Most visitors to Bermuda enjoy a trouble-free visit. The island has a relatively low crime rate and few natural dangers.
There was once a time when serious crime in Bermuda was virtually non-existent. Although this is no longer the case, crime levels have fallen considerably in recent years. Crime in the fourth quarter of 2013 was the lowest recorded since 2000.
Gang Violence and Gun Crime
Gang violence and gun crime rocketed in the first decade of this century. It reached a peak in 2010 when 120 firearms offences were recorded (see detailed crime statistics).
Looking at the raw data for gun crime during this period might give the impression that Bermuda was a dangerous place for tourists to visit. The reality was very different.
Virtually all the gun crime related to disputes between a handful of gangs and individuals. Shootings were targeted and most took place in residential areas frequented by the gangs concerned. No tourists were killed or injured, or, as far as we are aware, even witnessed these acts.
In recent years, the level of gun crime and gang violence has decreased sharply. Most of the gangsters have been convicted and jailed, are dead, or have left the island. In 2013 there were just 21 recorded firearms offences.
Burglaries from hotels and guest houses are quite rare. In 2013 there were just 11 crimes of this nature.
Nevertheless, take sensible precautions such as keeping and valuables in a safe and locking doors and windows.
Scooter theft is quite common in Bermuda. Local youths like to take the bikes and go joyriding, usually riding them on remote roads and causing significant damage.
All scooter rental companies will provide you with a steel U-lock. They’re virtually impossible to break and will reduce the chances of your scooter being stolen to almost zero. If the scooter is stolen you could be liable for a proportion of its cost.
Installation of CCTV cameras in these and other areas have reduced robberies and other crimes significantly.
There’s little harassment or soliciting in Bermuda. Even movie stars and other celebrities are generally left alone. We’ve seen English Premiership football players and movie stars in bars, receiving little more than cursory glances.
Visit the beach (or anywhere else) and you won’t be approached by locals trying to sell you drugs or other services.
There are few dangerous areas in Bermuda. The area around Court Street in the north of Hamilton, known locally as Back o’ Town, has a reputation for drug dealing and other crimes. We wouldn’t class the neighbourhood as particularly unsafe or threatening, though we would advise exercising caution if visiting.
Rip currents do form on beaches in Bermuda (and indeed many beaches around the world). They’re not particularly dangerous, provided you know how to handle them.
They’re created when incoming waves cause water to build up on the shore. The water tries to return to the ocean but is prevented from doing so by more waves. The water then moves sideways until it finds a spot where it can return. A fast moving channel of water heading out to the ocean then forms.
Rip currents are fairly easy to spot. Look for a small flat section of water between waves.
The most common mistake a person caught in a rip current makes is to try and swim directly towards the shore. However, this is difficult for even the most competent of swimmers. The correct thing to do is go with the current until it dissipates, and then swim diagonally back towards the shore.
The Portuguese man-of-war is occasionally found in Bermuda, particularly on the southern beaches such as Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach. It looks like a jellyfish, but isn’t. It’s a siphonophore, an organism made of up many smaller organisms. A jellyfish is a single organism.
Its most distinctive feature is its body; a gas-filled balloon like translucent float. This isn’t the dangerous part though. The thing you need to worry about is the tentacles that dangle beneath. They can reach about 150 feet in length and bear toxic cells for stinging and killing prey (shrimp etc.).
Though not the intended target, they do sting humans. In most cases a sting will cause severe pain and discomfort. Death is extremely rare.
Portuguese man-of-wars tend to travel in large numbers. They’re difficult to spot in the water but if they’re about you’ll see some washed up on the shore.
Stings are actually quite rare. Each year around 30 people seek treatment at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The island has a population of over 60,000 and receives around 500,000 visitors each year. Given that many locals visit the beach regularly and most visitors will also take a dip in the ocean, the chance of getting stung are fairly remote.
If you’re still concerned about the Portuguese man-of-war then visit one of the beaches with lifeguards (Horseshoe Bay, John Smith’s Bay, Clearwater Beach, and Cooper’s Island). The lifeguards are trained to deal with the stings and can get you to hospital if necessary.
Sharks are fairly common in the ocean around Bermuda. Despite common perceptions, they will usually try and avoid contact with humans. They rarely come close to the shore, preferring to hang around the reef line and beyond.
Common types found in the waters around the island include Galapagos and dusky sharks; both passive species. The likelihood of being attacked by a shark is extremely remote; indeed many water sports operators report never having seen one. The last reported shark attack was a minor incident many decades ago.
Other Creatures – Snakes, Spiders etc.
There are no snakes, dangerous spiders, poisonous bees, or any other dangerous wild animals in Bermuda.
Some snakes have accidentally been brought to the island in luggage, golf bags etc. No breeding populations have been established.
The island is occasionally affected by hurricanes. For more details see our special section on hurricanes.
Official Travel Advice
The vast majority of visitors to Bermuda come from the US, Canada, and the UK. Citizens of these countries can seek government travel advice from the following websites:
- US Department of State
- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
All have special sections dealing with potential dangers in countries around the world, including Bermuda.