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Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Anyone who has travelled in the Caribbean knows about Maho Beach, or as it is also known, Airport Beach. It’s on the Dutch side and there you’ll find a narrow strip of beach where hundreds of people congregate throughout the day in order to experience aircraft of all sizes approach Princess Juliana International Airport for a landing on runway 10. This runway, at 7500 ft long, is quite short and requires the aircraft to approach over the beach so low that you feel you can reach up and touch their bellies. The day that we visited Maho we were lucky enough to get there moments before a KLM 747 arrived and boy, what an experience it was! As the big jet came over us it was noisy, sand swirling everywhere, I was shooting off frames as fast as I could and then there was the jubilation of having been there to catch a big one coming in!

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A resourceful entrepreneur, understanding the fascination that people have with aircraft – and seeing good potential in this narrow strip of beach – built a restaurant and bar at the far end of the beach. Needless to say, business is booming! There really are very few sun worshippers but there are dozens and dozens of tourists at any given time hoping to see as many planes as possible. They come in every few minutes so there’s no need to worry that you won’t have the experience.

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Just outside of the restaurant stands a surfboard on which one can find the expected flights for the next few hours. If you’re ever in St. Maarten, make time to travel to Maho. It was a really fun highlight of this port for us. The food at the restaurant is pretty decent and if you enjoy watching people as much as you enjoy the aircraft experience, you won’t be disappointed!

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