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Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Nassau (Bahamas), Staying Safe during Spring Break in The Bahamas

Western Hemisphere > Bahamas; Western Hemisphere > Bahamas > Nassau

We want you to stay safe during your spring break in The Bahamas.  Follow the below tips and exercise caution and good judgment to make your stay a pleasant and safe one.

Know Your Environment

Do not travel or walk alone after dark or in isolated areas.  Avoid being alone with strangers, jet ski, taxi, or scooter operators.  Be particularly cautious on secluded beaches; criminals target such isolated areas.  When traveling, use only clearly marked buses or taxis, as unlicensed taxi drivers have been linked to a variety of violent crimes.

Avoid Jet ski operators

Jet ski operators continue to commit sexual assaults and other crimes against tourists, including U.S. citizens.  U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed not to use jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands, including Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach.  We strongly recommend you also avoid patronizing jet ski rental operations.

Drink Responsibly

The vast majority of arrests, accidents, and violent crimes suffered by U.S. citizens in The Bahamas involve excessive alcohol.  Know your drinking companions and stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when in clubs, bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night.  Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been victims of sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault.  Watch your drink at all times.  Intoxicated young women may be targeted for drugging and sexual assault.  Do not swim while drinking. 

Drugs:  Marijuana Is Not Legal in The Bahamas

The possession or use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy, is a criminal offense in The Bahamas and can result in time in prison.  While visiting The Bahamas, you are subject to Bahamian law.  Drug violators are arrested regularly, even for possession of small quantities.  All persons 16 years of age or older in The Bahamas are tried as adults in court.  If you are arrested for drug possession, you should expect to spend at least one night, and possibly longer, in jail.  Stay away from drug traffickers, who are often armed and violent.  Do not accept packages from people you meet during your stay.  Entrapment is a frequently used law enforcement technique in The Bahamas.  Individuals offering drugs for sale may very well be undercover police officers.  Do not limit your future opportunities by having a criminal record.

Scooters

Take extra care if you choose to rent a scooter.  Every year US citizens are killed or very seriously injured in scooter accidents.  Inspect the equipment carefully and avoid old or rundown machines.  Ask to see a copy of the operator's business license and inquire about their medical and liability insurance coverage in the event of accident or injury.  Remember that street traffic in The Bahamas travels on the left side of the road and can be difficult to navigate.  Insist on training before using the equipment.  Do not allow yourself to be driven off alone with a scooter operator.  Unlicensed scooter operators and rental services have been linked to assaults, including sexual assaults.  Never drive a scooter after drinking.

Hospitalization in The Bahamas

Accidents in The Bahamas can result in difficult and expensive medical situations.   Bahamian doctors and hospitals do not accept U.S. medical insurance policies or Medicare/Medicaid, and typically expect immediate cash payment before medical services are provided.  Medical evacuations to the United States easily cost in excess of $15,000.  We recommend purchasing separate traveler's insurance for medical costs before you travel.  Find useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs on our webpage Your Health Abroad

Getting Help from the Embassy

An arrest during your spring break can result in a messy legal situation.  Your U.S. citizenship will not help you and will not exempt you from full prosecution under The Bahamas’ criminal justice system.  U.S. Embassy officials can visit you in jail, provide information about The Bahamas’ legal system, and give you a list of local attorneys or doctors.  We cannot arrange for reduction of charges, your release from jail or payment of medical, hospital or other bills.  You are responsible for your own costs.  Contact the Embassy if you are a victim of crime or your passport has been lost or stolen.  

Additional Information

Visit the following to learn more before your spring break in The Bahamas: U.S. Department of State’s country information for The Bahamas, tips for Students Abroad, and U.S. Embassy Nassau's website.  Be sure to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program before you go.

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