Rhode Island : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Rhode Island - state review
Narragansett and the southern portion of Rhode Island’s coastline, known locally as South County, feel a world away from the bustle of places like Providence and Newport.
Connected by great swaths of salt marsh, briny rivers, and the byways of Point Judith village, Narragansett still moves to the rhythm of the sea.
Originally home to the Niantic and Narragansett Native American nations, early colonists like Roger Williams recognized the bounty of this area even as it remained sparsely populated save for fishing hamlets and isolated dairy farms.
By the late 1800s, steamships began depositing Bostonians and New Yorkers hungry for relief from congested summers.
Grand hotels offered distraction while visitors rejuvenated themselves on miles of beaches newly connected by rail.
And so tourism came to define the region.
Yet a modest way of life persisted despite Gilded Age mansions overlooking the waves.
You are just 20 minutes from the Gilded Age haven of Newport, and a quick 30-minute ferry ride can get you to Block Island.
Surfers here ride world-class swells generated by offshore storms, much as they learn the meaning of privilege that this treasured coastal corner embodies for its inhabitants, who are honored to share South County’s peaceful escape with visitors, too, if for only a little while.
Warnings & Dangers in Narragansett
OVERALL RISK: LOW
The risk is low, and the rewards are many. This is one of the safest and most idyllic New England beaches you'll find, yet still not as crowded as the Cape Cod beaches.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You get a mix of options here, all with a low risk. A ferry can take you to Block Island, rental cars open up the road for scenic adventures, and taxis and rideshares await eager tourists. Check the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to see if the options work with your travel needs.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Statistically, the risk is low, with just one pickpocket or purse snatching reported over the past decade. To be honest, that seems a little TOO low for a tourist community, so use your best practices for protecting your stuff.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk, as any beachfront community would be. Hurricanes can happen between June and November, with August through October being the most likely. Nor'easters can happen from October through April. Even storms offshore can cause riptides and dangerous waves here. Snowstorms are another potential issue. Stay aware of the weather while you visit, as all the risks come with plenty of notice.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
As far as I can find from all the crime data, over the past decade, there have only been two robberies. That's a low risk, but always use common sense when visiting a tourist area.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here as there are a lot of natural areas and very few landmarks or population groups, which would make it a higher risk. Report anything suspicious that you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
I'd use caution with rental scams because even as a lower-budget option to Newport, you still won't find an incredibly low deal. Use trusted rental websites or the Chamber of Commerce to help you find a legitimate rental company.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
This is somewhat of a retirement community, so it's welcoming for women of all ages. Women face the same risks as anyone else, but don't let the safe surroundings cause you to let your guard down.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water here is safe to drink and use for bathing, and you can always ask at the front desk of your hotel if there's a recent water quality report. Those are also available on the city's website. To check the water quality of the bay, visit the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. They issue water quality reports from late May through early October.
Safest Places to Visit in Narragansett
You can use the resources on the city’s website to learn more about where to visit and some safety rules and guidelines.
The South County Rhode Island website covers Narragansett and the nearby cities.
You can download a free tourist guide there.
One of Narragansett’s allures is its six miles of sandy shoreline and popular state beaches like Scarborough and Narragansett Beach, which boast miles of oceanfront for swimming, surf fishing, and even seal watching in the winter.
The Pier Marketplace sits right across from the town beach, with a series of shops to explore whether you’re looking for souvenirs or specialty items.
At the historic Towers Estate, visitors can tour the stately former mansion located on Ocean Road with impeccably preserved early 20th-century Tudor gardens and architecture nestled into a rocky coastline overlooking the sea.
Seafood fans won’t want to miss a meal of freshly caught specialties at restaurants like The Coast Guard House, which has kept guests satisfied for over 60 years in Point Judith village, brimming with fishing boats arriving daily.
Nature trails at Rocky Point Park weave through a scenic landscape dotted with aquidneck oaks leading out to dramatic bluff views of Narragansett Bay – beckoning outdoor lovers to reflect on this special seaside habitat.
The South County Museum explores the area’s rich history, from native inhabitants and early colonists to the rise of tourism along the “Ocean State’s” renowned shores, granting insight into the forces shaping this treasured stretch of New England today.
Point Judith Lighthouse sits at the southern end of the city, and you are welcome to explore the grounds and take photos.
The lighthouse isn’t open to tours since it’s a working Coast Guard station.
Plenty of tours are available, from walking tours about food, history, and urban legends to boat tours of the bay, lighthouses, sunrises, and sunsets.
Be aware that many of these tours depart from Newport.
Take the ferry trip to Block Island, about an hour offshore.
Here, you have more beaches, lighthouses, and historic sites like Monhegan Bluffs to explore.
The website is blockislandinfo.com.
Places to Avoid in Narragansett
You won’t find dangerous parts of town or bad neighborhoods here.
The rules are pretty simple – avoid water when a storm is brewing.
Even storms far offshore can send dangerous waves that sweep people away.
It’s especially important to avoid climbing on rocks to get a view of the water.
Second, stay off of private property.
Even if you visit a resort for dinner, if you aren’t a guest, you likely won’t get access to that beach.
With 20 public beaches, you won’t be limited to waterfront access.
You don’t have to avoid Narragansett in the winter, either.
The resorts here offer great deals during the off-season, and the ferry still runs as the weather allows.
South County offers five resorts in this region but few other hotel options.
Home rentals are also available in this region.
Newport has many more hotels but also much larger crowds.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Narragansett
- Narragansett has its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @NarragansettPolice. Feel free to call (401) 789-1091 or email email@example.com to ask specific safety questions.
- Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts to get the latest information on severe weather or public safety threats. You can also follow @NarragansettEMA on X (formerly Twitter),
- The police department issues a Day Log of the previous day’s calls for service and puts that online. You can review this to see crime trends, but it’s not imperative in such a safe community. I just wanted to make sure you knew about it.
- Two ferries go from Narragansett to Block Island. One is the “normal” ferry, capable of bringing cars along. The other is a high-speed ferry with minimal amenities. If you want to take the high-speed ferry, book it far in advance. These sell out quickly.
- If you’re visiting during a storm, bring extra gear in the event of a power outage. You can find a list of resources on the emergency management checklist.
- For those visiting during or after a storm, stay away from the beach. People like to look at the storm damage, but that can interfere with emergency workers while putting themselves at risk.
- Rhode Island requires you to have a fishing license if you plan to go on the water, and there’s a different license for saltwater vs. freshwater. Rhode Island Outdoors’ website can help answer all of your questions.
- Certain parking lots will be for residents, and a specially designated lot will be for visitors. Don’t try to park in the resident lot. Between the town and state park beaches, there are different rules and regulations. Research that before you go. Do not go to private beaches.
- Yes, the waters off of Rhode Island have sharks. Beach flags are posted showing the latest conditions and threats. You can review the color definitions on the Rhode Island State Parks website. If a shark is spotted, the beach will be closed.
- If you forget sunscreen, the state parks have sunscreen stations around the perimeter. Even though you’re not at the balmy beaches of Florida, sun exposure here can still cause sunburns.
So... How Safe Is Narragansett Really?
In a state that already has a low crime rate, Narragansett’s violent crime rate is 52% lower.
It’s also 82% lower than the national average.
The city hasn’t seen more than 15 violent crimes in a year going back a decade, and in 2023, that number was 12 – four sexual assaults and eight aggravated assaults.
Over the past decade, just 20% of violent crimes have been against strangers.
The rest were between people who knew each other in some capacity.
Another benefit of visiting an underrated beach is the theft risk is decreased.
In fact, the rate here is 80% lower than the national average and has dropped 79% in the past decade.
In 2023, thefts happened about three times a month.
The rest of the safety concerns are directly related to how much you’re paying attention to the weather and the tide.
Flooding can easily happen during a storm in this community, and a hurricane can be disastrous.
The beach is experiencing ongoing beach erosion from storms.
Aside from basic personal safety and natural hazard education, this is really one of the safest places to visit in the nation.
How Does Narragansett Compare?
|New York City
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
International visitors need a visa or visa waiver, depending on which one they are eligible for, and a passport that isn't within six months of expiring. Check the latest guidance and timetables on the U.S. State Department website.
The U.S. Dollar is the only accepted currency here. Limit your cash purchases to the bare necessities, if you can. Credit cards provide better fraud protection. The nearest airports all have currency exchange inside the terminal.
Summer visitors will need all the beach additions, like water shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray. Winter visitors can still walk the beach but bring extra layers to compensate for the winds. Feel free to dress casually here in this seaside escape.
The closest airport is T.F. Green International Airport (PVD) in Providence. That's 24 miles north. For those flying out of Boston, plan for a two-hour drive.
Travel insurance is highly recommended when visiting a place with so many weather risks and exciting activities. You should know that any tour you take on the water will likely have you waive liability against them. Make sure any injuries, accidents, or closures are covered.
Narragansett Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month
Rhode Island - Safety by City