Crime has increased significantly on the island over the last decade. Car crime is particularly prevalent, so don't leave valuables in your hire car when you park it at the beach or in town. Muggings are also on the increase, and it's advisable not to walk on unlit areas of the beach or the main towns at night. I have also heard of muggings at Pic Paradise.
French side 911
Dutch side 111
When you drive, be carefull of animals...They are free and might jump on the road...But they are so cute...I got out of the car to take a picture of this goat and it followed me on a very long distance...
don't act too rich and don't insult the locals in any way. They are easily offended. Also don't go hitchhiking in your skirt. Men will think you are a whore and pick you up for other reasons then just for a ride.
Watch out for taking cabbies. They drive farther around then they should so you will have to pay more.
Watch out and don't go sunbading between 11 am and 14 pm. It is too hot, you get burned for sure. You are not save in the water, you will only get burned there faster without noticing.
There is no such thing as being on time. Noone lives on the clock and they will expect you to do the same.
Also, be prepared to come into contact with the famous 'maniana' culture, which roughly translates to 'anything we can do today, we can also do tomorrow'
If you need something done, get someone who can do it and actually stand and look until they are done with it. Either that or harass them on the phone 24/7 until they give in and do what you want.
Beware of local car rental company's. While the best way to get around St Martin is renting a car, be very careful of getting scammed!!! We rented a car from a local company at the airport. They offer lower prices that the other reputable company's (i.e. Herz, Avis, National, etc.) We thought we were getting a great deal. When we returned the car it had a minor scratch and the wanted to charge us $75 to fix the door!! They take advantage of the fact that you are going to be late for your flight. The worker who later took us to the terminal told us that this scam goes on regularly and all they do is buff the scratch and paint it and it costs less than $5.00, that is, if they fix it at all!
There has been a crime ave sweeping through St Maarten/Martin. Mostly petty theft. Don't leave things in your car (trunk included) and make sure everything is always locked up. We didn't have any problems, and I think most people don't as long they take the necessary precautions.
On the Dutch side, you will most likely see a 15% service charge added to your bill. In many restaurants on the French side, the gratuity is included in the price of the meal. Don't overpay-they will make it clear to you on the menu if service is NOT included. For superb service, leave an additional 5%.
Everyone talks about how safe the island is and it is quite safe, but you must still be sensible. When we were there, a very experienced traveler from LA was mugged in broad daylight when she came out of a little store in Marigot where she had gone to buy water. She admits that it was her fault because she had become to lax because everyone keeps telling how friendly and safe it is. She was wearing her money in a pouch around her neck and someone ran up and grabbed it and ran.
while the south shore beaches are a sandy paradise, the north shore is wild surf beating on rockface. NO SWIMMING ON THIS SIDE OF THE ISLAND!
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