Florida : Safety by City
- Amelia Island
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- New Smyrna Beach
- North Port
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- Palm Beach Gardens
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- Pembroke Pines
- Pompano Beach
- Port St. Lucie
- Punta Gorda
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- Vero Beach
- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
There are so many great things to tell you about New Smyrna Beach, Florida, but I’m going to start with the worst thing so we can just get it out of the way.
It’s the Shark Bite Capital of the World. Many of the reasons people love New Smyrna Beach are the same reasons sharks do.
We’ll dive into that a little later and talk about safety tips.
New Smryna (pronounced: SMUR-nuh) Beach is home to 17 miles of beautiful sandy shores and water right out of a surfer’s dream.
Restaurants line the beach areas with boutiques and souvenir shopping.
It’s the perfect beach town to get away from it all without being too far away from major attractions.
Daytona Beach is just 25 minutes north and Cape Canaveral is just an hour south.
This is also one of the best options for a beach getaway from Orlando, which is just an hour southwest.
Warnings & Dangers in New Smyrna Beach
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's low overall risk when it comes to crime and safety in New Smyrna Beach. The major crimes are all well below the national average. People are friendly and tourism booms year-round.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's low risk when using public transportation in this area. Volusia County hopes all visitors feel comfortable riding the buses so there's less traffic. The Votran has designated stops throughout the country, from Daytona to south Volusia County to west Volusia County. There are two taxi services available, both regulated by the county. There are also rideshare options.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed in this area IF you follow the proper safety precautions. People tend to leave belongings at the beach while they get in the water, which is a theft risk. There's an overall one in 88 chance of being a victim of a crime, but that number only reflects the population of the city vs. the number of crimes. Add in the nearly 400,000 yearly visitors and that chance goes down to one in 1202.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
New Smyrna Beach can get hit directly by hurricanes and is prone to severe thunderstorms in the summer that can spawn tornadoes or waterspouts. Because of that danger, there's a medium risk, but rest assured that most days are sunny and warm.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with only 8 robberies reported in 2020. It's well below the national average.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low terrorism risk here, barring an attack on Cape Canaveral which could affect this region. Also, the Daytona 500 could bring higher risk, but the average day-to-day risk is low.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Florida is one of the highest states for identity theft, so always check your bank statements when traveling and set up alerts before you go to avoid excessive charges you don't recognize. There's also a risk of a rental scam, where you book a low-priced home feeling like you got a deal, but when you arrive there's no home and you are out the money. Be sure to use a licensed local home rental company to book. All that said, there's a medium risk here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women should feel safe traveling here and there's low risk. Like any vacation spot, don't drink so much that you can't take care of yourself and avoid walking in strange areas at night.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach tests the water as it leaves the plant until it gets to the homes or businesses, and all tests meet or exceed standards. There's a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in New Smyrna Beach
The beach is the place to be in New Smyrna Beach.
There are 12 entrances to the beach, and the most popular is the Flagler Avenue entrance.
Let’s start at the north end of the beach.
The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse stands just outside of the city limits but is worth visiting.
It’s the tallest lighthouse in Florida.
Be sure to bring closed-toed shoes if you want to climb the 176 feet to the top.
The only downside to this visit is unless you have a boat, you have to drive around the inlet and that’s about 16 miles out of the way.
On the other side of the inlet, within the city limits, sits Smyrna Dunes Park.
This is one of the places to get an overlook of the Ponce de Leon Inlet and the ocean.
There’s an “L” shaped pier to get a unique view of the ocean.
Going south you’ve got a lot of beachfront areas and condos that line the water.
Go all the way south to the Apollo Beach ranger station and you can pay to enjoy the longest stretch of unspoiled beach on this side of Florida at the Canaveral National Seashore.
This is also a great spot to watch a space launch.
Flagler Avenue is the place to dine and shop before or after some beach time.
It’s centrally located on the island between the mainland and the beach.
Places to Avoid in New Smyrna Beach
OK, let’s talk about sharks first.
I mentioned earlier, this is known as the Shark Bite Capital of the World.
Let’s lay that out so it doesn’t sound quite so scary.
Of all the 28 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida in 2021, 17 of them happened in Volusia County.
While law enforcement says you are 10 times more likely to get bit here than anywhere else in the United States, the chance of that happening is still statistically low.
The sharks migrate from North Carolina to South Florida each year and they like the shallow waters near the Ponce de Leon inlet.
The biggest population is Bull Sharks, which aren’t as dangerous as the Great White Shark.
Most of the attacks are triggered near the surf zone, where surfers head out to catch waves.
They are kicking and splashing, which gets the sharks’ attention.
The shark doesn’t know a surfer’s foot from a sea turtle, so they just bite whatever is moving.
The best news is, on the off chance you do get attacked by a bull shark, it probably won’t be a fatal wound.
So, avoid the surf zone if all of that scares you.
I want to repeat, however, just 17 shark attacks in a region that saw 380,000 visitors last year.
Here are some shark safety tips:
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry or bright-colored swimsuits, both can be an attraction to a shark.
- Don’t go into the water with open wounds, shark literally can smell blood in the water.
- When you see a purple flag on the beach, that means there is dangerous marine life, clarify with a lifeguard what that means for the given day.
- Avoid swimming in the areas between sandbars and a big drop-off, this is where sharks like to swim.
- Don’t swim near where people are fishing.
Crime maps show the most dangerous areas for crime are the central part of the city from the beach to I-95.
This is also the busiest part of the city, so many statistics are directly related to crimes of opportunity.
You can control how at-risk you are by how you handle proper safety precautions.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New Smyrna Beach
- If you want to go fishing, you’ll need a saltwater fishing license from the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can register for a license online ahead of time.
- Know the beach conditions of the day before you go or check as soon as you arrive. There are colored flags that tell you about the dangers. A double red flag, for example, means nobody can go in the water. A single red flag means the water is rough and only skilled swimmers should enter. Green means there is a low risk.
- New Smyrna Beach is one of the only beaches in the country where you can drive on the beach. It will cost you $20 a day to do so. There is a 5-mile stretch of beach where driving is allowed and parking spots are available in many areas.
- If you go to the beach at night, and not that it’s the safest idea, but if you do — do not shine bright lights during sea turtle nesting season which is March through October. The lights can cause the turtles to get confused or lost. You don’t want to be responsible for the death of a baby sea turtle. Because of light restrictions, the beach will be very dark after sunset, so there could be more risk of a crime.
- How can you tell a dolphin from a shark? A dolphin’s fin has a little bit of curve to it, and they tend to bob up and down when swimming through the water. A shark’s fin is much more angular and stays at a constant rate of visibility as they move through the water. However, if you see a dolphin, there’s a good chance there will be a shark nearby as they feed off the same fish.
- If you are in the water and think you see a shark, don’t freak out. You have to stay calm. Avoid splashing and get back to shore as smoothly and quietly as possible. I was once on a paddleboard with a friend when I was certain we had seen a shark. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life as we tried to stay calm and move through the water with very little noise.
- For those who do want to surf in New Smyrna Beach, there are designated surfing areas. Check those out before you go. Never surf near the pier or where people are fishing.
- Check the weather before you drive to the Ponce de Leon lighthouse. Any thunderstorm will cause the tower to be closed for a certain amount of time. Generally, mornings are less stormy than afternoons in Florida, so plan the trip for the first stop of a day.
- To help boost the local economy, eat at one of the restaurants along the beach. New Smyrna Beach prides itself on not having a single chain restaurant along the beach. It’s a unique experience at each restaurant and supports the local economy, which took a big hit during the pandemic.
- There’s an algae bloom that can happen in Florida’s beach towns called “Red Tide.” The bloom kills fish, which then wash up on shore and rot in the sun. The smell is unlike anything you can imagine. It can also cause respiratory issues. Check myfwc.com for the latest Red Tide report BEFORE you go to the beach. I once spent a morning at Siesta Beach, convinced I could handle the smell of Red Tide on a beautiful sunny day. I lasted 30 minutes before I left dry-heaving and running for the car.
So... How Safe Is New Smyrna Beach Really?
Assuming you don’t get attacked by a shark (KIDDING!), there’s a relatively low crime rate in the city of New Smyrna Beach.
Here’s how the chances break down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 401
- Aggravated Assault: 1 in 449
- Robbery: 1 in 3767
- Theft: 1 in 88
Remember, those numbers are based on population alone (30,142) vs the actual number of crimes.
All categories go down exponentially when you factor in tourism numbers.
How Does New Smyrna Beach Compare?
|New Smyrna Beach
|New York City
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
There's no special Visa requirement for New Smyrna Beach other than what you use to gain access to the country. You'll take care of that at the airport of your choice.
You'll use the U.S. Dollar here as well as the state of Florida. Credit cards are always advised over cash for safety reasons.
New Smyrna Beach gets great weather all year. In the winter, highs will be up to the upper 60s with lows into the 40s, so you'll need a jacket. In spring, the highs get into the upper 70s and low 80's all leading up to summers with highs around 90°(F). At least two inches of rainfall on average each month and the summer is the rainy season. It can also get quite windy here, so think about blowing wind when you pack sundresses or crop shirts.
The biggest airport nearby is the Orlando International Airport. That's about an hour away. The Daytona Beach International Airport is the closest, just 30 minutes away.
Pack some travel insurance with your trip in case the weather ends up canceling or delaying flights.
New Smyrna Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month