Feds issue travel warning for the Bahamas, citing armed robberies and sex assaults

Kayaks on the beach in Nassau in the Bahamas.
Kayaks on the beach in Nassau in the Bahamas. Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

The State Department is warning U.S. travelers to “exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime.”

Federal officials issued the warning earlier this week, saying that “violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas.”

The statement noted to be extra careful in New Providence and the Grand Bahama islands. The department also emphasized the dangers of recreational watercraft because they are not “consistently regulated.”

“Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas,” the warning said. “Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.”

If travelers end up going to the Bahamas anyway, below are some tips from the State Department:

Exercise caution in the area known as “Over the Hill” (south of Shirley Street) and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially at night.

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.

Keep tabs on the Department of State’s Facebook and Twitter for travel updates

Review the Crime and Safety Report for The Bahamas.

U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency and medical situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.