Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Is it safe to visit the Bahamas or Jamaica? Canada warns of increased violence

A slew of murders in the Bahamas has sparked concern for safety.
Canada has updated the Jamaica travel advisory and the Bahamas travel advisory in February 2024 due to murders and violent crime.

The Canadian government has issued travel warnings for the Bahamas and Jamaica following an increase in violent crime. 

Canada updated advisories for both Caribbean countries on Monday, Jan. 29, advising travellers to exercise a high degree on the islands.

The updates follow an increase in murders and other violent crimes in the popular tourist destinations. The United States has also issued travel advisories, warning travellers of increased safety risks.

Travellers should be "very cautious at all times" in both countries and monitor local media for updates.  

The Bahamas travel advisory

While violent crime has been decreasing in the Bahamas since 2018, there are still incidents of violent crime, particularly on the islands of Grand Bahama and New Providence — both coveted destinations for Metro Vancouver travellers. 

On Jan. 24, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau issued a warning to U.S. citizens that 18 people have been murdered in Nassau since the beginning of 2024. The murders took place at all times "including in broad daylight on the streets" but "retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders."

The Canadian government states that "armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau."

People are also robbed at popular tourist locations, such as cruise ship terminals and resort areas, and these crimes increase during the holidays.

To stay safe, the government offers the following recommendations: 

  • Avoid Nassau’s “over the hill” (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) areas, especially at night
  • Stay alert to your surroundings at all times
  • Don’t walk alone, particularly after dark
  • Don’t carry large sums of cash or wear expensive jewelry
  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Avoid deserted beaches
  • If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and don’t resist

Jamaica travel advisory

In November 2023, Jamaica declared a state of emergency due to high levels of violence in the country. While it is no longer in effect, the Canadian government continues to warn travellers of high rates of violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, particularly Jamaica's big cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay. 

Many people own firearms and many violent drug- and gang-related crimes, result in shootings. Tourists may get caught in the crossfire; they are also at risk of armed robberies.

While crime tends to be concentrated in "high-risk communities," they may occur anywhere and at any time. 

On Jan. 23, the United States advised travellers to reconsider a trip to Jamaica due to "crime and medical services," raising its advisory to a level three from a level two.

Canada's advisory notes that travellers should avoid the following areas because they have a "significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime":

Greater Kingston

  • Arnett Gardens
  • August Town
  • Balmagie
  • Cassava Piece
  • Delacree Park
  • Denham Town
  • Drewsland
  • Felstead Pen
  • Four Miles
  • Glendale
  • Grant’s Pen
  • Greenwich Town
  • Hannah Town
  • Harbour View
  • Hunts Bay
  • Jones Town
  • Lower Cockburn Gardens
  • Maverly
  • Mountain View
  • Nanse Pen
  • Olympic Gardens
  • Payneland
  • Portmore
  • Rennock Lodge
  • Riverton City
  • Salmagie
  • Seaview Gardens
  • Tavares Gardens
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Tower Hill
  • Trench Town
  • Waltham Gardens
  • West Kingston
  • Whitfield Town

St. Catherine

  • Central Village
  • Ellerslie
  • Homestead
  • Ravensworth
  • Spanish Town
  • Tawes Pen

Montego Bay

  • Bottom Pen
  • Canterbury
  • Flankers
  • Hart Street
  • Mount Salem
  • Norwood Gardens
  • Rose Heights
  • St. Clavers Avenue

South Coast

  • May Pen

If you plan to travel to Jamaica during the travel advisory, you may be subject to searches by security forces.

  • Always cooperate with military and police officers
  • Carry valid ID at all times and be prepared for various checkpoints
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local news to stay informed on the current situation

If you are threatened by robbers, hand over any cash and valuables, as "resistance may provoke the use of violence." 

Women travelling alone are frequently harassed. Compounds are "gated and guarded" and therefore generally safer. However, there have also been reports of sexual assaults by resort staff and other tourists. 

  • Be wary of strangers who seem friendly
  • Refrain from excessive drinking, especially at all-inclusive resorts
  • Ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are locked

Travellers should also purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy when they book their ticket, which will cover the cost of your ticket in case you can't leave due to an unforeseeable medical or other emergency reason. It will also cover incidents like missed connections, baggage interruption and loss, and more. You may not be entitled to reimbursement for trip cancellation if you purchase a holiday while the warning is in place. 

Canadians should always register trips that they take online before they leave so that the government can contact them in an emergency.