The risk of traveling to every country in the Caribbean, according to the US State Department

Traveling to the Dominican Republic anytime soon?

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Traveling to the Dominican Republic anytime soon?
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Flickr/Ben Kucinski
  • The US State Department issues public travel advisories that show how safe foreign countries are for travelers.
  • It’s worth checking such alerts before booking your next Caribbean vacation.
  • While most Caribbean destinations are designated the lowest levels, the agency warns against traveling to a few, including Venezuela, parts of Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US State Department’s public travel advisories let Americans know what countries are safe to travel to and which ones they should be wary of.

It’s worth checking these alerts before going on your next Caribbean vacation. The State Department uses four levels of travel guidance to let Americans know what to expect in each country:

Level 1 – Exercise normal precautions

Level 2 – Exercise increased caution

Level 3 – Reconsider travel

Level 4 – Do not travel

Thirteen countries around the world are designated “do not travel,” mostly because of ongoing armed conflicts. In the Caribbean, just Venezuela and parts of Colombia are designated Level 4.

Here are the travel advisories for every country in the Caribbean, ranked from least to most risky based on the State Department’s designation levels.


Anguilla – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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The British territory of Anguilla is one of the lesser-known Caribbean islands, meaning you can enjoy the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches without the crowds.
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EQRoy/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Antigua and Barbuda – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Flickr/Andrew Moore

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the popular cruise-ship destination.


Aruba – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Steve Photography/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island, which is part of the Netherlands.


Barbados – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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A street bar at a bus terminal in Bridgetown, Barbados.
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RUBEN M RAMOS / Shutterstock

The US State Department lists Barbados as a Level 1 but warns that travelers shouldn’t travel to the following places because of crime:

  • Crab Hill, St. Lucy
  • Ivy, St. Michael
  • Nelson Street
  • Bridgetown (at night)
  • Wellington Street, Bridgetown (at night)
  • Jolly Roger and Buccaneer Cruises (at night)

The agency also recommends exercising increased caution in Black Rock, Deacons, Carrington Village, Green Fields, New Orleans, and Pine because of crime.


Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Chris Favero/Flickr

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory.


British Virgin Islands – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Shutterstock/BlueOrange Studio

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Cayman Islands – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island chain, which is a British territory.


Curaçao – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Flickr/Nelo Hotsuma

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory.


French West Indies – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Martinique.
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Flickr/Ian D. Keating

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the French West Indies, which include the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélemy.


Grenada – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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EQRoy/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island.


Montserrat – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the British territory.


Saint Kitts and Nevis – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the islands.


Saint Lucia – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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A boat party in Saint Lucia.
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Darryl Brooks

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island.


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Getty Images/DeAgostini

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the island chain.


Sint Maarten – Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The US State Department doesn’t have any alerts set for the Netherlands territory. Sint Maarten shares an island with Saint Martin, which is part of the French West Indies.


The Bahamas – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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alarico/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the island chain, and says that violent crimes, including burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur even during the day and in tourist areas. Most of the crime occurs on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The agency also warns of unmaintained watercraft and reports of jet-ski operators sexually assaulting tourists.

Read more: The US government is warning Americans that if they visit the Bahamas they could be at risk of sexual assault and violent crime


Belize – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of violent crime, including sexual assault, home invasions, armed robberies, and murder, which it says are common even during the day and in tourist areas. The south side of Belize City is particularly notorious for such crimes, the agency says.

The agency also says that most crime is gang-related and that local police don’t have the resources or training to respond to serious incidents, so most crimes go unprosecuted.


Colombia – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Police officers near the site of a bomb attack at a police station in Barranquilla, Colombia, on January 28, 2018.
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Thomson Reuters

The US State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping throughout Colombia. Terrorists operate in some areas, and violent crime is possible, the agency says.

Parts of the country are a Level 4 advisory, with the agency recommending Americans don’t travel to Arauca, Cauca (except Popayan); Chocó (except Nuquí); Nariño; and Norte de Santander (except Cucuta) because of crime and terrorism.

The following areas are a Level 3 advisory, and the State Department recommends Americans reconsider traveling to them:

  • Antioquia north of Medellin
  • Caquetá
  • Casanare
  • Cesar outside Valledupar
  • Córdoba outside Montería
  • Guainía
  • Guaviare
  • Meta
  • Putumayo
  • Valle del Cauca outside the Cali and Palmira area
  • Vaupes
  • Vichada

Costa Rica – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Shutterstock

The US State Department elevated Costa Rica to a level 2 alert in January 2020, citing the possibility of violent crime, such as armed robberies, homicides, and sexual assaults.

Previously, the State Department recommended increased caution only in areas such as Limón, Liberia, the Desamparados neighborhood in San Rafael, and the Pavas and Hospital neighborhoods in San Jose because of crime.


Cuba – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Havana bay, Cuba.
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REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

The US State Department warns of mysterious, possibly sonic, attacks that targeted US Embassy workers in Havana and recommends avoiding Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri.


Dominica – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Joseph Thomas Photography/Shutterstock

The US State Department recommends that travelers exercise increased caution due to civil unrest, with frequent demonstrations and protests at which local authorities have been known to deploy tear gas.

In December 2019, protesters sought to cancel national elections on the island over allegations of unfairness. The conflict resulted in a skirmish on December 6, where roughly 200 protesters battled police.


Dominican Republic – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
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dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault. The agency also says that while the country has its own tourist police force and that resort areas are generally safer, urban areas like Santo Domingo aren’t very well-policed, and drugs, weapons, and a weak criminal-justice system are a concern throughout the country.

Furthermore, nearly a dozen American tourists died in the Dominican Republic in 2019. Though they died largely from natural causes, their families and fellow tourists described the deaths as suspicious and mysterious.


El Salvador – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Capitan General Gerardo Barrios square in San Salvador, El Salvador.
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REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

The US State Department warns that violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common and that gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and trafficking, is widespread.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.

The State Department downgraded its advisory from a Level 3 in October 2019, after years of warning travelers to avoid the country.

The move came shortly after the Trump administration reached a deal with the Central American nation to send some asylum-seekers from third countries back to El Salvador instead of attempting to come into the US and become American citizens.


Guatemala – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Members of a migrant caravan cross the Mexico-Guatemala border near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.
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John Moore/Getty Images

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the country, with a heightened risk of violent crime – including armed robbery and murder – in Guatemala City, Escuintla, Chiquimula, Quetzaltenango, Izabal, and Petén. The agency says gang activity like drug trafficking and extortion is common, and local police don’t always have the resources to respond to incidents.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.


Jamaica – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Clark’s Town, Jamaica.
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Michael Steele/Getty

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the island, recommending Americans don’t travel to Kingston, parts of Montego Bay, and Spanish Town. The agency says that home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides are common – even at all-inclusive resorts.

Read more: The US government is cautioning Americans that if they visit Jamaica they could be at risk of sexual assault and homicide


Mexico – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Adam M./Foursquare

The US State Department warns of crime and kidnapping throughout the country.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the advisory reads. “The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by US government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.”

The government recommends Americans don’t travel to the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.

The advisory warns that Tamaulipas state is particularly dangerous:

“Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state in marked and unmarked vehicles and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa northwest to Nuevo Laredo.”


Trinidad and Tobago – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Flickr/neiljs

The US State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, and doesn’t recommend traveling to Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, or the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.


Turks and Caicos Islands – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

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Debbie Ann Powell/Shutterstock

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the British territory, with the majority of it occurring in Providenciales.


Haiti – Level 3: Reconsider travel

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Reuters

The US State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. In February 2019, the agency ordered all nonemergency US personnel and their families to return to the US.

The agency recommends arranging airport transfers ahead of time, because “Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport.”

Royal Caribbean operates a private cruise port called Labadee on the island, and the area is fenced in and under tight security.


Honduras – Level 3: Reconsider travel

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Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
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REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

The US State Department warns of crime throughout the country, with increased risk of violent crime and gang activity in Gracias a Dios. Rape, human trafficking, and drug trafficking is widespread, the agency says.

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the three Northern Triangle countries where the majority of migrants are fleeing to come to the US via Mexico.


Nicaragua – Level 3: Reconsider travel

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Managua, Nicaragua.
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Reuters

The US State Department warns of civil unrest, crime, limited healthcare availability, and arbitrary enforcement of laws, and it says violent crime, including sexual assault and armed robbery, is common.

People pretending to be police known as parapolice are also dangerous, the agency warns, and road blocks may prevent food or fuel from reaching some areas.


Venezuela – Level 4: Do not travel

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Caracas, Venezuela.
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LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens. The agency ordered government employees and their families to leave the country in March 2019.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a Level 3 advisory recommending people avoid nonessential travel to Venezuela because the medical infrastructure has broke down, and food shortages are common.

Read more: Water from sewer pipes, cooking with tiny candles, and a Happy Meal that costs a month’s pay: Photos by ordinary Venezuelans show life under an economic meltdown