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A Day at Maho Beach, St. Maarten!

Have you ever been to a beach that’s pretty much part of a runway? If not, you’ve probably at least seen a photo of Maho Beach, which is located on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Maho Beach is famous for its location, which is right under the flight path at the end of the runway at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).  It’s also known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world since its runway is only half the length of a typical international airport’s runway!

Maho Beach during a “quiet moment”


When planes aren’t landing or taking off, the beach is like any other beach in the Caribbean and quite peaceful. There’s white, powdery sand and beautiful, blue water to swim in. This particular beach offers no shade but you can rent beach or lounge chairs for a small fee. There are also restaurants and bars in the area where you can grab food and drinks. But let’s talk about why this beach is so popular…to get up close and personal with the massive planes that are landing and taking off! There’s a few ways to view the planes in Maho Beach.
The first, and most popular way to view the planes, is literally from right underneath them! Most of the planes tend to land between 1:30pm-5:00pm, so, if you want to view them this way claim a spot right in the center on the beach. You can also stand in the water but know the sand drop off is pretty steep so you should be a good swimmer.
It’s so thrilling to watch the planes fly 100 feet right over your head and probably the closest you’ll ever get to being run over by an A330! (They stopped landing 747s in St. Maarten in November of 2016.)
Another way to view the planes is by watching them take off from the beach. I want to warn you that the blast from the jet engines is extremely strong and your hats, debris and other items can be blown away. In fact, you may even be blown away!
Some thrill seekers have attempted to hold on to the chain link fence behind the runway so they can get blasted by the engines and float into the air in the 100mph winds. This seems crazy to me because there are many warning signs around that say the jet blast can hurt or even kill you! So, keep your distance, and get prepared for the sandstorm that is about to take place if you choose this option. The sand hurts so don’t be surprised if you end up running for the water! We noticed that most of the planes seemed to leave the airport from 4:00pm on. 
UPDATE: A tourist recently was killed when she tried to hold on to the fence. DON’T TRY THIS OPTION.


Finally, lets talk about my favorite way to watch the planes takeoff and land, which is from the Sunset Bar and Grill right by the beach! The Sunset Bar & Grill is located at 2 Beacon Hill Road, Simpson Bay, in Saint Maarten. It is literally only a ten-minute walk from the check-in area of SXM airport so also a great place to hang if you have a layover.
View from the restaurant.
Sunset Bar offers a variety of food and has a full bar. The bar also has a pool you can swim in and is the perfect, SAFE spot to watch the planes take-off and land.


The bar also has an arrival and departure board that shows the flight schedule for the day and they used to play air traffic control over their loud speakers. It seems this stopped in 2015 but maybe they’ll bring it back? Either way, it’s a really fun place to spend the day, or a long layover. If I still haven’t sold you on visiting Maho Beach, check out this video of an American Airlines flight landing!

Now do you wanna go? Let me know what you think on Instagram! 

Have fun in St. Maarten!!!


Lindsay & Christopher

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