St. Maarten Airport – the most spectacular airport in the Caribbean

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Our excursion destination: St. Maarten Airport

When planning our cruise, we had to decide on a destination for the day on St. Maarten (also Sint Maarten or St. Martin called) do not think about it: we would like to go to the airport at Maho Beach! This is the famous beach behind the St. Maarten Airport, the Princess Juliana Airport. The airplanes have to cross the beach at a very short runway, almost within reach, and then land right behind it.

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The best time for planespotting is around noon, because that's when most and especially the big machines arrive.

From the port St. Maarten (Sint Maarten) to the airport at Maho Beach

In the harbor of St. Maarten

After breakfast we disembark and look for a cab. This is also completely unproblematic, directly in front of the cruise terminal is a cab stand. There are also excellent prices; the cab to Maho Beach costs 20 USD for 2 persons, the trip takes about 35 minutes.

St. Maarten Airport, Maho Beach – Planespotting close up

Arriving at Maho Beach, we find a nice spot at the sunset bar on the beach and order a cool drink.

The Maho Beach on St. Maarten

The beach is not very wide and probably would not be anything special without the airport. A large warning sign is clearly visible on the fence of the airport grounds: it is meant to keep people from holding onto the fence behind the planes taking off and standing in the jet blast. However, without success – in the further course of the day we observe again and again people who ignore all warnings.

St. Maarten airport - the fence between Maho Beach and the airport

On a surfboard in front of the bar, the arrival times of the planes are noted; according to this, the first plane should land soon.

The surfboard in front of the Sunset Bar at Maho Beach

St. Maarten airport: takeoffs and landings

Suddenly everyone is looking towards the sea – the first plane is approaching. It is a small plane of the local airline Winair (Windward Island Airways). In estimated 10 meters height the airplane passes the beach and even with this small airplane this already looks fantastic.

Then many other landings follow – the airport is very busy. We see planes of InselAir, American Airlines, Winair and Liat.
At the beginning we take pictures of almost every airplane on approach – later the small planes are not so interesting anymore and we wait impatiently for the KLM plane from Amsterdam, a 71 meter long Boeing 747.

St. Maarten Airporta plane of the Insel Air approaching the St. Maarten airportan American Airlines plane over Maho Beach at Sint Maarten Airport

In the meantime we also watch the takeoff of a plane at the St. Maarten airport. Maarten. This one stirs up the sand on the beach violently. Most of the bathers got to safety in time, but there are probably always some unreasonable ones. In the cloud of swirling sand, it blows a man into the sea, he can no longer keep on his feet. Fortunately nothing happens to him except that he is probably wet and full of sand.

the sand at Maho Beach is whirled up by a taking off plane

Landing of the jumbo jet at the airport in St. Maarten

The arrival times noted on the surfboard are apparently not up to date. As we discover, they do not match the actual landings. At about 1 p.m., the time has finally come: the KLM plane is in sight. Already from a distance it is easy to see that there is a bigger plane approaching the airport. Also the turquoise of KLM is soon to be seen. In almost tangible height it crosses the beach – a fascinating picture!

the KLM jumbo jet approaching the St. Maarten airport

The Boeing 747 of KLM on approach at Maho Beach

Note: since fall 2016, Princess Juliana Airport is no longer served by jumbo jets. KLM has replaced the Boeing 747 with an Airbus 330 and in my opinion Maho Beach has lost one of its biggest attractions.

It can't really get any better now – we take a cab back to the ship. this time we share the cab with a canadian couple, who have the same way. You came with the Enchantement of the Seas, which is moored next to us at the pier. From the Seabourn Spirit we did not see any other passengers at Maho Beach. What always amazes us: only approx. 30-50% of the passengers leave the ship in port. This was confirmed to us the other day in conversation the hotel director of the Spirit.