Getting Close and Personal with a 747 at Maho Beach

Maho Beach is a beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, in the territory of Sint Maarten. It is famous for the Princess Juliana International Airport adjacent to the beach.

If you’re into plane spotting, then Maho Beach is your dream come true. This is one of the few places in the world where aircraft can be viewed in their flightpath just outside the end of the runway. Watching airliners pass over the beach is such a popular activity that daily arrivals and departures airline timetables are displayed on a board in most bars and restaurants on the beach, and the Sunset Bar and Grill has a speaker on its outside deck that broadcasts the radio transmissions between pilots and the airport’s control tower.

Arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of Runway 10 due to the short runway length of 7,500 ft, resulting in aircraft on their final approach flying over the beach at minimal altitude. The KLM 747 came so close, I could almost touch it!

Of course, there is a danger of people standing on the beach being blown into the water because of the jet blast from aircraft taking off from runway 10. The local government warns that closely approaching and departing aircraft can “result in serious injury and/or death”. There’s even a big DANGER sign!


An additional fence has been added recently behind runway 10, in order to prevent people from hanging onto the main fence surrounding the runway to experience being blasted by the jet flow. You don’t need to be by the fence to get blasted. Just sitting on the beach is enough for a blast of jet sand!


Maho Beach isn’t close to being the best beach in Saint Martin, but it’s definitely the one you want to experience. You will never get so close to a landing jetliner than at Maho. Just don’t stand in front of a landing 747 unless you want to be blown into the water.

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