Considering a trip to St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands? Or have you ever wondered if you could live down here in paradise? If so, you might be curious as to “is St. Thomas safe?”
It’s a fair question to ask. After all, if you’ve ever looked up the crime rates of St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands, you’d be shocked at how high on the list we actually are. But as someone who lives here, I’ll be the first to tell you that St. Thomas is safe – especially for visitors.
I wouldn’t have moved my family here if I thought otherwise!
But I get it, everyone is worried about safety these days and you certainly can’t blame them! So let me break down the safety concerns you might have about visiting St. Thomas.
Table of Contents
- Is St. Thomas Safe?
- Things to Know About Safety in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
- 5 Safety Tips for St. Thomas
- FAQs About Safety in St. Thomas
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Is St. Thomas Safe?
St. Thomas is a safe destination for your next Caribbean vacation. Despite a high crime rate, St. Thomas has plenty of beaches, safe tourist areas, hotels, and resorts where visitors are rarely affected by violent crime. However, petty crime still occurs in tourist areas so it’s important to take the proper precautions.
Contrary to what you might encounter elsewhere online, St. Thomas is an incredibly safe Caribbean destination for tourists.
Yes, these islands do have a high crime rate, but much of that crime occurs between groups involved in illicit activity. Few of these incidents affect tourists.
Of course, tourists should be aware of petty crimes like theft and robbery while also being mindful of other safety concerns like hurricanes, accessing medical services, and issues with the ongoing pandemic.
Things to Know About Safety in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in St. Thomas
As with anywhere else in the world, St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands have areas you’ll want to avoid. With that said, the majority of the island, particularly the tourist-driven areas, are kept safe and endure little to no serious crime.
These safe areas include Red Hook, much of the East End, Charlotte Amalie Waterfront & Main Street, the cruise ports of Havensight and Crown Bay, Water Island, and the most popular beaches including Magens Bay, Hull Bay, Coki Beach, and Lindqvist Beach.
Of course, as with anywhere in the world, be mindful of petty crimes like theft and robberies. Although infrequent, these crimes tend to occur at the beach when tourists leave bags unattended, in the parking lot when valuables are left visible in a car, or in restaurants/bars when phones, wallets, or purses are left at a table unattended.
Virgin Islands National Park recommends leaving any valuables at home or in your hotel to avoid any unwanted incidents.
Covid-19 Safety in the US Virgin Islands
As a minor outlying island, the US Virgin Islands took a hard-nosed, lockdown approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, being a tourist-based economy, the island eased entry and exit requirements early on before scrapping all restrictions in June of 2022.
As of this writing in July 2022, there are no restrictions for entry into the USVI’s, no testing or vaccine requirements, and no mask mandates. However, it’s not uncommon to see many local Virgin Islanders taking precautions in light of most mandates lifting in March of 2022. Masks are still required in medical facilities including local pharmacies and Walgreens.
As we all know by now, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing and fluid situation. For current infection rates, vaccination rates, and all other travel advisories, visit the Virgin Islands Department of Health.
Crime in St. Thomas
Statistically speaking, crime in the US Virgin Islands is high. Specifically, of the three islands, St. Croix has the highest violent crime rate followed closely by St. Thomas. St. John has the least amount of violent crime compared to the other two main islands.
However, that should not deter you from visiting. The vast majority of violent crime in St. Thomas occurs when the perpetrator and victim know each other (such as domestic abuse). On top of that, oftentimes the participants are involved in an external illicit activity such as drug trafficking.
That’s not to dismiss the sadness or seriousness of the crime taking place. Rather it’s to contextualize that very little, if any, of the violent crime affects tourists.
Common Scams in the US Virgin Islands
Unlike other tropical destinations, the US Virgin Islands are not known for tourist scams – but that’s not to say you shouldn’t be on the lookout. On Island Times (a St. John-centric publication) states how petty crime could easily occur just about anywhere so it’s important to take common-sense precautions.
Although not a scam, per se, tourists should expect to pay higher prices compared to residents for various services like taxis, ferry tickets, or boat rides departing from the airport or cruise ports.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
The most severe natural disasters threatening the US Virgin Islands are major hurricanes between the months of August and October. This is when hurricane season reaches its peak – not to mention the hottest and most humid months of the year.
At the same time, this is also the cheapest time of year to travel to the USVI – possibly granting you a wonderful vacation on the Caribbean Sea for a fraction of the price.
Medical Services in the US Virgin Islands
Although St. Thomas has a hospital staffed with outstanding personnel, some medical resources are lacking compared to the US mainland. In fact, if something serious were to occur, chances are the victim would be evacuated to either San Juan, Puerto Rico, or even Miami, Florida for lifesaving treatment.
However, the vast majority of medical ailments are treated successfully within the medical facilities of the Virgin Islands. But the best way to cover yourself in the unlikely case of something catastrophic is to purchase travel insurance. You can get a quote in a few minutes through World Nomads.
Cell Phone Service in the US Virgin Islands
Depending on where you’re staying in St. Thomas, cell phone service may be nonexistent. If so, be sure to plan ahead to have the means to contact friends, family, or local authorities if need be.
Drinking Water Safety
St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands have no natural, flowing source of fresh water. Rather, all of our water is collected in cisterns when it rains. Generally speaking, across much of the islands, your water is sourced directly atop the building you’re staying in.
If filtered properly (fridge filter, Brita, etc.), much of the water on the island is safe to drink. But if you want to be extra cautious, I recommend purchasing bottled water from one of the local grocery stores. And if you’re entirely unsure, just ask the property manager!
👉 Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Virgin Islands National Park
5 Safety Tips for St. Thomas
Don’t Leave Valuables in Your Car
As infrequent as they are, car break-ins might be the most common crime affecting tourists in the US Virgin Islands. Fortunately, we have an easy solution: don’t leave anything valuable visible in your car!
That includes backpacks, purses, or wallets. Even if you have nothing of value in your backpack, don’t leave it to someone’s imagination as to what could be inside.
Drive Carefully and Keep Left
Driving on the left side – especially on the mountainous, pothole-ridden roads of St. Thomas – is intimidating. Just remember to keep left, stay in your lane, and take the corners slowly! If you’re nervous about driving, be sure to bookmark my article discussing how to drive in the US Virgin Islands!
Abide by Local Customs
This is more travel advice than a safety tip. But trust me, your interactions with local Virgin Islanders will be far more pleasant if you abide by local customs.
The two most important customs to follow are:
- “Good Day!”: Greeting locals with an emphatic “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” will set the tone for pleasant interactions. Anything else is considered rude.
- Swimsuits are for the beach: Just because you’re on an island doesn’t mean a swimsuit is an appropriate attire everywhere. People live and work here and you might get a few stares if you’re not decent in public.
Don’t Visit the Beaches at Night
Beaches in front of your resort are fine, but I would advise against visiting any of the secluded beaches on St. Thomas after dark. It might sound romantic to wander along the water to star gaze after dark, but trust me, you would regret the decision should you encounter a boat or individuals coming ashore as they conduct illegal business.
Wear Insect Repellent
In the US Virgin Islands, dengue fever is considered endemic. Meaning an outbreak can occur at any time. Dengue is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites.
FAQs About Safety in St. Thomas
Which US Virgin Island is the safest?
Of the three US Virgin Islands, St. John has the lowest crime rate. St. Croix has the highest crime rate followed closely by St. Thomas.
Is St. Thomas worth visiting?
St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands is worth visiting! With plenty of things to do, including hiking trails, cultural events, and some of the best beaches in the world, you won’t run out of places to enjoy during your visit.
Is there crime on St. Thomas?
As with anywhere in the world, crime does occur in St. Thomas and the other islands nearby. However, much of the crime happening on St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands rarely affects tourists.
Is St. Thomas safe in 2022?
Despite increased violent crime during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Thomas is a safe island for your next Caribbean vacation in 2022 and beyond.
St. Thomas is an amazing place with some amazing people. And now that we’ve addressed your safety concerns, we can’t wait for you to take the plunge and get here! I know you’ll love the many things St. Thomas has to offer!
I hope I’ve adequately answered the question: “is St. Thomas safe?”
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