncomfortably close to that of Colombia), and venturing off resort property anywhere in Jamaica should be approached with a serious measure of caution. Tourists should opt to fly into Montego Bay's airport instead of Kingston. The danger of murders and robberies (or getting caught in the crossfire) is a threat around West Kingston, and there have been reports of increased violence and gunshots on the Mountain View road, along the route to the Norman Manley International Airport. If you rent a car to tour the country, consult with locals on road conditions, as landslides may have erased sections of main roads. Never stop for any reason on lonely stretches of road.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

Several high-profile murders in recent years, including the violent January 2010 stabbing of a cruise ship passenger near popular Pigeon's Point Beach, are indicative of a rising crime problem on this beautiful island, which has long been popular with the yachting set. Antigua's population is 80,000, but the island's per capita murder rate is roughly triple that of New York. Illegal drug activity is a major problem and has been tied to increased reports of violent crime. Most often, it's a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lessen your odds of encountering a threat by avoiding walking outside at night (take a taxi to your destination if you head off resort property, and ask the driver to return to pick you up at a specific time). If you arrive in Antigua by cruise ship, be sure to book land-based activities only with verified operators. Independent travelers should seek advice from reputable hotels when planning excursions.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

Just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas are a string of diverse islands home to everything from placid villages that are likely as safe as your own neighborhood to red zones best off avoiding entirely. A recent surge in violent crime in Nassau, the Bahamian capital and its largest city, means tourists are best off avoiding New Providence Island altogether (if your cruise ship stops here, inquire with the concierge for the most up-to-date safety information). Petty crime is a problem throughout the country. As a general rule, the Out Islands tend to be the safest havens for both resort tourists and intrepid travelers looking to venture off the beaten path by staying in small guest houses and dive resorts.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

Before the tragic earthquake of January 2010, Haiti was experiencing a tourism renaissance. Despite entrenched political turmoil and extreme poverty, the nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic is home to vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture and postcard-perfect beaches such as the cruise ship stop at Labadee. That said, kidnappings of Americans for ransom has long been a safety issue. And the latest natural disaster has further complicated an already complex country. Even before the earthquake, infectious disease was a risk in Haiti. Now, with more than one million people lacking shelter and scattered throughout tent communities in and around Port Au Prince, maladies such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and malaria are on the rise. Tetanus is an issue. And there's the threat of water-borne disease, typhoid and measles (all present before the earthquake) becoming true epidemics with the disastrous living conditions. Until further notice, Haiti should be considered a no-go zone for casual tourism. Visit the Red Cross to find out how you can help victims of the disaster.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

These neighboring islands off the coast of Venezuela comprise one nation and offer a rich visitor experience-although not without threat. There have been increased reports of late regarding violent crimes and murder in Tobago. When Carnival takes place later this month, there will be an even greater need to be even more vigilant as the streets fill with raucous revelers (there's a documented increase in criminal activity during Carnival and other festival and holiday periods). Visitors flying into Trinidad's Piarco Airport should be particularly vigilant, as armed robbers have been known to follow newly arrived passengers to remote areas of the airport parking lots or even to accost them on the road to the city of Port of Spain. Tourists should avoid walking around downtown Port of Spain at night, and should not stop at scenic overlooks after dark.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

The country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti has long been popular with European tourists, and increased flights from North America of late have lead to a surge in tourism from our part of the world. Petty crime is a problem throughout the island, but the thing worth worrying about here is Dengue Fever--a mosquito borne disease that is endemic to the Dominican Republic. Malaria, although a lesser issue, is sometimes seen, too (after Haiti, the DR is the riskiest place in the Caribbean for mosquito borne diseases). Tourists staying at the beach resorts in the country's eastern La Altagracia province should be extra vigilant by applying insect repellants with DEET and wearing skin-covering clothes, particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Visitors who venture into the countryside for adventure activities are particularly prone to come into contact with disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Caribbean Islands to Avoid

Filed Under: Beach, Tips & Tricks

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We have survived Vietnam and Pattaya, Thailand. Caribbean is nothing. Advice for new travelers, if you wanna see Carribean by cruise I guess that's ok, but if yu see Europe by cruise you can't say you have been to Europe. I love sitting on a bench in Rome or Paris watching the cruisers panic and rush because they have only 2 hours to see the city. Sad. Please don't do that to yourself. Stay in the places you visit, go we're locals go, immerse yourself in the culture.

August 24 2013 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What about Paradise Island Bahamas? How safe it is

August 22 2013 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mgnusa's comment
Leslie A Curley

very nice there, it is as safe as you are. going away anywhere you need to watch your surroundings at all times, who is around you. paradise island is beautiful beach, pool, lunch bar, indoor and out door aquarium, water park. i loved it and want to go back and take my grand daughter.

December 28 2013 at 8:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Jamacian's are very nice people and I enjoyed myself along with my 73 yr old mom and my 10 yr old granddaughter and we ventured all over the east coast to the north , we were never apporached for weed or anything else. The Virgin Islands ditto people need to get the facts straight , If you go to the areas where you should not well >>>> I would go to places I know that have high crime rate here in Kissimmee .. Use common sense. Alot of the crime is not targeted to the tourist , its between the locals....Let the Beaches fool you LOL

October 25 2011 at 1:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Florida , you must be kidding. The crime rate here is over the top.

August 10 2011 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had no problem in Jamiaca, I had more problems with the taxi drivers, then someone tryin g to sell me drugs. The people make a living taking you on tours, and they all have something better than the other guy. Coming from. NYC there isn't much I haven't encountered.

August 10 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

um, Jamaica is a dump. Unless you enjoy getting swarmed by desperate folks trying to make a living hustling street junk every time you walk out your front door, or like someone asking you to visit their marijuana plantation every time you speak to a local- then go elsewhere! Im sure there are many wonderful and kind people that live in Jamaica, but the fact is, the over powering presence of the irritating, aggressive, and desperate people I just described by FAR over shadow them.

June 17 2011 at 9:26 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

just got back from cozumel roatan belize no problems at all

May 26 2011 at 12:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I find vactioning in Aruba to be the upmost place.

May 09 2011 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lady's comment

lady,can u tell me more about aruba,never been .looking for a place to stay thats on the beach and clean ,we are looking to get spoiled for a week ,thx

July 27 2014 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a bunch of crap. I love Jamaica, been there over 8 times. LOVE IT! People are warm and friendly. Like any poor country you can't place yourself in danger, but I also wouldn't walk alone in Canden , NJ either. So does mean I should visit the tri-state area. AOL writters promote fear and are idiots!

May 03 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Can add Mexico to that list now too..And dont forget St Thomas. That place is riddled with crime. Dont be fooled by the pretty water!

November 22 2010 at 12:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply