November 21, 2021

Airplane landings at Maho Beach In St. Maarten

Maho Beach: not the largest or even most beautiful beach on our island of Sint Maarten, but surprisingly it is the most visited and famous one.

Hundreds of beach-goers waiting for a plane to swoop overhead

This small beach is on the Dutch side of the island, surrounded by coral and its surface is very dependent on the tides of the day: some days you can lounge around on powdery, white sand, on a beach chair or towel. But other days the sand is completely gone and you’re left with huge rocks to climb on.

We locals lovingly refer to Maho Beach as “a living beach” because of this.  You’ll never know what mood she’s going to be in!

Luckily though, the beach isn’t the main attraction here: it’s the fact that you cannot get a better view (and feeling… aka getting sandblasted) of planes taking off and landing RIGHT in the back of you when on Maho Beach.

Yes, places like St Barths also give you an up close and personal experience with landing planes, but Maho still takes the cake: we’re boasting the world’s shortest runway to accommodate planes such as the Boeing 747! Not just the cutesy little propellor planes here, we have some serious big birds thrusting their way in and out!

Fun fact: The History Channel program “Most Extreme Airports” ranks Princess Juliana Airport as the 4th most dangerous airport in the world! And from Maho you are able to witness this again and again!

Unfortunately the Boeing 747 no longer frequents our airport but not to worry: we still get plenty of big birds such as the Air France Airbus A340-300, 737’s, planes from Klm, Jet Blue, Air Transat and American Airlines and many more.

At either side of the beach there is a place to sit down for lunch and drinks, both with different vibes to offer.

While you’re enjoying your drinks, be sure to look at the crazies that disregard the warning signs and still attempt to hold on to the fence (which has now been doubled for safety), and all the folks who will be running for cover into the sea after standing in the way of the thrust of a plane about to take flight!

Here’s a fun drinking game: each time an item of clothing flies into the sea, take a shot!

Or don’t, you’ll be tipsy before the hour is up…

If there’s a shift in wind, chances are they will change the direction of take offs. What this means for you, is that you’re now part of a live action movie: the planes will be charging right at you! Will they be able to take off and go up in time?? Each new takeoff is a new adventure!

While on Maho, make sure to have your camera ready at all times, as you never know what perfect picture you can get next!

It’s thé place to go for that iconic Sint Maarten picture that everyone wants!

If you want to make the best use of your time, be sure to check out the arrival and departure schedules for the day on the airport website. Most big planes depart in the afternoon, however, you’ll want to schedule in the time you have to get back if you’re on cruise, as traffic gets quite heavy from 3pm onwards.

A great way to see the landings is to join one of our many tours such as the Tropical Catamaran Beach & Snorkel Tour in St. Maarten which goes by Maho Beach, you’ll be able to watch planes fly overhead right above the boat!


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