Use your head. When you travel by car, leave nothing inside your car. Always treat your car like an open top, doorless vehicle with a sign saying what's in the open is yours. Also, when driving don't stop off to take pictures or explore where there aren't lots of people. Like anywhere else, there is a safety in numbers. Some roads are not paved well or need repairs, becareful when turning corners, locals love to walk slowly across the street on a blind corner. Don't park anywhere where groups of people are just hanging around. The French side is less busy, parking can be easier, and congestion is minimal except for large city areas. The Hong Fong supermarkets are packed into various areas of the city but can save you hundreds in groceries as opposed to the Supermarche. You can even get a good deal at the Butcherie. The butcher has beautiful eyes, speaks French and Spanish, and is a fair, understanding man. (We knew very little Spanish and French but managed to get what we wanted.) At the beach, watch out! We were going to eat at one restaurant and the tide beat the server to the table. The powerful wave took my flip flop and almost saturated my camera. Luckly I got my shoe back and the camera was as dry as a bone.
Apply common sense and you will be just fine. Also, drive defensively! Only 2 traffic lights exist on the island. Use your hand and petal into traffic.
The mancenillier tree's sap and fruit is poisonous and is found around the Carribbean. A previous posting explained the tree's danger but showed a picture of the very safe and abundant tree grape. I've included a picture of the mancenillier tree for clarification.
If you like to travel solo, this is a great island, but take care particularly at night, and especially if you're a woman traveling alone. Stay near places with good numbers of people (restaurants, etc.), and don't go out onto the beach by yourself at night. Be smart! I had a bad experience because I did so that could have turned out really dangerously......I was lucky, and am very smart about walking out at night there on my own since then.
It appears to be national pastime in both part of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten to masquerade as a taxi driver as a way of making a fast buck. They are known locally as "Gypsy Taxis". Because of the lack of any public transportation after 6pm, tourists will often later in the evening proferred lifts by cars purporting to be hackney type taxis. They will have no roof signs and inside display no official licence licence. Though initially friendly they will rip you off royally on any fare they choose to charge you and may become agressive if you refuse to pay the demanded fare. They are also uninsured to carry passengers so in the event of any accidents....
If you do find yourself in one, agree immediately a satisfactory fare and if possible note the registration plate. Do not get dropped straight outside your destination. Have your cell phone at hand to ring the police on 911 or 112 in the event of any dispute and be prepared and assertive enough to use it. These guys know that they will be in big trouble with the law if you report them - it worked for me!
I wish the authorities on the island would do something to stamp out this problem.
one thing about this island, there are stray dogs galore. Most are harmless, but use common sense. This one was getting some shade under the table next to us. another one crawled under my wife's beach chair while we were laying out.
During recent trip to St Maarten, our Sea Castle villa was broken into and robbed. Thieves stole $4000 in cash and electronics. After filing a police report, St Maarten detective came to the Sea Castle and confirmed a faulty lock on sliding glass door was most likely the way the robbers entered. The owner and Island Properties rental agency did NOTHING to help.
Even though it was a security problem with the villa, and even though the St Maarten police confirmed the security problem, the Island Properties and the owner came back with the clause in the rental contract: "Each property is privately owned and the Owners and Management WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE for accidents or injury to guests or for loss of money, jewelry or valuables of any kind". When you rent this villa....or any other villa in St Maartin / St Martin..... keep in mind that you are ON YOUR OWN as far as security and safety.