The U.S. State Department on Friday boosted its travel warning level for the Bahamas as the island nation continues to deal with a rise in crime.
The State Department has issued a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” advisory for the Bahamas that, while not a warning to avoid travel to the country, alerts travelers to “exercise increased caution” when visiting. The advisory comes just a few days after the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas issued its own security alert for Americans in the country.
Specifically, the State Department’s advisory calls out crime on New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands.
“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence,” the advisory reads.
Outside of crime, the State Department also mentions tourist activities such as water tours, which are not consistently regulated in the country, along with swimming, which can put tourists in danger of shark attacks, as activities that should be reconsidered (in December, a female tourist from Boston was killed in a shark attack in Nassau).
“Never swim alone, regardless of your age or level of swimming skills. Keep within your fitness and swimming capabilities. Be mindful of sharks when swimming and engaging in water activities, as there have been recent fatal and non-fatal incidents involving sharks. Be aware of weather and water conditions and heed local warnings,” the advisory reads.
While the Bahamas warning is not a message to avoid travel to the country (it is simply to exercise increased caution), the State Department did recently issue a “reconsider travel” advisory to another Caribbean nation—Jamaica.
The State Department’s updated Jamaica advisory alerts travelers specifically to reconsider “due to crime and medical services.”
For The Bahamas, the State Department has provided some tips for travelers who are headed to the islands. That includes “do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is and “do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
It also recommends that travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that alerts travelers while they are in destination.