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US warns tourists against travel to Bahamas after 18 murders reported this year

US warns tourists against travel to Bahamas after 18 murders reported this year

Planning to escape the brutal cold in exchange for a tropical paradise this winter? Might want to think twice about the Bahamas.

The US embassy released a security warning and travel advisory that the island nation is currently unsafe for tourists as the capital city of Nassau has reported 18 murders since the beginning of 2024.

“The US Embassy in Nassau advises US citizens to be aware that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the beginning of 2024,” the embassy wrote in the release.

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets. Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders.”

Following the security alert, the US State Department on Friday put the Bahamas on its “Exercise Increased Caution” list raising it to a Level 3 as it warned Americans to keep a low profile, be aware of the surroundings, and to not resist if confronted by robbers.

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults,  occur in both tourist  and non-tourist  areas,” the warning read. “Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties  where private security companies do not have a presence. ”

Sandbars and islands in the Bahamas (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Sandbars and islands in the Bahamas (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The State Department also told travellers that they should not even try to “physically resist” when being robbed and use caution when traveling at night.

Many recreational watercraft rentals, tours and trips are inconsistently regulated, the State Department also warned.

“Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications,” the release said. “Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities.”

The department also reminded Americans not to swim alone in the Bahamas, where there have been recent shark attacks.

In December, a female tourist from Boston was killed by a shark while paddleboarding less than a mile off the western end of New Providence island, where the capital, Nassau, is located, the Associated Press reported.

At least 33 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1580, with the island ranking ninth worldwide, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis responded to the recent security alert in a national address last week, stating there will be an increase in police action and roadblocks, according to the Nassau Guardian.

“This may make you late for your appointments, or delay plans you have, but this is a small price to pay for the collective benefit of having our streets made safer, and our lives less blighted by murder and other violent crimes,” he said.

Last week, the State Department raised its advisory level for travel to Jamaica to Level 3 based on violent crime including home invasions, armed robberies, homicides, and sexual assaults - which “occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”