Florida : Safety by City
- Amelia Island
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- Cocoa Beach
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- North Port
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- Pembroke Pines
- Pompano Beach
- Port St. Lucie
- Punta Gorda
- St. Augustine
- St. Petersburg
- Vero Beach
- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
Melbourne Beach, Florida, sits along the popular Space Coast and is a prime viewing location for rocket launches at nearby Cape Canaveral.
This family-friendly destination has something for every member of the family, from surfing to fresh seafood dining to upscale shopping.
This quintessential beach town is known as “The Harbor City”, so it makes sense that a lot of activities here are built around the water.
There’s also a major airport in this small town, a rarity among Florida beach communities.
What’s bizarre about this city as I investigate is the staggering high crime rates, combined with social reviews claiming it’s a great place to live.
Even some of the headlines to come out of Melbourne feed into the “Florida Man” memes that bring attention to bizarre crimes in the Sunshine State.
- “Melbourne barber shoots masked gunman upset over haircut, police say” August 2021, WKMG
- “Naked Florida man steals pickup truck from a dealership, leads authorities on pursuit, police say” January 2022, WKMG
- “Florida couple rams patrol vehicles before breaking into mayor’s home” June 2021, WKMG
- “Mom arrested after repeatedly locking 2-year-old in closet, sheriff says” February 2022, WFLA
Then pile on that, there are crime rates that have been dropping for the past few years. U.S. News and World Report even put this city in the Top 10 Safest Places to Live in the country.
To make this all the more confusing, there’s Melbourne, the city this article is about.
Then there’s Melbourne Beach, which isn’t the beach of the city of Melbourne.
Melbourne Beach is a whole city itself.
There’s Melbourne Village, and West Melbourne, both separate from the city of Melbourne.
We’ll go through all the individual risks, but just know there’s appearance and reality with this beautiful beachfront city.
Warnings & Dangers in Melbourne
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's medium overall risk. The crime rates are among the highest nationwide for smaller cities, yet it's along with one of the most prestigious coasts in all of Florida.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of using public transportation. The Space Coast Area Transit provides a plethora of routes and stops throughout Brevard County. There are 23 routes between 72 buses. Taxis and rideshares are also available and regulated by the county. There are shuttle options from the Orlando Melbourne Airport to hotels as well.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
While the theft rate is 1.6 times the national average, there were only 29 pickpockets or purse snatching in 2020. 60% of all the thefts were for under $200. It appears that number is high, but bulked up with petty thefts. You have a low risk of being a victim here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Melbourne can get hit by hurricanes and face some of the severe thunderstorms that plague much of Florida. Because of this, it's medium risk.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There were 86 robberies in 2020 and 19 of those were in the category that could be against tourists, so there's a low risk of you being targeted. However, the overall robbery rate is 20% higher than the national average.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
I would think terrorists would love to target the hallmark of U.S. space travel, so we're going to call it a medium risk. While Cape Canaveral isn't as busy as it used to be, there's still a lot of action in and around it as private companies now literally aim for the skies and beyond.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The main scam to watch out for involves rentals. This is when someone offers a great beach house at a low rate, and the traveler hands over money ahead of time, generally via wire transfer, to "secure" the rental. Turns out the house doesn't exist and the money is gone. Other than that, there's a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Rape is one crime category that is lower than the national average. If a woman stays in the tourist spots and doesn't go walking around in the dark in strange neighborhoods, there should be low risk. The doubling of the national average rates of violent crime makes me second guess that decision, but there's nothing in the crime data that suggests a woman is particularly at risk.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in the tap water of Melbourne, Florida. All water meets or exceeds standards, and it's tested thousands of times each year to look for any irregularities. There is even a hotline people can call if they find an issue.
Safest Places to Visit in Melbourne
It is The Harbor City, so we’ll start at the Melbourne Harbor Marina.
This is a great place to get boat fever by looking at all the boats in port.
Just north of the harbor is historic downtown Melbourne, a charming area with food and shopping options along 3 square blocks.
Head over the Melbourne Causeway to Melbourne Beach for some beach time.
Head north to paradise.
Well, Paradise Beach, that is.
You can catch some rays, learn to surf, or enjoy the playground area.
Have fun exploring the other beaches that span this barrier island.
There’s the Melbourne Beach Pier, but don’t go looking for it on the beachside.
It extends out on the other side of the island over the Indian River.
The Brevard Zoo is in Melbourne and it isn’t like any zoo you’ve seen before.
Here you can kayak through an African jungle.
Ride the train through Cairo.
Meet a rhino up close.
Don’t forget the giraffes that need to be fed!
There’s even the Treetop Trek, where you can zip-line through obstacles and over animals, including alligators.
Places to Avoid in Melbourne
Crime maps show the area around the airport has the highest crime rate.
Also, you want to avoid the area around the Florida Institute of Technology.
Crime maps back up what many say in travel forums regarding the high crime rates in these neighborhoods.
The beach portion of Melbourne is one of the safest areas when it comes to crime numbers.
Anything south of Eau Gallie (O-galley) could be getting into dangerous neighborhoods.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Melbourne
- Florida is one of the top places for pedestrian accidents, and traffic accidents aren’t too far behind. To stop risks on the road, the Melbourne City Council made it illegal for anyone on a sidewalk to interact physically with someone in a car. So that stops everything from panhandling to drug dealing between a pedestrian and a driver and keeps more eyes focused on the road and safe driving.
- You need a license for fishing in Florida, and there are separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater. It’s easy to get one, just go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website and look for the proper license to start the process.
- When you are at the beach, check the flag color before you go in the water. There are five different flags, from low hazard up to the water being closed to the public. For example, a purple flag means there’s dangerous marine life nearby. Ask a lifeguard if that means sharks or jellyfish or both.
- This is a family-friendly destination, and many of the nearby attractions have strict dress codes against any shirts with offensive or vulgar messages on them. At their discretion, they can refuse your entrance, so just wear something that isn’t at risk of offending anyone.
- There are alligators in Melbourne and they live in freshwater. Instead of poking around a freshwater lake or pond, check out a tour like Bullgator’s Adventures Airboat Rides & Tours, so you can see them from the safety of the boat.
- Scuba lovers should check with local scuba shops before hitting the water. There are some places here where the water can be a bit murky. There is no law in Florida requiring a scuba diver to be certified, but there are plenty of classes available if you want to learn just to be on the safe side.
- Don’t be surprised if you meet a real rocket scientist while you’re visiting. Since Melbourne is at the south end of the space coast, the nicer neighborhoods are attracting workers for Space-X, Blue Origin, L3Harris Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and such.
- If you want to time your trip around a space launch, check out spacecoastlaunches.com for a list of upcoming events. Launches can be seen as far away as the Tampa area on the other side of the state, but in Melbourne, you’ll get an up-close look.
- If you are a young adult or are bringing young adults with you on the trip, I’ll give you fair warning that some people refer to this place as “Mel-boring”, claiming a lack of things to do. That’s not true at all, but there isn’t a big nightlife scene like you’d get in Orlando or South Beach. This is the place for a relaxing vacation, anyway.
- There’s a “Lock It or Lose It” campaign in Melbourne encouraging people to roll up the windows and lock the car doors after parking. Almost 1/3 of theft crimes in Melbourne are from vehicles. Criminals are looking for an easy take of an unlocked car with stuff inside it. Hide all your belongings in the trunk, even if you are just running into a store restaurant for a short time.
So... How Safe Is Melbourne Really?
Melbourne isn’t a big city; just under 85,000 residents.
That means any sway in actual crime numbers can change percentages dramatically.
There also arent’ a lot of crimes against tourists, as long as you don’t provide a crime of opportunity (see #10 above).
The high crime numbers also don’t take into account the tourist population throughout the year.
The safest parts of town are the places you’d want to go anyway, while the more dangerous parts of town are the neighborhoods you don’t have a reason to be in.
Here’s how the chances break down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 111
- Aggravated Assault: 1 in 143
- Robbery: 1 in 984
- Theft: 1 in 42
- Rape: 1 in 1444
This is a town that is ripe with retirees and where some of the smartest people in the country live as they contribute to the space agencies.
This is also a town where gang members live and drugs are traded.
There were 8 homicides last year, which was a huge jump from only one the previous year.
On paper, this looks like a dangerous city.
In reality, it’s like any other city where there are good parts of town and the less desirable parts of town.
Be very careful when you are researching this city.
It can easily get confused with Melbourne in Australia, or Melbourne Beach/Village/West Melbourne.
How Does Melbourne Compare?
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
All Visa checks are done at the airport or port of entry and you won't need anything special to get into Melbourne, Florida.
You'll use the U.S. Dollar throughout the city and state. A credit card is the best option to protect against identity theft. Don't carry large amounts of cash with you, and certainly don't flash what cash you do have around while making purchases.
The coldest day in winter generally doesn't get below the 60s. There are exceptions for brief cold snaps like this is happening right now as I write this. All my Florida friends are "complaining" it's 45°(F) while I sit in a city where it's -5°(F). Summers don't get as oppressively hot as the Miami area, but still,l be prepared for the 80s or 90s with higher humidity. Always bring a rain jacket, as storms love to pop up with little notice in Florida. Always pack closed-toe shoes for some of the adventure options that won't let you wear sandals or flip-flops.
The Melbourne Orlando Airport is right in the center of town. The much bigger Orlando International Airport is about an hour northwest.
You'll want to get travel insurance for your trip to Melbourne, Florida. Especially during hurricane season, flight cancellations can ripple through all the other airports in the region, causing delays for days.
Melbourne Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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