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Looking for a tropical escape?  There are many islands in the Caribbean to choose from!  In fact, this region is a top travel destination, especially for US visitors.  But, not all islands are the same.

The island of St. Martin/St. Maarten is beautiful, high-class, and boasts many brag-worthy things.  Not only does it have both a French side and a Dutch side, but you can enjoy your time here watching beautiful sunsets while surrounded by the mega-yachts of the rich and famous.  This is one of the most beautiful and exhilarating Caribbean islands we have visited. DSC03515

Maho Beach

A trip to the island is not complete without spending a day at Maho Beach where your time can range from relaxing while you soak up the sun to screaming as jumbo jets land at dangerously low altitudes above you.  I don’t know of any other place where plane spotting is this exciting or dangerous!DSC03533

Thrilling Waters for Airplane Spotters

Maho beach is located at the end of one of the runways of Princess Julianna International Airport.  Because this particular stretch of runway is very short and accommodates large planes, it has been dubbed one of the most dangerous airports in the world.  Seriously! Regardless of their size, planes must descend quickly in order to make their landing.  The plane spotting spectacle and accelerated thrill at Maho Beach are literally enough to lift you off your feet!

Although your day might start with some smaller planes coming and going, this just allows you to practice your camera skills and prepare for the arrival of the big planes!

Sunset Beach Bar

It is so much fun to sit on the beautiful beach and wait for large planes with heightened anticipation.  While small commuter planes come in constantly, the arrival of the big jets creates quite the commotion.  The Sunset Beach Bar has a sign indicating what flights are arriving when so you can plan for the big ones.  Or, you can just patiently wait as you soak up the sun.  Either way, you will not be disappointed by your time spent on this beautiful stretch of beach. DSC03570As the jumbo jets approach for landing, you will start to feel excitement, fear, uncertainty, and awe wash over you and it feels like you could reach up and touch one of them as the blast over the top of you. This beach is famous for these extreme close-call landings!

Getting Sandblasted

Equally thrilling, but far more dangerous, is when one of the massive jets takes off from that runway, which is just across the narrow street separating the beach from the airport grounds.  Against the orders of local law enforcement, hoards of people will claim their spot on the retaining wall as they wait for the jets to hit the end of the runway.  Once those planes kick it into high gear and start to take off people literally go flying as the result of the jet stream blast.  From the Sunset Beach Bar, we watched people get thrown into the water while others tried to take cover from the severe sandblasting they were receiving.  This place is serious business!

Our plan was to hit the retaining wall before we left – just to say we did it – but unfortunately the beach was hit by a torrential downpour before we had the opportunity.  Dang it!! The next time we return to St. Maarten, we will make sure to try our luck with riding the jet stream.

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In September 2017, Maho Beach and the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten was 95% destroyed by Hurricane Irma.  Our thoughts are with the people throughout the Caribbean as they work to rebuild their lives.

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27 Comments

  1. We visited this beach on a whistle-stop tour of the island. It’s a lovely little beach, the sea is gorgeous and the sand is powder-white soft, alas, we weren’t here long enough to see this strange sight of a jet flying super close to our heads – only a little propeller plane! I do agree though, if you get the opportunity to visit this beach, you definitely should, if not for the planes then for the gorgeous beach itself 🙂

  2. Love the panoramic shot of that plane haha. Honestly, I don’t think I would enjoy this too much, it seems anxiety-inducing not to mention all that sandblasting. I imagine there are quieter parts of the beach too right?

  3. Loved reading your post! sounds like great fun. It was only a couple of weeks ago that we found the live streaming webcam from the bar on this beach, and I said to Phil we have to go here one day! The sandblasting sounds painful! Must be a great spectacle.

  4. What a fun and exciting trip. To sit on the beach and anticipate the jumbo jets flying in and feeling the jet wash blast you with sand. Enjoyed reading your blog and must put the Island of St. Martin on my buck list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Very near the top of my Bucket List is sitting at Sunset Bar and watching the planes and people. I love the idea of being airborne by the jet blast…but not the sandblasting that comes with it. We’ll be watching the blog so see if you ever make it to the wall!

    1. I hope you make it there one day! There are many things about it that make it a great spot – including the people watching!

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