Went to Orient Beach last Nov '02 and had a BLAST! Felt very safe- rented chair/umbrella- bought MANY "rum punches" and ate at the same venue- tipped the staff very well and he was wonderful at watching outr stuff when we ventured away from our chairs. Nothing was missing- not a penny! (I suspect he knew the tip would be larger.....and it was). BUT...there are many "beach vendors" strolling the beach trying to sell crafts, etc- I would definitely watch out for them! We enjoyed St Maarten so much taht we are taking our 2 daughters back there in 3 weeks! Be warned though- like many of the other islands, there is always someone trying to get you to come into their shop and take you places. Many of the shops will continue to "quench your thirst" w/ very strong rum punches in hopes that you will loosen up and buy (as on other islands). My husband was Rolex shopping and I left my small handbag ($/Credit cards) on the glass display case at one of the stores.... (okay, I had had too many rum punches). We tried to retrace my steps, and about 45 minutes later, we ended up at the store. Everything was there! Suffice to say, we bought the watch from them. Hopefully this will help ease some of your potential concerns. Enjoy your trip!
My favorite island especially for shopping. It less expensive than St Thomas because they dont pay US taxes. You will find price vary from store to store so shop around before buying something. I bough a bottle of Crown Royal special reserve for 22.99 then later found it for 18.99 at another store. The only thing I didnt like in town was the street vendors trying to sell time shares Just keep walking. I felt very safe there.
Orient beach in my opinion is the most beatiful beach I've been to. Better than Megans bay or Trunk bay which most people seem to like better.