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Crime, where to avoid.

Glen Burnie, MD
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Crime, where to avoid.

Hi all! Please bear with me, I'm posting from my phone.

My post is not to start any kind of debate about crime and safety, it's merely to get helpful information on the particulars of being safe in St Martin. Lately I've been reading about the crime in Saint Martin.

We're pretty savvy travelers and have been all over the Caribbean in the United States. We do exercise common sense when traveling, however these recent stories I've been reading are a bit disconcerting.

I googled "crime in St Maarten" and I read all kinds of things on the internet. Some people say it is a crime ridden Island and, in some travel forums, people who live there work there,own , or have vested interests, on the island try to whitewash what's really going on, because it is in their best interests to portray St Martin as a safe tourist destination.

I am hearing things like don't travel to Grand Case at night and don't go to Phillipsburg after 4 pm, don't walk the beaches at night, and don't rent cars on the Dutch side because it makes you targets, etc

With that being said were looking very forward to our trip and will take all of the necessary precautions that we feel should be taken when traveling. Common sense things like leaving the jewelry at home not flashing money for Kara around expensive electronics. We are however renting a car and are staying at the Bellair Beach Resort which we understand is on a quiet beach in Little Bay.

So for those of you in the know can you please give me some realzworld advice that I haven't already outlined above on looking out for our safety in St Martin?

Any advice would be sincerely appreciated namely what areas to avoid when to avoid them and what type of precautions we should take. I know it sounds like I'm being overly cautious here but I'm traveling with my lovely wife and her safety is paramount.

Thank you very much!

53 replies to this topic
Glen Burnie, MD
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146 posts
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1. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

Oh...left this out, we'll be there at the end of August...

Atlanta
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2. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

I won't sugar coat it for you... it is a "safe" place.

I have been all around the Caribbean and on SXM i feel safe than any other large island (There are a few smaller islands that I feel more safe on). But when you compare it to St Lucia, St Thomas, Jamaica, etc. I "FEEL" 100% more safe on SXM than any of them.

Is there crime? Yes. Are there drugs? Sure. Can you be a victim? Absolutely! But I have been going to the island for more than half my life and I have never had a problem personally. I know many people who live on the island and all but one have never had a problem. (I'll touch on the one later)

The key is to not put yourself in a dangerous situation but it is not like they are everywhere. Let me give you an example. Our last trip in July were were sitting at a friends condo at the bar. We hear a group of 20-30 year olds talking about how 2 of them went to the gas station to get some weed. They guy had them go in his car and drove them across the island. Down a dirt road to a secluded place to pick up what they wanted. I laughed and told the bartender, "That is how people get robbed or killed." She smiled and agreed, "Ya I don't even go to that area where that road is and I lived here my whole life!" Stupid thing to get yourself in trouble.

Now, I have known one person that lives in Maho who was walking down the dark road after a late night and go held up a gun point (guns are fairly rare but they are used). Should he have been walking down the road? Most likely not but he has lived there for years and felt safe. He also didn't have a big sign that said "Not a tourist" on his back.

When I get a car in SXM for friends that come and visit, I always get a French license plate. Are you a target with a Dutch rental plate? I don't have any stats to back that up but I would believe, logically, that you are. Plus I find that people are just nicer in traffic to me and my guests because they do not see us as a tourist right off the back.

So where would I avoid? Well there are not too many places because where I like to eat is not on the strip in Simpson Bay but the local spots. I take a lot of backroads and hit a lot of the areas that you most likely would not be in.

With that said, if you do not know you way around, I would avoid stopping in both the French and Dutch Quarter, especially after dark.

I would also be careful in Marigot after dark. Park on the main strip in view of the water and close to where you are going.

I feel safe most of the time in Philipsburg but I understand why others don't. There are a lot of alleys and narrow sections. But there is not much of a reason to be there after 6pm so shouldn't be too much of a problem. If you are going to eat somewhere there, park next to it.

I would Avoid Sandy Ground after dark, but again, not much you would go there for.

As far as Grand Case, in August it can be a bit slow. I have never had a problem there and I know several people that live there and own businesses there. They do not know of too much of a problem either. But you will have to part a bit away from where you eat so keep that in mind.

The other areas I would avoid should not be a problem for you.. Again they are off the path and there is no reason that you would even know where they are, much less have a reason to pass through them!

Only advice I would give is just know your surroundings and if something does not feel right, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don't take that shortcut down the dark alley off the main strip.

I hope that helps, if you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

Staten Island, New...
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3. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

Firstly discount all the negative things you have been reading by about 90%.

Places such as Grand Case and Philipsburg offer fine dining after dark -yes avoid the beaches after dark with some exceptions for group parties, etc.

Belair Beach Hotel is on a safe beach with two hotels on site, you'll be fine there day and night.

No need to travel to residential areas of the island, stick with public places offering dining and entertainment, avoid very late night driving, avoid showing money and items of great value in public, avoid leaving anything in an unattended vehicle even in the trunk as petty theft is a concern.

Staten Island, New...
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4. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

www.worldlicenseplates.com/world/CA_STMA.html

=======================

Rental cars often have stickers or other advertising from the rental company however if you feel that these plates may be a problem you can always ask for a rental with French plates, they are available from renters on both sides of the island so no need to go to a specific location just for the plates.

Massachusetts
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5. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

We have made about a dozen vacation trips to St Martin and can't advise on where to avoid because we have never seen anything that could be regarded as crime. So maybe where to feel totally relaxed and safe might be useful. Beaches during the day...Mullett,Maho,Friars,Happy Bay,Orient,Pinel Rouge,Plum and Long. We always have driven there in a rental car,. Locked it up,used the "club" provided by the rental folks and no incidents. They do have French plates on them,

Grand Case and Orient village at night are lively with vacationers and others enjoying the evening.Go there every trip.

We have probably been to Philipsburg once and Marigot a few times over the years. Just not what we enjoy.

Can't wait to return.

toronto
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6. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

What time does it get dark in September?

Glen Burnie, MD
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7. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

Great advice...thanks everyonr!

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

I returned to St. Martin in 2009 after not having been there in years. At that time there were tons of postings on forums about how much crime there is on the island. I remember thinking we had made a mistake as the island was not what I remembered from many years ago. However, when we arrived we were greeted by friendly locals and we enjoyed evenings in Grand Case and Orient Village and rented a car and drove all over the island without any problems. We went back this year (actually was on the island 2x this year) and I am happy to report we had the same wonderful experiences. Obviously nobody can guarantee a 100% crime free experience anywhere in the world but I would not hesitate to return to St. Martin and hopefully I will soon.

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9. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

Hi,

I had the same problem like you before I first time come to St.Maarten.

Let me tell you MY experience.

I used to live 2 months in Philipsburg( Dutch side ). There are at least 3 supermarkets own by Chinese in the town open late (don't remember exactly if it was till 10pm or 11pm.)

Almost every day I went there shopping and after that I highhike a car who brings me for one dollar to place I lived.

Every day different car stops, with different people inside, different owner of the car etc.Somehow most of theme speak Spanish so because I speak Spanish fluent I can hear what people in the car talking about.

And I can say, they were never NEVER ever rude to me or had any bad comments. Contrary they were nice, but mostly they just don't care.They bring you ...you give theme a dollar and that's it.

I must say that my experience is mostly with Dutch side. I had been many times on France side and must say that in Dutch side I felt much secure. Well generally the Island is safe place.

Ones I walked in 3am on the beach and there was nobody around.

On the France side I also saw a couple of tents so people go sleep out sometimes.

In Philipsburg I lived in local place and small kids was coming to me and asking how I am and they smiled.

I never had any problem and never feel bad or vulnerable.

Originally I come from Prague(Czech Republic Part of the EU) and I can tell you that I feels safer in St.maarten than in Prague. Strange no?

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10. Re: Crime, where to avoid.

This was the best comments about this topic what I ever read!

This is exactly how it is!

Edited: 3:01 pm, August 19, 2015
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