This may not a local custom but its a custom when we are there. There is (was in 1994 and 1996) a 4 story building on a cliff. It started innocently enough with cliff diving. But our hero Steve-o took it all the way up. Jumping off the building roof. And we never looked back from there.
I really don't recommend this. It was a stupid thing to do but was SO SO fun.
The official currency of Dutch St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles guilder but the US Dollar is also accepted as currency. We managed to pay with US Dollars and had no problem in any store or restaurant.
If you come to the island on a cruise and the ship docks at another island that's a U.S. protectorate, like St. Thomas, you can bring back up to $1,600 worth of goods and not have to pay duty. The rules say only $800 worth of those goods can be from the island; the other $800 worth has to come from the U.S.-controlled locale but we have never had a problem bringing in strictly local items.
2 liters of alcohol are allowed from St. Maarten, as long as one of the liters was produced locally. You are allowed to bring home up to 200 cigarettes and 100 non-Cuban cigars.
It is considered rude if you walk into shops with inappropriate attire. Beachwear such as swimsuits should be covered up and you shouldn't be flashing tons of flesh. Looking respectful will get you the "right" attention from locals and shop employees. We were in a shop when a woman came in wearing what appeared to be a small bedsheet over her bathingsuit. The looks on the faces of the shop staff gave away exactly what they were thinking.....Save the beachwear for the beach and dress correctly when shopping.
Be polite when entering a business or shop and say Hello or Good Morning; use please and thank you. Good manners will help get you good service.
My wife and I were sailing on a Celbrity Cruise of the Caribbean for 12 nights. She boarded the ship with what she thought was a cold. By day three she had a full blown sinus infection and a fever. Fortunately she was able to go to a Pharmacy in St. Maarten and get the antibiotics she needed. The process itself was quite interesting.
We went to the pharmacy and she told them what she needed. They called a local doctor and had him speak to her; going over her symptoms. He then told the pharmacist what prescription to give my wife. The cost of speaking to a doctor was $15. The Z-Pack was $45. Amazing and actually cheaper than seeing a doctor back home.
Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin is very multicultural for an island of over 75,000 people. English is the unofficial language but Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamento are also spoken. You may even think you're in France on the French side and the Netherlands on the Dutch side. It's a melting pot of the Caribbean, and many flock from other islands to make a living here. So, if possible, a small monetary tip at the grocery store to the baggers or at the casino to the waitresses won't hurt.
Plan your trip well and bring all the items you need, I can guarantee it will be fulfilling to visit here. American Airlines flies in every day along with several other airlines. The cost will vary by season. The Carnival season kicks off in April.
Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten but English is commonly spoken. As we shopped and explored St. Maarten we were always greeted in English and seldomly heard another language spoken.
Upon arriving at the port there were several rows of pay phones. Obtaing a calling card ahead of time will be helpful in making those calls home instead of paying a high fee aboard the cruise ship.