Maho Beach on the Dutch side of Saint Maarten is not a spectacular beach by any standards of natural beauty. It is small, no palm trees, and surrounded by touristy shops on either side. In fact, if you are looking for that, St Maarten is full of beautiful beaches that are worth your time for the scenic viewpoint. But Maho Beach has something that no other beach can claim, every 3 to 5 minutes the beach is greeted with arriving and departing planes from the next door airport, and is something not to be missed.
To put the phrase next door into perspective, the distance from the runway to the water is only a few hundred feet. There is a short 30-40 ft wide beach, a two lane road, a fence with “DANGER” signs posted on it, and the runway immediately after. That is it. This makes lounging at Maho Beach most unique. We arrived around 12pm after zip lining at Loterie Farms and were greated with an arriving 747 plane quite literally a few feet above the beach where people are enjoying the day. The following two hours were enjoyed watching little planes come in every three to five minutes, with a larger 747 every 30 minutes or so. At the nearby bar is a sign that posts the times of the daily arrivals of the 747s so people can get their cameras ready for an amazing show, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The pictures do more than any words can. Almost all arriving planes are directed towards the beach and make a pass overhead, while departing planes take off away. That is not to say this occurs every time. After about 100 or so planes landing, we saw three or four taking off over the beach which was a change of pace and quite spectacular when it happened to be a huge jetliner.
If you are looking to going to Maho beach, it is quite easy. If you arrive from the cruise terminals a taxi will cost $18 for one or two persons each way, and prices decrease to $7 pp with groups of 3 or more. One bit of advice that should be heeded when visiting Maho in Saint Maarten is this: Do not sit in the middle of the beach. As I mentioned prior, jets take off in the opposite direction of the beach. As a result, the exhaust from the engines goes towards the beach, and the central section of the beach becomes a mess of flying towels, bags, hats, and sand that all get tossed 30 to 40 feet out into the ocean. Watch for the hilarity of dozens of people running into the water to catch their bag before it is lost to the sea. Truly amazing.